Preparing and Surviving a Storm or Emergency at Home
When we think of survival we think about the top three; food, water and shelter, we also add communication. Those preparing to stay or “Bug in” usually do not do enough planning ahead. Having your home emergency kit together and a plan eliminates stress and the likelihood of failure. To be prepared, consider how you are truly facilitating your top needs. In survival there is a term “two is one and one is none”, meaning that if you do not have more than one way to do something then consider that you have nothing. Expecting failure and constantly being able to adapt during any situation is the key to both survival and comfort.
Shelter: Always heed the warning of the government. I live at the beach and if you are told to evacuate, then do so. The government will always error on the side of conservative caution but trust that they have more overall Intel and plan for less people to be in these areas. It can also be more uncomfortable if you do stay. Services in these areas may be manually cut first. Also, stores and roads are closed in these areas and it takes longer for them to re-open after the storm passes.
Set up a safe room. Choose a small room with no windows and stock it with a light source, water, dry foods and a radio. For comfort, bring a blanket, cards or games and a battery fan. Have this set up in advance. You may not need it but having ready is vital if you do. If you have pets, remember food and water for them. Plan on being there for several hours.
Have a back up plan to leave and a pre-packed bag ready to go. If you decide you have to leave, know where you are going. Be prepared to take 3 days of clothing, water, food and cash. Place a case of water in the car in advance and have your bag easily accessible along with boots and outerwear. Trying to pack and get ready after you make the decision is stressful and chances are, you will forget something. You may not think you will need to leave your home or drive during a storm but a fallen tree or power line landing on your home may require you to go to a neighbors or even farther for safety reasons. Never rely on anyone else to take care of you if they are not prepared to do so. Be ready to bring your own supplies in a moments notice. The best method is to keep a storage box or bag with other items you may want to take.
Communication: A hand crank radio is the best place to start. Power may be out for a long time and even during a short power outage, a radio will not only keep you informed but will save moral. Do not try to rely on batteries. There are many very good crank radios that are AM, FM and weather. Purchase a quality model or it may easily break. Have a stand alone battery power charger for your phone. Fully charge other devices ahead of time for games so you are not using your phone. Expect cell towers to be down or limited so rely on text messages before making calls. It also uses much less power.
Light: Light is more for comfort then true survival but needed if you stay at home. Modern battery lanterns use less battery power than older ones and require a fewer amounts of batteries. A good lantern can last for 30 straight days on 3D size batteries. Have cyalume glow stick and 12-hour candles as back ups and place them around in the house in bathrooms etc. Have at least one bright compact flashlight. Do not use gas lantern in the house. Fire is a huge risk with this method, as well as becoming sick from the gas it omits. Burning fuel in the house for even one hour can make you sick and cause more issues then it solves.
Water: Buying loads of water bottles are not always the best solution. There are several water scenarios to consider and plan to include cooking and bathroom use. Water may be turned off or may not be drinkable. If you fill a bathtub with water uncovered it becomes unreliable to drink after a day. Use a water bladder such as an Aquapod that can hold about 65 Gallons of water in your bathtub. It has a hand pump and cost is much less than store bought water. It will also keep you from rushing to buy some in a panic. If the water is off, you will need water to flush toilets. You can manually fill the water tank or quickly pour a bucket into the basin and the toilet will flush as normal. It is best to have several methods for obtaining reliable drinking water such as a portable hand filter, purification tablets and boiling prepared in your kit.
Cooking and Food: Most people rush out to fill the house with can goods but putting a little thought into this first can eliminate a lot of stress. You don’t want to purchase items you may not normally eat. In this situation, consider emergency food, as it has come a long way and has greatly improved over the years. Military MREs or Freeze dried food tastes much better than it ever has, will last for up to 25 years and can be eaten without cooking. Even freeze-dried food or thin noodles can hydrate in cold water if you let them sit long enough. Look for food such as fruit that has been overlooked when people are stocking up because stores kept them in cooled cases.
Heating water is the easy part and there are many ways to do so. Using canned heat or fire tablets is recommended and should be part of your kit as back up items if not your primary. Gas grills are good as your first thought but only if you stay home and you need to pre-plan having full gas tanks. Using charcoal or wood burning will keep you cooking as normal for a long time. During a storm, you will need to cook inside, so use only butane, not propane, due to the gas. Small butane stoves are simple, packable to take with you and can cook a full meal using your regular home cookware.
Your refrigerator will stay cold for about 4 hours on average with no power. If you are pre-planning for a possible outage, put as much in the freezer as you can. This will stay cold for about 48 hours. Organize both so that you quickly know where items are as to avoid opening the door frequently and allowing the cold air to escape.
Many people rush out and purchase generators but it is best to be pre-plan and connected. You can run cords around the house but there are some rules and this may not the best solution for you. If you pre-plan, you can put a transfer box into your electrical panel so that you can run specific breakers for the whole house. Generator safety states they should be kept 20’ away from the house and if you are plugging them in you need an open window to run the power cord. Generators also need to be kept out of the rain. In a large storm this may be difficult to do. They should also be secure. Do not rely only on a generator only. Consider a generator a luxury if it works but not your only method.
The theme is pre-planning as in all things. Prepare a kit ahead of time that is well stored and ready to go. Have multiple ways to do all things and take some time to think out how to stay and leave will eliminate stress and reduce the chance of failure. You and your family will be much happier. We always say it is not a matter of “if“ but “when” you will need it.