Contemplating disaster

Turn out the lights in your house, unplug the pc, the tv, etc…and pretend to unplug the fridge. Now sit down and figure out what you are going to do if it lasts, one day, two? more?  What if you compound that with loss of phone service or loss of heat? What about flooding? in your abode? on your street? how about a hurricane? or a gas leak ?  What if it was summer? or winter? where would you go? what would you take with you?   Welcome to September, National Preparedness Month.

I realize many folks don’t have to imagine this scenario, power outages, hurricanes and Nor’easters and earthquakes are more common some places than others.  Live aloners probably need to spend time considering these scenarios more than others. Without a companion you have to rely on your own decisions and keep yourself out of trouble.

Once you have considered the possible risks you may experience, you make plans to deal with them, starting with the most likely to befall you. Check out the flood maps for your area, keep an ear out for the weather reports.  Find out where your area storm and evac shelters usually are, you may not use them as an overnight shelter but they are places to check in for meetups, wifi and information, especially road closures, services and directions.

There is no quick and easy way to becoming prepared to take care of yourself, or others in a crisis.   It will take a little research and a bit of pre-planning, but luckily the internet is filled with advice!  On the whole it should become a little voice in the back of your mind that reminds you to prep for a storm, store the flashlights where you can find them in the dark or make sure you keep the emergency chocolate topped up.

Things to consider for staying:

diaster1What would you absolutely need power for if you lost it?   The items in an unopened fridge will be fine for a few hours, a FULL unopened freezer for bit more than a day.   If it is longer than 24 hours, empty the freezer into a cooler with ice.

Can you charge your cellphone? do you need an external battery pack? do you need a solar charger to recharge your phone and batteries? do you need a backup battery for your PC?

What if you lost heat?  can you get by with a propane heater?  you really only need to heat one small room,  can you get by sharing with a neighbor?  How many blankets and quilts do you have?

If your water is cut off?  A single adult needs approx 1 gallon a day for drinking, cooking and washing. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, properly stored, unopened commercially bottled water will keep safe indefinitely. So assuming three days, you should have three gallons at the bottom of your closet.  Empty collapsible 5 gal water containers are about $10 and last time I checked the dollar store sold bottled water by the gallon.

Can you boil water?  you may have to boil water to drink it or even just make a cup of tea. A small camp stove that burns fuel pellets is about $17,  a butane hotplate about $17 and  a gas grill (outside of course) is about $25.

Three days of non-perishables: stored food, canned or dried, which you can eat cold or heat on your new campstove. Don’t forget a manual can opener.

Do you have a battery and/or crank powered radio and flashlight.  These are two SEPARATE things.  Check the reviews regarding using the crank type to charge your particular cellphone, some may charge the device but little else.   Pre-charged batteries are dated and should be rotated like food, so freshest ones are always available.

Do you have storm supplies like duct tape, plastic sheeting or tarps? 

Basic Disaster Supplies at Ready.gov

USDA Keep Your Food Safe During Emergencies: Power Outages, Floods & Fires

Things to consider for Leaving:

Where would you go if your street was evacuated?  prearrange this with a friend or family that are only a few miles away.

Where would you go if a larger area was evacuated?  Choose someplace as far away from the immediate area as you can. Make arrangements to meet up with friends or family. Contacting someone else is probably the most important thing a live aloner can do. It will bring others piece of mind and in the extreme keep people from wasting time and energy looking for you.  Check in with with Facebook’s Safetycheck if you can. 

diaster2What would you take with you?   For most crises, Go Bags don’t have to be ready 24/7 but it shouldn’t take you more than a 10 minutes to put yours together.  So give yourself a head start and keep things in obvious places.   Always assume you will be gone for at least 3 days.  Contents: identification, extra keys, water, first aid, toiletries, flashlight, radio, batteries,  mylar emergency blanket, change of clothes along with a gloves and hat,  walking shoes, spare glasses, copies of any prescriptions, extra power cords for any devices,  (remember even an old inactive cell phones can dial 911) , printed banking information and medical records, at the minimum you should have some gas money and a working credit card. BTW a fat book and a pack of playing cards can’t hurt.   You will be basically camping, even if you will be on a couch, a floor, a motel room or in a storm shelter.

Do you have a pet? have you a ‘go bag’ for them?  they do need their own, with everything you need to care for them in another location,  put it all in a kid size backpack. if the pet fits in a carrier, store their backpack inside the carrier.  If they don’t fit in a carrier, consider getting a backpack for them to carry their own.

Transportation.    You may not be able to use your regular transportation.  You may need a contingency for that as well. Put an area map in your bag. Do you have emergency supplies IN your vehicle as well?  If you are biking it, perhaps build your go bag into a pannier.

Once you have made your contingency plans, and your lists, accumulating preparedness materials can be done gradually.   Try investing $10 a month or every other month, one month buy extra batteries, one month buy a camp stove, another month buy extra bottled water and so forth. It will build up quick enough.  But a little SOMETHING, is better than a lot of nothing.

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