June/July 2013 Issue
Disaster Guy Tips
Riding Out an Emergency with What You Have at Home
By Kerry Cartier
In emergencies, you must decide to stay home or go elsewhere. If you stay home, you already have most of what you need to survive. Here’s what to look for.
SHELTER. Check your home for structural damage, gas leaks, electrical shorts, etc. Your home must be safe to live in.
WATER. While there is still water pressure, fill every container you have. You’ll need 1 gallon per person per day for drinking. Save 2-liter pop bottles. Add two drops of fresh chlorine bleach to each bottle. Use a felt-tip marker to mark when you filled them. They’re good for a year or more.
There’s water in your hot water heater. Turn off city water. Turn off the gas, and turn off the water heater breaker in your electrical panel. Open the valve on top of the hot water tank. Get water from the clean-out valve at the bottom. When the emergency is over, turn on city water, fill the water heater, THEN turn on gas or electricity. If you turn gas or electricity on first, you can boil the water left in your hot water heater and blow it up.
Water in toilet tanks (NOT bowls) may be treatable, unless it had a chemical freshener in it. To make water drinkable, strain it through a couple layers of clean T-shirt to remove sediment. Add 4 drops of chlorine bleach per gallon, and let it sit half an hour. If it doesn’t smell like chlorine, do it again. I prefer heating water to disinfect it. Heat it to a rolling boil, and you’ve killed the germs. You can also buy water filters. Test them and learn how to use them.
FOOD. If the power goes off, cook everything in the refrigerator that will go bad if it gets warm. Food lasts longer when cooked. If you’ve got a freezer, invite the neighborhood over for a BBQ! Eat cooked chicken and turkey first because it goes foul first. Then eat food in your cupboards. Most folks have a week or two of food on hand.
COMMUNICATIONS: Landline and cell phones may not work. A small portable transistor radio can keep you informed of what’s happening while the power is out. Spare batteries help.
LIGHT: Keep an LED flashlight by every bed and every exit from your house. LED lights produce more light with less electricity than do incandescent bulbs. Have spare batteries. For room lighting, use a propane-powered Coleman camping lantern. It’s bright enough for reading. A 1-pound green propane cylinder lasts a couple of evenings.
MEDICINE: If you use prescription medicines, ask your doctor to prescribe enough extra for 2-3 weeks. Drug stores may not be open.
POTTY: If you don’t have running water, you can’t flush toilets. You’ll learn what to do in a future article.
FIRST AID: You need a medium-level first aid kit and knowledge to use it. In a real emergency, hospital emergency rooms are full. Take first aid and CPR classes. You might save a life.
Kerry Cartier lives near Canton. He got the nickname “Disaster Guy” because he talked about disaster survival and emergency preparedness long before it became fashionable. This began with a survival kit for his airplane in Alaska in 1975. Then, survival kits for vehicles and home, before the term “72-hour emergency kit” was coined. He started a website at <www.DisasterGuy.com>. You can download 160 one-page Tips for free. He is a featured speaker at church, Tea Party, We the People, etc. Cartier says, “If you don’t survive, it won’t matter what your politics were.” Contact him by e-mail at <email@example.com>.