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Be prepared. August 26, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in chickens, homesteading, pets, wit and wisdom.
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As if the past week’s earthquake wasn’t enough to shake up the East Coast, now we have Hurricane Irene racing up the coastline, threatening to swamp states from North Carolina through New England this weekend. Governors in coastal states are suggesting that people pack up and leave their beachfront properties and vacationers head home pronto. The National Hurricane Center is concerned enough to have featured emergency preparedness checklists, disaster plan recommendations, and etc. on their website (find them at www.nhc.noaa.gov/).

Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood are plenty worried, even here in scenic PA. We’re not expecting 18-foot waves to come crashing over Hawk’s Haven, our cottage home, and sweep us through the surrounding cornfields out to sea. But we could get high winds and flash flooding, and our little house sits beside a stream under some very large trees.

We do have flood insurance, just in case, but there’s not much else we can do to save our property from acts of God beside sending up prayers to the Almighty to spare us and our place from harm. However, Silence and I are big believers in emergency preparedness. We’ve done everything we can think of to be prepared for a prolonged power outage or a situation (unlikely, thank God) in which we’d be forced to evacuate our home. Here are our checklists, for your encouragement and inspiration. We’ll start with the evacuation checklist first since it’s shortest:

* keep car’s gas tank full at all times

* keep first-aid kit in car

* keep emergency food, water, toilet paper and toiletries, utensils, hand sanitizers, “space blanket,” extra clothes, maps, etc. in car

* keep cell phone charged and cell phone car charger ready

* keep car-repair supplies (extra tire, tire repair kit, battery charger, shovel, emergency flares, portable gas tank, etc.etc.) in trunk

* have pet supplies and pet evacuation plan in place (cat carriers, portable bird cages, comfy dog seat liner, etc.)

* have all important documents, for ourselves and our pets, in files in one portable file box, making it possible to race to the car with it in seconds rather than wasting time trying to find/grab everything at the last minute

* have prioritized what to save (family photos, jewelry, etc.) in what order should disaster strike

* have an emergency stash of cash on hand that can be rushed to the car in seconds, since it may be impossible to access money via banks and ATMs 

* have a battery-operated weather radio, battery and solar flashlights, and battery, crank and solar radio, plus extra batteries

Obviously, this list applies in any emergency situation, including a fire. And it’s definitely worst-case. What if, instead, you’re able to stay in your home but might be confined there, potentially without power, for some time? This is way better, but still requires planning. Here’s what we’ve done:

* have first-aid kits for ourselves and the pets, and even a dental first-aid kit

* have plenty of stored water, both spring water for drinking and bottled tap water for flushing and bathing (we’re on a well and septic system, neither of which will operate without electricity)

* have both cell phones and a land line; sometimes only one of these will work

* have lots of food on hand that doesn’t require cooking, a gas stove that can be lit by a match in case of power failure, two solar cookers, and coolers plus constantly frozen ice packs, as well as two propane grills and propane canisters and a fire pit with lots of wood

* have a woodburning stove and piles of cured wood as a backup heat source

* keep ample supplies of toiletries on hand

* keep extra pet and chicken food on hand

* have camp-style toilets on hand

* have battery-operated lanterns, a large supply of long-burning candles, and solar, hand-cranked, and battery-operated radios, flashlights, and etc., plus backup batteries

* have five rain barrels for backup water supplies

* have endless books, board games, and etc. to entertain ourselves

We’re not, in general, big fans of paper and plastic disposable plates and utensils, but should there be no water for washing dishes, it might make sense to keep some of these on hand for an emergency, along with, of course, garbage bags for their disposal. And obviously, if you take prescription meds, you need to have an ample supply on hand, though frankly, we’ve never figured out how you’re supposed to do this. Let’s just hope your doctor is a sensible and caring type who’ll appreciate the necessity and authorize multiple simultaneous prescription fills. 

If you live where a hurricane like Irene could actually send stuff flying through your windows, there are hurricane shutters that can protect them and hurricane-proof glass. You can read more about them in The Christian Science Monitor‘s article “Hurricane preparedness: 5 things you can do to keep safe,” which has lots of useful links embedded in the online version. I found this via Yahoo! News, but you could doubtless Google it and call it up or go direct to www.csmonitor.com.

So okay, what are we missing here? How do you stay prepared? Please let us know!



1. Becca - August 26, 2011

That’s a great list, OFB. Let me add: “comfort food.” and books. candles. is that on the list. I’m trying to think of my hurricane experiences…

Thanks, Becca! Comfort foods (and snack foods) are definitely on the list! One of the few times having cookies and even candy bars around is justified, in our opinion. As for candles and books, great anytime, don’t you think?

2. Cold Pack Canning - August 27, 2011

Great article! here is a tip for thawed out freezers… get some canning jars and can the meat that is starting to thaw out. it will keep for years that way and can be eaten straight from the can without reheating. 🙂

Good idea, and thanks! Obviously, folks should keep the freezer closed until the power’s back on to the stove unless they have a gas stove and can light it with matches. And keeping canning supplies and a good, up-to-date canning book or two on hand, not to mention mastering the basics of canning before an emergency, is a wise idea in any case.

3. pixilated2 - August 27, 2011

What are you missing? Top of the list: A GAS POWERED GENERATOR. In our disaster here in AL. our power was out for a week!!! We were very glad to have had the foresight to have purchased it. It kept the refrigerator and freezer running so our food did not spoil. Also, it ran the coffee pot, toaster, and micro too! 🙂 Be aware also, that in an emergency like that you will be hard pressed to find a generator and if you do, at a reasonable and customary price. Keep several 5 gal. gas cans on hand as well, so you will have gasoline. We had the generator, but didn’t have enough gas cans to travel out of the area to get gas! (We had to drive all the way into Tennessee to get gas! LOL and by then all the cans were sold too! ~ Lynda

It was awful of me not to mention this, Lynda, thanks for speaking up! We can’t afford a generator, and are such techno-morons we wouldn’t know how to hook one up to run our appliances if we did have one. But for those with more common sense, as Lynda says, the time to buy your generator and gas tanks is NOT when an emergency is in progress! I’ve been reading all morning about how local home and hardware stores and even Cabela’s here are selling out of generators as people rush to buy them.

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