My heart and prayers go out to our fellow citizens in 17 states who were caught in the path known as Monster Storm Sandy. As I follow the news reports and look at the incredible pictures of all the destruction that occurred from the biggest natural disaster to ever hit the United States, I can't help but wonder, "What's next?'' It certainly seems that the number of natural disasters have been rapidly increasing. No area is safe from experiencing one of these life changing events.
One fact that has become perfectly clear is this: the government cannot be expected to be the end all/do all in disaster recovery. Individuals and families fare best when they are prepared and in charge of their own recovery. So, I've asked myself, what do I NEED TO DO NOW to prepare for the major disaster which could very likely happen in my community? Nothing fancy. Just the basics needed to endure this kind of hardship. Here is what I came up with:
POWER. Monster Storm Sandy made it very clear: the power grid in the United States is outdated, and unable to maintain the level of service we are accustomed to, when a disaster strikes. With the last three major events to hit the U.S., it took a minimum of four days and a maximum of 3 weeks, for power to be fully restored. What does that mean to me? I need to be able to provide my own power source: Batteries, candles, fire wood, and a generator. Stocking up on AAA, AA, and those D batteries needed for flashlights, is essential for a continuous light source. Candles are a good alternative and provide some light, but let's face it, they also carry with them a danger factor. Fire wood for a fireplace or an outdoor fire pit, provides light and warmth. A generator is optimal but expensive. We bought our gas powered generator for around a thousand dollars back during the Y2K scare (remember that?).
Our generator is not exactly easy to access currently.
It is meant to keep the fridge and possibly a television up and running but man, is it ever loud. Everyone in a mile radius of our home will know what we have going on when a disaster strikes. Taking inventory this week, I need to get batteries along with some fire wood. And I keep telling my husband he needs to rev up the generator and make sure it is working especially after I heard Bill O'Reilly on his television show, The O'Reilly Factor, relate how his $10,000 generator did not work after Sandy struck. Be prepared with lots of back ups.
WATER. It doesn't take much to disrupt the flow of clean water in a disaster. And just because the water isn't flowing, that doesn't mean you still don't need it to drink, to cook, to take a spit bath, and to flush a toilet. Store water in different size containers. I have your average drinking water bottles, two 5-gallon water cooler bottles, and seven, 50 gallon drums filled with water. Hopefully this will be enough to last a few weeks until the water is running again.
In my quick check, one thing I noticed, were the cases of drinking water I have been collecting weren't as many as I had thought. I guess we have used more of those handy bottles than I had thought. Time to stock up with 3 or 4 more cases.
WARMTH. You never know when a disaster is going to strike. Most likely it will be during undesirable weather conditions. Staying warm is the key to being at your best mentally and physically. How is your supply of blankets, sleeping bags, coats, socks, mittens and scarfs? I'm not talking about the fashion statement kind but ones meant to maintain body heat. I just bought a pair of warm, woolen mittens just for such an emergency.
Our socks are more of the athletic nature than practical and durable. I definitely need to buy some heavy duty ones.
FOOD. Now this should be obvious: have some extra food on hand. For an emergency situation, you need to have a minimum 2 week supply of dry goods. Canned milk, soup, veggies, fruits, pasta, and even some treats, will help curb your family's hunger pains. You can't rebuild and move forward after a disaster if you don't have energy. I always try to pick up a few extra canned goods every time I go to the market. But when I took inventory of what I had on hand, I realized that I have been whittling away at those items. My pantry has really gone down and if I had to live on what I have on hand, it would get pretty scary after 5 or 6 days.
This pantry needs some organizing, don't you think?There is always that hope that the trucks would be rolling again a few days after a disaster with inventory to fill up the grocery shelves. But again, you can't rely on normal after a disaster. Can't forget about having a way to cook the food as well. We bought a camp stove years ago yet have never used it. I need to figure out soon how it works and compares to my gas range in cooking every day foods. During a disaster is not the time to try this out for the first time.
ENTERTAINMENT. This is especially important if you have little kids around. The adventure of a disaster gets old pretty quick. After the most important needs are met, what do you do with all your time? Schools will be closed. Roads impassable. Jobs shut down. First and foremost, you want to make your living space safe. Once secure, you can help your neighbors be safe as well. Then what? Television, computers, and other electrical powered items will not be accessible. It is wise to have a variety of non-electric, recreational activities on hand to pass the time and take your mind off the stress a disaster brings.
Playing cards and other games, books, coloring books and crayons, puzzles. Storing them in one, easy to access area is ideal.
I am going to be focused the next couple of days on making sure at least these things are in order. Living along a major fault line in California, I'd hate to have the "big one" hit and then be mad at myself because I hadn't gotten my emergency preparedness in order.
Are you prepared for a major disaster? What have you done to be ready for an emergency?