In this, and the next article, I’ll cover a few tips I have picked up over the years. Most of the prepping for a disaster should be done before something is heading your way. Doing small things here and there can bring you closer to the goal and you won’t burn out trying to do everything all at once. Choose what is most important and work on that first while completing some of the small things as time and money allow.
• When something is on sale, buy in bulk, whether it is food or non-food, pet food, first-aid supplies, etc.
• Dehydrate, can or freeze dry any perishable foods as available. Refrigerators and freezers cannot help for long during a power outage. One exception to this is outages during the winter.
• Chest freezers are better than upright freezes during a power outage. When the door to a upright freezer is opened, all the cold air floods out the bottom. The inside is then cooled back down by the frozen items within. These items cannot sustain a frozen temperature for long periods of time. A chest style freezer only allows a little of the cold air to escape when the door is opened, keeping the contents frozen for a few more hours, or days, depending on the quality and capacity.
• Have metal trash cans in which to store pet foods so that mice and other vermin cannot help themselves to the gourmet buffet.
• Every canning jar should be filled with something, if not canned food, then water. Boil water and fill empty jars for short-term storage (washing dishes or cooking) or can water for long term storage and drinking. Canned water may have a “flat” taste but will be welcomed if a crisis strikes.
• Have a first aid kit. This doesn’t have to be a fancy pre-made one from the store. Think about your needs, research what is in some of them and decide what is best for your household. A few “out-of-the-box” items I like to include in my kit are clove essential oil (for tooth aches), lavender essential oil (for itchy bug bites), real iodine (the kind that burns like crazy and dyes the skin an orangey/red color), a needle, dried yarrow or salt (for bleeding), and activated charcoal (absorb internal toxins). I may cover a more detailed list in a future article.
• I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice, but this is something I know that has worked for us. We always try to pick up any prescription medicines as soon as they can be refilled. Generally, for non-controlled prescriptions, it is every 28 days for a 30-day supply. Over the course of a year, that adds up to 24 days’ worth of back-up meds (2 per month x 12 months). We always use the oldest pills first so the stuff on hand is fresh. When a disaster hits and you cannot get to the pharmacy or there isn’t a pharmacy there anymore, this could mean having a few extra days before needing to get more medicine that may be necessary for daily life.
• Study edible wild plants and insects in your area. Yes, insects. To the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet. Better to be prepared and not need it than to need it and not be ready.
• Always try to keep your vehicle’s gas tank full. Once an upcoming disaster is announced or hits, how long will the lines at the pump be? Don’t be a hoarder, others need it, too, but keep vehicles topped off at all times so there is one less thing to worry about when the time comes.
• If there is no clean ground water around but there is a well, installing a hand pump can mean the difference between having fresh water or none at all. Not everyone can jump into a car, drive up the road to a fully supplied and functioning store in the middle of a disaster. Humans can live about eight to 21 days without food. However, in certain circumstances, especially if it is hot and an injury is involved, a human may only last a day or so, without water; maybe up to three days. Although they are more expensive than the shallow well pumps, deep well hand pumps are also available.
• Remember, a power outage may be short and simple, but what if it is a disaster and you are injured with no means of getting any help for days. Clean water is essential.
Part three, next week.