We have now passed the halfway point and are entering month seven of 12 Months of Prepping, One Month at a Time. By now you should be feeling secure in the knowledge that you are ready to beat the odds should a natural disaster or other disruptive event occur in your geographical area.
Having said that, you do not need a Ph.D. in family preparedness to know that there are far more reasons to prepare than a calamitous disaster. As the article Disasters 101 pointed out, the sudden loss of a job, illness, the death of a family member and a rash of other circumstances may require you to rely on emergency supplies to get by. This is especially true when it comes to food. A robust food pantry is like money in the bank.
The focus this month, however, is not on food but on supplies and gear adaptable to a myriad of emergency scenarios. Add to that an essential skill that everyone should learn and we have a two-punch whammy for seeing you through disasters, accidents, health care woes and more.
With that introduction, let’s get started.
Twelve Months of Prepping: Month Seven
MONTH 7 SUPPLIES & GEAR:
- NOAA Alert Weather Radio preferable with shortwave capability
- ABC fire extinguisher
- 100 feet of paracord
- Jug of juice – 1 per person
- Adult and children’s vitamins
- A pair of pliers and/or vise grip
Stay Informed No Matter What
I am always surprised by the number of people who do not know what the NOAA Weather Radio service is all about. And for some reason, be it ignorance, embarrassment, or simply ambivalence, they never ask. It is time to end that.
In the United States, the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards system is a nationwide network of radio stations that broadcast continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. This is important because NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts official US weather service warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It can be your single source for comprehensive weather and emergency information. About the only thing better is first-hand information transmitted live by HAM radio operators around the world.
Wouldn’t you like to be warned in advance and be informed post-event of critical information following a winter storm, earthquake, hurricane, avalanche, chemical spill, or power outage? You need an NOAA Alter Weather Radio for that and even more important, you need one that is battery, crank or solar operated.
My personal favorite is the Kaito Voyager but there are numerous others – some at lower prices and others more expensive with more features. Many emergency radios, including the Kaito, also have a shortwave band although the shortwave function will not be as powerful as a standalone SW radio.
You may be asking yourself why you would want to have a shortwave radio?. For the answer, I turned to George Ure, my friend, and the editor at Urban Survival:
“If America ever had a really worst case kind of event, like an electromagnetic pulse attack, a shortwave radio could get you news and information from halfway around the world. You would have the ability to know what is going on. That could be important if all official domestic news and information sources have been destroyed or damaged.”
Don’t Let a Fire Harm You or Your Loved Ones
The next item of gear we are going to get, if you don’t already have one, is an ABC fire extinguisher. ABC what, you say? The ABC designation means that it is a multi-purpose dry chemical type extinguisher good for class A, B, and C type fires.
There is a very informative website, appropriately called Fire Extinguishers 101 that provides the following information:
Class A extinguishers are for ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics. The numerical rating on these types of extinguishers indicates the amount of water it holds and the amount of fire it can extinguish. Geometric symbol: Green Triangle
Class B fires involve flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease, and oil. The numerical rating for class B extinguishers indicates the approximate number of square feet of fire it can extinguish. Geometric symbol: Red Square
Class C fires involve electrical equipment, such as appliances, wiring, circuit breakers, and outlets. Never use water to extinguish class C fires – the risk of electrical shock is far too great! Class C extinguishers do not have a numerical rating. The C classification means the extinguishing agent is non-conductive. Geometric symbol: Blue Circle
A Few More Items for Month 7
This month we are also going to add a hank of paracord to your emergency and disaster kit. Let me tell you a little bit about paracord since this is very useful stuff that is also very inexpensive.
Paracord is a lightweight nylon rope that was originally used in the suspension lines of US parachutes during World War II. Soldiers, however, found that this miracle rope was useful for far more than their paratrooper missions. In the ensuing years, both the military and civilians alike have found hundreds if not thousands of uses for paracord.
It is available by length, typically 50 to 100 feet or more and in a variety of colors. It is also available in large quantities by the spool. Many hikers and outdoor sports enthusiasts make or purchase “survival bracelets” made of several feet of paracord which is woven into a compact bracelet that can be unraveled in the field. I personally keep my keys on a paracord keychain and the leash for my dog is made of paracord.
Paracord can be used for many purposes such as securing things, removing heavy debris and fixed objects, strapping things together, as a harness to escaping a burning building, controlling bleeding as a tourniquet, and the list goes on. You can even unravel the cord and use the individual strands as a fishing line or a thread to sew on a button. It is wonderful stuff with a lot of uses that you can read about in the article 44 Fantastic Uses of Paracord for Prepping and Survival.
By the way, you will often see paracord referred to as Paracord 550 which means that it has a breaking strength of 550 pounds or more.
We are not going to leave food and nourishment completely off our list this month.
Although fresh fruits and vegetables are always preferable to juices, they do not store well and in an emergency, juices will not only provide vital nutrients but also hydration. Choose from bottled or canned tomato, V8, apple, pineapple or other juices and plan on a minimum of 32 ounces for each person.
The standard 46-ounce size juice bottle or can is most cost-effective, but depending on your needs, you may find small, single serving cans more convenient. Beware, however, of flavored juice-like products that are merely colored and flavored sugar water. We want some nutrition here!
Note: if you choose tomato juice and also store a pint or two of spirits, you will be able to make yourself a Bloody Mary – not such a bad idea as long as you remember that moderation is the rule.
