I’ve been dealing with my own minor family health emergency here at the NWEdible homestead, so let’s recap. If you have followed along and completed our emergency challenges this month, here’s where you stand:
- You understand your most likely emergency threats.
- You know what kind of sane preparedness will let you sleep at night, feeling secure that you’ve done what you can to make your family more resilient in the face of those threats.
- You have everything you need to survive on your own for 3 days, and can leave the house with all that gear with only a moment’s notice.
- You have a communication plan in place to let your loved ones know where you are in an emergency.
- You know where all the utility shut-off’s are in and around your home, and you know how to turn them off should you need to.
- You have selected a series of safe places to go if you need to leave your home.
- You have a plan to get home from work, and to get your children from school in the event of an emergency.
- You have all the information and vital documents you need to start to put your life back together after a disaster.
You are doing freaking great!
Much of our action so far this month has focused on taking the uncertainty out of the several minutes to the several days immediately following a disaster.
It’s time to shift into a long-term mindset
A good rule of thumb: in an emergency, if it’s safe to get home and stay there, do so. Even if you are inconvenienced by a power outage, lack of infrastructure or isolation from the rest of your community, typically the most comfortable place to be is at home.
Home is where you have food, pillows, extra clothes, big fluffy dogs, random camping gear, extra batteries, board games – all kinds of stuff that will make riding out a disaster far more pleasant. Preparedness just makes it easier to stay in a safe home longer and more comfortably.
Think back to your Zombie Apocalypse Scenario. Mine, as a reminder, is a full-rip of the Cascadia Subduction Zone – a major, region-crippling earthquake. Yours might be a superstorm, tsunami, or massive hurricane.
In any event, your Zombie Apocalypse situation isn’t over when the disaster is over. Broken infrastructure, power outages, displaced people and disrupted supply lines all mean “getting back to normal” can take weeks – even months or years – beyond the discrete event of the disaster.
Sadly, right now many of our Puerto Rican friends are dealing with the brutal aftermath of Hurricane Maria. From the linked article: “We do not have supplies. In my house, we do not have water. There is no gas. The lines are long.” And: “Almost a week after Maria hit, some isolated towns still have not been heard from at all.” The wind is long gone, but for the US citizens without fuel, electricity, food, water or supplies, the crisis in Puerto Rico is ongoing. (Options to help here.)
Your 72 Hour Bags will see you through the initial emergency. But if you are hunkered down in the aftermath of a major disaster, you need to think about how you are going to provide for your own basic needs beyond those three days.
How Long Are We Talking About Hunkering Down?
All major emergency management agencies in the Pacific Northwest now advise people keep a minimum of two weeks worth of food, water, first aid and basic home comfort supplies on hand. That’s what I’d recommend for anyone in earthquake, big winter storm, mudslide, flooding, or hurricane country.
Then, if you….
- enjoy preparedness as a hobby (no shame – I do!),
- look at your reasonable regional risks and they include “earthquake that makes roads impassable for 4-6 months“
- know other people in your life will show up at your doorstep and you won’t want to have to make the call about turning them away,
- belong to a faith where food storage and other preparedness is prescribed for you (shout out to the Mormons),
- or otherwise would feel better with additional supplies,
…then you might choose to prepare for a longer time period.
But just start with two weeks as your goal.
What Does “Basic Needs” Mean?
If you live in a standard urban or semi-urban environment and an emergency hits which causes the power to go out for two weeks, you can assume the following:
Power, Heat and Light
The lights won’t come on. The A/C won’t come on. The heat won’t come on. Your cell phone will not charge. Your Prius will not charge. Your gas stove or oven may not work because of an electrical ignition system. Your life will become very, very quiet. People who are not accustomed to power outages sometimes forget just how totally dependent the modern house is on a free-flowing river of electricity.
The water may stop running. If you live someplace that pumps water, when the power fails, the pumps are run off generators. When those run out of fuel, the pumps stop and water stops coming out of the tap. Any number of disasters can also cause broken pipes which stop water pressure more or less immediately, or cause floodwater or wastewater to contaminate water sources. Even when everything is completely functional, it’s not unusual for municipal water companies to issue boil notices because of contamination of water sources.
Grocery stores will be completely emptied within hours to, perhaps, a day. In the event of disasters which have some warning, like hurricanes, store shelves can be empty long before the emergency even makes itself felt. Without power, grocery stores themselves will close – the refrigerators, freezers, and cash registers all require electricity to run.
