Emergency Power

5 Ways to Help Your Family Be Better Prepared

Fives Ways to Better Prepare your family for a Crisis

Protection

Families today are accustomed to power outages and a few hours of the power being out is generally not a problem it is simply an inconvenience and any tasks needed to be done can wait. However, once services such as electricity, water and gas have been disrupted for several days it becomes not an inconvenience but a problem.

Families in some cases tend to overlook the fact that tasks and responsibility do not cease because their municipal services have been disrupted. Meals still have to be prepared, baths given to children, laundry needs to be done, your home needs to be kept clean, and your family protected all without the benefit of electricity, gas or running water.

1.) Survival Without Electricity

The problem is the world’s dependency on electricity. The simplest task like toasting bread without electricity requires planning and resources you might not have. How do you toast bread without a toaster or an oven? Some might say this is not a problem but combine this with the fact you may not be able to brew coffee, squeeze orange juice or poach an egg, and you start to see how difficult life can be during a disaster if you have not properly prepared.

  • Become aware of the threats, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wild fires and terrorists attacks. Typically, you would know if you live in an area prone to seasonal natural disasters, earthquakes and wild fires. However, disasters such as tornadoes have been reported in every area of the world except the Antarctica. Tornadoes can occur anytime there is a thunderstorm and can happen anytime of the year, so regardless of where you live they are a possibility albeit a remote possibility in certain areas.
  • Generally, emergency supplies are not disaster specific, in other words you will always need certain essentials regardless of the calamity. In some cases however, special precautions, may be needed such as in the event of a terrorist attack if they unleash chemical or biological weapons. If this is the case, evacuation is probably the only course of action you can take to save your family’s life along with certain protective gear for short periods of exposure. Part of preparing your home and family for any situation includes preparing for evacuation and knowing when to evacuate and where to find a safer location.
  • Additional threats could include a collapse of the monetary system that would result in hyperinflation and cause civil unrest such as rioting and violent demonstrations. Destruction of the power grid by hackers is a real threat and attempts are made daily against the security systems in place. Water treatment plants would also be affected by hackers, computers viruses and sabotage at the plant level.

2.) Create a “To Do” List

List all of the tasks you have to accomplish during the course of a typical day and decide what tasks will still need to be accomplished during a crisis. The only way you can settle on a solution is to determine the problem. If you have children, they will need to be entertained, bathed, fed regular meals, have their clothes washed, given medications and comforted. Establishing a sense of normalcy by doing, the things that you normally do will help control stress and panic in children as well as adults.

  • It is important that you approach every problem by assuming the worst. You cannot use history as a template. What happened last time the power went out cannot be used to determine what might happen the next time. Super storm sandy along the Eastern Seaboard is an example of families and local authorities using history to dictate their actions today. It was not even classified as hurricane strength and yet the levels of destruction far exceeded that of even more severe storms in the past and most people prepared based on what had happened in the past.
  • Areas are more built up, infrastructure is in places it never had been before and much of it has been weakened by past events and ad hoc repairs because of financial problems over the years only adds to the problem. There are more people and structures in the path of storms today now more than at any time in history. The storms simply have more to destroy.
  • Once you have identified what needs to be done you have to set about gathering what is needed. Water is important and practically speaking you cannot have too much stockpiled. You will need a storage system in place however, gallon jugs on the shelf is not adequate for extended periods. You will need water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and general sanitation around the home and for laundry.
  • You will need a system in place to do laundry and give baths, so this means you need a way to heat water in large volumes. Your ancestors washed cloths in a tub using a scrub board and sticks, the water was drawn from a well or river and heated over an open fire outside the backdoor.
  • You are preparing to live without the benefit of electricity and you must have the tools and systems in place that allow you to accomplish your tasks without public utilities. You will have to learn to do many things during the day to conserve on candles, oil and propane used for lanterns. You will literally begin to adapt as humans did years ago to the natural cycles of nature. You will get up with the sun and go to bed when it goes down.

3.) Plan For Proper Sanitation

Proper sanitation procedures are important and possibly even more so during a disaster to prevent the spread of illnesses and bacteria. Some people fail to realize that once the power is out for an extended period the sewage system in place in your community will not work. The system will certainly not work if there is not any running water for an extended period.

