• Preparing for Minor Emergencies

    Minor Emergency - Train Derailment This derailed train forced us to evacuate our home.

    When I was a young, budding teenager, we lived on the outskirts of town. Everything to the front of us was houses, subdivisions, and city, but behind us were trees, a farmer’s field, and further still, railroad tracks. One chilly winter evening, we received word that we had to evacuate. As it turned out, a train had derailed and spilled its contents of ammonia.

    5,000 people were ordered from their homes.

    We were definitely unprepared for this abrupt evacuation order, but we just as certainly couldn’t stay home. And, if my memory serves me correctly, we didn’t have too long before we had to be out. Fortunately, we had some relatives on the other side of the city that were out of town, so we were able to stay there for two days until the spill was cleaned up.

    But what might have happened had we not had that familial resource across town? We had no other shelter or way to cook food. We would have been eating at McDonald’s for the next two days (which us kids would have loved), but that most certainly would have strained the family budget.

    Not only that, this happened in the winter time. Up in Canada where I grew up, winters can be brutal. There was no way we could camp out in the family minivan. We were lucky we had somewhere to go.

    This isn’t the kind of disaster we normally worry about. Never in my imagination would I have thought I would have to evacuate my home because a train dumped ammonia everywhere. There are other minor emergencies and disasters we might not consider. Power outages, broken water mains, locking yourself out of your home, medical emergencies, and other situations we just can’t quite comprehend ever happening to us. But, just like the train and ammonia event, we have to be prepared for anything.

    Victoria Gazeley of Modern Homesteading suggests that if you’ve been preparing for major disasters, it’s highly likely that you have a lot of what you need for the smaller, more minor emergencies. Power outages are a more common occurrence than ammonia spills, but are you ready for one of those?

    Minor Emergencies - Power OutageJust in case of a power outage (or other minor emergency), Gazeley recommends having a backup method for cooking food, like a Kelly Kettle. The Optimus Polaris Stove is another great alternative option for cooking when the power goes out. Alternate sources of light, power, heat, and water are also important resources to store. Check out the Government of Canada’s site for more information on preparing for power outages.

    These resources are not only good for power outages, but a host of other minor emergencies as well. Remember, a huge tornado or a massive earthquake aren’t the only things that can come in and disrupt your life. While it is still important to prepare for those major disasters, take the steps necessary to ensure that you will also be prepared for minor emergencies as well. When there’s a proverbial ammonia spill, the time to prepare has ended.

     

    How have you prepared for minor emergencies? Let us know in the comments!

    Posted In: Planning Tagged With: ammonia spill, minor emergencies, power outage, evacuation

  • Preparing Children with Emergency Signs

    Preparing children for emergencies is essential for families. You can train most children, even young ones, how to react to a disaster. You should create an emergency plan for natural and human-caused disasters, then practice at least twice a year so everyone knows where to go and who to contact in case they need to evacuate, recommends the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

    However, babies can’t be trained. Pets usually have trouble following an evacuation plan. Some special needs family members can’t be trained or may have trouble communicating or moving. Some use medical equipment like concentrated oxygen, which is explosive in a fire.

    Preparing Children - Baby on BoardThough not for everybody, emergency signs can be useful to those populations. These include window stickers that indicate children’s bedrooms, oxygen signs, medical alert stickers and bracelets, and car signs like, oh, yeah, “Baby on Board.” “Baby on Board” signs were so ubiquitous in the mid-1980s they even inspired a song on “The Simpsons.”

    The advantage is simple: the more information first responders have, the better, said Trooper Josh Lewis from the Colorado State Patrol.

    An autistic boy from his church congregation wandered away from home, which caused an hours-long search. Fortunately, the boy wore a medical alert bracelet.

    “Should law enforcement come across him and see … the medical alert bracelet, we would much rather have the information than not,” Lewis said.

    Medical alert stickers are available.

    Preparing Children - Autistic ChildEmergency signs are useful on cars too. A sign like “Autistic child may not respond to verbal commands” or even “Baby on Board” helps first responders be more alert, Lewis said.

    “Any time we respond to a crash and see a car seat or anything that has to do with a kid in a vehicle, we are going to scour the area,” he said.

    Advocacy groups often recommend emergency alert window stickers for apartment buildings, said Ken Willette, division manager of the public fire protection division of the NFPA. They help responders know where to search first. Private homeowners may also post the stickers.

    “It’s all about life and safety. If people feel comfortable putting up a warning label or sign to let first responders know they might need special services, that’s a good thing,” he said.

    Preparing Children with OxygenOxygen signs are not voluntary, Willette said. Many states require people to post an oxygen sign if they have compressed oxygen cylinders in their home. Remember the movie “Apollo 13”? A single spark in its oxygen tank destroyed the spacecraft.

    Emergency responders like to know if they’ll be facing something like that. Wouldn’t you?

