Preparing for a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or bird flu pandemic

How prepared are you? Will you be like thousands of people and wait until the last minute to stock up on food and water? Do you even have a working flashlight at home or in your car? As we’ve clearly seen, waiting until it’s too late doesn’t work. Grocery stores sell out, gas stations dry up, and we certainly can’t depend on government help.

You need to start planning today, preparing for the unexpected so that you and your family can survive. Official sources always recommend having a 72 hour or 3 day kit. While it certainly helps, it is nowhere near adequate for a prolonged survival situation. As we have seen, a natural disaster can last more than 3 days. A possible bird flu pandemic can keep you confined to your home for weeks or months at a time. So how much is enough and what do you need?

You should plan to meet your family’s daily needs for a minimum of one month, preferably up to 3 months or more. This can include:

Food: Stock up on the basics. Flour, sugar, non-perishable foods like macaroni products, rice (a 25 pound bag of rice costs about $ 6.00 at the SAM club), powdered milk. Canned goods usually last a year or two. Start adding food to your pantry now by buying a few extra items every time you go to the grocery store. Take advantage of sales, coupons and store brands. Buy foods that you can easily prepare, that don’t need a lot of water, or that don’t need to be cooked at all. You can also add long-term dehydrated foods to your supply that you can supplement your other grocery stores. They are vacuum sealed and have a useful life of 20 to 30 years. MRE’s ready-to-eat meals can also expand your grocery stores. Buy food and supplies in bulk at Sams club or Costco. Rotate your stock so you always have the freshest food available. Also include things like high energy bars. Don’t forget pet food.

Water – You can store water in large containers, 5-gallon mylar water bags, camping pitchers, and other containers. You must also have a good water purifier.

Tools – Are you equipped to perform minor home repairs? Fix your car? Repair or build the necessary survival supplies? Tools to shut off natural gas, shovels to dig, chainsaws to cut downed trees, and other essential rescue tools may be needed.

Power: There may be interruptions or cuts in electrical and other services. Do you have an alternative way to heat your home? A way to supply power to lights and other necessary electrical devices? Stocked with batteries? A portable generator can be used as an emergency backup. You will need gas to run the generator. Solar panels are useful for charging batteries. Additional propane can be used for a stove, lights, or heat. Have several flashlights on hand. Newer flashlights have LED bulbs that shine brighter and last forever. Also look for hand crank flashlights that don’t need batteries. Include lighting like oil or propane lanterns.

Medical: A good first aid kit is a must. Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin, antacids, etc. Also personal medications and other first aid supplies. Don’t forget replacement glasses / contact lenses and contact lens solution. Brush up on your first aid skills.

Household items – Everything from shampoo and toothpaste to toilet paper, soap, detergent, bleach, disinfectants, and everything else you use on a daily basis. Don’t forget hair clippers if you can’t go to the hairdresser. Have supplies on hand to take care of sanitation and garbage.

Communication: Newer walkie-talkies that have a range of 10-12 miles will help you stay in touch with your family in the event your cell phone stops working. Give each member of your family one and tune them all to the same channel. Buy an emergency battery for your cell phone. They are good for about 60 minutes of talk time. Shortwave portable radios will help you stay in touch with the world. A small portable TV will also help you stay informed if there is a power outage. A crank radio is also a must.

Camping equipment: stoves, tents, sleeping bags can be helpful, especially if you need to move. Pick up bargain camping supplies and used equipment at yard sales.

Bicycles – If you need to move and there is no gas, a bicycle is the best you can have.

Relocation – If you choose not to stay at home, then you need a plan on how you will move to another remote town or cottage, etc. You may want to stock your vacation home with supplies and be prepared to “run away” before travel is restricted.

Find out how far you need to get away. Consider storing extra gas so you have a full tank and enough for your trip. 3 or 4-5 gallon cans of gasoline might be enough to get you several hundred miles away. Due to the fire hazard, it is very important that you store them safely and rotate them regularly. That is, if you have 3 cans full, the first week pour that into your gas tank and refill that can. In week 2, dump the second can in your gas tank and refill it. Week 3, dump can 3 into your gas tank and refill it. Week 4 starts over with can one. With this system, you will always have 15 gallons of fresh gasoline on hand in addition to the gasoline already in your gas tank.

Plan your exit strategy from your city or town. Keep a map in your car with the roads highlighted. Find all alternative routes outside your city or town. Stay off the main roads if possible. Keep copies of the map in other vehicles if other family members need to join you later. Practice your escape route by driving it at least once.

Store your “bug out” survival supplies in containers that can be quickly loaded onto your vehicle. Keep a smaller version in your vehicle at all times.

Start preparing for the unexpected today, and if it happens, you won’t have to divert your time and energy from caring for your family, waiting in long lines for essential goods and services, or waiting for the government or other aid organizations to come to your rescue.

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