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A good way to keep your survival kit together is to use new plastic barrels with tight-fitting lids. First get the barrels and lids clean and dry. Each barrel can hold quite a bid of essentials and keep them clean and dry. In an emergency, it will be much easier to get a few barrels out than all the necessary items separately.
Large plastic containers with tight-fitting lids can be used to store food items that come in paper boxes or sacks to keep them clean, dry, and free of bugs.
Keep your barrels and large plastic containers in the garage or a storage shed. Have all the larger items (camping stove, etc.) in the same area. Keep everything accessible at all times; don't put four bicycles and the lawnmower between your survival essentials and the exit. In an emergency, you may need to get all of these items out of the garage or shed quickly. None of your supplies is of any use if you are not able to get to it.
Food items should be stored separate from fuels and other items than could contaminate them.
Fuels are flammable and should be kept in appropriate containers. (Gasoline should only be stored in gasoline cans.) All fuels should be kept away from direct sunlight, heaters, pilot lights, the clothes dryer, or any other source of heat or open flame.
Put together a first-aid kit. A fishing tackle box can keep most of it in one place and can be moved quickly and easily. Or, you can buy a commercial first-aid kit.
Be sure to use and rotate your supplies (use oldest items first), and replace items as they are used up. Keep supplies clean and in working order. If you have a generator, run it as often as the manufacturer recommends to keep it in good order.
We have made up a list as a guide. A country dweller may have different needs than someone in an apartment in the middle of a city. Every situation is different, and everyone has their own special needs. Use the list as a guide to get yourself thinking about your own situation. Be sure to check out our articles and other pages.
HOME SURVIVAL KIT LIST
mixed fruit juice
apple cider vinegar
instant hot chocolate
instant dry milk
Some of the main things to consider are: water, food, heat, light, safety, health, sanitation, pet care, protection, and finance.
This part will tell you why you need to stock up on all of the other items now. Most of us live a cashless lifestyle. We use checks, debit cards, and credit cards. When we lose power in a disaster, so do the stores. If the stores were not damaged too badly, and their goods were not damaged too badly, the owner might even open the store for business. You could buy whatever didn't break. Well, some people could. You see, the owner can't run your credit card or debit card through any machine. You have checks, but he isn't set up to deal with them either without electricity. That's okay because you have three $100 bills in your wallet. But, his cash register is electric and won't open. You can use $100 to buy whatever you want to, but he can't give you any change. The ATM machine that would have been able to give you smaller bills doesn't work without electricity. So, an important item to stock up on is cash. Twenties, tens, fives and ones, and even some coins.
Those who didn't prepare were the first ones to go the stores. That includes lots of people. There is a run on water, milk, bread, baby food, batteries, matches and candles. To prevent a riot, the owner has to put a per-person limit on all these items. The line is around the block. Two hundred people want to buy water at the very least, and there are now only about forty bottles left.
Your credit cards, debit cards, checks, and even your cash probably won't be able to help you survive a disaster after it strikes. Most of Southern California is broken, damaged or destroyed. Grocery items are delivered daily, and supplies could certainly be brought in from Northern California and other states. But, the highways all have major damage and trucks can't get the supplies through. Trains won't dare run until every inch of track is checked for movement or breakage that would throw the train onto its side or worse. Even if you could get to another town for supplies, your car is almost out of gas. Gas station pumps work off electricity.
Too many people, not enough supplies, no spendable money, no gas, and family members at home waiting for you to bring home dinner. Dinner? It could be at least three days before a safe route can be found for supplies to reach the stores - or it could be three weeks.
Please start stocking up on essential items now, and stock up for at least a month's worth. Three months would be better if a major power station were to be put out of commission. It would take so little to give you so much peace of mind. You can't even balk at the cost for two reasons: 1) buying for such a long period of time can be done in bulk, resulting in a lower price per item than buying one or two at a time; and 2) you can use all of these items now if you simply replace them right away. In fact, this replacement method will insure that everything will be safe and usable when it is actually needed.
