Is your home prepared for a crippling infectious disease outbreak or a devastating large-scale terror attack? This list is essential for surviving at home for a two- to three-week period, and it includes links to purchase the items to get you ready faster.[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next Page” ]
Water is your most important survival need, more important than food. A safe—but minimum—rule of thumb is one gallon per person per day. (4 people for 2 weeks = 4 x 2 x 14 = 112 gallons of water.) Multiply this by 3 if you live in a hot, dry climate. You need water for hygiene and cleaning, too. If you buy plastic water containers, do not store them on concrete that heats up as this could cause a harmful chemical reaction. (If kept in a garage attached to a driveway that gets hot, place your water on wood.) You can safely store tap water in reused water or juice bottles. Just make sure the bottles are sealed and are rated “PET” or “PETE.” If stored water tastes bad, oxidize it by pouring it from one container to another a few times. Also keep a small supply of bottles you can carry in case you have to hit the road running.[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next Page” ]
We’ve established water as your top priority. A bathtub water bladder can provide you with up to 100 gallons of clean, potable water in a pinch—you just need warning of the possible or imminent emergency, like an approaching storm. An unexpected event, like a debilitating earthquake or a tainted water supply, will probably render this useless. The bladder easily attaches to your bathtub’s faucet. Turn on the cold water and it will fill as fast as your faucet fills your tub normally. The bladder includes a pump or spigot to access the water. The downside of this lifesaver is you lose your tub for the duration of the crisis. But that is a small concession for a tub full of clean, usable water.
If there is no power, there is no light…or highly limited light. Nights can get pretty dark and scary. Get alternate light sources, like flashlights or battery-powered lanterns. It’s also a good idea to have a light that can stand independently and allow you to direct the light beam, freeing your hands to work. If you’re preparing a “bug out” bag, you want a sturdy, smaller flashlight that offers other features, too, like a jagged edge that can be used as a weapon. Do you need a flashlight that can illuminate a football field? Only if you need to see a football field at one time and want everybody to know where you are. Consider that in some emergency situations, it might be safer to not draw attention to your location. In the home, keep your flashlights in a place where you know they are, and have lots of batteries.
Make sure you have a stock of back-up batteries in all the sizes you need for your appliances, especially your flashlights. And stick with names you can trust to work when you need them to work, even if it’s three years from now. Also be aware of your batteries’ expiration dates. If you notice your batteries will expire in two years, it might be a good time to start rotating them slowly. This way, you won’t have to spend a bunch of money to buy all new batteries at once. Plus, you’ll get to use the old batteries until they expire two years from now.
Walls don’t talk. If you want to know what is going on outside while remaining safely inside, you need a radio. If the power is down, cell phones might not work or stay charged long enough to suit your needs. Is it safe to go outside? Is help on the way? Has the storm or threat passed? Cranking it for 90 seconds should give you more than 30 minutes of power. If it comes with a solar cell, eight hours in the sun will provide a few hours of power. Many hand-crank radios come with other features too, like a flashlight, USB port to charge phones, solar panel, and NOAA weather reports. If it’s lightweight and water resistant, it’s ideal for your bug out bag, too.
Stocking up with 2-3 weeks’ worth of non-perishable foods is intelligent. “No society is more than three meals away from anarchy.” Think about that for a sec. Make sure can sustain yourself without having to go outdoors. Calories are key in the early days, but if your stay is prolonged, you’ll want to get the most out of each “meal.” You want as much protein and nutrients as you can get in every bite. Here are some good foods to have: peanut butter (protein, no refrigeration), powdered milk (calcium, long shelf life), whole wheat crackers (energy and fiber), nuts and trail mixes (energy), dried fruit (potassium, fiber, calories), granola bars (energy, long shelf life), canned fish (protein, long shelf life), canned vegetables (nutrients, water, long shelf life), canned soups (nutrients, water, long shelf life), snack bags like pretzels (good for kids, long shelf life). Remember a can opener. And remember to check expiration dates twice a year.
