We face the possibility of disasters every day. As I write this we are in the middle of a pandemic with shortages of needed supplies. In the middle of this, a tornado has ravaged Tennessee. Reports from the area are that some people will be without power for over a week. This is hardly unique, Just ask Puerto Rico.
After an emergency, you will need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last until outside help arrives. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.
FEMA has a list of recommended basic items. Lets go over the list and look at each item in detail. After the list, I'll add a few more suggestions of my own.
This is the most important item on the list. Without water, you will start feeling the effects of dehydration within 24 hours. The recommendation is to have one gallon per person per day for drinking, cooking and sanitation. You actually have several sources of water.
- Most homes have a water heater. If it is a tank type of water heater you automatically have 40 or 50 gallons of stored potable water. The trick is to make sure you have a way to get that water.
- Jugs of store bought or self stored water are another source. If you store your own water, make sure you do it properly.
- Rain water can be collected off a clean surface in clean containers.
- A Well will provide an unlimited supply of water. If you can pump it out. That may mean having a generator to run the well pump, or installing a manual well pump.
- Ponds, creeks, rivers and other waterways can be a source of water. But, be careful, these sources can become contaminated in a disaster.
You need to be prepared to treat your emergency water before you use it. This can be as simple as adding a couple of drops of Clorox to a jug, or you may have to resort to more intensive filtering and treating. In any case, you need to think of adding a filter to your emergency supplies.
No need to go overboard on this one. There is no need buy MREs and other shelf stable foods. Just deeply stock your pantry with extra amounts of the stuff you normally buy. That should hold you for a week or two.
You can use a vacuum sealer to make your own long lasting rations of dried beans, pasta rice, etc.
- Battery powered. FEMA recommends a hand crank powered radio. You have other radios.
- Your car has a radio.
- If you have an Android smart phone. it probably has an FM radio. You just need to install the app for it.
- Every member of your family should have their own LED pocket flashlight. These can be bought for as little as $1.00.
- You should also have a selection of rechargeable flashlights, lanterns, and work lights. There are a lot of USB rechargeable flashlights and lanterns available on Amazon.
- Also, get a few USB powered LED light bulbs.
- These are mostly for the radio and flashlights.
- Also include a few larger (10,000 maH or larger) power cells. These can run USB powered devices, recharge you phone, and the flashlights and lanterns.
- Your car has a large battery. It can recharge the power cells, phone, and rechargeable lights.
With chargers and batteries (see above). Not particularly useful if the cell system and your wi-fi are down.
First Aid Kit
Several good ones are available. You need to make sure that it contains a good amount of antiseptic and large bandages. You will be on your own to treat injured members of your family.
For signaling. You will go horse and loose your voice after an hour of calling for help. But, you can blow a whistle for much longer.
To keep from breathing possible toxic dust and smoke. We are finding out that perfectly acceptable DIY masks can be fashioned from bandannas and other items.
And duck tape. better yet, a good tarp with ropes, pegs, and a pole. Use it for a makeshift shelter, covering broken windows, holes in the roof, etc.
Moist towelettes, Garbage bags for poo and pee. Soap, towels, TP. Pretend that you are packing up to go on a trip. What personal care items do you bring with you? Also,see the article on putting together a flood bucket.
Wrench or pliers
To turn off utilities. Be sure that you know how to do this beforehand.
Hand operated. You have probably stocked your pantry with lots of shelf stable canned foods. It would kind of suck if you didn't have any way to open those cans.
The Internet may be down. Can you get around without the navigation app on your phone?
You need a way to cook that food you stored away.
- If you have a propane grill, get a 2nd tank (2 is one, one is none). Make sure that one tank is always full.
- A propane grill can burn through fuel at a pretty good rate. A camp stove with a 25lb tank adapter will be more efficient.
- Another cheap alternative is a butane stove and a case of fuel canisters.
- The old fashioned Coleman 425 white gas stove can also burn unleaded gasoline or kerosene. This will give you a lot of options when fuel is scarce. Take the time to learn how it works. These things are not user friendly.
- And if you run out of fuel you may have to resort to cooking on a wood fire. But not an open fire. You should have a Hobo stove or commercial wood gasifier stove.
- You will need a hatchet and saw to prepare the wood, as well as matches to start the fire.
You need a way to stay warm if the emergency happens in winter.
- Solar. If your house is properly oriented, let the sun shine in through the south facing windows.
- Kerosene or catalytic heater. But be careful, these can produce Carbon Monoxide that can kill you.
- Wood stove.
- Hand warmers will keep you warm even if the house is cold.
- Oil lamps and candles will put out some heat and can keep a room warmish.
And a ready source of fuel. You are not trying to run your house 24/7. As a minimum you want to power up your refrigerator once every 4 hours or so. If you have a well, you need to run that also. But, you will need to have a plan for when the fuel runs out.
- As a minimum you want a 15 or 25 watt foldable panel with USB output. Use this to recharge your USB rechargeable devices.
- A 100 watt panel with a charge controller can keep your car battery charged up so that you can use your car to recharge your devices.
- Taking this one step further, You can home brew a small DIY solar setup with a panel, charge controller, and battery.
- If you are not the DIY type, get a solar power station AKA solar generator.
- Forget about grid tie rooftop solar if the grid is down. It won't work.
- Rooftop solar with battery is the holy grail of emergency power. If it's properly sized, you can run everything.