Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
The Practical Prepper
As I mentioned previously, my schedule has changed and I am unable to write new posts at this point. While I'm on hiatus, we're re-running the earlier posts from The Practical Prepper. Thank you for your patience and your continued readership!
Here's something to consider... in an emergency, how long could you and your family survive… on your own... with just what you have on-hand now? Suppose that there was a power outage in your region that lasted for days? Could you make it?
Like I described in my first post here on Farm Dreams, this is a situation that my family faced some years ago when our power went out for 4 days. We had the basics covered — water, food, and shelter — but in reality, we were very fortunate.
You see, we lived near the boundary of two different electrical service providers. That made a huge difference, because after the first day, we could drive less than 10 miles and find places with power, like gas stations, grocery stores, and so on. In the end, the extended power outage was kind of like a camping trip in the ultimate RV (our home).
Things could have gone horribly wrong, however. If the weather had been colder, we had no non-electric heat source to keep us warm. If our local water supply had been dependent on electric pumps, we would have been without water for days. If we didn't keep our cars at or above half a tank of gas, and/or if the power outage had affected the entire region more thoroughly, we might not have been able to get additional supplies, like ice for our freezer, gas for our cars, more cash, etc.
After this experience, we considered the situations we're likely to face (as discussed in my previous post). We the listed what things we needed to store in order to live on our own for days at a time. As we started to figure things out and put together some supplies, it quickly became apparent that "enough" might be easier for some supplies than others.
Beyond that, we discovered that it's helpful to define what "enough" actually is. We needed 4 days of supplies last time, but what about next time?
After some investigation, we discovered that the "standard" recommended amount of supplies is 72 hours' worth. The following material from a FEMA page from just after the severe 2007 storms in Georgia sums up the 72-hour concept well. It also provides a useful list of things to store and why:
The first 72 hours after a disaster are critical. Electricity, gas, water and telephones may not be working. In addition, public safety services such as police and fire departments may not be able to reach you immediately during a serious crisis. Each person should be prepared to be self-sufficient — able to live without running water, electricity and/or gas, and telephones — for at least 3 days following a disaster. To do so, keep the following on hand and rotate supplies to keep them fresh:
- Food: Maintain enough nonperishable food for each person for at least 72 hours.
- Water: Store enough so each person has a gallon a day for 72 hours, preferably for 1 week. Store in airtight containers and replace it every 6 months. Store disinfectants such as iodine tablets or chlorine bleach, eight drops per gallon, to purify water if necessary.
- First aid kit: Make sure it is well stocked, especially with bandages and disinfectants.
- Fire extinguisher: Your fire extinguisher should be suitable for all types of fires. Teach all family members how to use it.
- Flashlights with extra batteries: Keep flashlights beside your bed and in several other locations. Do not use matches or candles until you are certain there are no gas leaks.
- Weather Radios: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio, with battery backup, portable radio or portable television with extra batteries: Telephones may be out of order or limited to emergency use. The NOAA weather radio, portable radio or portable television may be your best source of information.
- Miscellaneous items: Extra blankets, clothing, shoes and money. Wear sturdy shoes just in case you need to walk through rubble and debris.
- Alternative cooking sources: Store a barbecue or camping stove for outdoor camping. Caution: Ensure there are no gas leaks before you use any kind of fire as a cooking source and never use charcoal indoors. Gasoline-powered appliances should be filled away from ignition sources.
- Special items: Have at least 72 hours of medications and food for infants and those with special needs. Don't forget diapers.
- Tools: Have an adjustable or pipe wrench for turning off gas and water, and a shovel or broom for cleaning up.
- Pets: Assemble an animal emergency supply kit and develop a pet care buddy system with friends or relatives to make sure someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be sure each of your pets has a tag with your name and phone number. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to plan for your pets.
So, we decided to start with 3 days (72 hours) of supplies in an emergency kit that you can quickly grab if you need to evacuate (also known as a Bug-Out Bag, or BOB). This is an excellent starting amount, since it's relatively inexpensive to put together and is easily managed, size-wise. In fact, it's a good idea to keep your 3-days of together supplies in one area, as much as possible. (As an example, if you're storing fuel for stoves or alternative heating sources, they need to be kept in a safe and appropriate location, away from your consumables and perishables.)
In some cases, as with our pantry, we already kept much more than the required 3 days' worth. For instance, we regularly kept 1 to 2 weeks of food on hand already, so we didn't have to change much and we had space to readily hold our normal amount and more. This of course wasn't a problem — in fact, we continually set our goals higher, trying to extend the amount of time that we can live on our own, without outside support.
One thing we quickly realized is that others' lists of emergency supplies (like the FEMA one above) are either generic, or are right for them, not us. We started with storing the basics, but we also moved on to other things whose absence would be a problem. For instance, we had to make plans for a backup heating source in case we lose power for the winter. Likewise, we stock extra propane for our gas grill, whereas others may need charcoal for a gas grill or wood for a fire pit instead.
Of course, part of accomplishing this self-sufficiency typically involves focusing on the basics of survival living, as well as realizing that we'd have to give up many modern conveniences for a time. It wouldn't likely be as comfortable or easy as normal, but we could make it for days, or weeks even.
So, again... how about you? In a disaster, could you and your family survive for at least 72 hours?
Believing that preparedness and self-reliance are key to individual freedom, Atticus Freeman is the founder of the Self-Reliant Info blog, in addition to authoring The Practical Prepper weekly blog here on Farm Dreams. Thanks for reading!
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