Category Archives: Natural Disaster

Flood Preparation: 5 Essential Tools to Survive

Flood Preparation:                                                                                           5 Essential Tools to Survive

Whether you have lived for some time in an area prone to flooding or you are new to flood preparation, there is always something new to learn about how to stay safe in a flood. In fact, the city of Houston, Texas, has a longstanding history of flooding, and yet several people died and thousands of homes and cars were flooded in the recent Memorial Day weekend floods.

Flood Preparation

Knowing Your Actual Risk
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), flash flooding is the leading cause of weather related mortalities in the United States today. More than 200 deaths annually can be directly linked to flooding, both flash floods and flood waters that build more slowly (such as flooding that comes from an over-full bayou or river, or flooding that overflows a levee or dam such as what occurred in New Orleans). Also, depending on where you live, an estimated 50 to 75 percent of those deaths are related to people staying in vehicles during flood conditions.

Tool #1: Do not enter areas of high water.
In Houston, Mayor Annise Parker posted emergency messages on the highways that stated, “If you see high water, turn around – don’t drown.” This means do not try to drive through, walk through, swim through, boat through, or otherwise enter high water areas. (Tom adds: Even if you don’t drown, there is a good chance you could be washed away and valuable resources will be used and lives endangered in an attempt to rescue you because of your actions.)

Tool #2: Keep emergency supplies on hand in a waterproof bag.
The type of things you may need in a flood situation include candles, matches, antiseptic, bottled water, a first aid kit, gloves, face masks, mosquito spray and netting, tape, safety pins, benadryl, basic toiletries, I.D.s and a source of cash, and a list of emergency numbers.

Tool #3: Plan for emergency food supplies.
In the event it takes rescue teams some time to reach you, you will absolutely need to have clean water and emergency food rations on hand. Freeze dried foods, energy bars, and other emergency rations can play a key part in waiting out the worst of a flood. Be aware that a flood may only last a few minutes or hours, but it can still claim everything you own, so you will need to have emergency food and water to survive!

Tool #4: Have an emergency plan in place for kids and the elderly….and everyone.
Whether you live with or apart from your loved ones, it is very wise to put some kind of plan in place to keep in touch during flood situations, and especially to know who is taking charge of the safety of kids and elderly relatives.

Decide where each of you will go, and where and when you will meet up, in advance, then do your best to review the plan at least once annually to be sure your plans are still up to date and take into account everyone in your family who may need extra assistance.

Tip #5: Do your best to secure your home and belongings as quickly as possible… and get OUT of your vehicle right away!
If you make it a habit to watch the weather reports and receive emergency weather alerts as soon as they break, you will have more time to prepare your home, move your car or boat, secure your belongings in a high, dry place, and move yourself and your loved ones to safety before the flood waters hit. Sometimes – as with the estimated 19 people who died in the recent flooding across Texas and Oklahoma – having even a few minutes of advance warning can make all the difference! Finally, knowing when to walk away from your vehicle can be key to surviving a flood.

When you make a regular habit of monitoring weather alerts and you follow these five tips to pre-plan for facing flood conditions in your area, your payoff may be saving your life and the lives of your loved ones.

This article was a guest contribution from Lee Flynn. Lee is a freelance writer and an expert in emergency food preparedness and food storage.

photo credit: the mill via photopin (license)

Get Ahead of the Coming Storm

The following article is a guest submission from Carlee about getting prepared for a Hurricane, a timely submission based on the fact that I spent some time last week ensuring that I was prepared for this very type of event.

Get Ahead of the Coming Storm

Years ago hurricanes were storms that only the Deep South had to worry about. Not anymore. Whether or not you believe global warming is real or a political ruse, the fact is the ocean temperatures are increasing. The eastern seaboard and the gulf coast are particularly vulnerable. But with warmer oceans, the threat for damaging hurricanes extends all the way into the Northeast, where places like Vermont have suffered extreme flooding.

Add to the mix the growing population along the coasts and, as we’ve witnessed in recent years, you’ve got a recipe for disaster. I went down to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina to help with cleanup and witness firsthand the destructive power of a hurricane. To put it mildly, I was awestruck by the devastation. It showed me that natural disasters are nothing to take lightly.

But we can prepare for these storms and ‘weather’ them successfully if we prepare ourselves ahead of time. As preppers, we should never allow ourselves to be caught unaware when Mother Nature throws one of her tantrums. Like any adversarial condition we may face, we should learn about hurricanes now so that if we find ourselves in the path of one, we won’t be unprepared.