The supply chain and delivery system that gets stuff to stores in the United States is both phenomenally fragile to sudden shocks and impressively resilient in its longer-term adaptability. Eventually, supplies will get to you. But the just-in-time delivery you’re used to will be disrupted.
Gas stations probably will be shuttered. Those that are open will have very long lines. Gas may be rationed. People who wait in long gas lines tend to get nervous and prone to panic and aggression. Best place to be in this situation? Not in that gas line.
There will be disruptions to general transportation. Stop lights and signals will be out. When workplaces aren’t powered, they won’t open. Normal patterns of commuting won’t happen. Places that are typically hubs of dense human activity may feel like ghost towns. Neighborhood and vertical neighborhood socialization will ramp up as people seek human connection within shouting distance of their front door.
Information and Communication
Information will be much, much harder to get than we are accustomed to. The average iPhone is a miracle of information-delivery. On a device not much bigger than a deck of cards I can collect more first aid, weather, social, and news information than I’ll ever be able to read. Current events? Instant wind speed updates? Done. When cell towers go out or the phone batteries runs down, people accustomed to meeting their information and communication needs instantly will be craving news and updates desperately.
Without water pressure, toilets won’t flush. Garbage pick-up, removal and processing might stop for awhile. Depending on your home, plumbing, and the nature of the disaster, sewage flowing back up through the plumbing system could severely compromise your home. If you fear you’re at risk for sewage back-flow, the only real preparedness step is prevention through the installation of a sewer back-flow valve.
Medical, fire and security first responders will all be slowed, both by their ability to physically reach people and a local need for help that outstrips the supply of professional helpers. Depending on the nature of the emergency, the buildings that support first responders might be damaged, further limiting the efficiency of the emergency support services. Neighboring communities and states will mobilize to help, but even efficient and well-organized disaster response doesn’t mean aid will reach you quickly.
Don’t forget this – it’s more important than you might think. Assuming everything is more or less ok, but you’re in the dark for two weeks, how are you going to cope? Just like information, we are used to instant, always-on passive entertainment. (No judgement from me – I watched 7 seasons of Game of Thrones in about 2 months fairly recently and it only took that long because I had to wait a whole week between episodes towards the end. Torture.)
Without iPhones, Netflix, your kid’s tablet, a TV, online games, YouTube, or streaming media of any kind…what’s the plan? Not just for you, but also for your teen, tween or Thomas-obsessed toddler. Something will have to fill the time.
For my rural friends:
If you’re in a rural environment, the bad news is you’re typically last in line for help and for getting the power back on. The good news is, you probably already know this and don’t need very much help because you have already prepared for it.
I have readers for whom the idea of not having at least 6 months worth of heating oil, plus propane, firewood, food and a clean well is just inconceivable. How you live is close enough to resilient every day that, I’ll be honest, I’m not too worried about y’all. Just keep doing your rural thing.
However, if you are in one of those rural-suburban locations, where you live in someplace that looks like the forest, but no one is allowed to own chickens and it would be super weird to have a 500 gallon propane tank in your yard, you might be in one of the hardest preparedness positions. You won’t get help as quickly as urban folks, but the self-sufficiency of rural life isn’t really common either. If that is your situation, aim for at least 3 weeks worth of emergency supplies, and more if you can swing it.
Today’s Preparedness 101 Challenge:
Imagine you bring all your family into the house, shut off the main electrical breaker, turn off the gas, shut off the water, and for 2 weeks, no one goes further than the edge of your property. You don’t buy any groceries, Amazon doesn’t shows up at your door, and Costco is but a fading memory of abundance.
What would be your biggest problems? Air conditioning? Drinking water? Not knowing what’s going on a few miles away? Not knowing what to do with your own poop?
We’re going to address each component of hunkering down separately in order to keep this post from running way too long like the last one. For now, I just want you to read through the Basic Needs list above and think about how you would meet the challenge of providing those needs for two weeks on your own.
In our next several posts, we will talk about how to get ready to meet each of these basic needs at home for at least two weeks. In the meantime, give a think and leave a comment about the greatest challenge you would face right now if you had to hunker down at home without any outside help for two weeks.
