Disaster Preparedness Outside of the Home

By Mina Arnao  

When most people think about emergency preparedness at all, they usually focus on what supplies they need to keep in their garage or in a closet. This is definitely important, however, the majority of people and their families spend a great deal of their day at work, at school or on the road. A natural disaster such as an earthquake can strike at any time without warning so it is imperative that emergency preparedness planning look at all locations that a person may be at any given time.

At Work: Whether you work in an office, a retail store, a school or a job site, the first thing you should do is find out whether your company or organization has any plans or supplies in place. If you work for a large company, chances are, they will have both. Even so, you may still want to have a small backpack under your desk with a few essential supplies such as food, water, blanket, flashlight, a change of clothes and a first aid kit.

At School: Your children cannot ask the question, but you should. Find out what your child's school has in place in case of an emergency (i.e. earthquake, blackout, fire, lockdown etc). Do they provide the essentials (ask specifically what those are) or are you required to provide kits each school year? There is a great disparity in the preparedness levels from school to school so find out where your school falls. If your school does not seem to be taking it too seriously, raise the issue with the other parents. Your child is counting on you.

In Your Car: People today spend many hours in the car driving back and forth to work, running errands or traveling for work or pleasure. What would happen if an emergency occurred while you were on the road? You may have a spare tire, flares and battery cables but do you have food, water, a flashlight, blanket, extra clothes, good shoes and a first aid kit? What if you had to abandon your car and walk home from wherever you were? What if you were stranded in your car for hours or even days in the middle of nowhere in bad weather? Would you be prepared?

The point is not to scare you but just to make you stop and think for a moment: what if?

Emergency preparedness is not hard and it doesn't have to be expensive. All you need to do is determine what your family's needs are, make a plan that is communicated to everyone and then put together a kit yourself or buy a pre-made one for each location where you might be during the day or night.

Most people procrastinate because it seems like a daunting task to figure it all out for something that may never happen. Think of it this way, wouldn't it be more daunting to figure it out after a major disaster strikes?

Energy Sources During an Emergency

By Steve Lucchesi  

When preparing for heating and cooking during an emergency and your areas electrical grid is out of service try relying on your stock piled wood or various heating oil's. During an emergency your natural gas service will be interrupted, so it's best to plan on storing alternative sources of energy.

One of the best solutions to interrupted gas or electrical service is having a backup generator. Generators typically run on gas, so an ample supply of gas stored properly is recommended yet dangerous. The only drawback on some generators is the noise that they create, attracting the attention of others that may not be as fortunate. There are gas, natural gas and lp type generators, I recommend the lp due to the longer shelf life of the fuel in case the disaster is for a long extended period of time. When using backup portable generators, power inlet boxes are perfect for connecting your generator to the transfer switch. You basically install the box just like an external power outlet and connect to the transfer switch. When the power goes out, just start the generator and plug it into the outlet.

If you have a fireplace or wood burning stove, the best backup sources of energy is 1 year to 1.5 year old dried out hard wood from trees such as oak or ash. In addition we recommend a lot of start up kindle and waterproof matches, a backup to the matches is a flint starter. A great natural gas that stores longer than other fuels such as kerosene or gasoline is propane.

Once you're in that emergency situation, remember to conserve the fuel that you have as much as possible, by heating only portions of your home. If you have outdoor sleeping blankets or down comforters, wears them all through the night since temperatures will dip below what you're used to. Also wear a wool cap or other head garment that will cover the ears and prevent heat loss. Other extremities must be protected such as the hands and feet, items called "hand warmers", which are non toxic and environmentally friendly will have an average temperature of 135 Fahrenheit when used as directed.

There are many items that are smaller scale that can be used with propane, from small ovens or large grills to heating sources for small to larger areas. Most cylinders that are available to consumers is the 20 lb or gas grill type cylinder. The larger cylinders may be more cumbersome in moving around but typically have the same gas relief valves to work with as the smaller tanks do.

Since we feel propane is a key survival fuel, it will need to be protected and stored effectively and safely. The best recommendation is to have your outdoor cylinder cabinet concealed from outside viewers, be this hidden by trees or on the side of the home that is camouflaged or covered up. All cylinder storage cabinets have locking hasps that need some sort of padlock else your cylinders will be easy prey for those who have not planned as well as you.

Lastly accessorial items that will help in any emergency situation is any self cranking electric generating item from a wind up flashlight to radio, even some cell phones can have this self generating attachment.