    Voluntary signs like child stickers in windows can come with disadvantages, according to the NFPA.

    First, they can create a false sense of security and imply that children should wait for rescue. Parents need to teach children to respond immediately when the smoke alarms sounds, know two ways out of every room, crawl under smoke, gather at a meeting place and call the fire department from outside a burning building, according to the NFPA.

    Second, emergency signs can suggest vulnerable areas in the home to intruders. They also open up owners to the abuses from bullies. A mother in Utah who had an autism warning sign for first responders on her car came out one morning to find somebody had defaced it with stickers that read “spoiled brat” and “unetitled” (sic).

    Preparing Children - Tag their roomFinally, and most importantly, when children change rooms or grow up, the window signs need to change rooms or be removed. Firefighters could waste vital rescue time looking for a child who isn’t there, a NFPA brochure said.

    With all that in mind, if you choose to use emergency signs, or must use them by law, follow two directions. Make sure the signs are visible and take them down when they don’t apply. Whether or not you use emergency notification equipment, do contact emergency services in your area if you have family members with special medical needs. Some fire departments can enter that information so it will show when dispatchers access an address, Willette said. If you have medical equipment that requires electricity, tell power companies so they can prioritize that during outages.

    “As long as you feel comfortable, first responders would much rather have the information than not,” Lewis said.

    Emergency notification signs, bracelets, and stickers are available in many places. I found them for sale with a simple Web search and on Amazon.com. Some fire departments sometimes have free window stickers. I also found free printable signs with a Google search. As you see, preparing children is more than just teaching them about disasters. It's about informing others around you to take extra care as well.

     

    - Melissa

    Posted In: Planning Tagged With: emergency sign, baby on board, preparing children

  • 3 Reasons Why Water Is Essential for Emergency Storage

    Why WaterWhen we talk of emergency preparations, we think of food and gear and all those other things that will make our lives feel as normal as possible (three cheers for the portable Bluetooth speakers!). However, there is one resource that you will want to secure as soon as you find yourself in an emergency situation. That resource is water.

    According to The Organic Prepper, there is a “Rule of Three” that applies to survival. The Rule of Three reminds you that you can survive with:

    Three minutes without air.

    Three days without water.

    Three weeks without food.

    So, the first step is to check your breathing. Still good? Great. Now make sure you have water. I find it interesting that, although we as humans can last about three weeks without food, we can only last three days without water. Why, then, do we sometimes forget about this all-important fluid? We worry about filling our basement with emergency food storage (which is awesome, by the way), but we might look over our water storage preparations (which isn’t as awesome).

    In truth, your emergency water storage and preparations should be the first thing you start with. Water is an essential part of any emergency plan. Here are three reasons why water is a great idea for your emergency preparations.

     

    1. Drinking

    Ready.govWhy Water- Drinking recommends keeping at least one gallon per day per person in order to stay sufficiently hydrated. After all, your body is made up of about 60% water, so when an emergency happens, you’ll want to keep it nice and healthy in order to perform the necessary tasks involved with surviving. That being said, children, nursing mothers, and sick people may need more water.

    Don’t forget pets, either. Just like humans, they need to stay hydrated, too. Just as you wouldn’t take your pet goldfish out of its bowl and expect it to survive, you wouldn’t evacuate with your cat or dog and expect them to do well without the necessary water.

     

    1. Hygiene

    Why water - HygieneI already mentioned that you should have at least one gallon of water per day per person, but did you note the “at least” part? You should have at least that much, because that’s what you need for hydration and light sanitation. If you intend to stay hygienic as well (which we all hope you do), you’re going to want more water than just a gallon. Practical Preppers consultant Scott Hunt suggests having an extra four gallons of water for personal hygiene.

     

    1. Health and Well-being

    When we become dehydrated, our body tries to warn us that we need to drink more water by giving us warning signs in the form of discomfort. The Prepper Journal listed these symptoms out: headache, irritability, dizziness, weakness, disorientation, thirst, dry skin, and lethargy. So, if you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, chances are your body is screaming at you to drink more water. Drinking plenty of water can also improve your skin completion, so there’s that, too.

     

    While it’s good to be prepared with food and gear, water should be your first priority. Without it, you’ll be in a heap of trouble. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be difficult to begin stocking up with water. Start with a liter here and a gallon there. Make sure you keep your water in food-grade, plastic containers. Milk cartons aren’t the best idea because the proteins can’t be removed effectively enough. Two-liter pop bottles, however, would be a good place to start. Check out our water storage options for other ideas.

    Water is essential in your emergency preparations. Don’t wait until you know you’ll need it. Go out and start preparing today!

     

    How do you store your water? Let us know why water is important to you in the comments below!

    Posted In: Water Storage Tagged With: well being, hygiene, drinking water, why water, health, water

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