Prescription medicine is often overlooked when preparing your secured shelter for a hunker-down situation. If you or one of your family members needs prescription medicine, get an extra three-week supply and store it. You should also include pain medicine or fever-reducers (acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen), antacids, antihistamine, cough medicine, antibiotic ointment, adhesive bandages, instant cold packs, and any personal “must-haves.”[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next Page” ]
Think about where you are going to hunker down at home and who will be with you. You’ll have to protect yourself from the elements, obviously, but also possibly enemies, pathogens, chemicals, or who knows what? You may have to seal a room, and depending on the situation outside, you may not have or want to have use of the entire house. For instance, if it’s Day 10 without power, people will be desperate. If you use a flashlight at night, you’ll alert people you are home and probably have food. That puts you in a dire self-defense predicament, and it might be against your scavenging neighbors. Consider installing blackout shades so your house looks as vacant as other houses. Also consider how you will heat or cool the place where you’ll be staying; and it’s a good idea to put a lock on the door. Remember, scavengers.[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next Page” ]
If you are running out of water and you have access to your hot water heater, you can tap it for many gallons of fresh water. Typically, this water is okay to drink, but to be perfectly safe, you should boil it or add bleach or purifying tablets to it. Tablets are great because they are small, portable and require very little effort…just some time to do their work, typically 30 minutes. Plus, they have a long shelf life. (If you’re tapping your water heater, flip the circuit breaker switch for the heater to “OFF” before taking water from it. This will prevent damage to an empty water heater if and when the power is on. Also, if the public water supply is contaminated, close the intake valve to your heater so you don’t let in the tainted water.) If you’re bugging out, make sure you have a supply of water purifying tablets. They kill almost all bacteria making natural water sources safe to drink. Just follow the directions on the pack.
A multi-function pocket knife is always a good tool to have handy, and it’s definitely worth having if you’re hunkering down. This is especially true if you may not have access to your full set of tools. One little knife can provide you with a can opener, magnifying glass, wire stripper, tweezers, wood saw, nail file, scissors and more. Stick with reliable brands you can count on to work when you absolutely need them to work.
You do not want to be caught without these if you require them. Right? Stock up on tampons, pads and any other tools you might need to prevent a difficult situation from becoming extremely uncomfortable. Forget birth control, though. You may need to repopulate the world. ; )
Okay, here’s where we get real. Gross, but real. Chances are, you won’t have plumbing and you may not even have access to a toilet. But when you gotta go, you gotta go. Line a bucket with a plastic bag (shopping bag, trash bag) and have a place to toss the bag when you’re all done. Be smart about this. A yard full of stinky bags that are piling up will alert any scavengers that you’re in the house and have food. Make sure you have a three-week supply of toilet paper to suit your or your family’s needs as well as a lot of bags. Yuck! We know. Let’s move on.[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next Page” ]
If you live in a cold climate, this is a no-brainer. If you live in a temperate climate where winters are cold but you are preparing in the summer, you may not consider the far-off low temperatures. Consider them. Store enough blankets to keep everybody warm. Lightweight fleece blankets provide a great deal of warmth and do not take up much space as do Mylar emergency blankets. These work by retaining body heat, and you can purchase them in self-contained packages. As for the fleece, just remember that it is flammable.
Remember all the non-perishables you stored? How are you going to eat them? You’ll need plates, bowls, forks, knives, etc. You can use real dishes, but then you’re stuck with having to clean them. That means you’ll be using your water supply and also soap. If you have plastic goods, you’ll be able to preserve your water for other uses, like drinking. You’ll also lower the chances of passing sickness. The drawback of disposable dishes is, well, you have to dispose of them and there probably won’t be citywide sanitation services, i.e. a truck collecting trash. When you finish with a plate or bowl or whatever, you can stack the trash to save space. Don’t toss them outside because discarded plates and plastic forks laying in your yard will alert scavengers that there’s food. And that is an invitation for trouble.[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next Page” ]
Scrubbing your hands with soap and water is preferable to using hand sanitizer, so says the Center for Disease Control, but we’re not working under ideal circumstances here. Save your soap. More important, save your water. Hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol will kill bacteria and viruses and help you survive. The last thing you need is for you or one of the people with you to get sick in what could be close quarters. Taking care of your hands can take care of everybody with you.
You may have to defend yourself and your family. It’s the scary reality. If the crisis carries on for several days, people can become desperate, and desperate people act outside of their senses. It’s smart to be prepared for this ugly scenario. That said, if you have knives or firearms but do not know how to use them, there’s a chance that if you pull them on the wrong person, that is, someone who does know how to use them, your weapon could wind up in his hands. A shotgun, if you know how to use it, can be a good source of defense as well as a deterrent. There’s nothing like the sound of a cocking shotgun to send scavengers scurrying to another house.[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next Page” ]
If there is a prolonged crisis and the local or national authorities remain overwhelmed or incapable of helping their citizens, you are on your own. If things get ugly, meaning people are starving and desperate, even your best made plans may be inefficient against “zombie” individuals or groups who are ransacking houses looking for food. You need a network of like-minded neighbors who’ve made their own preparations in coordination with yours. You become a team. It’s in their best interest to protect you and vice versa. There is strength in numbers in preparing, surviving and defending against angry intruders.