All images: FEMA
• • •
Preparedness 101: The September Series
- Preparedness 101: What’s Your Preparedness Philosophy
- Preparedness 101: Everyone Has A Zombie Apocalypse Scenario
- Preparedness 101: Assembling A 72 Hour Bag
- Preparedness 101: Information Preparedness with a Family Reference Binder
- Preparedness 101: Determine Your Evacuation, Meetup and Emergency Procedures
- Preparedness 101: Hunkering Down At Home <— You are here
Please, please, please address any safe and sane ideas you have for fuel storage. We are well on the way in our preparedness journey, mainly because we live in an area in which we may find ourselves snowed in for a week or more and we suffer frequent winter power outages.
The one area in which we are really struggling is finding a sensible and safe solution for storing 30-60 gallons of fuel to run our generators for an extended power outage. Many of the solutions offered by traditional “prepper” sites are with environmentally risky or just plain unsafe.
we have explored and found fault with:
Gas cans- risky, tend to leak
Storing in vehicle gas tank- it is a heck of a lot harder to siphon gas out of later model vehicles than you would imagine
Mounting a truck bed transfer tank- nope, they are not rated for gas only diesel
Getting a farm style gas barrel- the smallest we can find is 400 gallons which is overkill and we would never want to keep that much fuel in hand.
So…..any really great and environmentally sound ideas for fuel storage?
Homebrew Husband says
We’ve talked a lot about this ourselves…I think there’s really no “perfect” solution, no matter what you try, you are talking about storing a potentially toxic, highly flammable substance in or near your home, right? And the last thing anyone wants is to CREATE an emergency with their own preparedness supplies. What fuel we keep on hand is in plastic gas cans (less leaky, less risk of static discharge) in a ventilated outdoor storage unit and I really think that’s the best option. Gasoline doesn’t have an indefinite storage life, either, so having a few smaller cans that you routinely cycle through emptying-and-refilling (I’d suggest at least every six months, possibly quarterly) has advantages over a big monolithic tank. You may also want to look into dual-fuel generators that can run on propane – in some ways propane storage is safer than gasoline storage plus you can use it in a camp stove for emergency cooking (but be safe with regard to CO/CO2 and all the usual!).
Homebrew Husband covered pretty well where our thought process is. I’ll go over what we’ve learned in that specific post, but in general I think it’s not smart to store large quantities of gasoline at home. Other fuels, like kerosene and propane, are easier and safer to store. But for 30-60 gallons, a monthly rotation system on a 6-month cycle (I first learned this method from Jack Spirko) is about the sanest way to do it. 5 gallons a month would put you at 30 gallons, 10 gallons a month would get you to 60 gallons.
In our situation (pellet stove in the winter got back up heat), our gasoline powered generator consumes 6 gallons per day if run continuously. 60 gallons of storage gets us 10 days, 13 if we shut it down for 6 hrs each day. We’d need 90 or more gallons, or look to replace our genset with a dual fuel one. Sigh.
Or plan on not running it continuously.
Last time we had a major ice storm, I still lived with my parents, and they had a generator, which we ran for about 2 hours a day (long enough to charge batteries, keep the chest freezers frozen, and get the water pump going to refill water supplies).
Plus, those things are hellishly noisy – only running it for a bit makes sense if only for the noise aggravation.
Ieneke van Houten says
Brilliant work. I am one of your hardy rural readers, though I do not have wood heat right now. Power outages are frequent here. A stash of water is always on hand, ditto for food and
alternative lights. The quality of the bug out bag leaves to be desired, and since the most likely disaster is forest fire I appreciate the reminder to take care of that.
Yes I fear the risk of fires in your area won’t be decreasing any time soon. Please have a 72 hour bag. <3
Katie Newcomb says
Our biggest issue would be water and diapers. We have lots of food just by the nature of how I buy things, but we are doing terrible on water storage. We got a new water heater recently and the earthquake straps are just sitting on top of it… guess I know what I’m doing this weekend!
The other problem is we don’t keep that many diapers on hand. We have twins and keeping 2 weeks worth is A LOT. But until they’re about to go to the next bigger size we could store that much. Thank you for this series! Its been so helpful.