Your only real worry at the time of a disaster should be the immediate safety of you and your family, and taking care of any injuries that may have occurred as a result.
First, check to be sure that no one is injured. If there are any injuries, you will have to use your own first-aid kit. Phone lines may be down so you may not be able to call for help, and rescuers will be helping those most seriously injured first. Even if the phone lines are down, your cellular phone will probably work. If a disaster strikes while you are at work and your family is at home, you might need a cellular phone on both ends to check on each other.
Think through possible injuries so you can be prepared in advance. Butterfly bandages can be used as "stitches" in smaller wounds. Menstrual pads can be used to cover and protect large wounds. You may actually need to stitch a large wound yourself if medical help simply can't reach you and you are unable to get to help.
At Safe Natural Cures, you can read about Lavender Essential Oil as an essential burn remedy for your first-aid kit (under Sunburn and Burns). Raw honey has been used for centuries as an antibiotic and healing agent when applied to wounds.
Many types of disasters can severely damage your home. If you are not sure if your home is safe after the initial strike, stay outdoors. Go "camping." If your home seems unsafe but your garage looks very safe, get the car out of there and move into the garage. You can get an idea of a building's stability by looking at the walls, ceilings and floors. There may be many thin cracks, but these should not be a real problem. Large cracks, broken beams, or any new gaps or openings are not good signs, neither are creaking or cracking noises.
Sweep up any pieces and slivers of broken glass, ceramic or porcelain so there is no danger of injury to your family from them.
Before September 11, 2001, most wives thought that having a cellular phone simply was an essential. If a woman's car broke down in the middle of nowhere, she could either call roadside assistance or her husband for help. And, she could tell her husband she was late but safe. This spread to parents feeling safer about their teenage drivers if their kids carried a cellular phone at all times.
Watching all of the disaster news, we kept hearing about people who called their wives, husbands and mothers (etc.) to say good-bye or "I love you" when they knew they were going to die. That was like being hit with an emotional hammer.
Some people who were trapped during the disaster were able to tell people where they were because they had a cellular phone.
We now know that a cellular phone can be a critical "survival essential" in more ways than we ever imagined.
If we lose phone lines during or after a disaster, wives will most likely still be able to call their husbands if they both have a cellular phone. Kids with their own cellular phones can call their parents to let them know where they are and if they need immediate medical help or if they are safe. Etc.
You will need a solar or battery-operated radio to find out what is happening in your immediate area and the rest of your city, possibly even the rest of your state. It can be comforting to hear that all is well in many areas and that help is on the way. You will probably also hear warnings like the water supply is not safe to drink or looting is occurring three blocks away. You can protect yourself and your family from problems only if you are able to find out that they exist.
If you don't hear any warnings about the water supply being tainted, you may want to quickly clean out the bathtub, rinse it well, and fill it with water because the water may be shut off soon. Rinse the dust ouf of the clean buckets you have on hand, then fill them with clean water. If you do find out afterwards that the water is not safe to drink, there are many more ways that it could come in handy in the next few days or weeks, and even ways to make it safe to drink if necessary.
Despite the horrific loss of life from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, so many more people survived than it was first feared. Many were able to escape, and the attacks were "still early by New York time" (according to one television commentator). This was wonderful news. But, let's look at the "survivors" who live in the immediate area and right around it.
Little has been said about the residents of downtown Manhattan and how their way of life was affected. We were all touched either physically or emotionally by this disaster - even those who lived across the country and across the world, even those who didn't personally know anyone who was hurt or lost. But these residents were affected in more ways than you may realize.
When a large disaster (terrorist attack, earthquake, tornado, etc.) strikes, many of the necessities of life are suddenly gone - instantly gone. Electricity is the first to go. Natural gas is the first to be turned off for safety reasons if the lines didn't already break. Phone lines fall down, break, or get overloaded. Water lines break, and those that don't may soon be filled with water that is not safe to drink. Streets are suddenly not passable or, at best, not safe for vehicles. Vehicles are trapped by garage doors that can't open. If your vehicle is accessible and you dare venture out, the street lights are not working, leaving you in great danger at every intersection. When you reach the store, they can only accept cash (in the exact amount), and they are out of food and water anyway. Do you dare start driving at all, since you will not be able to get gas - the pumps work on electricity. Your home gets colder and colder without any source of heat. The child you finally calmed down goes into hysterics again when you try to go just a few feet away to use the toilet, because she will be left in total darkness.