  • Waste treatment plants need electricity to process the waste. When the plant shuts down, they will close off the system at various control points to prevent waste from building up at the plant. This means the waste from your home cannot enter the sewer system and will backup in to your home if you flush toilets or run water down the drains.
  • This is critical and not having a means to control and remove waste can cause severe illnesses and create insects and rodent infestations. This is a serious safety issue for families that is not given enough attention when it comes to disaster preparedness. For years, in centuries past, citizens living in European countries simply dumped their waste in the streets. Rains washed the waste into the local water systems where the people drew their water causing untold numbers of death from cholera, typhoid fever and other diseases.
  • According to UNICIF over 1.8 million people worldwide, mostly children, die each year from unsanitary living conditions. Four thousand children die everyday world wide from unsanitary conditions that caused their drinking water supply to become contaminated (UNICEF, n.d.).
  • Have a plan in place such as portable chemical toilets and/or waste disposable bags designed for human waste. Another option is a latrine outside. Dig a small trench, screen with tarps, and provide illumination for nighttime use. Have a bag of agricultural lime on hand to control bacteria and odor. Dig the trench at least two feet deep by two feet wide and pile the excavated soil nearby to toss in along with some lime after each use. Do not allow small children to handle the lime or to use the latrine unsupervised. Do not use the latrine to dispose of spoiled foods or other household waste, dig a separate pit for other garbage generated.

4.) Defend The Home

Home defense is important and it must be a consideration when planning. Looters and other criminals will take advantage of any crisis. Law enforcement will be stretched to their limits and you may find in some cases they will not respond at all unless it is a life or death situation. It will be up to you to see that your home and family is protected. Have enough plywood sheets on hand to cover all glass openings so if the crisis causes riots or demonstrations you can cover your openings to deter criminals and to help prevent extensive damage. Once they see you have taken precautions, they may move on to an easier target. Criminals in many cases during a crisis are opportunist, if they find open doors and windows, they may decide to slip in and grab and go or even confront you.

  • Home defense weapons are an option but they must be with you at all times during a disaster. This prevents children from gaining access to them and they are with you when they are needed. Experts always recommend that you keep weapons locked up but during a crisis, they must be visible to act as a deterrent when others come around and they need to be in a position for use if something happens.

5.) Food & Water

Food stockpiles must be carefully planned and knowing how to store your foods properly is critical to ensure your family eats well and receives the proper nutrition during a disaster.

  • You will likely need more calories daily during a crisis because your physical activity level will increase if the disaster extends for any period. Remember you will be doing many tasks and chores during the crisis without the benefit of appliances and tools powered by electricity.
  • Only purchase foods everyone will eat. A pallet of canned spinach may be a bargain but it will not look that way when the lights are out and everyone is looking for a hot meal. Ensure you know how to prepare the foods you have purchased. If you do not have the means or knowledge to cook rice then learn how to cook it and gather the cookware or do not use it. During a crisis is not the time to experiment.
  • Eating food from a can or package is acceptable for a few days but soon everyone will want a hot meal. The process of preparing a meal and getting everyone involved can reduce stress. Give everyone a task to perform so everyone has a role and are contributing to everyone’s well being. This means you must have what is needed to heat and prepare foods such as propane camp stoves or outdoor charcoal/gas grills.
  • Ensure you know the expiration dates of all foods and do an inspection every 30 or 60 days so foods can be removed and put into use before the expiration date. Replace any foods pulled from the stockpile. Families tend to use emergency foods and not replace them because of complacency. Nothing happens for months or even years so soon everyone begins to believe nothing will ever happen.

Ensuring the safety of your family is your number one priority in any situation. Everyone must have a clean and safe environment in which to live. A disaster is no reason to forego common sense practices such as personal hygiene and house cleaning. Dirty clothes and bodies will harbor bacteria. You will have closer physical contact during a crisis, diseases can spread easily, and until the cycle is broken, they will remain a threat.

Contaminated drinking water kills people and it does not just happen in other countries. Out of the dozens of drinking water, associated outbreaks every year that sicken thousands and cause deaths the majority of illnesses are caused by bacteria in the water. A lower percentage 13.9 percent is caused by viruses while slightly over eight percent are caused by parasites in the water. Close to three percent of the outbreaks reported both bacteria and parasites present in the drinking water. Other contaminates found in drinking water include chemicals/toxins such as pesticides and herbicides. (CDC, n.d.).

In the United States alone there are close to 30,000 cases of waterborne dysentery each year, while worldwide there are 140 million cases reported with 600,000 deaths cause by dysentery worldwide.

When people think of safety for their families during a crisis, many times the focus is on the crisis itself. The fact is the days after can be if not more devastating that the crisis. Clean drinking water, proper nutrition and protection from physical hazards is what will keep your family safe.

