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  • 5 Types of Base Camp Shelters

    There are many reasons to setup a base camp shelter. Whatever your motivation, make sure you design and build one that meets your requirements and anticipates your needs. From underground bunkers to pine bough lean-tos, unique base camp shelters are needed for different scenarios.

    These five shelter types will cover most of your bases. Keep in mind that each shelter meets a different need. You may require more than one type for the scenario you are preparing for.


    1. Bunker

    Old abandoned bunker in forest - base camp

    This hidden shelter option has many advantages. Easily defensible, concealed, and well-fortified, a bunker shelter can provide safe and secluded base camp accommodations. Long-term food storage, rations, and other supplies can be easily concealed and kept safe until you need to access them. Bunkers can be equipped with generators and electricity, secure doors, multiple rooms, and other amenities of a permanent shelter.

    The size and location of a bunker may be limited by your access to land, and the amount of funds you are able to allocate to building one. Land, excavation, materials, and utilities can require a significant investment.


    1. Portable

    Portable shelters provide protection from the elements while allowing users to keep on the move. Trailers, tents, tarps, and tensioned fabric structures let you set up camp without having to own land, invest in excavating and building equipment, or devote a lot of time to building a permanent structure. Portable base camps should be designed for ease of setup and take-down, as well as stability in extreme weather events.


    1. Permanent

    Celtic Round House Base campA permanent base camp requires access to land and a significant investment in materials. Creating a permanent shelter is one of the most expensive base camp shelter options, but also one of the most comfortable and secure. A permanent shelter is more conspicuous than a bunker or a portable shelter. This type of shelter also provides many of the same amenities of a house. A permanent shelter may have running water, electricity, heating and cooling systems, and other comforts. It is important to remember that, unlike a bunker or a portable shelter, a permanent shelter will likely require a more established access route, such as a road, driveway, or established trail.


    1. Emergency

    An emergency shelter is necessary for quick and easy setup. This type of shelter is often located near a survival cache, and is meant as a temporary spot to regroup on the way to a more permanent base camp. An emergency shelter may also be required in an extreme weather event, such as a rainstorm, tornado, or blizzard. Emergency shelters can be crafted from many different materials. Having a tarp can make emergency shelter setup easy. If you aren’t that lucky, tree branches, rock outcroppings, or dry cave openings may have to suffice. Emergency shelters can be dug into the side of large snowdrifts, riverbanks, or small hills.  Survival caches setup ahead of time can also store tarps, ropes, and stakes in the event that an emergency shelter is needed.


    1. Semi-Permanent

    SafariTent_Open_Lifestyle_Moab_MattBarr_002_Web base campMore stable than an emergency shelter, yet not as immobile as a permanent one, a semi-permanent shelter can create a long-lasting, durable base camp that can be relocated or disassembled if necessary. Tensioned fabric structures can be anchored to nearly any surface to create a sturdy semi-permanent shelter. These types of shelters may have electricity and other utilities setup in mobile or temporary configurations.



    Jimmy Wall is an avid outdoorsman always advocating people to get outside. Living in Washington State, he says nothing is better than a climb up Mount Rainier to Camp Muir.


    Disaster_Blog_Banner - base camp

  • Preparing the Elderly for Emergencies

    preparing the elderlyHurricane Katrina was devastating to health care providers. Hospitals and clinics flooded or lost power. Almost 100 kidney dialysis clinics in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama closed, some permanently.

    A representative from a company that manages dialysis clinics described the result: “More than 7,000 displaced patients packed into our open clinics, which were not immediately staffed to handle them all.”

    According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of older adults have some kind of functional limitation, like chronic health problems, impaired mobility or diminished sensory awareness. This can make them vulnerable in an emergency. Sixty percent of the people in Louisiana who died from Hurricane Katrina were over age 60. So planning for emergencies is especially important for seniors.

    One group of older adults from Rochester, New York, described how an ice storm that caused a two-week power outage impacted them.

    “If we had only taken a few simple steps to prepare ourselves for such an event, we could have eliminated many of the hardships we had to endure,” they wrote for a Red Cross booklet about senior preparedness.

    They recommended three ways to prepare: get a kit, make a plan, and be informed. Unless otherwise specified, the ideas below come from their Red Cross booklet, “Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors.”


    Get a Kit

    In addition to a basic emergency kit with food, clothing, and water, seniors should personalize their kits with extra supplies. These can include extra eyeglasses, medication, hearing aids and batteries, oxygen and assistive technology. Label bags and equipment with a name, address and phone number. Keep support equipment in a designated place so it’s easy to find.

    preparing the elderlySome medication, like insulin, requires refrigeration. The U.S. Food and Drug administration recommends that if power has been off for a while, those drugs should be discarded. However, if they are necessary for life, they may be used until a new supply becomes available. Medication exposed to excessive heat and flood water can also become unsafe. So keep medication in a waterproof container and check it for exposure before use.

    Not many people can afford spare hearing aids. In an earthquake-prone area, use Velcro to attach a hearing aid case to a flat surface so it will be readily available and won’t shake off.


