• Your Outdoor Gear Is Your Survival Gear

    If you’ve ever been camping, you know what it’s like to survive away from the comforts of home. And, believe it or not, every time your sleeping out in the woods, you are also preparing for a disaster. Think about it… your outdoor gear will be your survival gear following during an emergency. The differences between camping and plain old surviving are few.

    Outdoor Gear is Your Survival GearI briefly mentioned in another blog post how you can take your family out camping in your backyard to practice using your camping and outdoor gear. This is actually a very good way to learn what more you need for your camping/survival gear. Then, head into the wilds and take it out for a field test. Go camping and see how prepared you really are! If you had to camp out for three days, a week, a month…would you be ready? If you plan ahead, you will be.

    The following is some outdoor gear and resources that you generally use while camping, and will be glad you have during an emergency.

     

    Shelter

    Outdoor Gear Is Survival GearWhat’s the first thing you do when you get to your camp site? Why, set up your tent, of course! If you’re really roughing it, you might be making a lean-to from some pine boughs lashed together with nothing but your shoelaces and dental floss. If you’re like me, however, you’ll probably have some sort of really cool tent. My dream tent is the Barebones Safari Outfitter Tent, but since that isn’t in the budget just yet (“yet” being the key word here…), I’ll be content with a regular ol’ tow-man, pop-up backpacking tent.

    While shelters and tents make camping a much more enjoyable experience, shelter for disaster situations is important for many more reasons. While camping, you might be able to tough it out for a night or two, but while surviving after a disaster, your camping tent will be where you live. It’s where you and your kids will sleep, where you’ll hunker down during rain, snow, and storms, and where you will have your privacy from everyone else surviving around you. Yes, your camping tent is more than just a temporary shelter during an emergency. It’s your home.

     

    Food and Water

    I’ll combine food and water into one category for brevity’s sake. That being said, bringing food and water for your family isn’t always convenient while out camping. That’s why we always fill up our canteens, coolers, and whatever else we carry water in before we leave. We fill up some water containers from our home faucet and put them in the car. And, before we head out to wherever-it-is-we’re-going, chances are we’ll hit up the store in search of the perfect food to cook up over the camp fire. Hot dogs and marshmallows are always a popular choice; easy to cook and the kids love them. But there’s also the thing about keeping the meat cold while you travel so it doesn’t go bad. While camping, that’s not too hard. After an unexpected disaster? That’s where it gets a little bit more difficult.

    Survival food can just as easily be the same stuff you bring camping. Tips-for-Camping.com recommends freeze dried food, because a) it’s delicious (it is!) and b) it lasts for a long time (our freeze-dried food lasts for 25 years!). All you need to do is add water to reconstitute the food, wait a few minutes, and you’ve got yourself a tasty home cooked meal! And in a disaster, isn’t that what you want…Some of the comforts of home?

    Water can be gathered just as easily during a disaster. Besides having water storage in your home (which we definitely recommend), having a water filter can supply you with good, clean water wherever you are.

    These are two things that can be a great addition to your camping gear that can be instantly used for your own survival. We’ll always need food and water, and if you already have that on hand, then you’re two steps ahead of the game!

     

    Cooking Gear

    Outdoor Gear Is Survival GearSpeaking of food and water, there are plenty of times when you’ll want to boil water or cook food that isn’t freeze dried. Enter the campfire. Cooking over a fire while camping is half the reason we go, is it not? Nothing says camping like a nice fire going, the smell of smoke in the air, while your camp stew cooks over the fire. Mmm, delicious! What are you cooking that stew in? Some sort of pot, I’d wager. Possibly even on a camp stove. Those are always fun, especially when your firewood is all soaked because it rained the night before. Thanks to your little stove, you still have a way to be the camp chef.

    After a disaster, you may not have access to a fire pit to cook with. You may not have a stove or oven, either. That’s where your little cooking stove comes in handy. Even if you’re stuck inside without power, you’ll still have a way to cook your food and prepare dinner for your hungry family. And, since you’ve taken it camping with you so many times, you’re now pretty savvy with it and can use it just like your kitchen stove.

