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  • Prepare to Prepare

    We talk a lot on this blog about current events, disasters in progress or recent emergencies. While world events serve to remind us of the importance of proper preparation, by the time catastrophe strikes, it’s too late to prepare. So, assuming you’re not under six feet of snow or facing an oncoming tidal wave at this precise moment, what can you do today to begin prepping for an emergency?

     

    In answer to that question, here are some key initial steps. Or, as we like to call it…

     

    Preparing to prepare.

     

    Time to PlanDepending on where we live and time of year, we all have specific natural disasters that could potentially affect us. And while I’d need to prep a little differently for a flood than you might for an earthquake, there is a common set of first priorities. According to experts, those first priorities boil down to 1) having a kit, 2) making a plan, and 3) informing yourself.

     

    Have a kit. No matter whether you’re cut off by a mudslide or a blizzard has taken out the power, you’re going to need to eat, drink, and stay warm. A basic stash of supplies for the whole family will get you through those crucial first 72 hours. Office organizations like FEMA, the Red Cross, Ready.gov, and even the CDC offer helpful checklists of what to include in your emergency kit, but all of them include these basics:

    Emergency Kit

    • A three-day supply of water, figuring one gallon of water per person per day
    • Three days’ worth of food for the whole family
    • First aid supplies
    • Flashlights and batteries
    • Knife, can opener, wrench, or other multifunction tool
    • Extra clothing and shoes
    • Toiletries
    • Medications
    • Infant or pet needs
    • Blankets
    • Cash
    • Important documents

     

    Ideally, every member of the family should have their own pack, and packs should be stored somewhere easily accessible. We like the idea of working on these together and keeping a checklist like this one out where kids can check items off as you acquire them.

     

    Make a plan. There are all sorts of reasons your family may have to evacuate. And as FEMA puts it on the introduction to their fantastic Basic Preparedness guide, “You plan only once, and are able to apply your plan to all types of hazards.” Begin preparations for bugging out by talking about possible scenarios. And remember, circumstances may require leaving your house or leaving your town! Prep for each eventuality by determining:

    Family Disaster Plan

    • The safest place inside your home to hunker down, as in the case of an earthquake or tornado
    • Best escape routes out of the house (have at least two!)
    • Two designated meeting points: somewhere close, but clear of your home; and an out-of-town location for larger-scale evacs
    • A communication strategy—who will call whom, by what point does everyone need to check in, and how will we reach each other if cell towers are down?

     

    We really like the specific emergency plan templates available at Ready.gov, or we’ve compiled a comprehensive Emergency and Evacuation Plan template you can fill in with your specific information and plan.

     

    Inform yourself. To be truthful, this is kind of a catch-all designation. The first two steps will see your family through the initial days of a serious disaster; after that, you’ll have to depend on your knowledge, skills, and ingenuity, which is why education is such a key ingredient to preparation. Pick any one of these areas to start, and build your repertoire of personal resources over time.

     

    • Know which natural disasters are likely in your area, and learn disaster-specific preparation.
    • Learn about your community’s notification systems and protocols for emergencies, including schools and hospitals.
    • Sign up for local or national text alerts.
    • Certify in CPR.
    • Learn how to use a fire extinguisher, shut off utilities, and prepare a home for severe weather.
    • Organize a neighborhood emergency response team.
    • Beef up your survival skills—building a fire, constructing a shelter, cooking outdoors, etc.

     

    FEMA’s guide, mentioned above, is a great, basic starting point. Another treasure trove of information is the Education tab on our website, which includes a searchable archive of all our blog posts.

     

    Remember, preparedness is less a state than it is a process. And, like any endeavor, the most important step is the first. Start today with these ideas, and build on your skills and resources as you progress. And don’t forget to keep us posted along the way—what are you doing today to prepare for tomorrow?

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Emergency Kits, Planning Tagged With: Prepare, Emergency plan

  • A Tale of Two Winters

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

    Boston's Snowiest Winter (WBZ-TV Retrieved from cbs Boston) Attribution: WBZ-TV

    That’s how this winter has felt for most of the country. High amounts of nothing in the West can make for happy commuters, and yet equally unhappy farmers and anyone else who enjoys drinking water. The East coast received a pounding in snow storms, and Boston has even broken its own record (congratulations!) for snowiest winter, accumulating 108.6 inches of snow as of Sunday evening. That’s over 9 feet of snow! Now, as spring starts to set in, each side of the country is experiencing the aftermath of their individualized winter.

    Each side looks longingly at the other, wishing for what the other has. If only they could arrange a switcheroo, with the West taking some much needed moisture from the overly-watered East, and the East taking some dry weather from the parched West. But alas. To borrow from Rudyard Kipling, "East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet."

    Winter has definitely been a different story for each side of the country, and each story has its own villain and plot twists. The western drought is worse than ever as water levels are historically low, while in the East, spring flooding has become a huge problem with the Ohio River overstepping its banks, flooding areas in Cincinnati, as well as Kentucky and Indiana.

