As I do each month, I would like to begin month ten with a little pep-talk on preparedness. We all know that power outages, wildfires, storms, floods, and other disasters can happen anywhere at any time. Although first responders do their best when it comes to mobilizing their resources to assist victims, if the disaster or disruptive event is major, there will be a lot of families in need of assistance.
Wouldn’t it be better to rely on your own resources instead?
Being an optimist, I can only assume that if you made it this far in the 12 Months of Prepping Series, you are well on your way to becoming self-sufficient in an emergency. I know this from the many emails, comments and questions I receive each and every week, and for that I am gratified,
As with the previous months, Month Ten is not overly difficult but it will take some time and it will take some effort. More specifically, this month we are going to take a break from purchasing gear and supplies. Instead we are going to focus on disaster readiness and more specifically, disaster and earthquake preparedness including an actual practice drill so you can anticipate what happens when grid goes down.
Twelve Months of Prepping: Month Ten
MONTH 10 SUPPLIES & GEAR:
Although we are skipping the supplies and gear this month, there are some tools you should have on hand to help you recover from a natural disaster. These are tools that you may already have so this month, take an inventory to ensure that you have the following items.
In addition to regular use around the house or on a camping trip, each these items will help you dig your way out of a disaster and are a solid investment in your ability to recover from the wrath of Mother Nature after the fact.
MONTH 10 TASKS:
- Become disaster and earthquake ready by taking steps to secure appliances, shelves, cabinets and drawers to prevent them from falling and/or opening during a tremor or other disruptive event.
- Practice going off-grid, Imagine your house with no electricity. Better yet, shut off the power for 24 to 48 hours and live without electricity.
Steps to Prepare for an Earthquake (or Other Disaster) Before it Happens
Obviously, taking care of yourself while you are in the moment (with the Drop, Cover and Hold) is of utmost importance and we covered that in 12 Months of Prepping: Month Nine. That being said, there are also some other things you can do in advance to protect yourself from the big one.
Locate earthquake-safe locations in each room of your home, workplace and/or school in advance. Walk around and inventory your options. A safe place could be under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.
Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person’s bed.
Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.
Bolt bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture to wall studs.
Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit on a regular basis.
Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. Large or heavy items should be closest to the floor.
Learn how to shut off the gas valves to your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
Keep and maintain your emergency supplies kit in an easy to access location.
I happen to live in Washington State which is earthquake country but if you live in a tornado, hurricane or flood area, the same principals apply. You still need to secure your stuff so it does not blow away or float away. And you still need to know how to take care of shutting off the utilities when disaster strikes.
The Practice Drill – Going Off Grid for Practice Purposes
The article Six Ways to Get Ready for Going Off-Grid ranks as one of the more popular articles on this website. This month, the issue is not that you are purposely going to move off-grid (although that is always on option for the truly self-reliant), but rather one of facing the issues you will encounter if you were suddenly forced off grid.
In Month Ten, I challenge you to ask yourself the question:
What would life be like if we were off grid for an extended period of time?
There is the obvious: the lights do not go on when you flick on the switch. There is no power to your refrigerator or freezer, no air conditioning, no hot water to your electric hot water heater, no washer and dryer, no computer, no internet, no way to charge your cell phone or other electronic gizmos, and no access to online banking or online shopping.
But what about the less obvious? There will be no way to access cash from the ATM, no working cash registers or credit card machines at the grocery store, no way to pump gasoline at the gas station, and no way to pump water from your well. Again, the list goes on.
Shut it Down Clancy. She’s A Pumping Mud!
So here is the deal: practice going off-grid in your own home.
If you can the resist temptation to turn on the power, you can simply go about your life for a day or two without using any electricity. Better still, turn off the breakers to everything except refrigeration (so your food does not spoil) and see how you do.
Make a list of the inconveniences and the things you had issues with. Not enough sources of light? Get some extra flashlights, light sticks/glow sticks, a lantern and batteries. Did you find that you have no way to cook the food you have stored? Think about storing different types of foods – those that do not require cooking – or get yourself a charcoal or biomass grill or stove. Better yet, build one yourself using these instructions: Building a DIY Rocket Stove.
Trust me, you will be surprised at the results of your drill. Things will come up that you that had not considered so take notes and if you become unintentionally off-grid for real, you will be better prepared. Need convincing? Read 5 Days with No Power – When the Ice Hits the Fan.
