Be prepared, heard that before? But just how prepared is prepared, and how much is just nuts?
What contingencies are reasonable to be prepared for and what is on the level with zombies or aliens?
- Acts of violence
- Disasters- natural or man made
These are the key categories that are reasonable and prudent to be prepared for.
I regard my preparation in 3 zones:
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Step 1: Zone 1a- Self
Immediately on me-
I have 3 implements-
- 1. A light,
- 2. A mini tool, many are available, they all essentially do the same thing. Strong enough to pry, can work a few different screws or bolts. Can be just sharp enough to hurt. Oh, and always a bottle opener.
- 3. A whistle. 122db. You can blow a whistle louder and longer than you can shout. Even after a day or two of dehydration you can still blow a whistle.
Most of the time I have a few other tools readily available but these three are almost always on me.
Step 2: Zone 1b- Carry Bag
Your life, your style-
Your carry bag should be whatever works into your lifestyle. Do you carry a backpack to school or a briefcase to the office?
In my carry bag I have these items tucked into one pocket-
- Smoke Hood
- Flashlight, I carry one that is all metal body with a striking bezel
Map of my area and a Compass, (Depending on the situation GPS can become unreliable or unavailable)
Fire Starter with tinder
- Multifunction radio.
My radio receives NOAA Weather, FM, and works with FRS, GMRS. It works with 2m Amatuer radio.
I always have a water bottle too.
Lastly, and this may seem over the top, but my carry bag has a ballistic resistant panel insert. We can call it a lapdesk if you want. Hey, you never know.
So far, none of these have ever given me a problem at TSA.
Step 3: Zone 2a- Transportation, Near the Driver
These should be easy to reach from the drivers seat, and from outside the vehicle at the drivers door-
- Seatbelt cutter.
- Flashlight, with strobe and high/ low settings, like the Streamlight polytac.
- Fire Extinguisher, automotive rated.
Step 4: Zone 2b- Emergency Kit
- Warning triangles or Flares
- Recovery tow strap appropriate for your vehicle.
- Folding shovel
- Snow Shovel
- Antislip (kitty litter, rock salt)
- A bright colored rain coat.
- A coat, hat, boots and gloves appropriate for spending 1-2 hours outside in your worst weather condition.
- Work gloves.
I have the room so I also carry an axe and a folding-type bow saw.
- Sleeping bag/ blankets. I carry both... and enough for as many passengers as is common when it isn't just me. That means me plus 1. I carry a 30⁰ sleeping bag and a moving blanket. The moving blanket is usefull for a lot of other things too.
That other emergency-
- Toilet paper
First Aid Kit-
Put together a real kit, not the box of bandaids and sample size aspirin that comes in most off-the-shelf kits, what is anyone going to do with that?
- EMT Shears,
- a few trauma gauze pads,
- several pressure bandages, a big roll of tape,
- several pairs of nitrile gloves,
- rescue breather barrier,
- a tourniquette,
- foam splint,
- a few rolls of non-woven cohesive bandage wraps,
- a chest seal, etc...
Food and Water-
- 1-2 gallons of water, 6 cans of something you don't mind eating cold, I like "chunky" style soup.
Step 5: Zone 3- Home
Don't get sucked into the nonsense about having a bug-out location.
You know why? Because you and everyone else are thinking the same thing. I can prove it. Have you ever thought, hey honey, let's go out for dinner (or breakfast). When you got to the restaurant you discover you have a 30-45 minute wait for a table. You know why? beacuse that's how people work.
Do you think you have the skills to run to the mountains and live off the land? So does a million other people within the 100 mile radius from you. Reality- the "land" can't support all of you, and nothing can ensure your routes will be open for you to make the trip. Best case scenario maybe you own 40 acres of prime mountian countryside that you visit once a year, in the event of an emergency by the time you get to it- , someone else will already be there.
Don't bug out, bug in.
But first evaluate your home and take any action you need to make it a place that you can stay to ride out the storm of any major disastor.
If your area was hit by a hurricane, or a flood, or a series of tornadoes, or a massive blizzard, or any other number of events that could disrupt public utilities and/ or transportation routes for a week how would you fare?
Evaluate your home, if your property floods and all of your emergency supplies are in the basement what will you loose?
If you live in an earthquake area is there some place in your home that is most likely going to remain structurally sound?
If you live in a wildfire area, have you performed fire abatement measures?
Step 6: Zone 3- Safety and Security.
Do you have the material on hand to board up windows prior to a hurricane, shovel crushing snow off the roof following a blizzard, pump out water after a flood, or shore up load bearing walls after an earthquake. Maybe you can't prevent it, but you can prepare for it. Have the basics on hand before and the after will be much more bearable.
You may consider boarding up a few windows from the inside with black painted plywood. In a worse case scenario during civil unrest you may break the glass of these windows on purpose to give the house a derelict look from the outside. Scatter a few armloads of stuff around the yard, to make it look like the house has already been ransacked. Add some graffiti, and anything bad smelling around the perimeter of the house.
You don't want the house to look like well fortified and supplied people are living fat and happy inside!