Begin now preparing yourself and your family to survive without electricity because at some point maybe even in your lifetime electricity will be a luxury that few will be able to afford if it is available at all.

CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6012a4.htm

UNICEF. (n.d.). Water Sanitation and Hygiene. Retrieved 2013, from http://www.unicef.org/wash/index_23606.html

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Testing Your Preparations

Testing your PrepsIt is not enough to realize that you need to prepare and gather certain items you also need to know why you need to do certain things. Knowing why something is important allows you to make contingency plans. If you do not know how to use certain things or even know what they are used for, means you will not be able to find a substitute for that item.

Survival is about adapting and using what tools and materials may be available. You need to practice, and test items and plans. You are never going to be prepared unless you know that your plans, tools and equipment actually work.

Practice

Emergency plans like anything else must be adapted as the situation changes. If you have an emergency escape plan from your home, it should be tested under various conditions such as in cold weather if applicable, during a thunderstorm/snowstorm and at night. You have to keep in mind it is not likely that you will need to escape your home unless there is an ongoing disaster, so your training must be as realistic as possible. Adapt the plans as the weather changes and plan for certain disaster to create structural damage that must be accounted for. What happens if a large tree blocks one of the escape routes out of the house?

Training is gathering information to use during a real life crisis. You cannot train for a few days and declare yourself trained. Training should be a constant so it brings you to the point where actions become natural and instinctive. Practice is important for retention of information as well. You gather the knowledge and then apply that knowledge during your training sessions and then in real life situations. Have practice runs every 60 days.

Equipment Materials and Supplies

prepper pantryToo often families and individuals will stockpile supplies and then become complacent when nothing happens. Soon the emergency supplies are being used for backyard adventures or weekend camping trips and some items may deteriorate from improper storage and items may have gone past their use by date.

Inventory your supplies every 90 days and make on an index card for each item or batch of items. Information on the card should include who checked for expiration dates the date of inventory, when to inventory again and how much is on hand and amount you want to have on hand. Attach the card to the outside of any backpacks, storage bins or shelves.

Item Identification and Usage

You may know how to use everything but does everyone else. You can be hurt during the crisis, and if you are the only one that knows how to purify water, or make a water filter or any number of things then your family or group will suffer. Does everyone know where the main gas meter is and how to shut off the gas service for example?

As a leader, you need to train others to take over for you if something happens to you. It is not a plan if only one person knows, it is a secret, so you must not keep things to yourself, make sure everyone has the same level of knowledge as you. Of course, not everyone will achieve the same level of training, but everyone must enough knowledge to carry on and keep the family alive. Test for knowledge on how to use all of the equipment and tools every 90 days or when a new item is obtained. Use a training sheet that indicates everyone is proficient with each item and identify members that may require further training.

Keeping Track of Progress

logbookEvery member of the family should have their own logbook. The book should have important numbers, rendezvous points and school and work emergency plans. Older children should know where all emergency shelters are located in your community and must know how to get there under any conditions. You need to know where schools will take children during a crisis so you do not waste time searching frantically. You must have a plan for getting home from work during a crisis.

Everyone in the family should have a 24-hour bag in their car or at work.

• You will need communication devices that do not rely on cellular towers or the power grid

• Food and water for 24 hours and a thermal blanket along with a multi-tool/knife these items will be needed if you have to walk from work to home

Walking/hiking shoes, gloves, bandana, hat and cold weather coat if applicable

• Rain Poncho

Logbooks should also track training schedules and have an inventory of all your supplies. Remind everyone that the logbooks are confidential you do not want people outside of the family knowing your plans and level of readiness.

Controlled Testing Environments

Unless you have survived through a catastrophic event, you can only imagine what it is like and imagination has a way of blurring the rough edges. You should have training weekends where you shut off the water, electricity and all electronic gadgets to get a feel for what it is like surviving without utilities.

In a controlled environment, you can use mistakes as tool to improve your readiness and no one suffers from those mistakes. You have to know what to do, how to give baths, cook meals, and do all of the needed tasks without using modern conveniences. The entire world is just one disaster away from waking up to 150 years in the past. The things you do during the normal course of a day will still have to be done during a crisis.

Going off grid if you will is the only way to test your preparedness plan. You get to experiment to some extent with alternative power sources such as solar or gas operated generators, fire starting methods and surface water collection and purification and so on down the line.