Good for you for installing the earthquake strapping on your water heater! Do it. 😀 Dipes are bulky and a pain, no doubt. A friend of mine with a child in diapers was dealing with this making her 72 hour bag. I’d recommend starting by just working a box ahead. One up, one back. When you get close to the size crossover, make the “back” the next size up. And the ages when they go through 12 diapers a day or whatever is fairly short, so when it’s just for overnights that’ll be a lot less to store.
kredit vergleich says
Thanks Tami. It is very difficult to find time for the family devotion, but is so worth it. We do it on Mondays, because that is the only evening during the week that we all are home. Praying for you as you start your family devotions with Bella!!!!
This is the part I really struggle with. I don’t want to spend a bunch of money on food I’ll never use, and I only rarely eat canned food or otherwise shelf-stable food. I’m mostly a meat and fresh (seasonal) veggies kind of person, and I rely on my garden for a good chunk of my veggies and fruits in the summer/early fall. I barely eat rice or pasta, so there’s no sense in keeping a bunch of that around. So I struggle with how to stock up on stuff that won’t eventually get wasted. If the Big One comes, I’ll wish I had that 50 lb bag of rice, but if it never comes, I just wasted 50 lbs of rice. Multiplied by however often it gets replaced. Maybe that’s not such a big deal since rice is cheap?
I’m working on stocking up on beans, shelf-stable milk, peanut butter, and tuna that I’ll eventually go through, and I have far too much jam I’ve made, but that’s about all the storage-friendly stuff I use. I suppose I’ll just have a really limited diet in an emergency, and have a helluva freezer-clean-out barbecue with the neighbors in the first couple of days! (Note to self…acquire more propane for the BBQ!)
Perhaps you could simply plan to donate the rice, pasta, etc, to the food bank whenever you need to rotate your stockpile? That way it’s not going to waste!
That’s a great idea, Bethany! I’ll have to keep on top of it so I don’t turn into my great grandmother, who had ancient stuff in the back cabinets when we cleaned her house out. But donation is a good call, and I could put reminders on my calendar to update the stocks once a year.
Nicole S. says
I have also struggled with what foods to stock up on for emergencies. As Erica has said, I’m trying to only stock foods we will actually eat, that I already buy anyway, and I will keep a larger stock of those on hand. Canned fish, nut/seed butters, packaged/canned milks. We don’t eat much pasta but I just bought a case of it, mainly for emergency food, but we will also eat it, slowly. It will probably take a year for us to eat it, after which I will replace it. We do eat rice at least once or twice a week, so I did start buying it in the huge bags. I’ve also gotten olives, canned pumpkin, dried fruit, large containers of coconut oil and olive oil. I did get jerky and other dried meat stuff for our 72 hour bags.
Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early says
Right – the big fluffy dogs. Our one older girl is now on 4 different medications daily and they are pretty expensive ($150+/mo). I wonder what’s the right amount to have on hand for preparedness sake? Not sure if we can get more than a month’s supply of each at a time.
Nicole A. says
I live “rural”–5 acres about 15 minutes from town. I have a well. We’re also in earthquake country. I really worry about how in the world I’ll get water if the power is out and the pressure tank (which holds 60 gallons of water) breaks and I lose all the water in it. We have water in a bunch of 5 gallon plastic water jugs…but what if our manufactured home’s roof caves in and crushes all the water jugs? Will I still be able to get water out of our well with something like a flowjack, or will the well itself crack and I be without even that source of water. With an infant and a three year old, and my husband a first responder a five hour walk away–it’ll be me somehow trying to manage water and shelter for these little ones. I’m really at a loss!
I’m definitely not a well expert but you bring up a good point about not being overly reliant on one solution…preparedness people often say “1 is none, 2 is 1” to emphasize the importance of backups. Some of the moms in my local readiness group on FB store their disaster kit out of the house in a heavy plastic tub because they feel it’s more likely to be intact after an earthquake. It is possible to store some of the 5 gallon water jugs out of the house a bit? In a shed or just on a patio? Another thought… if it gets to the point that your roof has totally caved in that’s really probably best treated as an evacuation situation. On five acres, maybe you can “evacuate” to a roomy tent in the backyard if needed, but I’d make sure you have thought through options on where you could go with your littles.
Nicole A. says
Yeah, I’m hoping our house will still be standing, as it is tied down. But, I’d like to be prepared in case it does collapse. We do have a tent, but we found out that the thing is not water-tight after days in use. My husband and son had set it up last year in our yard and after a week out there, the floor of it was covered in water.