Step 7: Zone 3- 3 Week Supply
1 gallon per person per day absolute bare minimum. Some stored in portable containers, recommend not larger than 5 gallon containers, 40 pounds of water is transportable, but I wouldn't go any heavier.
Your water heater holds a lot of water easily available if water service is disrupted. If there is a threat to water delivery, try to cut-off your water main as soon as possible. Otherwise plan to treat/ boil/ distill any water that comes out of your house pipes.
3 meals a day per person per day Try for 1500 calories. Metal cans should be stored in water proof containers in a cool, dry location away from sunlight. The containers should only be as big/ heavy as any person in your household can easily move. I like 5 gallon buckets. I also place about 1 cup of crystal cat litter in an old sock and put that in the bucket when I put the lid on. It will keep the interior of the bucket bone dry.
I also recommend food with its own water content.
Use refrigerated food first- if you limit opening the refrigerator to once a day you may be able to get as long as 3 days. If you have bagged ice, or frozen foods keep stuffing them in the refrigerator to extend the life of refrigerated foods a little until you get them all used up.
Finish off the frozen foods if there are any left, then exhaust your pantry and cupboards of anything that is already open and my have a shortened shelf life.
Toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, Coffee, powdered creamer, peanutbutter, tinned crackers and cookies. Shelf-stable milk, Canned meats, Canned Cheese, Canned bread, Canned Butter (yes they all exist) Boxed wine. Whiskey. These items are more than for personal use, these make great barter items.
Step 8: Zone 3- Medical
Think of the emergency medical kit as a heavy duty first aid kit-
- Sphygmomanometer, (blood pressure meter)
- Cervical collar
- Foam Splint
- Non-woven bandage/ wrap
- Gauze pads and rolls
- Suture kits
- Povidine/ Iodine
- Pain/ fever reliever
- Antibiotics (this one is tricky, but at least consider it)
Any prescriptions that you can have at least a few month supply on hand at any given time, and anything specific to your family. Consider your neighbors too- having an extra Albutyrol inhaler may really help someone, and help to build trust and alliances too.
- Asthma inhalers
- Diabetes Supplies
Have a few reference books, medication reference, first aid, etc.
Don't try something you don't have the knowledge for, but learn how to stabilize a neck, take a blood pressure, etc.
Step 9: Zone 3- Sanitation
A portable toilet seat that fits a 5 gallon bucket, small trash bags, and a few bags of cat litter (I would go with both clay and crystal) can provide a toilet solution in the event water supply is turned off. One bag can be used a few times, just use the cat litter to absorb the liquids (and the odor). Keep the bucket covered with a tight seal between uses, and tie off and change out the bag every day.
All food container trash should be as clean of residue as possible. Cans should be compressed and stored in boxes. Rinse food cans with clean water and drink the residue- don't waste water or calories! Lick plates bowls and utensils- don't waste calories!
Combustibles should be compressed and saved for fuel.
Anything reusable as a container should be saved, but anything else should be tied up in trash bags and stored out of the way
Once most residue has been removed, then wipe the remainder with paper towels- which can be compressed into bricks and burnt for other purposes- like distilling water.
Use as little soap and water to finally wash dishes.
- Clothes wont be washed nearly as often, but wash underclothes in a 5 gallon bucket to keep the body odor down.
Reduce bathing to basin-baths, using as little water as possible.
Step 10: Zone 3- Utilities
If electric service is disrupted, shut off the house main electric as soon as possible and leave it off until you are certain power is restored and stable.
Have led "lanterns on hand, and keep a stock of batteries in an airtight cool dry container- did I mention that I like 5 gallon buckets?
Have a radio that receives Weather, and AM/FM. You may also want a few FRS radios to stay in touch with each other if you have to leave the home and check the neighborhood. I tend to stick to models with rechargeable batteries, but that can use alkalines if you cant recharge.
There are a lot of reasonable priced portable solar panel products available. Even a single 80w panel connected to a deep cycle battery with a small charge controller, and a 1000w automotive style inverter can make a big difference.
Many people today are taking advantage of reverse-metering with solar panels on their homes. This is a great idea, but if the solar panels are not connected to a charge controller, battery bank, and an inverter you can't do much with the solar power if the electric grid is down.
If you can have a generator, it isn't a bad idea, they are expensive, and if you have a generator you also need to have fuel.
Three main options you have-
- Gasoline only,
- Multi-Gas: Gasoline- Natural Gas- and Propane.
- -Multi-Gas has the ability to be plumbed into your house natural gas or propane supply.
Never run a generator indoors! The carbon monoxide will kill you.
Natural Gas or Propane-
- As long as gas supply is not broken the supply lines hold a substantial amount of gas, most systems are designed to fail-open, that means if the electricity goes down the valves fail open to keep service running to homes (otherwise people would freeze in the winter)
- Keep in mind that if you have a gas furnace- if the electricity is out your blower won't run.
Use candles with caution.
- A 2 burner camp stove that runs on propane cylinders is one of the best options for cooking or heating water.
- Avoid indoor wood burning for cooking for heat unless you have an efficient insert in a fireplace, or a wood-burning stove. Wood burning in a decorative fireplace will draw as much heat out of your house as it produces.
