Carmen Scherich has received hundreds of hours in military disaster preparedness and real-world surviving. During Hurricane Katrina, she triaged or treated 800 people an hour for multiple days. She was also in combat in Afghanistan, surviving daily enemy attacks there. Because of her experiences, she has superb insights into real-time preparations and human behaviors during a multi-level community code black infrastructure failure, disaster, or and war. Scherich shared with Southtowne a plan for families to follow before, during, and after a disaster. These tips and suggestions cover just about everything you could think of. Read on to prepare you and your family.
When the Big One hits, you’ll want to be prepared. Whether it’s the shaking of an earthquake, a tsunami, or a blazing fire you’ll likely deal with the coldest, hottest, wettest, or windiest days you’ve ever experienced. You’ll be left with no power which means no running water, heat, or electricity. In an event like this, it’s essential to have a checklist for you and your family. Pace yourselves- it does no one any good to get hurt or work to exhaustion. No matter how dire, plan to make time for work, rest, sleep, play, and boosting morale. Improve your shelter space and hygiene, and try to be grateful every day.
In an event of a disaster, coastal and wildfire folks generally have just 10 minutes to get out. This is where a well practiced communication plan comes in handy. Have cell phone chargers with you at all times for when the network comes back up if it was down. Have a plan with outside family to call for check-ins and land lines. Know where you and your family are going to go before a disaster hits. You can also use Facebook Emergency and the apps AirFlare and CodeRed to let people know you’re safe or know where to be found. You’ll also need quite a few physical things as well.
The daily amount of water each person needs is 5.3 gallons. This will cover drinking, personal hygiene, and food prep. A half gallon per person per day will generally be enough for drinking. Always have a filter. Water may only be available in streams or ponds and you’ll want to be able to pull straight from whatever source you can. Carry your water in a backpack with a bladder. There are also backpack-type water filters and making a Gypsy well using sand filtering is a great option for when you have a stationary place you’re staying. The Bear Grylls water bottle is a useful multi tool to have because it has a built in filter and a solar phone charger.
If you have your supplies for filtration, where should you get and store your water? First and foremost, fill your tub and any large containers you have. Take note of springs, streams, pools, lakes, and rivers. Capture rain off of your roof or melt snow if the weather permits. Have multiple small containers ready as well for easy traveling.
Remember: water is heavy. Five gallons is 40 pounds! Also, water does indeed have a shelf life. According to the FDA. bottled water can safely last about two years.
You can also extract water from your water heater. Most water heaters contain 30-60 gallons of drinkable water. Heaters have a drain at the bottom that oftentimes can connect to a garden hose for easy extraction. Remember to first turn off your heater so the element won’t burn out later. Be sure to open the valve and drain a bit to flush before using.
Below is a list of food-related items you should have at all times.
- Manual Can openers
- Propane camp stove – do not leave on for heat, needs ventilation
- Bulk meals ready to eat (MRE), baby, and pet foods
- Position in different parts of house in preparation for potential home collapse.
- Winter- hang food in sealed container with rope, out of reach of dogs and other wild animals.
- Summer- dig a hole on the shady side of building and drop food in.
Shelter and Utilities
It’s helpful to anticipate the worst in these situations. Anticipate your home collapsing and have multiple blue tarps ready with hammers and roof nails to tack down. Set up a tent shelter area in the stablest part of your home. Turn off the gas line if you have one using a wrench, and use the electric panel to turn off whole home. Turn off the main water line with wrench and remember when you use the bathroom, you must add water by hand to the toilet bowl to prevent the sewer lines from collapsing.
An option for longer and easier use is to make an outhouse. More effort up front allows for less effort down the road. Start by digging a cat hole and make improvements from there. Cabelas sells handy camping bucket seats or full on outhouse tents you can use to make your experience a little more civilized. and place to drop it. Whatever you use, be sure to also get some lime and calcium hydroxide to help with the smell. Be careful not to get any in your eyes or skin, as it burns.