Plan Ahead

Make your preparations a family affair. Sit everyone down ahead of time and make sure everyone’s involved. Prepare your plans and make sure everyone understands what to do. Even give your children responsibilities, with the proper oversight. You usually only have a few days at the most to know that a hurricane is barreling down on you, so get organized ahead of time.

photo credit: carobe via photopin cc

Know where your local evacuation routes are located and where local storm shelters are. If you evacuate and have young children, make sure they carry identification and contact information. Have an out of state relative or close friend act as a contact person for everyone in the family in the event you get separated and can’t contact each other locally.

Make sure the needs of elderly friends and family will be taken care of. If necessary, register family members with special medical needs at the local shelter ahead of time. Don’t forget about the needs of your pets as well.

Cash

Make sure you have plenty of cold, hard cash on hand. Most likely the power will be down, which means many stores, gas stations, etc. won’t be taking debit or credit cards.

Food and Water

The American Red Cross suggests you keep at least three days’ worth of water and nonperishable food on hand. After my experience with Katrina in Mississippi I would err on the side of caution and suggest increasing your supply of food and water to at least a week. Nonperishable food will keep for some time, so if you don’t need it immediately it will get used eventually.

Supplies

Make sure you have flashlights, batteries, and a portable radio, preferably battery or wind up (self-powered). If you take medications, make sure you have at least a week’s worth on hand. Keep a well-stocked first aid kit on hand.

Gas up your car and fill up any spare gas containers you have. If you have a portable generator make sure you are familiar with its safe operation.

Prepare the Exterior

Bring inside anything that can be picked up by the wind. This includes lawn furniture, decorations, planters, and the like. If you have shade awnings and don’t want to see them turned into sails, fold them down securely or put them away as well.

photo credit: stockroomcontrol via photopin cc

If you pay attention to the veterans of hurricanes, you’ll notice they have pre-cut and labeled plywood pieces ready for quick window covering. Use ¾ inch exterior grade plywood, not OSB, at a minimum. It’s amazing what a projectile pushed by 100 mph winds can do to a house.

Powered Necessities

Make sure that anything that can hold a charge is fully powered. The first thing that comes to mind is likely your cell phone. But also make sure other devices are charged as well. This includes things you might not think of as important, such as a power drill or electric razor. Keep in mind that you can’t be over prepared.

Also important—turn your refrigerator and freezer down to the coldest settings and avoid opening them unless absolutely necessary to ensure that your food will last longer if the power does go out. And pack them full if possible. An empty freezer warms faster than one full of frozen items. If you have room, freeze water containers.

Power Down

Make sure you unplug your small appliances, computers, and other electronics. Turn off propane tanks. If you are evacuating and think your house faces a good chance of suffering damage, turn off the water and natural gas at your own discretion.

Stay Inside

If you are going to ride out the storm, stay inside. If the storm suddenly lets up and everything looks calm, don’t venture out. You are likely in the eye of the storm, and the dangerous winds will be returning soon. Even if you are not taking a direct hit from the storm, keep in mind that dangerous winds along with lightning and tornados can be present anywhere in the storm.

The Reality of Disaster Preparedness

This week I found myself on the receiving end of an inbound hurricane, a first for me. I have experienced minor earthquakes, tornados, wildfires, ice storms, blizzards, and a variety of strong storm systems before but this was the first time that I was on an island, with no where to go, waiting for a swirling mass of mother nature named Iselle to inflict her damage on us. (We were fortunate, the hurricane turned south and missed our island.) It is worth mentioning that because of technology, we knew that Iselle was on her way a full week ahead of her arrival. This gave me the opportunity to observe the chaos that ensued before the hurricane was even 2000 miles away.

photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video via photopin cc

There was an obvious race by everyone on the island to secure items necessary to sustain life following the hurricane. It was so bad that radio and news stations were reporting the locations that still had items like water and generators. Most stores were limiting the quantity of specific items that could be purchased. The governor issued an emergency proclamation to prevent retailers from gouging prices on the sale of items but it didn’t prevent private citizens from selling cases of bottled water for upwards of $50 a case. It seemed to me that this situation was caused from two major factors; most people did not have what they needed on hand and most people also realized that we are on an island and there wasn’t any more inventory coming in with a storm on the way.