     

    First Aid

    Outdoor Gear Is Survival GearBecause accidents always seem to happen when you’re far away from help (it’s like they plan it that way), first aid kits are a must while you’re camping. And, since disasters tend to cause accidents, you’re going to want a first aid kit around for one of those – just in case. One of the benefits of being prepared is that you can take care of yourself immediately without waiting for emergency teams to come find you. That could take a while, because disasters tend to affect a lot of people at once. And if a lot of people are looking for medical attention, they’re going to take the most serious cases first.

    But if you are fine, you can take that kit with you and help others who need assistance. A Boy Scout is always supposed to be prepared and help others. Even if you’re not a boy or a scout, you can still take that way of life to heart and be prepared with gear so that when others do need help, you’ll be ready. And who knows, it could be your own family you’re helping.

     

     

    Your camping gear really is your survival gear. And, the more you go camping and use your gear, not only will you have a lot more fun doing it, the more savvy you’ll be, making it all the easier to adapt to an emergency situation. In fact, the people at Homestead Dreamer suggest that those who are frequent campers and outdoorsy people have an easier time adjusting their mental state around a disaster when it comes. This is because they’ve already been doing the surviving gig for a long time – and they do it for fun! They also mention a wide range of skills that are developed while camping. From building shelters to starting fires, these are skills that might just save your life.

    As fun and enjoyable as camping is, it’s also a great way to prepare for survival. Practice makes perfect, and in a survival situation, you’re going to be glad you’ve already been doing a lot of practicing in the form of camping.

     

    What other camping gear, skills, and other things will help you survive a disaster? Let us know in comments!

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Emergency Cooking, Emergency Kits, Equipment, First Aid and Sanitation, Practice Your Prep, Skills, Uncategorized Tagged With: outdoor gear, practice your prep, survival gear, camping

  • Go Dark For a Day - Practice Your Prep

    Ice storm forces residents to go dark. CNN

    The North American ice storm in January, 2009 left 1.3 million people without power across six states. Kentucky was the hardest hit, with over 100,000 homes left powerless for over a week. The ice storm made running water a limited commodity. No power meant not being able to cook or heat up food. Some folks were trying to buy anything they could eat cold. Many had to drive over 15 miles just to get groceries; they were the fortunate ones that could leave.

    The Jenkins family, including my wife Jill, was caught in that storm. Living near Louisville, Kentucky, they experienced the worst that storm had to offer. They were stuck indoors, wrapped in blankets and cooking with a portable propane stove. Jill’s friend was visiting when the storm hit and had to stay for a couple of days due to the ice factor. When Jill and her family were finally able to leave, they all went to stay with friends who actually had power.

    This was a very personal example of how we can be caught unawares, suddenly unprepared for a widespread disaster. Fortunately for Jill’s family, they had a way to cook food, but a heater would have received a warm welcome, and a generator would have really lit-up their spirits.

    How would you and your family fare stuck without power for a week? Would you be safe and warm spending a few nights without heat or power? How would daily life be challenged when it comes to cooking, cleaning, moving about the house, or communicating with others next door, across town or far away?

    Although we may not know what disaster will hit us, or when, we can still prepare for them by practicing our preparedness. And one fun way to do this is to go dark for a day, go dry for a while, or go outside for the night. Gather your family, choose a day this month, then emulate the effects of a disaster.

    Here are some suggestions:

     

    Turn Off Your Power

    Practice Your Prep - Go Dark For A DayThis is a good chance to test out your emergency lights, generator, and other alternative power sources. Spend the day charging up that power pack with your solar panel so when night comes you’ll still have light for your family. Children especially need light to feel safe and protected.

    What other things are you going to have to do without? TV, video games, computers, and other tech won’t work (unless you have a generator or some power source that powers bigger devices like that). Your refrigerator won’t be cooling things off anymore, either, so if you need something out of it, make sure you close the door promptly to keep as much cold air inside as possible.

