Last Saturday, after writing my first article on disaster preparedness, I was walking to get a tea with Hudson.
Just 3 houses up from us, across the street, there were about 20 people outside under a pop-up tent.
They were holding 3-way radios and some were wearing hard hats. It was clear they weren’t working on the powerlines or digging new sewer lines, so we went over to check it out.
It turns out, they were the neighborhood CERT team (Community Emergency Response Team) and the city of Berkeley was running a full 6.9 earthquake simulation. I knew about the exercise, but Annmarie and I couldn’t get a babysitter so we just assumed we couldn’t participate.
We were wrong.
I went and got Ann and we spent most of the morning running drills, asking questions and meeting our neighbors. It was a bunch of fun. But as one of our neighbors mentioned, “the next time we meet in this way, we probably won’t be eating cookies and telling jokes.”
Anyway, the drills helped in a way that I didn’t expect at all.
The group has a set of 3-way radios that they were handing out to different team members and I mentioned that I had my own and wanted to know if they could access the same channels (I’ve had no experience with 3-way radios before.)
So I went into our storage area and easily found the radios. What was not easy to find were the batteries. I guess I placed them somewhere else. I searched for about 10 minutes, but couldn’t find them. So I opened up the 3-way box and saw that there were rechargeable batteries inside. This would have been good news in a disaster situation — but I had no idea if they were pre-charged. The 3-ways were completely new and never opened before.
Luckily, in our drill, the batteries were charged and I was able to get them to work with the other radios, but it was a pretty powerful lesson that taught me I should do a dry run with just about everything and make sure I know where everything is and if it works. It’s a lot harder to look for batteries in complete darkness or a room that’s partially collapsed due to a monster earthquake.
Lesson learned — and I imagine there will be more.
Today, I wanted to share the first part of my own personal preparedness cache. I’ve struggled to categorize everything into 3 separate articles, but in this one, I’m going to loosely talk about food, water and other health considerations. Don’t expect any medical equipment in this segment, that will come later in the third installment.
(NOTE: When appropriate, I’ve included Amazon.com links for these products. You don’t have to buy them at Amazon if you don’t want and I make no money recommending them.)
Water, in an emergency, is essential. You need it for drinking, cooking and medical emergencies (bathing may not be an option for a while.) I scanned about 4-5 preparedness checklists to come up with the items I have listed here under water (and in fact, listed under every category.)
Each time I came across something that made sense to me, I added it to my wishlist. I still have some things that I want, but I’m much closer to having a complete cache than I ever was. I’ll mention some of the things that I still think I need, or I would want to have a more than adequate stash.
First things first, with water, we have 5 gallon water jugs that we keep in various stages of filled. Right now, we have three at home and two in the office about a mile away. I know this won’t be enough during a prolonged disaster, but it’s a start that many people don’t have. My goal is to have about 20-30 gallons more stocked up in the crawl space under the house in the next 3 months.
The reason why we need more, is because there’s a chance we’d be caught with very little due to our own personal, everyday use.
I’d say we’re somewhat prepared in this sense, but not completely.
Here are some additional things we have that are related to water — and most importantly clean water.
Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter Water Filter — I bought a pump water filter so I can gather standing water to then disinfect. This could be helpful to use if we’re on the run, but takes a decent amount of time to get a little water.
Katadyn Gravity Water Filter — This filter can clean a lot more water than the pump filter, you just need a bucket to collect and pour it into the top. This filter can clean 2.5 gallons of water in about 15 minutes and you can hang it from a tree limb or just about anything else. This would be our go-to filter if we’re in one location.
Replacement Filters — It’s important to have more than one filter in case you are using these for the whole neighborhood.
WaterBOB Bathtub Water Storage Container — This item is great for emergencies that you know are coming. In the case of a hurricane or event with at least a few hours warning, you can put this in the tub, fill it up and have a pretty serious reservoir. For an earthquake, it may not be great, because by the time the event happens and you pull it out, your water might already be shut down.
5 Gallon Collapsible Water Container — This container could be used for a variety of reasons. Namely moving water, or bringing dirty water to the filter. It takes up no space when it’s folded down and 5 gallons of water is just over 40 pounds, so it’s relatively easy for us to carry.
Iodine Water Treatment Tablets — You never know if your water contains harmful bacteria. The last thing you want is a giardia infection when there’s no running water or medical care and water is sparse. Adding these to you water will disinfect it so it’s drinkable.
Klean Kanteen Bottles — These are solid, well constructed bottles for on the go.
Water Bottle S-Hook — Use these to hang the bottle off of your bugout bag or belt buckle for hands free travel or search and rescue.
That’s about it for water. The one thing that I’ve considered, since we’re so close to the coast is a water desalinizer. But the ones I found were hundreds of dollars. I did recently find an emergency desalinizer kit that I think we’ll get here.