- Wood-burning indoors consumes oxygen and produces carbon monoxide- which will kill you!
- If you have to burn wood do it outdoors.
- Always keep a fireguard awake while any open flame is burning (wood or otherwise)
Step 11: Communications
Cellular service may last longer than your cell-phone battery, so conserve your cell battery or have the ability to charge it. Many Cell-towers have a substantial battery backup, and are tied to hardline communications. The radio footprint of a cell tower may mean that even though you are in a disaster affected location the tower may not be affected- and the cell footprint may reach you.
cell-tower service will probably be overwhelmed until everybody's cell-phone batteries start dying.
Your smart phone uses a lot of battery for all the features it has.
- Recomendation- If you have a GSM carrier like AT&T or T-Mo you can use your SIM card in a different unlocked phone. Have a spare unlocked featureless cell-phone- some even have a double-A battery capability- so if there is an emergency situation you can keep a cell phone on.
Land-line telephones may also work even when everything else has stopped- IF you have land-line service (not the kind "bundled" over your internet provider).
You must have a line-powered telephone, your cordless wont work unless you have the base connected to a battery backup too.
Broadcast TV and Radio-
Have a radio that receives NOAA Weather, and AM/FM.
I tend to stick to models that use double-A batteries. Double-A rechargeable are available in NiCad or NMH and non-rechargeable are available in alkaline and lithium. (Don't use lithium-ION rechargeable double-A sized batteries- they are about 3.6 volts per battery, whereas a standard alkaline is only 1.5 volts, these will damage your stuff)
TV may use more energy than radio to get the exact same information.
FRS radios are a good device to keep in touch with each other if you have to leave the home and check the neighborhood.
Since many people have them you can scan through channels to get an idea if others are in your area. You may find that others in your building or neighborhood also have them, and can establish a voice network to support and reinforce each other, provide early warning etc.
Again I like models that take double-A batteries so I can use both rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries
Step 12: Entertainment
If you are restricted to your home for any length of time, boredom will get you-
Cards, board games, books, all work without electricity, and can be easy to store or transport.
A laptop or tablet with movies and tv shows saved to the harddrive may be a good daily boredom breaker.
- Keep the screen brightness and volume low to extend the battery life,
- Avoid the CDROM/ DVD player, it will drain a battery fast
- A solid state harddrive (SSD) uses a lot less battery than a normal hard drive
Writing and drawing are good ways to pass time.
Regimented schedules, assigned chores, and designated responsibilities all help break up the monotny, dispell boredom, and give people things to look forward to on a daily basis.
Step 13: Zone3- Vital Documents and Valuable Property
Keep scanned copies of vital documents, policies, deeds, titles, wills, accounts, mineral rights, stocks, bonds etc
Keep photos and reciepts, or any other records of valuable property, jewelry, precious metals, firearms.
Strongly recomend keeping these on an encrypted usb drive, and keep that in a firebox, flood/ fire rated safe. Make a duplicate of the drive as needed and keep in an alternate location- I wouldn't keep it in a safe-deposit box. Maybe trade duplicates with a like minded person or family, you keep one for them, they keep one for you.
Step 14: ZONE 1,2 &3- Firearms
Firearms are tools. When used correctly they have a high benefit to cost ratio.
Nothing makes a bad guy stop doing bad things faster than the judicious application of accurate marksmanship.
Owning a firearm is a right and a responsibility.
If you elect to own one, you need to be committed to learning how to use it correctly. Becoming trained and certified by the appropriate agencies. Carrying, Transporting, or storing the firearm correctly. Owning a firearm does not give you the right to use a firearm. Only being educated, trained, and practiced does.
If you elect to carry a firearm in Zone 1, do it in accordance with the law. Know when and how to use it. Know where you can and cannot carry it. Select the right firearm for the purpose, and carry it with the correct ammunition for that purpose. Train for that purpose.
If you elect to carry a firearm in Zone 2, do it in accordance with the law. Ensure it is secured in the vehicle preventing it from being stolen.
If you choose/elect to posses firearms in Zone 3, do it in accordance with the law. Ensure it is secured to prevent accident or theft- even from family members. Teach and train the members of your household safe handling of firearms. Don't make them fear the tool, make them respect the tool. No member of your house should be afraid of the tool, if you elect to have the tool in your home.
NEVER HIDE A GUN IN YOUR HOME, keep them secured, locked, and out of plain view.
Step 15: How to Survive- Anything
This completes my Instructable on How to Survive- Anything.-
Sure, I didn't get into the finer details of surviving an airplane crash, or being stranded on Mt McKinley, or in a dingy at sea. Maybe "Anything" was a little misleading, and I apologize for that.
Hopefully I hit a broad enough spectrum of preparedness:
- Acts of Violence
- Disasters- natural or man made
And I hope you found my 3 zones to be a useful way to look at preparedness:
I hope you enjoyed the Instructable, if you did- please post a comment,
If I have made any tragic errors- please post a comment,
If I overlooked something cataclysmic please post a comment!
Thank you for your time and interest, and your comment!