The mantra leading up to a natural disaster is to stock up on food, water, candles and batteries and make sure you have an ample supply of prescription medications. Emergency management experts and disaster relief agencies typically recommend that families and individuals have at least three days worth of supplies on hand. However, this recommendation may be outdated based on recent events in the country.
The recommendation is based on response times. FEMA, the Red Cross and other agencies attempt to be on the ground anywhere there is a disaster in the country within 72-hours. This of course is not always the case, and much depends on how quickly your area is declared a disaster area. If your area is not declared, a disaster area federal funds and personnel may not be available for relief efforts.
Given the state of the world today manmade disasters are as likely to happen as natural ones. Natural disasters for the most part can be forecasted or predicted based on favorable weather conditions, seasons or even tracked by satellite. Typically, you will have warnings. Seasonal weather events leave you months during the year to prepare and yet some only prepare once they know a storm is headed their way. Manmade disasters can and will strike without warning. Preparedness is a state that should be maintained at all times and not just for the few days leading up to a weather event.
Be Self Sufficient
You cannot depend on your community, state or federal government to provide you with what you need during a crisis. To assume you will receive help or even rescue within the first 72-hours means you may have put yourself and family at risk. It can take up to a week or even longer in some cases for utilities to be restored, roads cleared and for disaster relief agencies to be on the ground in your area.
Stockpile enough supplies for at least 14 days.
- Food for 14 days and it should be foods that require little to no preparation such as dehydrated foods and Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s). You should carefully consider the shelf life of all foods and come up with a long-term storage solution for your foods. You are not preparing for a single event but a series of events over time. Disasters can strike at anytime and any number of times. Today may be a natural disaster and next month another crisis of a different magnitude or type may arise.
- Water is critical and it has to be a priority. The average person needs roughly two quarts/liters of water daily just for hydration, and then of course you will need water for personal hygiene, (sponge baths and oral care) and water for food preparation. One gallon a day per person is adequate in an emergency to meet your hydration and personal hygiene needs. Three gallons a day per person considers water for drinking, cooking, hygiene and the laundering of certain clothing items.
- Medical supplies, to include maintenance medications and children’s medications if applicable
- One gallon of unscented common household bleach for emergency water purification (the ratio is eight drops per gallon of water or two drops per quart/liter, once the drops are added wait 30 minutes before drinking) Boil orders are common during a disaster because of water lines breaks that allow contaminates into the system. Boiling is the preferred method but you may not have an energy source to heat the water sufficiently so use bleach as an alternative
- Illumination such as propane and oil fueled lanterns, candles are considered a safety hazard by many experts, so use with caution and only in an emergency
- Portable radio
- Communication devices other than cell phones or landlines, devices can include Walkie-Talkies, Citizens Band (CB) radios or ham radios, you need to be able to communicate back and forth and to monitor for information from the authorities
- For emergency repairs to your home have plywood sheets, tarps, plastic in rolls and duct tape
- Approved fuel containers in the event you have to carry fuel for a vehicle or generator
- Backpacks for each family member so if you have to evacuate supplies can be carried with you, you cannot assume that emergency shelters will have emergency supplies nor is it safe to assume any retail stores will be open along evacuation routes
- Shovel for clean up and digging portable latrines
- Portable chemical toilets, or some other approved method of waste disposal such as bags designed for this purpose
- Thermal emergency blankets one for each individual
- Rain gear such as a poncho or rain suit for each person
- Brooms, garbage bags, work gloves, dust masks/respirators, safety glasses
- Cooking appliances such as propane camp stoves, portable charcoal/gas grills
- Heating devices that can be used inside the home such as certain propane heaters
It is assumed you would have cooking utensils, clothing, blankets and many other common items found in most homes.
You of course know never to use a generator in any enclosed space such as a garage, crawlspace or basement. Generators should not be operated near windows, doors, dryer vents, underneath, or near vents that supply fresh air to the attic or basements. It is recommended you have between a 3,000 and 7,000-watt generator for most homes. If you have, your own well that means your generator will need to be closer to 7,000 watts to operate the water pump. Heat pumps and whole house electrical heating systems typically cannot be powered by a portable generator. You can however, operate space heaters.
Regardless of the crisis, have all of your important paperwork so it can be carried with you and is protected from water and other damage. You will need this paper work to file insurance claims and to apply for disaster relief. Your paper work and personal identification may also be needed to prove you live in the community if a curfew is enacted or in extreme cases if Marshall Law is put into effect.