Next. you’ll need to consider heating. During the winter, use buddy heaters and propane canisters with carbon monoxide alarm nearby. If you’re in a tent or indoors, you must vent it at all times. One canister lasts 3-12 hours depending on demand.
If you are on dialysis or have any other serious medical conditions, be prepared to drive out of the area if possible. Make sure your bug out kit includes gas, maps, and extra small bills. Medical supplies can often be found at local hospitals and airfields. To be better prepared, request that you get your medications in batches of 30-day supplies. Know if your medications would require weaning off of in the event you can get more, and know how to do it.
Stock up on birth control supplies and know how to deliver a baby at home. Have plenty of over-the-counter medications such as Advil, Tums, anti-diarrhea, anti-constipation, and so on. Disclaimer: this article is not medical advice, so please consult your doctor for your personal medical requirements and suggestions. If you take recreational and illicit drugs, have emergency amounts stored away.
Consider taking wilderness first aid classes or Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) classes. Know CPR as well.
Know and get as comfortable as you can with the fact that there will not be anyone to call for help and bad people will run amuck. Shooters will shoot at people for no reason. A key safety precaution is to travel in groups. Always have a defensive weapon. If you don’t have a gun or don’t know how to use one, carry or have on hand a baseball bat, golf club, knife, axe, or rocks. Consider a shot gun class and practice demo.
Be sure to take pictures of important documents for insurance and police reports later. Carry a flash drive with these documents on it in case your camera dies or breaks. Consider a vault for valuables. Another option for important documents is to store important papers in water proof containers or scan and email them. Essentially, it’s just important that you have them when you need them.
Know your insurance company and how to put in for losses. Consider your line of credit (if you have one) as money that will be locked up for fixing things later down the road.
Learn now what the average costs of fixing a roof or structure is. If you have a business, be sure to plan for how you can get it back off the ground after the disaster, physically and financially.
You may not be able to save everyone. Know that people may die and that you did all you could to save them. Let them lay in peace and forgive yourself. Focus on the living. Whether or not a personal tragedy strikes, gather together with whoever you’re with in a circle and verbalize with each other positive messages. Talk about what you are grateful for. Breathe and cry as needed, because holding things in wears you out
If you have children with you, maintain a routine. Have crayons, books, or some other small entertainment option ready. Be sure to explain to them that this isn’t their fault. A WWll interned American-Japanese doctor once said that their family said they were going camping.
Traveling During a Disaster
Let’s say you’re traveling to Portland or the beach for the day and all of a sudden a disaster strikes. You’re now stuck in the chaos. If you’re in a vehicle, consider abandoning it if there bridges and culverts have collapsed. If the roads are a mess, pull over and avoid touching sides of vehicle if power lines are down. If the roads are okay, get gas as soon as you possibly can and prepare for the prices to be jacked up. Also know that the average gas station supply is one day, so eventually you may have to abandon your car.
When on the move, barter when you can for essential supplies. See if you can reach your network of people. Reach out to friends ahead of time to arrange staying with them. In your car, keep a backpack, sleeping bags and pads, lighters, a water filter, maps, and walking sticks. Have a rain poncho for inclement weather and protection.
Bottom Line: Practice
Prepare your supplies now, and rotate them as they near expiration. Plan with your family and have a meeting place and ways to get in touch with each other. You can never be too prepared.
Disclaimer: Each Family and individual has unique life requirements and should consult with subject matter experts in deciding what is the best course of action before a disaster. This is general disaster preparation.
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- Bear Grylls – water filters
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- CERT Community Emergency Response Team Classes
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- FM-04 Emergency Survival manual
- Google App Photo Scanning
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- Nuclear explosion, Ready.gov
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- Red Cross First Aid training
- Survival Magazine.com How to make a Gypsy water filter
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- World Gone Silent.com
Rustic River Lodge Crater Lake Google UTube
Carmen MSN Major ret firstname.lastname@example.org