    Without power, you might not be able to cook. Do you have an alternative method for cooking? Some sort of portable stove or grill? The sun is always a fair bet for cooking in a solar oven. And what about fuel? There’s all kinds of things to think about that we normally don’t when life is fine and dandy and full of power.

     

    Turn Off the Taps

    Practice Your Prep - Water OffJust as the ice storm of 2009 made water a rarity, your emergency prep practice might include shutting off your home water (this way you won’t be tempted to cheat a bit…). Will you have enough water to get through your experience? What if it were to last longer than just a day? Check your water supply and make sure you’d be OK in the event of a disaster. Cooking also requires water. Even if you have an alternative cooking source, if you don’t have water to cook with, you might not be eating very well tonight.

    Water is used for more than just human consumption. Think about sanitary issues, such as bathing, washing, and cleaning. You might be able to go a day or two without showering, but your family won’t appreciate it very much. And of course, don’t forget the dog and cat.

     

    Backyard Camp Out

    Practice Your Prep - Backyard CampingCamping and surviving are synonymous. Do you have a tent? Why not take your family camping in your back yard for a night or two? If, during a disaster, your home becomes unusable (due to flood, tornado, earthquake, etc.), you can see how good your shelter is by testing it out first. And, since you’ll be only a few meters away from your back door, there’s no risk if you realize you don’t have the necessary tools after all.

    Once you’re out in the back yard, what will you do? Try out your new camp stove and cook up some grub from your emergency food storage. Have your kids help you set up the tent, cook dinner, and do other outdoorsy things like starting fires (maybe move away from the house for this one) so they can learn those important survival skills, too.

     

    What other things won’t you be able to do without power and heat? You’ll discover what they are quickly enough if you just use the emergency prep that you have already acquired, and see how it goes from there.

    If it goes well, congratulations! If not…well, perhaps it’s time to take inventory of your emergency prep and identify the areas in which you can improve.

     

    Did you practice your prep? How did it go, and in what areas do you need to improve?

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Planning, Practice Your Prep, Skills Tagged With: go dark, practice your prep, survival gear, camping

  • Preparing Dads for Disasters

    “Everyone had one thing in common… they all love their kids and were all equally concerned about being prepared for future disaster.”

    Preparing Dads - FishingThat was the scenario in Ohio at a disaster preparedness training for fathers as put on by the U.S. Office of the Administration for Children and Families. It was designed in preparing dads for the unexpected. As Father’s Day fast approaches, perhaps it’s time for fathers – and father figures – to sit down and think about what more we can do to help prepare our families for disaster.

    Now, I’m not a father just yet (although I will be by Father’s Day), but when I think about all I need to do to help my growing family be prepared, it can be a little bit daunting. I want to make sure they have food, water, and shelter if a disaster hits. In fact, there are 12 areas of preparedness that fathers can prepare their family with: water, food, shelter, heat, light, power, sanitation, first aid, communications, cooking, tools, and planning. This post will address each area briefly and what fathers can do to help their family prepare.

     

    Water

    First on the list is water. Without water, we can only survive for about three days. Kids and adults alike need 1 quart of water (about 0.25 gallons) for every 1,000 calories eaten. Storing water is pretty easy. You can start by filling pop bottles with tap water and storing in your basement or somewhere out of direct sunlight. You can also find water in cans and pouches, or use larger jugs, barrels, or large reserves. No matter what your living conditions are, there’s always room for at least some water storage.

