Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, Californian earthquakes, the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, for many of us those disasters seem far away, so far away it is difficult to imagine such disasters happening close to home. While a great many of us live where the threat of hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis are virtually nonexistent, we do have to contend with our fair share of hazards.
From floods to wildfires to severe winter storms to tornadoes, emergency situations arise that can pull the plug on the infrastructure on which many are depending on. Power grids are disrupted, water mains freeze and burst, regular food delivery stop and communication systems become overwhelmed, all of which could leave families to survive on their own for days and with economic uncertainties and government squabbling over emergency response funding many would need to sustain themselves for even longer.
Despite all this, being prepared with a few essentials will reduce the stress of managing your family’s needs during such disasters.
Prepper Essentials: The Basics
Now whether the situation is one that requires sheltering in place or outright evacuation, the basic emergency essentials are virtually the same. Everything comes down to food, water, and shelter and once those are met you and your family can ride out most any situation.
Each situation can present its own particular challenges which seem overwhelming, but by stepping back and thinking of them, simply, as two different scenarios they become manageable. As the ability to weather any disaster rests on those three emergency essentials of food, water, and shelter, you only need to plan to maintain them for either a sheltering in place scenario (staying home) or an evacuation scenario (bugging out/going mobile).
Sheltering in Place
Sheltering at home is easy, it’s where you feel comfortable and secure, right? Compared to the anxiety of uprooting the family and heading out on the road, yes, sheltering at home is both preferable and easier on everyone. But lets not play down the challenges, though. Staying put still requires a supply of food, maintaining reliable access to safe water, keeping your home and everyone inside protected from the goings on outside. Under this scenario, there are more options for supplies and storage and no worrying over such pesky concerns as how much can you carry around on your back (we’ll get to that later). Sheltering in place offers the ability to store shelves of home-canned and dry goods, to keep and maintain electricity with a home generator (fueled by gas, wind or solar), to utilize a supply of stored fuel for cooking, and maintain a sustainable supply of water stored in a variety of containers and even collected from rain water.
Bugging Out or Going Mobile
Floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, in the event of those disasters that make the option of remaining at home inadvisable or downright insane, you and your family will need to head out but that does not mean you will leave unprepared. This option emphasizes minimalism, for when you have to leave home only the essentials can be taken, and often those essentials are limited to what you can carry on your back. This is where the bug out bag comes into your family’s disaster planning.
The bug out bag is a backpack – preferably a quality hiking pack that will ride comfortably on your back for long periods of time (should that be necessary) – packed with the three essentials to disaster survival; food, water and shelter along with one more item, a ready-made, emergency medical kit tailored to yours and your family’s needs. Packed with enough supplies to last at least 3 days, a bug out bag should contain water, a water filter for longer periods, food high in carbohydrates and protein, a tent, sleeping bag and practical clothing to get you through fluctuating weather conditions. A bug out bag can also be kept tucked away in your vehicle in the event you’re stranded away from home in an emergency. Remember weight is one of the most important considerations. Pack only what you need but be pragmatic.
The bug out bag is the most limited manner of going mobile. If that is all you’re able to take then you grab it and go. However, in many instances evacuating in the family vehicle is an option. This allows for additional supplies a backpack simply cannot handle. While still sticking to the same emergency essentials and being aware of weight and available space a vehicle allows for packing away a larger, sturdier tent, more supplies of water, food and medical supplies, along with additional cooking supplies and fuel. All these items can be prepacked and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Prepare For Where You Live
The last and perhaps the most practical approach for your personal emergency planning is to prepare for where you live. In the western US plan for wildfires, winter storms and the occasional earthquake. If you make your home in the Midwest plan for tornadoes, floods and storms. Along the east coast prepare for hurricanes, ice storms and floods (and even the occasional earthquake). While it’s been shown that preparations for any given disaster are virtually the same, keeping those hazards most likely to occur in your area in mind will allow you to customize your family’s preparations and make them as effective as possible.
Even with local, state and federal emergency responses, delays and a multitude of obstacles will surely guarantee you and your family will be left on your own for extended periods of time after the immediate dangers pass. Your ability to stay safe and sustain yourselves with the emergency essentials is directly related to how effectively you’ve planned for such situations. And that is US Preppers’ mission, to help ordinary people plan and prepare for that next disaster.