PREP NOW-PREP HARD

-SP

Posted on by Suburban Prepper in Planning, Survival Gear 1 Comment

7 Mistakes Suburban Preppers Make

In some circumstances, mistakes have tragic consequences. There are no do over’s in some cases, and the famous line, “the more you sweat in peacetime the less you bleed in war”(sun Tzu) can be applied to prepping. You not only need the proper supplies and equipment, you need knowledge, certain skill sets and real time experience before disaster strikes. Simply reading about it and gathering supplies is not enough. In other words, you have to practice, and apply your skills. Learn how to properly use your equipment and get your mind and body ready so when disaster does strike you are less likely to make mistakes that have serious consequences.

While not specifically stated as such the quote above may be from sun Tzu the art of war and in some other references the source is listed as “anonymous Chinese proverbs”

Mistake Number 1

The number one mistake preppers make is focusing all their time and resources preparing for a single event.

Multiple events can occur that are not related to what someone may be preparing for. Prepping is about surviving any situation and not just one thing. Given the state of the world today, you could end up dealing with multiple threats over extended periods and this includes natural disasters such as meteoroid/comet strike or massive volcanic eruptions. Emergency supplies are not “crisis specific”. Focus on what will always be needed regardless of the crisis.

You have watched the realities shows that follow preppers, which are individuals and families, as they prepare for disasters. The shows typically depict the preppers preparing for a specific crisis. While it is understood that preparing for a nuclear catastrophe makes for good television it may not always be the most practical way for you to prepare.   Read more

Posted on by Suburban Prepper in Planning, Suburban Survival 2 Comments

Be Better Prepared: 12 Brilliant (And Slightly Badass) Ways to Do It

Everyone wants to be better prepared. Today we will share 12 brilliant and slightly badass ways to do it. You and your family have to be ready and prepared for all scenarios. But what happens when you are forced to evacuate for an extended period of time? You will be forced to leave with only what you can carry. A situation may arise where you will be forced to improvise. This article will help you be better prepared for when the original plans fail.

Once you determine why you are prepping, you will have a better understanding of what you have to do. Prepping is life assurance and not life insurance; you are preparing to maintain life during and after a cataclysmic event.

What is required for life after the disaster? Surviving the crisis is one thing, but surviving in the aftermath is an entirely different scenario. You have to think outside the box because there really are no rules, and to survive you have to meet the challenges before they meet you because by then it is too late. Read more

Posted on by Suburban Prepper in Evacuation, Planning, Prepping, SHTF 7 Comments

How Safe is Your Family? 9 Rules for Suburban Preppers

How Safe is Your Family

Photo by Eric Ward via Wikimedia Commons

Some families and individuals living in a suburban area may feel they cannot properly prepare for a disaster because they do not have acres of land, or even a safe haven some miles from the city. Some may even feel trapped. Although there are, certain disadvantages to living in an urban environment if disaster strikes the disadvantages would not be considered life threatening. There are however, rules for prepping if you live in suburbia, rules that will ensure you can survive a disaster. The rules generally speaking, are not disaster specific but it will be noted when one is specifically for a certain crisis, otherwise assume you would follow the general guidelines regardless of the catastrophe.

Rule Number 1

From a security standpoint do not divulge how well prepared you are to anyone but your immediate family

This rule will cause some debate because people generally want to include others in their lives for various reasons but there are certain things you must keep to yourself. Some preppers have meetings where everyone lays out their plans and discusses techniques, what they have stockpiled and what they need. This is a learning process for many of those new to prepping and frankly many people new to prepping do not have their heart in it. They may feel it is a fad, or the thing to do because their friends pressured them and so on. In other words, they are not really preparing, but just going through the motions. People just naturally assume that bad things happen to other people. They will not get the message until it is too late. It is very difficult for some people to understand that the biggest enemy during a crisis is other human beings. A young couple with small children will do whatever it takes to provide for their children, and this includes taking from you. Never underestimate desperate parents.

It is not this article’s intent to discourage networking with other preppers but to emphasis the need for security. Trusted friends and allies are essential to survival but it is important for you to realize that when disaster does strike you may only have yourself and family to rely on. Just be careful about advertising how well prepared you really are. Telling everyone, you have silver and gold buried for bartering is only inviting trouble. Your friends may not pose any risks, but they will drop a comment here and there or their children will and soon everyone knows where to find resources during a crisis.

Rule Number 2

Prepare for the threats that are most likely to happen

Nuclear, chemical or biological attacks are a very real possibility in large metropolitan areas. If you cannot flee the area you will need duct tape and plastic to seal your home from the outside air, but not to the point where you suffocate yourself. Having a basement is ideal where you can get below ground level. You want to put as many obstacles between you and the blast or dispersal area as possible. Attacks of this type may very well come without warning, so make sure you have ample tape and plastic and even protective suits if that is economically feasible.

