In our first installment we discussed a few of the natural calamities and events that could create discomfort or even extreme danger for your family. Although hurricanes, electro magnetic pulses (EMPs), earthquakes and financial meltdowns are all very different in origin, they, as well as many other types of events and disasters, have the same potential to quickly make life uncomfortable or unsafe.
When these types of events and natural calamities strike, the preparations you have and the decisions you make during the initial 72 hours will likely determine the outcome for your family. A few simple preparations, including a survival kit and some basic knowledge can help your family remain safe, with adequate food, clean water and basic shelter when the world around you seems to be falling apart.
Will the Government Be There to Assist You?
The need to prepare for disaster is an idea that is neither new, nor extreme. Your parents or grandparents may have been part of the cold war generation, with a fallout shelter buried in the backyard. Even our modern day government entities understand that we live with the threat of a devastating natural calamity or event at some time in the future.
In fact, in March of 2007, the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) updated basic disaster planning information on their website. In it, they discuss the first 72 hours after an event occurs and the basic supplies you will need to remain safe and comfortable during this period. FEMA also points out that basic services, including telephones, gas, water and electricity may not be available and that public safety services may not be able to reach to provide aid, should it be needed.
In all likelihood, relying on or waiting for government help to arrive will not enhance your chances to survive this type of event. If the event is severe enough to impact infrastructure, including power lines, communication towers and transportation routes, the police, fire or ambulance personnel may not even know that you need help or be able to reach you in time to save your life or put out a fire.
Additionally, a natural calamity of any consequence will likely prevent many key public safety and medical personnel from reporting for work as they attempt to keep their own families safe. This means that each of your family members will need to be prepared, with the knowledge and supplies to survive independently of the system we have always been taught to rely on.
Should You Shelter in Place?
In most cases, sheltering in place – as in the comfort and safety of your own home and community – is likely to be the best option. This will allow you to remain sheltered in your own home, where you can utilize food, water and supplies that you have stored for an emergency situation. However, it is not always possible to shelter in place safely.
In situations where your home is severely damaged from the natural calamity itself, is at risk from fire or floodwaters, or there is some other immediate threat to health and safety, you will need to consider relocating your family to a safer place.
In addition to environmental conditions that could force you from your home immediately after or within hours of a natural calamity or catastrophic event, there are also other safety issues to consider that could make it necessary to leave your home. If the disaster or event has damaged water mains or sewer and gas lines, such as that which could occur after an earthquake or explosion or there is civil unrest in the area, such as looting and rioting, it may be necessary to seek safety in a less populate area or one that is insulated from the danger.
Where Can You Go During the First 72 Hours?
Part of staying safe during any disaster situation is having a backup plan. This type of plan means that you will be prepared for situations that would make staying in your home unsafe. These preparations include:
- access to a suitable, safe shelter within an easily travelable distance from your current home
- a good logistical plan to help you get there, by car or by other means, such as on foot, by bike or by boat
- supplies to keep each member of your family safe while traveling to your alternate location, such as survival kits
Good locations to base your backup plan on might be a friend or family’s home or farm that is well away from the epicenters of the disaster. If you do not have this option, good places to consider are state and national parks where you may be able to camp with relative ease and safety immediately after a natural calamity or disaster event.
What Will You Need to Survive Away from Home?
If you must leave your home, supplying each family with a kit of basic survival needs is the best way to ensure their safety, health and some measure of comfort. Survival kits can be purchased, complete with pre-packed, non-perishable food, or you can put one together, often from basic materials found in your own home.
When creating a survival kit, a backpack or even a fanny pack can be used, but remember to make sure it is roomy and comfortable enough to carry when traveling, especially when walking.
Inside the backpack, you will need to assemble:
- something for shelter (trash bags, small tarps or squares of plastic sheeting work well to make a tent and ground cover)
- a blanket (a wool blanket can be rolled up tightly and will be extremely warm and durable)
- rope, paracord and a length of wire (these take up little space and can be used to help assemble a tent, make snares, tie bundles and many other uses)
- a way to make fire (this can be waterproof matches, lighters or both)
- basic first aid (a small package of bandages, aspirin, anti-biotic ointment and a small container of disinfectant)
- water filtration and purification ( personal filtration devices, water purification tablets or even a small container of unscented household bleach)
- cooking and eating utensils (a small pot, a fork and spoon and a drinking cup)
- a good quality knife
- basic caloric requirements for each person for a minimum of three days (lightweight options include beans and rice, jerky, energy bars and military MREs)
Additionally, you should also be sure to include a bar of soap, a few pairs of socks, a change of clothing and any prescription medicines in each family member’s survival kit. While many other items can also be included to enhance your personal safety and comfort, this basic kit will keep you and your family fed, hydrated and sheltered in an emergency situation.
Preview: Our next installment delves farther into a world gone awry as we look at what happens during the first 21 days after a major event or natural calamity and what you need to do now to ensure that your family survives.