    Make a Plan

    Have a plan for how to evacuate and how to shelter at home. Share it with caregivers, friends, and family members. Be honest about abilities and limitations. Know home caregivers’ emergency plans. Keep phone numbers handy – carry them in a wallet or post them by a telephone.

    preparing the elderlyKeep copies of vital records in a fireproof container or safe-deposit box. Vital records include birth, marriage and social security certificates, insurance information, wills and deeds and records of possessions. Health care records are also important. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has an online tool, called Blue Button, to help people bring together their electronic health records.

    After Hurricane Katrina, 85,000 people had trouble getting social security checks through the mail. The AARP Foundation recommends people switch to direct deposit. Go to the U.S. Department of the Treasury web site, godirect.org, or call 1-800-333-1795. The Treasury Department also has a prepaid debit card option for people with no bank account.


    Be Informed

    Know what types of disasters are more likely, and prepare for those.

    “Seniors living in Florida need to know how to prepare for a hurricane, while older adults in the Midwest should stock up for blizzards and floods. In California, people should prepare for earthquakes and wildfires,” the CDC recommended.

    Be aware that scammers come out after a disaster. Operation Emergency Prepare recommends six steps to keep from being scammed.

    1. Don’t pay cash to a contractor for home repairs and never give your credit card number unless you are paying the bill with it.
    2. Be sure you have a signed contract detailing the work you want to have done and don’t make a final payment until the work has been done to your satisfaction.
    3. Make sure that any contractors, plumbers, electricians, or roofers are bonded, licensed, or registered in your state. You can check their license status with your state or Better Business Bureau.
    4. Try to get several bids before agreeing to any work; a one-third down payment is considered appropriate.
    5. Beware of home repair loan brokers who guarantee you a loan if you first pay a fee.
    6. If you suspect you have been taken advantage of, call your state attorney general’s office.


    As the CDC points out, in an emergency, older adults are a great resource. With their experience and knowledge, they can be preparedness leaders. It starts with preparing themselves first.


    What can you do more to be better at preparing the elderly you know?


    Disaster_Blog_Banner - Preparing the elderly

  • Following Emergency Robots? Better Get Prepared

    C-3PO - emergency robotImagine being given a guided tour of an unfamiliar building by a robot. Pretty darned neat, right? The robot escorts you from room to room. This all part of an experiment to learn more about robots. The only problem is, the robot is a wee bit unreliable. It gets lost. It leads you to the wrong room multiple times. It’s fairly confusing, but it’s for research, so why not.

    And then the fire alarms go off.

    Once again, the robot takes charge, illuminating its LED lights to show the words “Emergency Robot Guide.” Considering its track record…do you follow the less-than-reliable robot?

    In this study, 100% of participants followed the robot, putting their trust into a machine (albeit secretly controlled by one of the researchers) that they knew wasn’t entirely trustworthy in simple matters, such as going from room to room. How would the robot do leading them out?

    While this study was to test the 24 participants on their level of trust in the robot, there’s a lesson here regarding emergency preparedness and our own preparations.

    In case of an emergency, would you be content to rely on following someone that is hit and miss in their emergency preparations? Or would you rather have everything you need to survive, including emergency prep, gear, and know-how?

    Droids emergency robotThat’s what happened in the robot scenario. Because nobody knew the layout of the building, they were forced to rely on a droid with a sub-par success rate. Personally, if I were in that situation, I would have felt a lot better if the robot had been more like R2-D2, and less like C-3PO.

    In an event of an emergency, you either know what to do, or you don’t. If you don’t, you’re more likely to follow the crowd. But what if the crowd is just as clueless? If you do know what to do, then you’ll be much more prepared to take care of yourself and your family, as well as help those who aren’t as savvy as you are.

    So, what do you need to do to take charge of a situation, rather than relying on an uncertain leader?

    The first step is to plan. Know the disasters – both natural and man-made – that are prominent in your area. What will you do if the tornado sirens sound, an earthquake strikes, or it rains so hard it floods your neighborhood? Each scenario will require many similar tools, gear, and other emergency prep, but there will also be specific differences for each, too.

    The second step is to go out start putting your plan in motion. If you decided you need an emergency kit (or two or three), then make sure you have a date by which you should have those. The same applies to emergency food, shelter, and anything else you need. For floods, be sure to get insurance well in advance of flood season, since it takes 30 days for your insurance policy to become active.

    HydroHeat by Water - emergency robot Flameless cookers are good for anywhere!

    Third, practice. Once you have your gear and prep, take it for a spin. Learn how to prepare freeze-dried meals by cooking some up for dinner in your flameless cooker, simulating cooking without access to power. Go camping to see how well your tent works for your family, and how well you can start a fire in the wilderness. Having emergency gear is a necessary step, but knowing how to use it properly will get you even further.

    Lastly, stay up to date on your emergency preparations. If you already have emergency food storage or emergency kits, make sure the food isn’t too old. Rotate your storage, and update the food and other supplies in your kits. Continue to get the things you need once you have the bare necessities. Having more than the minimum can help you live more comfortably in an emergency, and can help prolong the time before a disaster becomes a real emergency.


    While you may not be able to stop a disaster from happening, your preparations can definitely help make things more comfortable during the aftermath.

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