There are events that occur daily in our lives that reinforce the need to prep. Not all of these events are catastrophic and not even all of them are experiences that we witness first hand but, there are things that are constant reminders of why we should be prepared. Last week, my family and I got a not so subtle reminder of why basic preparedness is essential. A week ago, there were a number of devastating storms that caused tornadoes, torrential rainfall, and high winds throughout the Midwest United States. Our house happens to be situated in an area where we are susceptible to losing power as a result of high winds and murphy struck in a big way! We lost our power and were left in the dark for what we were told was going to be upwards of seven days! This is not what we had in mind as a way to spend our week. It was not going to be the end of the world though because we have a basic plan (as everyone should) to deal with such circumstances.
Here are some key components to a basic emergency plan…
#1 – A Blackout Kit: Don’t get stuck fumbling around in the dark. Keep at least one source of backup lighting (flashlight, lightstick, lantern, etc.) available in an accessible and convenient spot. It might not be a bad idea to have multiples strategically staged throughout the house. A light source is also a good item to keep on your keychain in the event you are not near your blackout kit when there is a loss of power.
#2 – A Basic Medical Kit: First aid is something that could be needed at any time. Stick a kit in the car, in your desk at work, and have one at the house. A commercially produced kit is a good start, especially if you are not comfortable with the idea of building your own kit but look at what your needs are and what the contents of the kit are. Many of these pre-made first aid kits are lacking in the quantity or quality of the supplies included as well as missing some of the advanced components that you might need.
#3 – A Plan To Deal With Food: Not only is it necessary to provide fuel to our bodies on a daily basis, but it is also beneficial to avoid losing money and food as a result of spoilage. To meet our needs and avoid this loss, develop a plan to deal with the perishable food that is left on hand following a disaster. Two of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by cooking food with a barbecue grill or over a fire. Both bbq’s and fire pits are common place and can provide not only the means to cook but also heat water as needed. If space is limited, disposable, single use grills can be purchased to fulfill this requirement.
#4 – A Way To Get Clean Water: Water is great. Clean water is better. Every emergency kit should have a way to filter and decontaminate water. Consider also keeping some clean water stored at home, in the car, and even at work if feasible to have access to in an emergency. In the event that clean water is not always available, have a plan to locate and clean dirty water. Plan on having enough, or being able to get enough, water to have one gallon per person, per day for drinking and cooking at a minimum. If the resources are available, add an additional gallon per person, per day for hygiene purposes.
#5 – Shelter – Sheltering in place at home is typically the most comfortable way to wait out a storm. This is not always feasible though and a plan should be in place to go somewhere else if it is required. Look for a family member, friend, or acquaintance that lives on the other side of town, a different city, or even another state if that is what it takes to get to safety. It is advisable to have a minimum of two routes to get to each destination in the event that one route is closed or obstructed.
#6 – Security: I am a gun guy and think that if you are comfortable with gun ownership, then this should be a vital part of any security plan. It is also not the only answer. High quality locks on doors and windows are a basic component of security and should be the priority. A nonlethal defensive option should be available like pepper spray. If a firearm is the only tool that is available, it could lead to having to make a tough decision that might be avoided with a nonlethal option.
#7 – Energy: A secondary source of power (generator, solar panels, wind turbine, etc.) is a great thing to have when the power goes out. Not only does this maintain some of the basic comforts that require power but it can also be a way to minimize the loss of refrigerated and frozen foods. Keep these two things in mind when it comes to backup energy sources: 1. When an entire area is without power or systems of support, a dwelling with power will stand out like a lighthouse for lack of a better term. This can lead to becoming a potential target if things are really bad. 2. An energy source, like a generator, that is powered by fuel will require fuel to be stored to power the generator for a reasonable period of time.
It can never be definitely predicted when a disaster will strike. Having a leg up on the recovery by not being caught helpless can be a game changer. I was reminded of the basic need for preparedness last week. What will the situation be for you if a disaster were to strike today?