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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.
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