None of this is easy to cope with, but you can get through it so much easier and safer (and with fewer hysterics!) with a little preparation. Disasters happen all the time somewhere in the world. Are you ready if one hit your neighborhood next week? Find out what you need to do now before it is too late. Emergency preparedness now will make all the difference in your survival later.
You want to get through a disaster safely and with as little inconvenience as possible. For the long-term effects, you need to prepare like you would if you were leaving home for a vacation deep in the woods away from everything. For the short-term effects, you need to think first of safety. We'll use an earthquake as the example, and you need to think through whatever kind of disaster may affect your area of the country.
During an earthquake, get in a doorway or under a sturdy object like the kitchen table. Don't leave the building during the shaking unless there is a great possibility that the building will collapse. Many injuries occur from falling debris from the outside of the building (bricks or windows) or from tree limbs. If you're in bed, roll out of bed, slip on sturdy shoes, and grab your flashlight. You may not be able to get back to them after the shaking stops.
Before an earthquake, talk to your family about what they should each do. Each person can get to their own doorway and wait until the shaking stops. Then you can all get under the kitchen table or some other sturdy piece of furniture before the aftershocks start. Go over the plan with the entire family, then have an occasional drill to be sure everyone will be able to react without hesitation during an earthquake. Children can remain quite calm during an emergency if they have been told in advance what to do. And, you can't know in advance if you will be near enough to help them during the initial shaking, so they need to be able to help themselves. Every family member should keep shoes next to the bed that have a decent sole (not rubber thongs) and can be slipped on quickly. There may be broken glass and ceramics anywhere. Also, adults should have a flashlight next to the bed to guide their way, and children should keep a flashlight under their pillow. Do not light a match or candle since there could be a gas leak.
The shaking has stopped, and you're all unhurt. Now you can all get to a safe place outdoors away from any falling debris if you think your home is in real danger of collapsing. If not, remain inside under sturdy protection until the aftershocks have stopped or calmed down to a safe level. If your car is in a safe location, you can get in your car where you already have two blankets, a spare flashlight, a first-aid kit, and a portable radio (among other things) to hear news and official warnings. If anyone had been injured, you could control bleeding and keep wounds clean until you could get to a medical facility.
Get the picture? You practiced in advance so even separated children can get to safety and remain calm. You each already have your flashlight and shoes next to the bed. And, you have emergency supplies in your car. You are all unhurt, reasonably calm, warm and dry, and able to hear all the details you need. If you are in your car in the middle of nowhere when the earthquake hits, you have enough supplies with you to last until you can safely get home or until help comes to you.
The aftershocks have stopped, and it is time to take care of yourself, and your family and pets. You may be on your own in lots of ways. You may not have electricity, natural gas for cooking or heating, clean water, or phone service. You need to be prepared in all aspects to keep safe and comfortable at home for at least three days after an earthquake, and in many aspects for up to a month; and your car and office need to contain emergency supplies to last at least three days. In this time of war and uncertainty, it is recommended that you be prepared to survive on your own at home for at least three months.
Phone lines are susceptible to outage because they use wires and cables, but cell phones will still work because they rely on satellites. Cell phone service was out across Southern California for about 20 minutes after the Chino Earthquake (near Los Angeles) on July 29, 2008. This was caused by the extreme number of "Did you feel it?" and "Are you okay?" calls. This type of outage repairs itself when the number of calls is reduced, whereas wired phone service could take days or weeks to be repaired manually. You may not be able to call 911 in those first minutes, but firemen, paramedics, and police begin patrols as soon as the first shaking stops. The best way to help yourself and everyone else is to not make any phone calls in the first hour unless you have a real emergency.