     

    Food

    Preparing dads - FoodFood is next. We can last longer without food than we can with water, but again, without food, we’re still in a heap of trouble. I might be able to skimp on meals here and there, but kids are going to need to eat regularly – and in good amount – to stay healthy and growing. Food storage was once regarded as old, musty food stuffs like raw wheat, dehydrated milk and bags of sugar stacked in dark corners in big metal canisters. Well, today is nothing like your great Aunt Ruth’s cellar. Freeze dried fruits and vegetables are actually good enough to eat anytime, even right out of the can. Just-add-water meals include whole entrées like Fettuccine Alfredo and Beef Stroganoff. And even powdered milk is made with processes that perfectly preserve flavor. And, freeze-dried food is packaged to last up to 25 years, so it’s going to last until you need it (unless you get the munchies and pop open that can of freeze-dried strawberries). Today’s kids can be picky eaters. Fortunately, food storage isn’t what it used to be.

     

    Shelter

    Preparing dads - ShelterHaving a good shelter can really make post-disaster life so much more enjoyable. I’ve actually written some great articles about shelter (if I do say so myself), so I’ll just link you to those. The first one is called 4 Reasons Why You Need An Emergency Shelter, and provides information as to what shelters protect you from (hint: it’s more than just rain). This next one explains how tents became the go-to after the Nepal earthquake, and what that means for us. In a nutshell, shelters are right up there in importance with food and water. In short, shelter is not only a great way to keep yourself and your family out of the elements, also provides a feeling of family safety and security, a comfort to your children.

     

    Heat

    Even in the summertime, nights can be cold. In the winter, every time can be cold. Making sure your family stays warm is an essential part of emergency preparedness. If the power goes out, how will you stay warm? My wife has told me stories of a time when she was a teenager, living in Kentucky. They had a crazy ice storm that knocked the power out for days. After a couple days of cooking food with a small, propane stove and bundling up in blankets, they decided to abandon ship and stay with friends who actually had power, and therefore heat.

    Thinking back on her experience, I want to make sure that if we lose power for an extended period of time that my family will have the resources to stay warm. Having something like an indoor-safe propane heater, or other alternate heat source, would have been a welcome relief to my wife and her family during that ice storm.

     

    Power

    Family of four outdoors with solar panel, portrait, elevated viewThe stove cooks the food, the fridge keeps the leftovers cold and the microwave nukes leftovers back to life. There are lights, heat, computers, phones, tablets…and all of it works only when they power is on. When it’s gone, everything changes. Fortunately, there’s more than one way to get power when you need it.

    Solar panels are getting to be a lot more economical to have around as an alternate power source. Other sources to consider are battery-powered devices (make sure to stock up on batteries, though), power packs (big or small), or hand-crank battery packs. Then, of course, are the full-fledged back-up generators. Any of these options can help you through a power outage.

     

    Light

    Speaking of power outages, light is one important thing we are without when power goes down. And if that outage is due to a nighttime disaster, you will be left in the dark in the very moment you need light most. Kids need light for all sorts of things: doing homework, reading Harry Potter, not to mention, just to feel safe. After all, isn’t that what night lights are for? Having light when you otherwise wouldn’t can provide your children (and you) with comfort. Candles, rechargeable lanterns, and outage-sensing emergency flashlights are all inexpensive and easy to keep around the house and in your emergency kits. Then, when your child turns on a flashlight, you can tell him, “You light up my life.” Awww, such a tender moment. I’m glad we could share that together.

     

    Sanitation

    This is one many people don’t generally think about. Sanitation is vital for maintaining good health. Options for personal necessities should be planned for when access to the bathroom is not possible. Also, with kids running around, playing in the dirt and getting into who-knows-what, keeping hands and faces clean might be a tad more difficult than you might think. Give sanitation and hygiene some thought and minimize health issues.

    I recently posted another article about how good sanitation can save your life. It’s a good read (again, tooting my own horn), and should provide you with important information on how to stay sanitary.

     

    First Aid

    Not to be confuse with Second Aid, which is much less effective than First Aid. Even just knowing how to respond to cuts, sores, and other owies can prevent additional harm and prevent infections. First aid prep can be as simple as having band aids (preferably of the Star Wars variety) to having a complete medical kit. Check out fema.gov for a list of things you should have in your first aid kit.

