September is National Preparedness Month. For some, disaster prepping is a way of life, but I believe that everyone should have some level of disaster preparedness plan. A common standard is to at least have a plan to get you through the first 72 hours. (Most recently, they are recommending two weeks) It is a commonly recommended length of time as most disasters are in recovery after a couple of days. If help does come, it could easily take that long to get to you. I think of it as insurance. You don’t have to live your life like the world is going to come to an end tomorrow. You don’t expect your house to burn down, but you have insurance in case it does, because it would be devastating. Well, so would being in a large scale disaster without any idea of what to do.
What is Shit Hit the Fan?
When the Shit Hits the Fan is an expression that means when things get bad all of a sudden. In prepper world there are a few acronyms that you may or may not be familiar with:
- SHTF or WTSHTF – When the Shit Hits the Fan
- EOTWAWKI – End of the World as We Know It.
- WROL – Without Rule of Law
What Type of Disaster Will Occur?
While it is impossible to predict the future, certain outcomes are more or less likely based on particular factors, like where you live.
- SouthEast US is prone to Hurricanes and flooding.
- California is inclined to earthquakes and sequentially, large waves.
- Dry desert and forest areas, such as Arizona, are prone to fire.
- Anywhere on low ground near a river or wash is at risk of flooding.
- If you live in a large city with government and financial centers, there might be more risk of terrorist attacks, which could take many forms.
- Certain financial indicators seem to warn of pending price inflation and/or financial collapse. The scale of which could be who knows how economically detrimental for who knows how long.
Then How Can We be Prepared?
If we don’t know what disaster will happen, how can we possibly be ready? Regardless of which disaster we are facing, we have certain basic needs that are universal. Oxygen, Water, food, and protection from the elements. First and foremost, we will always need clean air to breathe. Fortunately, unless you are buried, underwater, or in the middle of a huge fire, there is usually plenty around.
If the air is OK, clean water to drink should be your first concern. It is good to keep some bottled water at your home. Experts recommend 64oz. per person per day at a minimum, and more with heavy weather or exercise. If taking water of questionable drinkability, it is best to filter (at least through a T-shirt or some tight weave fabric) and boil it. Alternatively, one can purify water by adding two drops of bleach per quart (or 8 per gallon), stir (not with your finger as it would absorb the bleach) and let sit for half an hour.
The Best Stuff to Have
After planning for water, inventory your food. Most people have a few days food in the house. If you lose power for more than a few hours, fill a cooler with food, get ice if you can, or fill a cooler with frozen stuff and eat the stuff in the fridge first.
If it is a situation that requires that you evacuate, grab your family, all the food, clothes, tools, and camping gear you can and quickly try to beat the rush. Most cities do not have adequate transportation system to allow efficient evacuation. Maybe it is a situation that will allow you to choose whether to stay or go.
What if It Is a Long Term Disaster?
What if Johnny prepper is right? If it is a bigger deal than a couple of days, irrespective to what you have, it may be even more important to have skills to survive. The ability to farm, garden, hunt, fight, hide, heal, build, sew, repair, barter, and trade would be invaluable in a long term situation.
There could be shortages of food, water, power, fuel. There could be dangers in the form of gangs or looters, or even corrupt government supported militia sent to keep the peace. People will be capable of terrible things if their families are starving.
No matter what happens or how long things are in disarray, some form of order will be restored at some point. And those who have done things they shouldn’t have, even in the name of survival, will be held accountable.
Some Quick Tips in an Emergency
- A Bic lighter is worth 10 “fire starters” on any given day.
- A good knife is about the most universal tool you can have.
- Water from flooding is full of chemical and biological contanimants.
- If the water is turned off, the back of the toilet has good clean water in it (until it gets flushed). The water heater is also full of drinkable water.
You don’t need to be Bear Grylis, but there are certain skills most people should have. The ability to build a fire, tie a knot, basic first aid, etc. If everyone has some useful skills and a few resources saved, most disasters will be more easily managed.