Floods, blizzards, earthquakes, civil unrest, tornadoes, collapse of the power grid these are all dangers that we as people face daily. How can one prepare to cope with such disasters? Every region of the United States has its own perils that it faces; living in the Northeast I have to be prepared for long periods without power and possibly being ‘trapped’ in my own home for days with no way to reach the outside world because of a blizzard. Having been a paramedic who was deployed to disasters as part of a FEMA response, I have witnessed people who were prepared and those who were grossly unprepared. With a little planning and preparation, you and your family can not only survive these events, they can bring you together and actually be bearable.
When it comes to Mother Nature, there is very little that we can do to avoid her wrath. We can do some preplanning such as not building in flood zones along major rivers, but when it comes to actually defeating the threat, we are at the mercy of nature. We have all seen the pictures of the grocery stores packed with people buying things like bread, milk, eggs, soda and the list goes on. Every time I see these scenes I laugh, because this is a group of people who are not prepared, and are thinking that they are doing everything possible to ride out the storm. Real planning takes forethought and an assessment of your current situation.
What can we do to prepare for an event that will disrupt our normal lives? After we have identified the most common disaster we will face, we need to determine what we need to do to ride out an event. We will primarily look at events that allow us to shelter in place.
If we are stranded in our homes, we need to ensure that we have a way to heat our homes. During events of a large scale it is safe to say that the power grid will be disrupted. Most homes rely on electricity to run furnaces and to ignite stoves.
- The first and most common backup is a wood-fired source such as a fireplace or a wood burning stove. Both of these options are useful because they can serve as multi-purpose items. First and foremost they provide heat, second, with a little ingenuity they can be used as cooking devices.
- Another option is a portable heater run by propane or kerosene. While these will heat a home well, one must be very careful to ensure that there is not a buildup of dangerous carbon monoxide.
- There are many little heaters on the internet that can be made using candles. With candles one must be very careful to ensure that they are used away from flammable items such as curtains, paper and wood.
- The last and best option is to have a backup power source. From a whole house generator to an emergency backup generator, these items can be indispensable in the event of an emergency. If you opt for this avenue, just make sure that it is installed by a certified electrician, and that when you use an emergency generator, it is outside of the structure and venting away from the home. This will ensure that the deadly carbon monoxide fumes are being vented outside.
I personally have a 9000 watt generator, which is plenty to operate my Geo-Thermal heating system. My drawback is of course it runs on fuel, which can be in short supply, or you may be totally unable to reach it due to road closures or the station’s inability to pump fuel. I keep at minimum 50 gallons of gas on my property at all times. Having purchased a few 14 gallon mobile pumping stations (which can be safely stored) I am ensuring approximately 400 hours of generator operation.
Of course making sure that you operate the essentials during an emergency is critical. I have wired my furnace, freezers, a few lights, and one television to the generator. This allows me to keep food frozen, the house comfortable, and I will have access to some outside news. Of course a backup radio is essential; one that runs on batteries is best, but it is nice to throw on the television for 30 minutes and see what is happening.
Now that our shelter is set up, we will need to eat. Those who practice the art of prepping are well prepared for this event. Many will have cases of MREs stockpiled and, while this is a great way to prepare, it is not realistic for many people because of space and money limitations. If you have a garden, you are well ahead of the game. Gardening is one great way to prepare for a disaster. Canning and storing real food will ensure your survival for a long period. If you are in a situation where you cannot garden, when shopping you can always purchase one or two extra cans of supplies. Doing this every week will quickly build an emergency stockpile and you will be on your way to self-sufficiency in an emergency. Do not buy foods that require a lot of preparation; the less work you have to do to prepare the more likely it will be useful when there is no power and possibly limited water supply.
This is a great place to bring in an alternative cooking situation, and that is a grill. From a multi station grill that could cook a whole pig, to a small portable charcoal grill, keeping one in your emergency kit is priceless when things go bad. If you have a grill, make sure you have a fuel source for it. My personal grill is propane on one side and charcoal on the other, so I always ensure that I have at least one spare full tank of propane, and a bag of lump charcoal.
Perhaps the most important issue is having a clean and drinkable water supply. Again there are many ways to accomplish this mission and there is not one better than the other. The important thing is that you know how to work your system. You can purify water with household bleach or you can purchase commercial purification systems. I use a system that allows me to filter 3 gallons per hour through carbon filters. These filters will last approximately 1 year in our house, but I can take water from the creek and purify it so that it’s drinkable. Each person should have about 5 gallons of water a day, of which 2 should be drinkable.
No plan is complete without discussing a firearm. The debate is wide and everyone has an opinion to what is the best. I will only say this: the best firearm is the one you feel comfortable with. I have many different types of firearms that I can use, depending on what I need to accomplish. From feeding myself to protection, each one has its place. I will say that I highly recommend a firearm of some type, something that you feel comfortable with and will serve your needs the best.
It does not take a lot of money or room to prepare for the inevitable disruption of life. What it does require is some planning and utilizing what resources you have available. It is a matter of resource management and lifestyle adjustments. Hopefully you will never have to execute your plan, but in the instance you do, the confidence that comes from preparation is reassuring.
Following his successful career in DRT, he returned to school, graduating with an AS Degree in Business Administration, HR and Law minors. He completed his AS in Paralegal studies in May 2014.
In his off time, Paul enjoys riding motorcycles and is an active member of the Patriot Guard Riders of New York, protecting the sanctity of funerals for military, law enforcement officers, EMS and fire fighters.
On July 4th, 2013, Paul was approached by the Heroes Memorial Foundation, Inc. to assist them with the Granite Mountain Hotshot Team tragedy in Prescott Arizona.Currently he is working as the Public Information Officer responsible for ensuring accurate information is released to news media outlets, and to the appropriate on-line forums.
Paul is currently the town judge of Senaca, NY. Paul is responsible for all media relations regarding Fire & Rescue and Military Heroes.
Latest posts by Paul Hood (see all)
- Surviving the Wilderness Incident: What to Do Before Help Arrives - 31 January, 2015
- Surviving a Disaster: Preparation is Key - 16 January, 2015
- The Demise of America - 27 December, 2014