I’m currently thinking that the car will likely be the warmest, driest place for us. But, that won’t be too cozy during the cold snaps of winter. We have a woodstove, and hopefully the pipe will still be intact after an earthquake and I’ll still be able to cook on it…because cooking over an open fire pit—while fun in good weather–will not be easy in our rain!
My parents live a 5 hour walk away, which is totally unattainable with two kids. We do have neighbors who are also pretty self-reliant. Hopefully between all of us, there will be shelter, though I wouldn’t want to imping on their homes unless absolutely necessary. But, if I’m the only one with filters and a way to draw water our of wells, perhaps I won’t feel too much like I’m just taking.
Homebrew Husband says
Another thought on the leaky tent could be to get a big, robust tarp and set it up OVER the tent, staked and tied as necessary, to give another layer of protection. Tarp sheds the water, tent keeps you warm. If it is cold, you can also get quite a bit of water condensing on the floor of the tent just from people’s damp breath, so make sure you’re letting it ventilate well enough.
Preparing a tent site ahead of time might also be an option. Slightly raised, so it drains.
Jen B-K says
Nicole…I’m in TX and the way that wells are put in here is complicated and I’m not even going to try to explain it except to say that outside the well house which contains the pressure tank we have a 1,500 gallon plastic tank. Water comes from the well, into the pressure tank, gets pumped into the 1,500 gallon tank when it drops to a certain level, then comes to the house. On the top of that 1,500 tank is a screw off opening into which you could insert a manual pump or even a hose to siphon in the event that the power is out and you can’t pump more water. The tank has a float valve in it so it never goes down all that much before it refills. You might call a well guy and see if that is something that can be added.
Nicole A. says
Fascinating! I had no idea people had such large tanks. Is the plastic opaque? How does it stay clean of algae when out in the sun. This is a really fascinating idea!
Not at all a cheap option but there are manual pumps you can put on your well.
As far as the tent goes, try seam sealing it. The seam seal goop is less than $10 and does wonders. Also ensure it is set up correctly and staked out well. If you leave it up for several days this may involve resetting the stakes or tightening the lines as they come loose. It’s quite possible your existing tent is fine!
Nicole A. says
Thank you! I’ll look into the seam sealer.
I’ve also been looking into potentially buying one of flojaks Earthstraws (http://flojak.com/earthstraw-code-red-pumps/). They’re flexible and supposedly can be installed quickly right alongside a pump. But they cost $400!
Another idea is making one of these well buckets made from PVC and a valve (https://preparednessadvice.com/well/make-your-own-deep-well-bucket/). They’re a lot cheaper, though a lot more labor intensive to operate…though not as labor intensive as boiling and filtering water from a dirty pond!
I really appreciate this series, although I still find trying to get prepared quite overwhelming. Living in the same region as you, my main concern is having enough water to last 2 weeks. Or even getting access to water to filter/boil.
Rick Gregory says
A couple of thoughts which I’m sure you will cover in the future…
1) A few people are talking about what they eat… but a disaster is about survival which kind of by definition means the world is not normal. Yeah, I eat organic farmer’s market stuff now, too. But I can’t restrict myself to that. For survival, think food that keeps, has calories to keep you going and has a long shelf life. Thinks like this (random example): https://www.rei.com/product/116345/mountain-house-just-in-case-5-day-emergency-food-supply
2) You might have mentioned it in a past post Erica (I’m catching up…) but water capture and filtration could go a long way to helping. Statistically, the odds are decent that a disaster happens when we are getting rain. If you run out of stored water or can’t get it etc, etc. being able to capture and filter rainwater could be crucial.
3) Keep enough gas in your car. Not strictly survival, but you can run the engine a a bit and charge cell phones, etc. Don’t go under 1/4 of a tank if you can help it.
4) Radio. Your cellphone does not do this but keep a radio around so you can get news. Also, keep a solar charger around and rechargeable AAA and AA batteries
Nicole A. says
Although, with people like my husband who has Crohn’s or those with Celiacs, eating typical survival foods can actually kill them or make them gravely ill, especially without access to medical establishments. Even for those without medical problems, sometimes switching one’s diet up suddenly can cause diarrhea or other digestive issues, which isn’t something I want to be dealing with when I’m trying to purify water, cook without electricity, make sure my shelter is safe after an earthquake, deal with waste without plumbing, AND watch my kids.
