Tips for Getting Prepared for Disaster

Preparedness – part II

As Christians, we are called to be prepared for things to come.  If you have been watching the news over the past couple of years it is no surprise that our world has a lot of difficulties from civil unrest, to all sorts of disasters (natural and man made.)  I am amazed at the seemingly ever-increasing reports of food being recalled due to salmonella or other contamination problems.  I know of many people that have received a prophetic word from God to get prepared.  I also know of many others that see the writing on the wall and are preparing.  My husband, Tim, received a word from God to start getting prepared over 5 years ago.  He knew that God was giving us time to get prepared and now the time is upon us to be ready.  We are happy to share with you the things we have done, the knowledge we have obtained and our other resources.

There are a lot of sites out there with information for disaster preparedness such as FEMA and the Red Cross.  Both of these have guides for preparedness.  As you may surmise, the level of preparedness needed is largely dependent on the type of disaster.  I believe that part of being prepared is thinking about the worst-case scenarios – other than nuclear inhalation.  When we think about what we would do we set our brain in motion to problem solve and come up with solutions.  Then when the disaster occurs we are able to adapt and react with some semblance of organization.  Have you ever been involved in an accident?  Think about the things you learned from that experience that would help you if you come upon an accident later.  It is the same principle.

Communication

One of the first things to do is to make a communication plan.  How will you communicate with your family if there is a difficulty?  Where will you meet?  How will you communicate if you are separated?  Experts recommend that you have an evacuation plan including a plan of whom you would all call outside of the area in case communications are just down locally.  Of course you will want an evacuation plan for just leaving your house in case of fire and a larger one for evacuating the area.

We have a plan of where to meet if we are working outside of our home area.  We also have people outside the area that we will check in with to let them know we are ok as well as to communicate with each other.  We have acquired some hand held battery operated radios (and extra batteries) and a portable battery operated radio.  You will definitely want a portable radio so that you can hear the news if there is a disaster and a major power outage.  Also think about what you might need if you need to leave work and evacuate on foot.  I have small backpack at work that I can carry a few water bottles and some snacks as well as some emergency cash.

Water

The next most important thing is to make sure you have plenty of water for your family and pets (do not forget to plan for pets – they are family members too.)  We are able to survive longer without food than without water.  The Red Cross recommends 1 gallon of water for each person per day.  I have attached the emergency guide from the Red Cross for you.

You may recall from some of our recent disasters like Katrina, that water was the crucial supply that everyone needed.  Do you have a plan of how to collect water if our water system goes down or becomes compromised?  Many emergency preparedness experts recommend filling up your bathtubs, sinks, buckets, pots, pans and other containers at the first sign of potential emergency.  You will want water to help flush toilets and that is the point of filling bathtubs, etc.  The Red Cross also says to have a minimum of a 3-day supply on hand at all times.  You can do this with bottled water and the big gallons of water from the grocery store.

For more extreme situations, you might consider how you would purify water if needed.  Water purification can be as simple as boiling, purifying tablets, household beach, and purifying systems. Washington State has a great handout on basic water purification located at http://www.doh.wa.gov/phepr/handbook/purify.htm .  I have attached a copy for you.  If you want to step up your game and purchase a purification system take a look at your outdoor and sporting goods stores like REI.

We have buckets to catch rainwater, or fill from the sink.  We also make sure to have regular beach on hand at all times and we have a couple of different purifying systems.

Food

Having food on hand is a bit easier, at least initially than storing up water.  I am sure that most of us have a freezer and a pantry with extra food items.  But some things to consider are how will you cook it if the power is out?  And if the power is out how fast can you cook and eat up the freezer items before they spoil?

This past summer, my phase of our preparedness plan kicked in and I spent the summer learning how to can, dehydrate and store food for long term.  If you are not feeling quite so domestic you might consider looking into packaged emergency preparedness food items.  Check out Sams Club and Costco for dehydrated/dried meal packs.  They range from less than $100 for a few week supplies to over $4,000 for a one-year supply.  Costco has a 10 pack of 6 gallon food storage buckets and separate food package sets for vegetables, fruits and meats.

Honeyville Grain at http://store.honeyvillegrain.com/ has a lot of food that is already dried and ready to use.  I also get my oxygen absorbers that I use in my dried food packaging.  No matter how much you order, the shipping is only about $5.

In case you are interested in preparing food for storage on your own, here is the information that I learned.  I love this site for how to can, freeze, dry anything.  I use it to figure out how to can food.  It has great instructions and pictures.

How to can, freeze, dry any fruit or vegetable at home  www.pickyourown.org/allaboutcanning.htm

This is a fabulous site for learning how to dehydrate and package food for short term and long term use.  They have about 8 videos showing exactly what to do and what the end product should look like.  Dehydrate 2 store

www.dehydrate2store.com/  This site also teaches you how to vacuum-seal food for long term storage and how to cook with dehydrated items.