One last reminder: during this drill, you need to forgo stores (no cash registers or credit cards, remember?), restaurants (same thing), gas for your car, and other commercial conveniences. You are on your own for just a day or two. Learn from it.
The Final Word
One thing you will notice is that over the months, many preparedness suggestions and recommendations have been repeated once, twice and sometime three times. There is a reason for that that I will explain using a term we use in ballroom dance: Muscle Memory. This is when, through repetition and practice, a task or skill becomes automatic. Like walking or riding a bicycle, it becomes rote and is something you can do without thinking. That is exactly where you want to be with your prepping and survival skills: put them on autopilot and go with it.
I will be addressing this more in the future so keep in mind that your drills and practice sessions are important. You want to be able to act without thinking and more important, act without fear. That is what this is really all about: having the ability to make it through a disaster with common sense devoid of panic and devoid of fear.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
You can also vote for Backdoor Survival daily at Top Prepper Websites!
Bargain Bin: Here are some things that will make life easier if you are forced off grid for awhile.
On Duty Emergency Gas & Water Shutoff 4-n-1 Tool: This 4 in 1 Emergency Tool was designed and tested by professional firefighters. It is light-weight, heavy duty, and easy-to-use for shutting off gas and water. Plus, it can be used to pry open doors and dig through debris. This is the tool that I own.
Gerber Folding Saw: A Backdoor Survival reader had this to say about this folding saw. I can not think of a better testimonial than this.
I spent the better part of 2 days trimming trees and found the Gerber folding hand-saw invaluable. It cuts thru anything up to about 2.5″ with ease. It dispatches the green stuff with ease, where a hatchet will bounce or glance right off. Some complaints say the blade flexes too much, but you can tighten it easily. Fits in cargo pants pocket too.
Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife: The sky is the limit when it comes to survival knives. For the beginner, or someone on a budget, a decent quality, all purpose knife is what you need until you have a chance to use it and learn what you you like and don’t like, feature-wise, before you invest in something more pricey. This Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife is highly rated and will cost about $23 or less if it is on sale.
Fiskars Super Splitting Axe, 36-Inch: Fiskars products are well-made and last a lifetime. As of this writing, this axe is a #1 best seller on Amazon.
Gerber Portable (Folding) Shovel: You don’t know that you need a shovel until you really need one. The particular shovel from Gerber has an easy push-button slide mechanism and is powerful, and easy-to-use. It features a telescoping joint on the handle for folding down to a perfectly portable and compact size. Not a bad deal for less than $20 plus, it is one of the highest rated folding shovels out there.
Estwing Sportsman’s Hatchet: This particular hatchet has an almost perfect score of over 400 5-star reviews. Another top-seller from Amazon.
Chemical Lighting aka Light Sticks: These are inexpensive, portable and easy to use. These come in a number of colors so take your pick. Read all about light sticks at 10 Reasons to Add Glow Sticks to Your Survival Kit.
UltraFire Mini Cree LED Flashlight: A Backdoor Survival reader favorite! At the time of this writing, this one is only $3.18 with free shipping. It is super mini sized, bright and waterproof. Plus, it uses a single, standard AA sized battery.
Solo Stove Titan – Larger Version of Original Solo Stove: I own two of the original Solo Stoves and have the new, yet to be released Solo Stove Campfire on order. You will not go wrong with a study, but lightweight solo stove that allows you to cook an entire meal using biomass.
RAVPower 15W Solar Charger with Dual USB Ports: This compact, three panel, solar charger will charge two devices at once, including tablets, smartphones, Kindles, and even AA/AAA battery chargers. Value priced at about $50. For more information, read: Gear Review: RAVPower 15W Solar Charger with Dual USB Ports.
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A Practical Guide to Storing Food For the Long Term
When most people start thinking about family preparedness, they focus on food. Not shelter, gear, sanitation, power, self-defense or the myriad of other concerns that need to be addressed following an emergency or disaster situation. Quite simply, food is the number one concern people have second only to their concern for having an adequate supply of water.
The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage is a book about food: What to store, how to store it and best practices. It is a roadmap for showing ordinary citizens that long-term food storage is not something that will overwhelm or burden the family budget.
This book is based upon my own tried and true personal experience as someone who has learned to live the preparedness lifestyle by approaching emergency preparedness and planning in a systematic, step-by-step manner.