As I do each month, I would like to begin month ten with a little pep-talk on preparedness. As the recent power outages, wildfires, and storms have proven, a disaster can happen anywhere at anytime. Although FEMA, the Red Cross and local agencies are going to do their best to mobilize and help you, there are a lot of people out there that will need 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, you are well on your way to being self-sufficient in an emergency. And based upon the emails that I have been receiving, I know positively that a number of you are following along each month. 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, earthquake preparedness and and an actual practice drill so you can anticipate what happens when you go off grid.
Shall we get started?
SUPPLIES & GEAR:
Oops . . . we are skipping the supplies and gear this month. Of course, if you simply must add to your gear this month, do an inventory to insure that you have the following items:
In addition to regular use around the house or on a camping trip, these items will help you dig your way out of a disaster and are a solid investment in your ability to cope when the big one this.
- Become earthquake ready by taking steps to secure appliances, shelves, cabinets and drawers to prevent them from falling and/or opening during a tremor.
- Imagine your house with no electricity. Better yet, shut off the power for 4 to 24 hours and try to live off-grid.
Steps to Prepare for and Earthquake in Advance, 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 Getting Prepared Month 9: Duct Tape and Drills. But there are also some other things you can do in advance to protect yourself from the big one.
- Locate the safe places 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.
- 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 in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
- Keep and maintain an 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
Last week I wrote about Six Things to Do to Prepare for Going Off-Grid. I was quite surprised when the article ranked right up as one of my most popular articles ever. 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 if you were suddenly forced off grid.
This month – 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: no lights going on when you flick on the switch, 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, no access to online banking or online shopping . . . and well, I could go on and on.
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 the gas station, no way to pump water from your well . . . and 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 – and something I do – is to shut down breakers to everything except refrigeration (so your food does not spoil) and see how you do.
Make a list of things you had issues with. Not enough light sources? Get some light sticks, a lantern and batteries. No way to cook the food you have stored? Store different types of foods – those that do not require cooking – or get yourself a charcoal or biomass grill or stove.
Trust me, you will be surprised at the results of your drill. Things will come up that you that next time your needs are covered.
Don’t forget that 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
Have you noticed that some of the prepping recommendations these past couple of months have started to sound repetitive? 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 automatic and something you can do without thinking. That is exactly where you want to be with your survival skill set: on autopilot.
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 react to a disaster with common sense devoid of panic and devoid of fear.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Bargain Bin: Here are some things that will make life easier if you are forced off grid for awhile.
EcoZoom Versa: This rocket-type stove burns both charcoal and biomass. It is easy to use and fast. I recently cooked a pot of rice, start to finish in less than 20 minutes. A few weeks ago I made a short little video on YouTube which I will feature in an upcoming article on cooking rice. The rice article isn’t done yet so rather than wait, I will include it here as well.
Thinking about a purchasing an outdoor stove that uses propane or other type of canister fuel? You will find a lot of useful information in Backpacker Magazine’s Stove Buying Guide.
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.
Fiskars Hatchet: The Fiskars products are easily sharpened and will last a lifetime. For less than $25, what is not to like? Oh, and while you are at it, you might also like the Fiskars Axe & Knife Sharpener for an additional $10.
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.
This month Emergency Essentials is featuring a fabulous deal on freeze dried chicken.
The chicken combo includes Asian Seasoned Chicken, Chicken Breast Strips, Diced Chicken, and Seasoned Chicken. These are great for stir fries (with your home garden grown veggies) and cooked with rice for an all-in-one dish in your cast iron skillet or Dutch oven.
The chicken combo is now 30% off for $119.99 instead of the normal price of $171.80. Click here for the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials.
Kaito Electronics, Inc. Portable Dynamo & Solar-Powered Radio and Cell Phone Charger: This one has it all and a very reasonable price given its features. It will operate from any one of four different power sources including hand crank and solar and includes a radio, lantern, cell phone charger and more. It can be used with 3 AA batteries or an optional AC adapter. It is perfect for receiving NOA alerts and the LED flashlight on its side turns into a flashing red SOS for emergencies. There is even a USB port for charging a cell phone. About $50. A good alternative is the Etón American Red Cross Self-Powered Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power and Cell Phone Charger.
Rothco Type III Commercial Paracord: You can get 100 feet of Paracord for about $8. This is a real bargain but be aware that price can vary substantially depending on the color.
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