After an earthquake, the first thing to check is your gas main. If there is any leakage, you need to shut off the valve right away. You may even need to turn your gas off at the main if it was not broken, if the earthquake was large enough that aftershocks may cause it to break. Next, get your survival kit to a safe place. Then, get the car out of the garage, if possible. Keep the car out of the garage and away from trees and utility poles since a large aftershock may cause any of these to block your car in. Have everyone stay away from windows and from heavy objects that could fall over (like the entertainment center). After the next aftershock, get heavy items off high shelves so they won't be thrown down on anyone. (You don't want to be in the middle of this action when an aftershock hits, but right after one should be a safe time.) Get breakables off shelves and lay them on the floor so they may not get damaged in the next aftershock to come.
Hurricane hazards come in many forms: storm surge, high winds, tornadoes, and flooding. The key to hurricane protection in all of these areas is preparation. By taking sensible measures before, during and after a hurricane, many lives can be saved, more injuries can be avoided, and property damage can be averted or lessened.
See our SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS index for much more information on first-aid items, emergency supplies, water storage, pet safety, etc.
Getting prepared should begin well before the hurricane season starts. Find out if your home meets current building code requirements for high-winds. Experts agree that structures built to meet or exceed current building code high-wind provisions have a much better chance of surviving violent windstorms. If you do not live in an evacuation zone or a mobile home, designate an interior room with no windows or external doors as the family's meeting place.
Be aware of streams, drainage channels, and areas known to flood so you can plan an evacuation route.
Stock up on non-perishable foods that require no cooking, water, medicines, first-aid supplies, hygiene items, gasoline, emergency supplies, and cash. Optimally, a two-week supply of non-perishable food is recommended. Although it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food supply for that long, such a stockpile can relieve a great deal of inconvenience and uncertainty until services are restored. You should have been saving your empty water bottles, and this is the time to wash them out, rinse them thoroughly, and fill them with clean tap water (which can be stored for up to a year).
Prepare an emergency kit for your home and a second for your vehicle, even if you plan to ride out the storm at home. Store all of these items in unbreakable, waterproof containers. At least one family member should take a first-aid and CPR class, but it would be even better if everyone that is old enough does so. Post emergency telephone numbers by the telephones, and teach your children how and when to call 911 for help.
Preparing your home and yard is also important. Some important preparations you can make include keeping trees and shrubbery trimmed to prevent breakage and to keep loose limbs from becoming airborne in a storm, and remove limbs that could damage your house or utility lines if blown loose. Purchasing window shutters, door shutters, storm shutters, plywood, shovels, sandbags, hammer and nails, and plastic sheeting in advance is good planning and should be less expensive than during the hurricane season. Plastic garbage bags, work boots, and gloves will come in handy also. Call your local emergency management agency to learn how to construct proper protective measures around your home. Find out how to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches.
FEMA Basic Disaster Supplies
There are six basics you should stock in your home:
Keep the items that you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to-carry container. Possible containers include a large, covered trash container; a camping backpack; or a duffle bag.
You should have at least a three-day supply of water and you should store at least one gallon of water per person per day. A normally active person needs at least one-half gallon of water daily just for drinking.
Additionally, in determining adequate quantities, take the following into account:
To prepare safest and most reliable emergency supply of water, it is recommended you purchase commercially bottled water. Keep bottled water in its original container and do not open it until you need to use it.
Observe the expiration or “use by” date.
It is recommended you purchase food-grade water storage containers from surplus or camping supplies stores to use for water storage. Before filling with water, thoroughly clean the containers with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap. Follow directions below on filling the container with water.
If you choose to use your own storage containers, choose two-liter plastic soft drink bottles – not plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them. Milk protein and fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed from these containers and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them. Cardboard containers also leak easily and are not designed for long-term storage of liquids. Also, do not use glass containers, because they can break and are heavy.
If storing water in plastic soda bottles, follow these steps
Thoroughly clean the bottles with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap.Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Swish the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.
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