One more thing: it goes without saying that your stored food supplies will provide you with calories and energy to get by. But will they have all of the necessary daily vitamins and minerals? Maybe, but maybe not. For this reason, I recommend that you store a supply of multi-purpose vitamins for a just in case scenario. Do this even though you ordinarily do not use supplements (I don’t). Consider them an extra layer of nutritional insurance.
The last two items before we move on to tasks are a set of pliers or a vise grip (locking pliers). Chances are you have an extra set of one or the other but if not, head on over your local hardware store.
What are they used for? Among other things, you can use them to tighten or loosen bolts, grab on to something where you need extra leverage and manipulate objects that are difficult to handle with the fingers alone. In a pinch you can use the pliers to crack edible nuts you find while foraging or crack the shells of clams you find on the beach.
MONTH 7 TASKS:
- Take a first aid/CPR class
- Show family members where and how to shut off utilities
Remember when I said that this month you will learn skills that will save lives?
When disaster strikes, the probability of being injured escalates with the scope of the disaster. In addition, the possibility of a serious injury causing loss of breathing increases dramatically. When this happens, knowing basic first aid and knowing how to deliver CPR can mean the difference between life and death.
Virtually every community offers courses in first aid and CPR. Additionally, you can check with your local fire department, community college or Red Cross chapter for courses in your area.
Factoid: Less than 1/3 of those people who experience a cardiac arrest at home, work or in a public location have CPR performed on them. Most bystanders are worried that they might do something wrong. As a result, in 2009 the American Heart Association launched a Hands Only CPR public relations initiative and a website as a means to address this issue.
Visit Hands on CPR for more information.
Don’t Forget the Utility Shut-Offs
Another thing that happens when disaster strikes are that the utilities go out. When that happens, it is important to know where the main controls are located, and when and how to turn them off. Here is a quick reference guide.
Locate your main electrical switch or fuse panel, and learn how to turn off the electrical power system.
If a generator is used as a backup power supply, remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Connect lights and appliances directly to the generator. Do not connect a generator directly to the electrical system unless it has been specifically wired to handle this type of connection.
Turn off water at the main meter or at the water main leading into the house. This will prevent contaminated water from entering your water heater and plumbing.
Turn off the water valve by turning it to the right. This will require a special valve wrench, available from a hardware store. Make sure you have the tool readily available.
Make sure your sewer system is functioning properly before using it. This will prevent the contaminated water from entering your home, making a mess, and compromising your supply of drinking water.
Locate your gas meter and valve.
Have a wrench immediately available for turning off the gas supply.
If you smell natural or propane gas, evacuate immediately and leave the area. Go to where you no longer smell gas. Do not use matches, lighters or open flame appliances. Do not operate electrical switches because sparks could ignite gas causing an explosion.
Shut off gas only if you smell gas or hear a hissing noise. Contact the gas company to turn the gas back on.
THE FINAL WORD
With each month. the supplies, gear, tasks, and skills you have acquired can be likened to a monthly deposit into a savings account. And, as with any investment, the balance grows. In this case, the dividends are paid in the form of increased self-reliance and self-sufficiency.
There is a commonly used term: “when the stuff hits the fan” or SHTF. What makes up this “stuff” can be something as benign as a mild winter wind storm or something as catastrophic as a massive earthquake and tsunami such as the one that occurred in Japan in March 2011. In between, there are hundreds of other events that could require that you avail yourself of the preparedness projects you have completed so far.
We have four more months to go in the initial 12 Months of Prepping but this is only the beginning. The journey to preparedness is ongoing and represents a lifestyle shift that once ventured, will never end.
Be proud that you have taken these steps and look forward to a safe and self-reliant future.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: Today I present a selection of items mentioned in today’s article plus a few other items that I consider survival essentials.
On Duty Emergency Gas & Water Shutoff 4-n-1 Tool for Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Fires, Floods, Disasters, and Emergencies: This 4 in 1 Emergency Tool was designed by professional firefighters. It is a light-weight, heavy-duty, easy-to-use tool which shuts off the gas, shuts off the water, pries open doors, and digs through debris. Patented and made in the USA.
Kaito Solar-Powered Radio and Cell Phone Charger: This one has it all at 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 NOAA 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.
BaoFeng UV5R Dual-Band Two-Way Radio: I own two of these. Something to keep in mind that if you are just planning to listen, you do not need a license. Still, it is a good idea because it will make understanding the technical aspects of HAM radio a whole lot easier.
Special Note: BaoFeng and Pofung radios are one and the same. Newer units are branded with “Pofung”. Here is the Pofung UV-5R.
Tecsun PL-660 Portable AM/FM/LW/Air Shortwave Radio: This is a world band receiver with a comprehensive frequency coverage including AM/FM, longwave, shortwave, single sideband, and the aviation band. As add-ons, George suggests the Kaito AN-200 Tunable Passive AM Antenna and the Sangean ANT-60 Short Wave Antenna.
Paracord Planet Type III Nylon Paracord: An ideal all-around utility cord in the field, paracord is tough and long-lasting. It is made from 550-pound test nylon and features a seven-strand core for maximum strength. Also, it is manufactured in the United States. Note that some colors may be more expensive than others. Need ideas? See 44 Really Cool Uses of Paracord for Survival.
Stanley 3 Piece Plier Set: A basic plier set with a rust-resistant finish will protect them from the elements. The jaws are machined to provide a slip-resistant grip and the tool’s double-dipped handle gives extra comfort. A lifetime warranty is included.
Cyalume SnapLight Chemical Light Sticks: Read all about light sticks (also referred to as glow sticks) in the article 10 Reasons to Add Glow Sticks to Your Survival Kit.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter: The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultralight personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2oz. making it perfect for the prepper. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.
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