Some of the “hot” items that were being bought up faster than they could be put out on the shelves were:

  • Water
  • Ice
  • Shelf Stable Food
  • Bread
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Battery Operated Radios
  • Alcohol
  • Plywood
  • Tarps
  • Chainsaws
  • Generators
  • Fuel
  • Cookstoves

This is only a short portion of what would be a long list. To me, this would demonstrate the need to keep at least a minimal stock of these items in the event that there ever is a disaster. This is especially true with things happening recently like the Lake Erie algae bloom that caused over 400,000 residents in Toledo, Ohio to be left without any water to drink or cook with for a few days. You  would think that events like this would convince people that preppers may not be so “crazy” but that is not the case. Today’s newspaper already featured an article on the large number of items like generators that were being returned because they were not needed.

My family and I were fortunate in that we have taken the steps to ensure that we are not in crowd of people at the hardware or grocery store fighting over the last sheet of plywood or a loaf of bread but I think this made us the exception to the rule. Take it from someone who just lived through a close call, do what you need to do and get what you need to get NOW before you find yourself in a situation where danger is imminent and there are no supplies available to ensure your survival.

If a hurricane were headed your way, would you have everything you need to survive the aftermath?

What Would You Do?

There is a named storm, Arthur, bearing down on the east coast of the United States and a mandatory evacuation has been ordered for some areas while voluntary evacuations have been ordered for other areas. This is not ideal by any means, especially because it is forecasted to make land fall today which would make it the first hurricane to ever hit the United States on Independence Day. Facing a hurricane, or any disaster, reminds us that things happen around us all the time and it reiterates the necessity to prepare for such events constantly. These threats are real and show up on God’s time, not ours. It is not possible to predict such disasters on any type of long term calendar.

Hurrucane Ike, Picture Origin Unknown
Hurrucane Ike, Picture Origin Unknown

Let me put a twist on the situation…imagine that you are there visiting a resort in North Carolina’s Outer Banks on your summer vacation, right where Arthur is headed. It is not likely that you have brought along much in the way of survival or preparedness kits or items. You might not even have a car! Do you carry the bare minimum essentials to survive if you were caught in this situation? Do you have the knowledge to complete the survival tasks necessary in this situation?

It is a good mental exercise to participate in. What would you do if you found yourself in this situation? It is typically not practical to travel with a dedicated bug out bag which can be cumbersome, not to mention that the type of travel can greatly limit what you can have in your bag. The amount of space needed to carry the bare minimum essentials can easily fit into a small portion of the average suitcase.

There are 10 survival items that I would suggest that you consider carrying with you when you travel include:

  1. First Aid Kit
  2. High Quality Multi-Tool
  3. Flashlight
  4. Chemical Light Stick(s)
  5. Whistle
  6. Emergency Poncho
  7. Paracord (~50 Feet)
  8. Water Bottle (Lexan bottles like Nalgene are durable and can be used to pack other items into.)
  9. Way To Purify Water (Tablets, Straw Filter, Etc.)
  10. Duct Tape (~50 feet wrapped around an old gift card) and Zip Ties
  11. Mylar Survival Blanket
  12. Snack Foods (Jerky, Protein Bars, Nuts, Candy, Etc.)
  13. Lighter
  14. Bandana
  15. Sewing Kit

What would you add to this list?

I would also like to say happy Independence Day! It is my hope that everyone enjoys their day and stays safe while celebrating the freedoms that we enjoy. Don’t forget to keep your thoughts and prayers with those who are dealing with Arthur on the east coast and our military who are serving abroad so that we can have fun at home.

Today is the last day to take advantage of the 4th of July sale over at Black River Outpost. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to save a ton of money on marked down items and FREE shipping on ALL orders!

There Shall Be Hurricanes

June 1, 2014 marks the official start of the six month long hurricane season in the United States. While there is hope that this year’s season will be below-average, there are never any guarantees when it comes to acts of God. A prudent person will ensure to have a plan in place to deal with all natural disasters, including hurricanes.

Photo Credit: NationalGeographic.com

The primary precaution that should be taken to be prepared for a possible hurricane is to have a basic survival kit. While preparations could fill an entire room, your kit could be a portable survival kit like the Survivor Pack that at a cost of less than $50 that will fit in a backpack, car trunk, or desk drawer easily. Your kit doesn’t have to be elaborate or big to be effective.

In addition to having a survival kit, make sure to follow through with a plan for evacuating that includes at least two or three different routes and a planned destination. When forced to evacuate, it is beneficial to have a stash of cash to pay for things in the event that the power is out. It also can’t hurt to know the location(s) of planned emergency shelters in the area and along your evacuation route(s) in the event that things don’t go as planned.

My hope is that the 2014 hurricane season will not be bad, but whether things go as planned or not. Who would pass over the opportunity to protect themselves and their loved ones for what would equate to less than a dollar a day?