We stock up on canned fish, dates, figs, coconut milk, raisins, cashews, macademia nuts, and nut butters. These make great snacks that we frequently eat on car rides (except for the coconut milk, which goes in our smoothies), and all of them are shelf-stable and don’t require cooking. Our bodies also all can handle these foods, and I won’t have to deal with melt-downs from my three year old because he doesn’t want to eat “yucky” food.
This is a big part of why I’m finally starting to do serious emergency prep. My longtime food allergies are relatively mild and I can suffer through a reaction if I have to. But my husband and two of our kids were diagnosed with Celiac last year, and the little ones will vomit helplessly for an hour or two if they have a single bite of a wheat food. ONE BITE. So evacuating to a shelter or depending on standard emergency supplies is simply not going to be an option for us. In the event of a catastrophe either we have enough supplies to hunker in place or we’ll need to evacuate all the way beyond the edge of the disaster area. It’s going to be tricky even finding enough room for the 72 hours bag I’m putting together, and I have no idea how we’re going to find enough storage space (or $$$) for two weeks worth of food – but somehow we’ve got to.
Nicole A. says
We have a small house (1,000sqft) and two kids, and it IS hard finding place to store stuff. My diaper bag doubles as our 72 hour bag…and usually is sitting on our couch because there’s nowhere else to put it. If guests come over, I stick it on my bed!
As for accumulating a lot of food, we currently have maybe 2 months of non-perishables stored up, most of which resulted from us seeing good food at amazing prices (there’s a store in Everett, Wa called Prospectors, and often has canned food for amazingly affordable prices, because it’s close to the “expiration” date. We bought flats of salmon because it was like 50cents a can for wild caught salmon). They often have organic rice noodles, so I buy a bunch of those when I see them. It’s worth a trip there if you’re in the area! We eat all this stuff, so we buy a bunch so that we have it ready for when we want to eat, say, noodles or salmon. And, since there’s extra, it’s there in case of emergency, too.
As for finding a place to stash it, um, well, we honestly have a bag of salt under our bed, and boxes of food tucked under our dining room table, and a bag full of coconut water in our hall. It doesn’t look nice, but it is a place…
I will never understand how people don’t have at least a few days worth of food on hand. I live in Maine, our biggest threat being snow…lots of it. Or a hurricane that makes its way up here, meaning wind and rain..and lots of it. We easily have 5 days worth of food for our family and that;s without having a garden this year and without really trying. But then again I do this space age thing called cooking. Crazy I know. Never mind natural disasters, what happens when your entire family comes down with the ick and no one can go to the grocery store, because I have had that happen before. What would you do then? It just boggles my mind. What I would love to see on here as well (if you haven’t already done it somewhere and I just missed it.) is how to come up with a good inventory plan/lists for the pantry/food supply. Because I suck at it ha.
You might check this out if you haven’t seen it. http://nwedible.com/food-storage-for-people-who-dont-hate-food/
Fellow Mainer! My big fear is ice storms. It’s not the power outage – no big deal I can cook anything on my camp stove no problem, but my fear is heat. We currently have baseboard hot water heat (propane) and a heat pump… and no wood stove. Growing up I always had at least 1 if not 2 or 3 sources of wood heat. Stove is on the wish list for sure but until then it’s propane space heaters!
I also don’t get how anyone could have so little food. I could last weeks I’m sure alhtough some of the combos might be kinda weird. My biggest pet peeve now is how unbalanced our supplies are. Like I have a 6 month supply of rice, but I buy milk every week. Cheese is another mainstay I”m not sure there’s really a way to store. Plus we are peanut butter fiends and go through a jar a week or so. I’ve looked at Erica’s list before but yea…. haven’t taken action.
Look into canned cheese and butter. Cougar Gold is the one easily available here on WA state, but there are others.
Cougar Gold does actually have to be kept refrigerated, Also, it’s one of the most delicious cheeses ever. Source: my brother-in-law makes cheese for WSU, and I eat a lot of Cougar Gold.
Heck yeah this is exaltcy what I needed.
Food would get odd and I might be a little hungry. But unless it was raining, I’d be awfully thirsty. (I have some water treatment supplies, probably not enough)
I think after running out of water, my biggest problem would be sanitation.
I keep meaning to make up one of these, but just thinking isn’t enough.
