Thursday, April 28, 2011

TWISTER Revisited

I feel as if I have been living the movie TWISTER . . . unless you live in a cave, I’m sure you’ve seen the devastation from the relentless tornadoes throughout the southeast US. We live west of a town called Athens and in our county alone there were 21 confirmed tornadoes, yet, we did not receive any damage. NONE! On my personal blog I wrote more about our experience including the debris was dropped into our yard and my opinion of the looters who think an emergency like this gives them license to help themselves.

How prepared are you? We were without power from before 11 AM until well after 10 PM. We had heard reports that we wouldn’t have power restored for up to 7 days (and that is still the case for most of north Alabama. What would we do all that time without power?

The answer is that we would survive it and quite comfortably, I might add. Fortunately it was not 100° so we didn’t have sweltering heat and humidity to contend with but I wish to share a few of things we DO have and challenge everyone who reads this to ask yourselves what you would do.
First of all, we didn’t panic.  Why not? Because if you are prepared, ye shall not fear. Once we knew our family and friends were okay, we prayed for those who were not so fortunate. Then we evaluated our situation. 

We have plenty of food. Could we heat it up or cook it? You bet. We have more than one tank of propane and a couple of gas hot plates for heating and cooking. We always have at least a half tank of gas in every vehicle since many cannot buy gas without electricity to operate their pumps. We learned to do this living in the north most of our lives but it is prudent to do so year round since you never know when or what may knock out the power source. We also have wood which could be used for heating and cooking.

What about lights? We have plenty of lanterns, flashlights, etc. and lots of extra batteries on hand. We have several that only require hand cranking to generate light. Also, a radio that is battery operated as well as a weather radio that operates on batteries. Since this bizarre storm system just kept coming for nearly 24 hours, it was crucial to be warned despite the continuing blare of the sirens.

Do you have enough clean water readily accessible for you, your family and yours pets? We do. We are even fortunate enough to have a well on our property with a hand pump if we needed it.
I must admit that I missed my internet connection most of all. My laptop battery doesn’t last long so I conserved my usage of it as well as our cell phones.

Our next concern was what about all the frozen and perishable food in our refrigerator and freezer? Not to worry. We have a small RV with a generator AND enough fuel to operate it for at least a week. Though we didn’t need to our plan was to fire it up this morning and plug in the freezer, refrigerator, our cell phone chargers and my laptop and wifi. No problems here. So far so good.
Do you know what a 72 hour kit is? If you don’t, then you need to find and out get yourself prepared. It’s common knowledge that in a major emergency, it generally takes at least 72 hours (three full days and nights) for help to get to you. In a 72 hour kit, you should have enough drinking water, food, clothing and medicine to last you and every member of your household at least that long. . .and don’t forget medications! They are a must!

I will be writing more over the next few posts about a 72 hour kit, emergency planning, first aid, etc. Please leave comments on the items you are most interested in learning about.

How did I learn all this? Experience! We lived in a very rural home in Michigan for most of our married life. It was not uncommon to get snowed in for 7 days or to be without power following severe storms in the summer time. It is practical. It is common sense. As a member of my church I have been taught to be self-reliant. That includes preparing for emergencies and not just trying to store food. It’s not hoarding. It’s sound doctrine and common sense.

If you are totally unprepared, begin by trying to get a workable 72 hour kit together. It should be portable so that you can take it with you in the event you are evacuated for any number of possible reasons. Put some cash in small bills in it too because you may not be able to access a bank or use credit and debit cards – like right now all over our state.

For those of you who survived this horrendous bout of tornadoes, what did you learn? How will you be better prepared for future emergencies? One thing that really bugs me is the fact that people were calling radio stations before the National Weather Service had even issued an all clear wanting to know where they could get something to eat! You have got to be kidding me, right? But no. They were dead serious. Many did not even have enough food accessible for their next meal. For Pete’s sake, at least have a jar of peanut butter and bread in the freezer even if you do eat out all the time!

This is no joke! This is serious stuff. By being prepared, you can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. At the end of this post is a list of basics for a 72 hour kit. You can store it in packbacks (one for each family member) or use a heavy plastic garbage can with a tight fitting lid on WHEELS. You may not be able to drive with a lot of trees in your way. The Boy Scouts have it right! Their motto of ‘be prepared’ applies to each and every one of us!!!
Below is some important information about Emergency Preparedness including a First Aid Kit and a 72 Hour Kit.

