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  • Washington Wildfire Hits Way Too Close to Home

    Wenatchee, WA. is a city of about 35,000 that’s nicknamed the Apple Capital of the World. It sits between the Columbia Rivera and the Okanongan-Wenatchee National Forest in central Washington.

    Washington Wildfire - NBC News NBC News

    On June 28, a fire started about 7 miles northwest of Wenatchee. Fed by 100-plus degree temperatures and high wind, the fire exploded through bone-dry sagebrush and grass. Within half a day the Washington wildfire grew to almost 4 ½ square miles and blasted into a development on the northwest edge of Wenatchee. Twenty-nine homes burned to the ground that night, according to an official fire report.

    “The wind changed, and the fire came so quick, that people … had five minutes to get out of the house,” said Karen LuBean, who witnessed the devastation from her home in East Wenatchee across the Columbia River. “Some people were only able to get their purse. They grabbed a few legal documents and stuff like that.”

    A Red Cross shelter at a high school reported 155 people checked in Sunday night.

    Embers from the fire jumped at least five blocks to a recycling center and buildings that contained what Karen believed was ammonia and other chemicals. They caught fire, and the resulting fumes forced people indoors for a half-mile radius with instructions to turn off air conditioners and cover doors and windows. A full four miles away, the air stung Karen’s eyes. Three businesses were destroyed.

    Washington Wildfire Firefighter - ABC News ABC News

    At the height of the fire, 336 firefighters were attacking the blaze. Five days later, the fire was 98 percent contained and almost all fire crews were home. Three people were treated for minor injuries, according to the official fire report.

    Karen’s family is well prepared for emergencies. They have 72-hour kits and important documents scanned and stored on the computer. They have an evacuation plan. Even so, she feels she could be more prepared.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests five Ps of wildfire evacuation preparation in its booklet “How to Prepare for a Wildfire.” They are People, Prescriptions, Papers, Personal Needs and Priceless Items.

     

    People

    The best way to protect family members and pets is create an emergency plan. This plan should include evacuation maps and instructions for young children, carriers for pets, plans for people with special needs and utility shut-off directions, according to FEMA’s ready.gov.

    Karen said her family has an evacuation plan but wants to revisit it.

    “We’ve gone over our escape routes in the past but it’s been awhile,” she said.

     

    Prescriptions

    Karen must take thyroid medication, so she said prescription preparedness is “number one.”

    This includes having a supply of medication and copies of prescriptions. It also includes backup medical equipment batteries, glasses and hearing aids, according to FEMA.

     

    Papers

    Karen says most of her legal documents are scanned.

    “If we could just grab the computer and go, we’d be fine.”

    FEMA recommends storing important documents on a cloud-based service or an external hard drive or thumb drive in a fireproof, waterproof box.

    Important documents include government-issued ID papers, prescriptions or warranties for medical equipment, insurance paperwork, rental or mortgage agreements and photos or movies of each room in the house. FEMA provides an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit to help identify records to keep safe. It is available at www.ready.gov/financialpreparedness.

    Karen has adult children living all over the country so after she scanned copies of important papers like birth and marriage certificates, she sent copies to everyone.

     

    Personal Needs

    FEMA says personal needs include clothes, food, water, first aid kit, cash, phones and chargers, and items for children and people with disabilities or other needs.

    Karen already has food, water, clothes, first aid supplies and two types of radios. She is adding masks.

    “I think I need to revisit my 72-hour pack,” Karen said.

    She especially wants to replace food.

    “Unless they’re MREs, they’re not that tasty after a year or two,” she joked.

     

    Priceless Items

    FEMA defines priceless items as pictures, irreplaceable mementos and other valuables. Karen includes photos and family history in her list.

    Washington Wildfire Destruction Reuters

    Last week, Karen got a pointed reminder of the importance of being prepared. The Washington wildfire in Wenatchee exploded from nothing to devastation in 12 hours. Karen said her dentist’s home was barely spared but the home of another acquaintance was destroyed.

    “For a whole city block on both sides, almost every house was just burned to a crisp,” she said.

     

    - Melissa

     

    How do you prepare for wildfires? Let us know in comments!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Washington, Wenatchee, wildfire, Prepare

  • 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

  • City of Tents - Living After the Nepal Earthquake

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    TweetSaturday saw a major earthquake in Nepal. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake has left a death toll of over 4,000. Entire towns have been flattened. With multiple aftershocks still shaking the area, along with landslide in the steep mountain, thousands are still anxious about their safety.

    On the first night following the Nepal earthquake, thousands of people were left on the street without shelter. IN the days since, tent cities are starting to take shape, springing up all over the region, providing at least some form of shelter for those without—shelter that may have to last for weeks, even months. And with aftershocks still rolling, people are staying outdoors in tents to avoid the danger of another collapse. BBC News reported on the scene at Kathmandu:

     

    Tent City Associated Press

    “Vast tent cities have sprung up in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, for those displaced or afraid to return to their homes as strong aftershocks continued. Thousands spent Sunday night - their second night - outside.”

     

    As we’ve seen in Kathmandu, tents are the go-to for those in the affected areas. And with such wide-spread devastation, how long will they have to remain in these tent cities? Which begs the question, if an earthquake struck your area, would you be prepared with shelter for you and your family?

    Just over a week ago, we at Emergency Essentials participated in The Great Utah Shakeout – an event designed to help people prepare for an earthquake. We set up a shakeout camp which consisted of a variety of tents—from tiny two-man pop-ups, to our premium Barebones cabin tents, to our 450 sq. ft Geo Shelter dome tent, all outfitted with the gear that will help people survive comfortably following a large quake. Those who stopped by our camp enjoyed strolling about our little camp (even though 6 inches of snow was on the ground in the morning hours, followed by 40 MPH winds in the afternoon…an appropriate touch Mother Nature provided to help us illustrate survival in trying conditions). I’ll tell you what, I was definitely grateful we had those tents set up, because it was a chilly day.

    The Barebones tent not only demonstrated the ability withstand all types of conditions, including heavy snowfall and strong winds, but was outfitted with cots, a desk, and even a wood burning stove. The Barebones Safari Outfitter Tent can comfortably house up to four people, and through several seasons if necessary. Take a look!

    Barebones

    Barebones Pano

    IMG_4152IMG_4151

     

    If I were in Kathmandu and forced to find a place to live for an indefinite amount of time, this would be right at the top of my list. And, with some alternate energy sources like a Goal Zero Yeti 1250 or some solar panels to provide light and power, this would definitely take some of the pain out of the disaster.

    The Nepal earthquake shows us how important shelter can be. Fortunately they’ve had some nice nights, but earthquakes don’t always wait for good weather, as our weather on ShakeOut day demonstrated.

    So, are you prepared with shelter? We hope so. But if not, check out our Barebones tents so when disaster does strike, you’ll have the shelter you need to protect you and your family.

     

    Barebones Outfitter Safari Tent: http://beprepared.com/barebones-safari-outfitter-tent.html

    Barebones Little Bighorn Tent: http://beprepared.com/barebones-little-bighorn-tent.html

    Shake Out Camp Blog Post: http://beprepared.com/blog/17966/shakeout-camp-surviving-well/

    Posted In: Uncategorized

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