Posted by: highmountainmuse | February 1, 2009

Being prepared for an emergency

I remember when Y2K was approaching.  I heard the funniest stories of what people were storing and hoarding “just in case.” The good thing about it was, however, that it made so many folks think:  what would you do IF.

 

Last week, a reader wrote in with a comment about her electric heat, and it got me thinking. What do you do for heat when the electricity goes out?  Just really hope it doesn’t?

 

Every winter, storms seem to wipe out power lines not only in rural communities, but in parts of big cities as well.  If this has not happened to you, you’re lucky.  But what if it did happen? Are you ready, just in case?

 

I have lived in big cities.  This question never crossed my mind. We all had heard stories of the power going out. We just hoped it wasn’t us. 

 

I also lived in rural communities that were still on grid.  There, we learned to become prepared, for it wasn’t a matter of if the power would go out, just a matter of when.  We learned to back up and stock up.

 

It is easy out here.  We do not depend on anyone else to provide the necessities of water, plumbing, heat, light and food for us anyway.  So we take it for granted that we are always prepared, because disaster or no disaster, we have to take care of ourselves. 

 

However, an emergency for us could even be having to evacuate ourselves and our livestock due to a forest fire.  You start with a plan, and by having some of the essential survival gear ready and on-hand.  Know what to do, and be prepared.

 

After writing the post on what to pack in your emergency kit, it got me to thinking about all you folks who live in the cities or on-grid, and I was worried.  Hopefully you are not as thoughtless as I was when I was younger, living in the city.  Hopefully you are prepared.  But then I wonder:  how? 

 

There are some things that seem logical to keep on hand and consider just in case of emergency, no matter where you live.  You could store many of these items under a bed, under the kitchen sink, in the linen closet.  Things like: 

          a few gallons of pure drinking water.  How close would the nearest source be if water was shut off for an extended period of time?  Would you need to purify that water source? Do you have a bathtub you could fill with water, or a hot water heater, or other temporary source you could tap even within your home?

          canned or dehydrated food

          a cooking source – even a little white gas or propane single burner camp stove. These are not considered safe for indoor use, so use sparingly, with adequate ventilation, and definitely not as a source of heat.  And, don’t store this one under you bed…

          fuel for your vehicle – another one NOT to be stored anywhere in your house – don’t laugh, I just read about a couple who was doing this.  But if you have a car or truck, you may also have a garage or back yard.  Otherwise, get a bike or good walking shoes.

          a decent and up to date first aid kit.  And know how to use it. Any personal medications to consider?

          flashlight and spare batteries, maybe even a little portable crank or sun powered room light

          communication back up. Living out here, I wonder who would we call, even if we could?  And now, and why? But chances are, living in town or in the cities, you’ll want to call family, friends, neighbors, someone who will be worried about you or could come help you if need be.  But in an emergency like a power outage or big disaster, could you call and rely on 911? The most important communication would be for medical assistance when and if need be.

          Sanitation – if your water is shut off, what would you do?  Coffee can, zip lock bags, kitty litter – think about it.  It happens…

          Heat.  What would you do if you only had electric baseboard heaters, and the electricity went out?  Or if whatever your source of “central heating” failed?  In many climates, folks are able to get by with bundling up under some extra wool blankets.  What would you do?

          A list and chart – do you have your contact information handy?  Do you know what to do and where to go in an emergency, and how to evacuate your building if need be?  I was so frightened of fire as a child, I still to this day always figure out my escape route of whatever building – or campsite – I am sleeping in.

 

There’s certainly more to it, but this is a start.  Most of you are probably already prepared, so again, I’m not sharing any big news here.  Just a concern.  And if we can help even just one person by making them aware, all the better!

 

Let me know your thoughts and ideas.  Are you prepared?  What have you done to be ready, just in case?  And have you ever been caught in a situation that tested your preparedness?  We can all learn from each other.

 

(An additional note:  Please see “comments” from yesterday’s post.  There are times such emergencies are blessings in disguise. In such times, we must try to remember that how we react to events,  how we choose to perceive the world around us, can make all the difference. What can we pack in our emergency kit to remind us of this?)

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Responses

  1. Yes, Y2K got some people thinking in the preparedness mode. That was a good thing. As for your concerns for others, I hope they’ll take your suggestions to heart. Anything done in the way of preparedness is better than nothing. It’s unfortunate that it often takes an emergency or crisis of some kind to motivate us to action and realize shortcomings.

    John


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