Thanks for the link – what a brilliant solution! I’ve gotten quite good at peeing in a bucket and using it as fertilizer thanks to Erica, but the poo side had me a bit baffled. Which is ironic, given my career is literally all about proper poo management (though mostly for livestock). I’ve got a bunch of 5 gallon buckets from painting the house last year that I use for gardening. I think I’d line the poo bucket with a garbage bag, but otherwise, it’s a brilliant solution.
I use wood stove pellets as coop litter for the chickens, and those are an excellent carbon to keep on hand for emergency waste management. If necessary, that’s what I plan to use with a 5 gallon bucket. If I had a pellet stove they would be even more multi functional in an emergency!
Nicole A. says
We use those pellets for our barn kitties’ litter box. We have a designated place in the wood to dump the whole poop and pellet mess. The sawdust once those pellets hydrate does result in a mess around, so I wouldn’t suggest pellets for indoor kitties, but it works great for outdoor ones! THose pellets sure are multi-purpose!
Nicole A. says
That’s a good idea! I actually went and printed up instructions for how to dig a latrine and an outhouse, as we live on 5 acres, and there’s a nice wooded area far from the well and wetlands that would be perfect. I figure I’ll do the 5 gallon buckets for poop/pee and dump the poop into a latrine every day, which should be a lot easier to manage with a three year old than walking him up to a latrine every time he needs to poo! Or hauling him and his 11 month old sister up there everytime I need to go! If the disaster recovery lasts more than a week, I’ll probably start digging a four-foot, outhouse style, hole for the poop to be deposited in.
This is A+ planning. 😀
Carolyn S says
Water, hands down. I live in a semi-arid region with no streams or other natural sources of water nearby. I know I need to store more water, as I don’t have anywhere near enough for 4 people for 2 weeks. If the tap water goes off at my house, we’re screwed.
Thanks so much for these posts! This is exactly the kick in the pants I need right now. I worry about what we’d do in an emergency, especially now that I have small children, but it’s always felt too overwhelming to even start preparing.
Liz (Eight Acres) says
I’m loving this series, thanks so much for sharing your experience! We have had a few practice emergencies where we have lost power for several days due to storms/flooding, so we are starting to understand what we need. I like your advice to aim for a shorter time period first and gradually build up to longer depending on your likely disaster.
Thankfully, we live in a house, not an apartment building now, which makes a big difference in terms of drinking water (and water pressure). We’ve got a katodyn(?) water filter that will keep us in drinking water for 3-6 months, depending on how many people are relying on it, and I have tonnes of food (and books, and candles, and crafty activities) on hand.
Things I worry about?
Getting out of town fast.
We keep all of our important documents in a grab-and-go metal box, and we have an established meeting place if, say, the house catches fire. BUT we’ve got four little birds and no car.
THAT scares the hell out of me.
Beyond that? Being able to cook (we have a BBQ frame that we can convert to charcoal briquettes, which seems like a pretty stable fuel source?), being able to maintain basic sanitation in our rental unit (no back-flow valves for us), and being able to keep the frozen food frozen… I have a few friends with pressure-canners, and I’m thinking it might be time to set up a yearly date to put up chick peas, root veggies, soups, and maybe meat (chunks of pork shoulder probably). Which would mean we had extra protein and heat-and-serve stuff on hand already BUT wouldn’t help keep the freezer full (and therefore less likely to thaw out)… I’m open to suggestions on this front. :-
You can use some of your jugs of water to keep your freezer full. That keeps it energy efficient, it’s easy to switch them in & out as your food stockpile waxes & wanes, and when they finally do melt you have pleasantly cold drinking water. Just remember to pour a bit out from each jug first so they don’t expand too much when they freeze!
Thank you (months later, as I read this in 2018) for the idea. I’ve been realizing that one of our problems would be what to filter water into and lug it around to where it’s needed. Starting out whatever emergency we’ve got with mostly full gallons of frozen water in the freezers would keep the freezers cold a bit longer, provide us with drinking water, and then provide us with easy-to-carry clean containers for dealing with water (drain from water heater and carry upstairs or disinfect or transport and filter, whichever we need).
Becca Meskimen says
I also use water jugs when I need to fill the freezer. They have an added benefit of ease-of-use without having to buy or make ice for coolers, or cooling down blanched veggies you’re preparing for the freezer.