Emergency Preparedness: 
     FIRST AID KIT:  Include the following:
First Aid Handbook        Scissors
Petroleum jelly                 Burn cream
Aspirin or Tylenol            Eye Drops
Rubber Gloves                 Matches
Safety pins                        Nail File
Tweezers                           Bandage Tape
Bandages                          Heavy String
Cotton Balls                      Alcohol
Spirits of Ammonia           Syrup of Ipecac
Table Salt                          Baking Soda
Disposable & Cloth Diapers for dressing or Splint padding
Splints:  Paint stirrers, tongue depressors or Popsicle sticks, 40 page newspaper, etc.
Special Medications for Family Members
*Store in a clearly labeled water proof container.
     You may want to prepare smaller versions for each member of the family with simple items such as antiseptic wipes and band aids for younger children.

 * * Do not feel that you must go out and purchase all of these items today.  Most of the items are readily found in your home already.  Simply make it a priority to gather them together.  Remember, it is better to have an incomplete First Aid Kit that to have nothing in the event of disaster.

*Does your family have a designated place to meet in the event of an extreme emergency?     
   Don’t assume that you might all be in the same place when disaster strikes. It is highly
   unlikely.  If one parent, or even both, is at work and the children in school, would you
   know where to begin looking for one another? 

 *What if emergency personnel were to knock on your door and tell you that within five minutes catastrophe would strike your neighborhood? 
   Many say they do not worry because they have everything they need right in their
   homes to last them for three days and even longer, but do you have at least three days
   supply of necessities in a portable container that you can load into your vehicle or carry
   on your way to sustain you and your household for 72 full hours?  If not, then now is time for your family to prepare.

Do not panic.  Do not go to extremes. The blessings are real and the consequences cannot be changed if we fail to follow this wise counsel.

Some claim that they live in an area where disaster is very unlikely to occur, thinking themselves safe in the event of catastrophic weather and the like; however, none of us are exempt from being evacuated from our homes due to chemical spills on roadways and such.    Do NOT procrastinate on this important principle to safeguard your families.

*What should I use to put my kit in?
   First of all, determine the special needs if any of your household.  Some families find that individual backpacks are most beneficial while others may utilize other containers such as plastic garbage cans on wheels.  Some families carry their 72 hour kits in the trunk of the car while others deem them more practical near the front door of their homes.
Remember that in some cases, you may not be able to drive your vehicle so strive for containers that you can carry, tote or pull if necessary to enable you to flee the scene.  Fallen trees can make escape in your car virtually impossible.

You may consider storing it in a large plastic container with a tight fitting lid and placing it in a child’s wagon for easy transport.  There are many options available to us.  The important thing is to DO IT and DO IT NOW!

  What Is a 72-Hour Preparedness Kit?

A 72-hour preparedness kit is a portable evacuation kit that can give you added control over your family’s welfare in the event that an emergency forces a temporary evacuation of your home.
These are as diverse as individual and family needs are.  Some need to insure that medications or specially needed foods are included.  Others may feel that hygiene items are most important.  Water is essential and food is most desirable.  A checklist follows that will help you better determine your individual family needs.
__ Do you have a 72-hour preparedness kit containing:  food, water, clothing and first-aid supplies?
__ Do you know the location for:  water, gas and electrical shutoff valves and switches in your home?
__ Do you have smoke detectors installed in stairways and near sleeping areas?  Do they work?  Do the batteries need replacing?
__ Do you have a family evacuation plan in case of fire or other emergency?  Do you ever practice your plan?
__ Have your established a family meeting place in case of evacuation:  Does every family member know about this location?
__ Do you have a plan to contact extended family in the event of catastrophe?  Is your extended family aware of it?
__ Do you store important legal and family documents in a place safe from flood and fire?
__ Do you have a complete inventory of your belongings?  Is a copy of this personal inventory kept outside of the home?
* Please do not become too comfortable once you obtain this kit unless your also have completed the acquisition of your one year’s supply of food and other items. 


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  2. All good points well taken Pat. . . I'm trying to keep this simple as most of my followers are new to self-reliance. I plan to get more detailed as time goes on and I did mention cash in the article too.