    As the drought drags on, water shortages will become more and more common. The clouds refuse to give a much-needed respite. Water tables are dropping, and farmers are in a pickle. And so are the rest of us…eventually. Food crops need water to grow, and so as the clouds remain petulant and refuse us their moisture, what will happen to food supplies? What will happen to the cost of groceries? Food tends to run short during food shortages (funny how that works). And of course, that’s when prices tend to rise.

    boston-snow (WBZ TV) Attribution: WBZ-TV

    On the other side of the country, melting snow and spring rain is causing floods, water washing over roads and flooding business. Ironically, one must ask, how does flooding affect your water supply? Impure flood waters can contaminate municipal supplies. Also, how do flood waters affect food supplies? The entire supply chain, from the farm to the highway, to the grocery store is interrupted. Assuming food finds its way to the store, and you are even able to there, you’ll likely find prices much higher when you arrive.

    It’s times like these when we can only hope we are prepared.

    I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, the best time to prepare for today is yesterday. Or last week or last month. Basically, if we are constantly preparing for natural nuisances such as these, we won’t be in over our head when the floods rise or the droughts linger.

    Woman Looking In Empty Food CupboardsThese next few days could prove quite uncomfortable for those left with what’s in their cupboards. If you’re like many Americans and like to wait until the cupboards are completely bare before you do your shopping (after all, why go shopping if there’s no room to put the goods?), you could end up re-living your college days by only eating ramen noodles and Easy Mac. That’s one reason (among many) why it’s important to have food and water storage on hand. At a minimum, make sure you have at least 3-days’ worth of food and water stored.

    Instead of fording rivers to see what the stores have to offer, having your own food storage can really keep you afloat during these times. Starting a food storage may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. You can start with a can here, a can there, and gradually build it up over time. Or, you could just dive in head first and take advantage of our year-supply offers by either getting it all in one go. We also has Prep As You Go plans, allowing you to gradually build up your storage over the course of a year, making it a much more affordable option.

    Droughts and floods may seem like polar opposites, but they can leave the same problems in their wake. Not being able to find food when you need it can be very scary. As we like to say around here, the best time to get prepared is yesterday. The second best time is now.

    How have you prepared for flooding? Droughts? What is the most important thing for you to do to get ready? Let us know in the comments!

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Food Storage Tagged With: Boston, drought, flood, Winter

  • Mother Nature: A Study in Unpredictability

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    motherNatureW

    hen it comes to rowdy weather, we seem to have it all figured out by region: earthquakes in California, tornadoes in Kansas, hurricanes in Florida, and whiteouts in Maine, right? How, then, do we account for recent phenomena like snow in SoCal, a first-time-ever hurricane off the coast of Brazil, and Oklahoma's new distinction as the US's most earthquake prone state? As we prepare for the unexpected, why is it so hard to know what to expect?

    The answer is that Mother Nature refuses to be figured out. She regularly breaks patterns, records, and electrical grids; and her only truly reliable feature is her unpredictability. (Now that I think about it, in some ways she's a lot like my two year-old. Only with a little less applesauce in her hair.)

    While meteorologists and seismologists puzzle over the whys and wherefores, for the rest of us, the biggest question regarding the prospect of a natural disaster is something more along the lines of, "How do I not die?"

    Good question. For our money, the best way to stay on our toes when Mother Nature is feeling capricious is to prepare for a range of circumstances. Have a fire escape plan and a tsunami evacuation route; know how to secure windows for a hurricane and protect pipes against a freeze; teach kids where to hunker down in an earthquake and where to run to in a tornado.

    map We all know where “Tornado Alley” is. Or do we? This map shows that tornados occur just about anywhere they choose.

    Most natural disasters have a specific set of recommended safe practices (check out Ready.gov's disaster specific tips sheets), and we don't want to confuse advice like `stay low in a fire,' and 'stay high in a flood.' Other preparations, however, are not only common to any disaster, but also vital. Here are three that could save your family, no matter what Mother Nature throws your way.

    We all know where "Tornado Alley" is. Or do we? This map shows that tornados occur just about anywhere they choose.

    Store food. Have we mentioned this before? Once or twice? Whether you're an advanced practitioner, with an extensive and neatly catalogued food storage, or a student with a couple of cans of chili under your bed, you need to consider how to access your stash in a hurry. Most organizations recommend keeping 72 hours worth of food handy. You could pull from your storage and make sure you have enough for each family member for three days in some kind of easily accessible pack. Or you could look into pre-packaged kits, like our Premium 4-Person 72-Hour Food Bucket.

    prep101 Learn about the 12 Areas of Preparation. Click on this image to download your own online booklet— Prep 1010: An Introduction to Getting Prepared.
    Store water. Again, the recommendation is water for three days (though longer term storage is a smart idea!). Figuring one gallon per person per day—and more for pets, children, or the elderly—that adds up quickly. There are loads of water storage options on the market, for long and short term, as well as filters and purifiers in case of contamination. Check here to see our range of water storage barrels, packaged water, and water treatment mechanisms.

     

    Store supplies. You may be MacGyver when it comes to household fix-it jobs, but a collapsed roof or flooded living room are going to require more than duct tape and paper clips. Be sure you have a well-stocked emergency supply kit stashed somewhere you can find it readily. FEMA has a useful emergency supply list, for general purposes. For more focused preparation, browse of collection of emergency kits, including everything from auto emergency kits, to power outage kits, to classroom school emergency kits.

     

    So, while this February the Rocky Mountains are enjoying 60° afternoons and Tennessee schools are closed due to icy roads, don’t be outsmarted by that shifty Mother Nature character. The facts are, tornados do strike in Salt Lake City, and Oklahomans will likely feel at least three tremors today. Who knows what’s in store for the rest of the country? Prepare for nature’s curveballs by keeping the basics on hand!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: unpredictability, mother nature

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