This site has a lot of information for dehydrating meat and fish.

Preservation of Game Meats and Fish

www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/he155w.htm

I purchased my canning equipment (about $100 for the canner and a few supplies – not including jars) at Bed Bath and Beyond (BB&Y); I purchased my Nesco (700 watt) food dehydrator from Amazon for around $100; and I purchased my food storage sealer at Amazon for around $170 (I also saw them at Sams Club and BB&Y).

I purchased 40 pounds of beans and rice and vacuum sealed it smaller 2 and 3-cup packages.  I have successfully dehydrated and vacuum-sealed apples, oranges, grapefruits, tomatoes, zucchini, collard greens, papaya, green pepper, carrots and cucumber.  I have not started dehydrating meat, but I have purchased a dehydrated meat pack from Costco.  I have taken a sampling of all the dehydrated and packaged foods and packaged them in 6 gallon plastic buckets (honeyville grain or Costco online.)  I used oxygen absorbers (Honeyville grain) in the vacuum-sealed bags and the buckets to assist in keeping the food dry and fresh longer.

I know several people who have purchased seeds for growing their own food.  The key is to get seeds that are not GMO (genetically modified organism) and that can be stored for several years.  I saw some at Sams Club on line and at Survival Seed Bank at

http://www.survivalseedbank.com/?gclid=CJGPp4yUgqkCFRG4KgodCTygSA   I put in a few gardens over the past couple of years with an idea to start growing more produce and then canning or dehydrating it for future use.

You might also watch for canned and dry good items to go on sale and start building your storehouse.  Remember that you will want to rotate these items by using and replacing them, whereas, most prepared dehydrated foods can be stored up to 25 years.

We figure we can use our gas grill to cook or a backyard fire pit.  You might consider a camp stove and extra propane.

Other Things to Consider

Heat/light – think about what you will do if the heat or electricity is out.  Did you know that when you travel in your car during the winter it is a good idea to carry a few candles and matches?  Candles do put out heat and can help heat your car.  The same might be true of a room in your home.  We have a very large bathroom in our basement that we could “camp” in and I believe that we could heat it with candles.  Do you have sleeping bags and extra bedding to help keep warm?

Faraday cages – A faraday cage can protect your electronics from an Electro Magnetic Pulses (EMP).  This is the type of pulse that will knock out ALL electronics – it is like a lightning strike that surges through your outlet and fries your computer except that it will strike EVERYTHING at once and surge protectors will not help us.  These pulses can come from extreme solar activity or from a device detonated over our country by an unfriendly country – I have heard a few of them are already trying to figure out how to get a boat off of one of our coasts to do this very thing.  Here is a site that discusses how to put a faraday cage together

http://preparednesspro.wordpress.com/2009/06/18/emp-101-part-iv-faraday-cage/  – An easy one seems to be an old microwave (with the cord cut off) since they are designed to keep microwaves inside, it is thought that they will keep the EMP out.  You will want to put your battery operated portable radio in here as well as any other radios, phones, electronics, GPS, batteries, etc.  This website talks about using a microwave as a faraday cage

http://apps.onesecondafter.com/Forum/message/index.cfm?topicgroupID=10569&topicID=15495&messageID=46444&start=0&isLast=0

Evacuation gear – Do you have supplies and gear in case you need to hit the road?  You know, tents, sleeping bags, cold weather gear, camping equipment, backpacks.  Also, do you have everything stored and labeled in one or two areas so that you can grab the stuff and hit the road?  Don’t forget important papers, car titles, proof of residence, etc.

We discovered that we were not prepared to evacuate this past summer when there was a forest fire very near to our house.  We started going through the house and packing up what we thought we had room to take and what we would need.  We were surprised at how little we could take with us in our cars and at how useless a lot of our stuff was for helping us survive.  We also needed to prepare to bring out cat and all his cat stuff with us – don’t forget to plan for your furry kids!

Bartering – think about things that you can easily collect that you can use to bargain for other goods or services such as jewelry, extra cash at home, liquor, toilet paper, extra food, etc.

I know that all of this may seem a bit extreme, and you may think we are a couple of paranoid freaks, but we have had over five years to prepare and we have done a ton of research.  Now we can share this information with you to help you prepare for your families and friends.  We believe that a time may come when we might need to come together to survive some tragedy or disaster.  We also believe that if we are not here to use our supplies someone else may be able to use them.

Please note that we are fully aware that Matthew 6:20 states, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”  We are called to make sure that we are keeping our focus and faith on our Lord and we are to know that He will provide for us, however, we are also called to listen to His Word and His promptings and to act in the world to prepare for things to come.   We are also called to take care of our families and that includes anyone that we come across because everyone on earth is our family because they are created in the image of God, whether they know or accept it or not.

1 Timothy 5:8 (NIV)

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

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