     

    Communications

    Preparing dads - CommunicationsHaving a way to stay connected to the world around you will help you know what the situation is like, when you can return from an evacuation, and just letting your family know you’re OK. We can’t predict earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, or other horrendous disasters, but we can prepare our families to cope and survive as best as possible. By knowing what communication options are available to you before and after a disaster, you’ll have more confidence that you can know how to protect your loved ones. Confidence can be contagious, too, so that’s never a bad thing to have in an emergency, especially if you have children. They need to see their father and mother confident that all will be well.

    Be sure to establish a meeting place where family members can meet up after a disaster or in case of an emergency. A local school or church are usually good options. Or, if for some reason you can’t all gather together, find someone you can all call or text, so you can all be accounted for and know each other is safe.

    It is important to note that if you’re all separated, this common third-party person you will contact should live outside the affected area. After all, if you choose someone who lives within the affected area, they may be having just as many problems as you are. And, if you’re trying to get in contact with someone, it’s always best to text. During an emergency or disaster, phone lines can be tied up or even down. Text messages have a tendency to get through when phone calls can’t.

    Having communications equipment will help you stay in touch with your family and the world. Walkie talkies are always a good idea to have on hand. Emergency band radios are also something to consider. These radios will keep you in tune with other radio stations so you can know what’s going on, where help is, and other vital information following a disaster. Some emergency band radios, such as the Kaito Voyager Pro, can even notify you when there is a severe weather warning in your area. Definitely a good source of information, and information can be a total game changer in an emergency.

     

    Cooking

    Preparing dads - CookingRemember the story I told about my wife and their ice storm? Do you remember how they had to cook their food? It definitely wasn’t their stove or oven. It was a portable propane stove. What might have happened to my dear sweet wife had her parents not been prepared with an alternate source of cooking? In reality, they probably would have abandoned their designs of holding the fort a lot quicker. But still, what if that ice storm had made it impossible to leave? Things could have been very different for them.

    Having an alternate source for cooking is another great way to prepare your family for disaster. Be prepared with an alternative way to cook, such as a portable stove, kettle, sun oven, grill, or anything else you can think of that works for you and your family.

     

    Tools

    Have you ever been in a situation where you needed a certain tool to fix something but you don’t have it? That’s happened to me, and it sure is annoying to have to go out to the store and pick one up. Needing a tool you don’t have during an emergency won’t necessarily end as well as just going to the store. I like to keep a 4-in-1 Mini Folding Shovel in the trunk of my car for the next time I hit the ditch and have to dig my car out of the snow. Tell you what, the first (and only) time that happened all I had were my hands. I don’t recommend it. Having other tools, such as knives, screwdrivers, gloves, duct tape, and anything else you can think of can be the difference between a quick fix and a long wait for help.

     

    Planning

    Lastly (but certainly not leastly) is planning. Planning is one of the most essential parts of emergency preparedness, because without a plan, implementation might never happen. The Journal of Family Psychology suggests that “parents have an important role in disaster preparedness through individual and family disaster planning and by addressing the concerns their children experience in anticipation of disasters.”

    That’s smart talk for “Parents, plan ahead so when a disaster happens, your children won’t freak out.” Although planning is down here near the bottom of this post, it should really be one of the first things you do. Remember Benjamin Franklin’s wise words: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

     

    These the 12 areas of preparedness are what every father should plan for. Your family is counting on you to keep them safe. Your role as a husband and father is more than just going out every day to work and bring home the bacon. Among other things, it’s to prepare and protect them from the disasters that are coming, so they will be safe, healthy, and happy. And don’t worry if you haven’t started preparing. There’s always today! If nothing else, just jot down a simple plan to help get you going.

    Happy Father’s Day!

     

    What is the most important thing you prepare for with your family? Let us know in comments!

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Emergency Cooking, Emergency Kits, Equipment, First Aid and Sanitation, Food Storage, Insight, Planning, Skills, Water Storage Tagged With: father, preparing dads, Dads, Father's Day, family, preparedness

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