Food is important, but not as essential as water. It’s totally possible, with enough water, to live without food for a week or more and still be active and alert — but this doesn’t mean that you should ignore stashing away something to eat to prepare for an emergency.
40 Days of Organic Food — I purchased this pre-assembled kit that contains grains, beans, rice and other food goodies. As long as we have water to boil them, which we will, we’ll be able to cover just about all our food needs. During emergencies, you don’t necessarily have to worry about getting all your nutrients, you need to be sure you’re getting calories. This will be sufficient. This kit is good for about 10 years, so in about 7, I’ll probably get another then open the one we have up and start using the food for everyday cooking.
Additional Food Storage — We love astronaut ice cream… just kidding. We always have about 20-30 cups of various grains, lentils, and beans in the house — this can be additional food in case we use the entire tub. We also have spices, so our food won’t be too bland.
These two items should be sufficient for the three of us for at least 40 days, maybe more, but in case it’s not, here are two auxiliary plans.
First, we have a garden, so this will provide us with some food as long as we can keep it watered. If not, we can use the food from the garden first, then eat the dry foods. Second, there are a ton of fruit trees in the neighborhood. Bartering with neighbors is a plan-B that could be extremely beneficial to both of you.
If you have dry foods, you have to cook them. So cooking gear is essential. We have pots, pans and a steamer, so that’s covered. We also have smaller pots we can bring with us in case we need to move our location.
Here’s a collection of what we have at the house or what we have gathered in case we have to go somewhere else.
Weber Outdoor Grill — We bought a grill when we moved into our new rental house for our own enjoyment, but as I was preparing for this article, I realized it would be helpful in case of an emergency — as long as the deck didn’t collapse and destroy it! The grill could be a stove and the propane tank stores a good amount of gas for long term emergency cooking.
Coleman 1-Burner Stove — Now that we have a larger grill, this is a secondary burner, or something we can take on the go. I have about 4 portable propane tanks for this as well. This will help cook a good number of meals.
Mag-Lite Flashlight – This is not only essential for just about everything dark, but also for when you’re going outside to cook at night. It’s also a good makeshift weapon if needed.
Waterproof Storm Matches — If you need to light your stove or grill or start a fire in the rain, these are great to have.
Army Fire Starter — If you run out of matches, then you have this to fall back on.
Wood Chip Fire Starters — If you need something to help start that fire with the fire starter, these will do.
Magnesium Fire Starter — Finally, if for some reason you lose a fire starter or need two or you are better at using one or another, you have this one to go with.
Zippo Lighters — These lighters are durable and relatively weather-resistant. Just make sure you know where yours are when something happens.
Zippo Fuel Canister — To carry extra lighter fuel around if you’re on the go.
Zippo Lighter Fluid — To keep your lighter lit!
Zippo Pouch — To carry your lighters on the go. I have one strapped to my bugout bag.
Fire Extinguisher — Important, not only for personal safety, but also for when we’re cooking outside on camping stoves or on a fire that you’ve built yourself.
Fire Blanket — Like above, great to have for personal safety, but also great when you’re cooking outside.
After moving into a bigger place and getting a new grill, we definitely now have more room for an extra large propane tank and additional portable ones. I’ll get those sooner than later.
This category is to cover some things that aren’t completely medical, but are helpful in some more acute emergency situations. I was struggling to categorize all these items as well as keep each category somewhat equal length. So here’s what I have for “health,” I’ll let you decide if it’s relevant.
Various Supplements — Because of the nature of our work, we always have a ton of supplements in the house. During and emergency, I doubt we’ll worried about taking our Vitamin D, but we do have things like oregano oil which is anti-bacterial.
Activated Charcoal — This is used in many emergency poison remedies in case of poisoning — this is good not only for a poisoning event, but also having a very young son around.
Colloidal Silver Liquid — This is anti-bacterial and can be used for internal or external infection.
Colloidal Silver Gel — This is used to help curb or get rid of external infections.
Aloe Vera Gel — This is to help soothe burns.
All additional medical supplies come later in my series here, but these can be used for acute medical reasons.
What Am I Missing?
Again, I think the water and gas stores are where my cache is insufficient here. We’re good with food and water filtration and we’re good on how to prepare what we have.
On top of that, participating in the CERT exercise made me feel better about our situation, since it seems like everyone has at least water and ways to cook and prepare food.
In an emergency situation, I can imagine our neighborhood banding together, not fragmenting, which assures me that we’ll likely be able to share resources. There is also a cache given to the neighborhood by the city which contains a bunch of useful things as well.
Part 2, Personal Safety, is next! Stay tuned…
Your Question of the Day: Do you have anything I have? Do you have anything additional? Am I missing something important?