“Needs” are necessities for short-and-long-term disasters; daily needs for living and/or improving the situations that arise:
• Clean water – during an emergency, a fancy water filter is not needed, what is needed is the water. As long as the water has not been contaminated with chemicals, filtering it through multi-layers of cloth or a homemade filter and then boiling it for at least 10-15 minutes before using usually works just fine.
• Simple foods – dried grains such as beans, rice and other items, that last for a long time at room temperature, and can be easily cooked over an open fire if needed.
• A way to heat/cook food – During a power outage, electric stoves and many modern gas/ propane stoves will not operate. As of three years ago, while doing research, I found that most modern propane/ gas stoves now have a “failsafe shutoff” in them that will automatically shut off the gas flow when it detects a power outage. If you have a gas stove, test it to see if it will operate during an outage before relying on it as a source for cooking. There are many options for cooking during a power outage; from an inexpensive single eye propane burner to expensive oven set ups. Do you have a fire pit? Using a spit to cook over an open fire can be a memorable experience for beginners. And remember, a single pot can serve as a cooking device as well as a serving dish. The fewer the dishes that need to be washed, the better to conserve water.
• Light source – This may fall under “needs” or “comfort” depending on the situation at hand. Solar powered lights are the best and safest option here. They can charge during the day and be used to light into the night. Solar power was not an option when I was little. Flashlights are great in the short term, but if the outage lasts a long time, other sources will be needed since batteries die. Candles and lanterns with open flames ought not to be feared but can present a fire hazard when not handled properly. There are different styles of lanterns made to help improve the safety of using candle and oil burning flames. Even so, these devices should never be left unattended. Other items that will hold a small flame for a while are crayons and different oils and greases with a strip of cotton cloth soaked in it. Research things before the need arises.
• Heat or warmth during the cold – Staying warm during the cold is essential. Hypothermia only takes about 10 minutes at -30 degrees. In near-freezing water, a person can become unconscious in less than 15 minutes and die in about 30-90 minutes. I love using wood stoves and a properly installed one is great, but there are other options as well. If a non-powered heat source is not an option, be sure to have warm blankets and clothing; don’t forget the head, face and hands. Try setting up a tent inside the home. A common camping tent holds in the warmth produced by body temperature to help stay warm while you sleep. Be sure fresh air can penetrate the tent, don’t use plastic. Cooking on a gas stove will generate a lot of warmth but do not try to heat a home with one. The open flames from a gas cook stove emit carbon monoxide. The longer it is left running the greater the danger of CO2 poisoning or death, especially in well insulated homes.
• Pet foods – Having extra pet food on hand means having the ability to keep them fed when getting to a store is not possible for a long while.
• First aid kit – Basic first aids kits are readily available for purchase from many stores but because everyone’s’ needs are different, compiling a personal one should be considered. *See Daily tips and early setup 1 of 2
• Daily Medication – What if you can’t get to the drug store or there is no mail running for a few days? What about a few weeks? Is there enough blood pressure medicine, insulin, etc. to carry you safely through? *See Daily tips and early setup 1 of 2
• Have a set emergency station within the home somewhere. This station can be very small. When the lights go out at night, will you be able to find your way through the dark? One suggestion is to have this area near an outlet. Plug in a small rechargeable night light that will come on automatically in the dark. A small table or shelf near this could hold a flashlight, lantern, first aid kit or any other items you may want here.
Early prepping for anything is good (“Be Prepared” – Robert Baden-Powell, 1908), but when storms and warnings of doom encroach all around, what then?
Next up is about when the storm or disaster comes.