Rule Number 3

Do not stockpile your supplies in one place

Cache supplies in various underground locations in your yard or even in some outbuildings. If you are robbed or your home is damaged you can lose all of your supplies. You will need backup resources. Do not cache supplies in commercial storage facilities. You may not be able to retrieve your supplies during a crisis and commercial buildings are prime targets for looters especially self-storage buildings.

Rule Number 4

Prepare an evacuation plan

Do not convince yourself that you will never have to evacuate because you will not be able to if you have not prepared. Evacuation is a very real possibility. There may be extensive damage to your home or there are air borne contaminates or nuclear fallout in the area, which means you, must leave. Make sure you have the means to transport your supplies even it if it is just backpacks. You cannot leave empty handed.

Rule Number 5

Stayed informed

Information is crucial before, during and after disaster strikes. So make sure you have the equipment to stay informed such as ham radios, Citizen band Radios (CB) and even two-way radios. You want to be able to monitor traffic from emergency responders and ham radio operators. Ham radios are used during disasters to rely information nation and even worldwide in some cases. Ham radios have extended ranges. Be careful about using the radios for other than monitoring because if you are transmitting, your location can be determined by triangulation of the radio signal. If you are in a situation where you have to evade others do not transmit but simply monitor your communication devices.

Rule Number 6

Do not wait for your local government to help you

Depending on the magnitude of the crisis, your local and even the federal government will go into self-preservation mode and it can be weeks or even longer before they will be of any help.

Rule Number 7

Avoid getting caught up in protest or demonstrations

Society in the short term will go through some changes during a crisis and yet overall it will remain the same. You will find that after just a few days some people will be demanding changes from their leaders and some may even begin marching and protesting. This is counterproductive; your time needs to be spent surviving and planning for long-term sustainability in the event the crisis is for an extended period. There will be plenty of time for complaining and affixing blame later.

Rule Number 8

Plan for home defense

Every occupied home will be a target as well as unoccupied ones during a disaster. Most serious preppers would probably consider home security a number one priority and it is a priority, but getting a bunker or siege mentality is not beneficial. You cannot barricade yourself in your home to the point you have created a death trap if there is a fire or someone does break in and the intruder is between you and the exit. You do need to have a plan, a common sense approach to home defense that includes an escape plan. Consider firearms, and having the tools and materials such as plywood sheets on hand to secure windows and any glass openings.

Remember your biggest threat is other humans in the community and not the government. If you believe an army will show up to take over your home and confiscate your possessions there is simply not enough firepower you can amass that would stop them, so planning for that type of invasion is futile.

You are protecting your home from looters and others living in your city and not from some shadow government waiting on a crisis so they can march into your town. You will also be defending your family and possessions from neighbors that have turned to violence in the name of providing for their families.

Rule Number 9

It is never been a matter of if but simply a matter of when

A crisis will strike and in all likelihood, it will be the one you least expected. However, as stated earlier supplies, tools and materials are not necessarily disaster specific. Always prepare with shelter, water, fire/energy and food as your priorities because you cannot survive any crisis without them. Once the priorities are met then you can get more specific in your planning.

Considerations and Obstacles Facing Preppers Living in Suburbia

Living in a suburban area means you probably do not have space for a sizable garden so developing a sustainable food source would be difficult. However, you can grow virtually any vegetable using hydroponics, which is growing foods without using soil as a growing medium.

Because you cannot rely on your environment to provide you with a food or water source in the early stages you will need a substantial amount of food and water. If you lived in a rural area you would have rivers, streams and lakes and land for growing foods and you could hunt and fish to supplement your food supplies.

Proximity to other people is a disadvantage in urban areas. Friends’, neighbors and strangers can pose a risk to you and your family. The risks increase the longer the crisis goes on.

Having to commute to work and schools may mean you are more exposed to the crisis. You may be at work when disaster strikes so additional planning is required. You will need to have rendezvous points for family members if an attack happens during the school and workday. Ensure you know what the emergency plans are at your children’s schools. Are there areas where the children would be at other than at the school during a crisis, emergency shelters and so forth?

Carry an emergency survival bag in all of your vehicles with several days’ worth of food and water for you and your children. If an attack comes while you are at work and you rush to pick up your children at school you may be delayed because of the crisis and you have to be prepared to shelter in your vehicle until you can make it home. Make sure everyone is aware of this contingency plan.

PREP NOW AND PREP HARD!

-SP

Posted on by Suburban Prepper in Food, Planning, SHTF 16 Comments