Dudes, Be Prepared

If you woke up tomorrow morning with no power, no water, no internet, no heat, no way of travel, etc. – what would you do? With the blunt of the winter months bearing down upon my hometown, people are beginning to see the faults in not being properly prepared. So today I want to talk about this, and discuss some simple steps we can all take towards being prepared in the event of a natural disaster.


 Image Credit: amazon.com

Currently, in the town over from mine, there is a huge water outage. Bitter cold temperatures paired with an old, faulty water infrastructure, has caused many line breakages and thus entire communities are entering their 4th or even 5th and 6th days without water. Local fire departments have set up stations for handing out free water, but there simply isn’t enough to meet the demand.

In January of 2014, a chemical leak in central West Virginia left hundreds of thousands without water for nearly two straight weeks. Residents were unable to cook, clean and even bathe with the water. Due to contamination in the lines, they were even asked to refrain from using their toilets.

Everyone thinks that these are things that won’t likely happen to them and their home. But the reality is that we just don’t know when and where events like this will happen. This is why having a plan and being prepared is so important. I’m going to list some potential ways of being prepared and give a little personal insight as to why/how I’ve found these to be important.

  • Food – Having a small supply of non-perishable foods on hand can literally be a life saver. Last week we were hit with an overnight accumulation of 10+ inches of snow. Being as we live in an extremely rural area, our roads were absolutely impassable for a solid 5 days, and even the following week afterwards made for treacherous travel. Having items on hand such as canned foods, rice, a well-stocked freezer, and even Ramen noodles can provide nutrition until you’re able to get to town. This may seem like common sense, and I thought so for a long time. But I’ve come to find that there are people who actually do their grocery shopping on a weekly basis and don’t keep any extras on hand. This can be a costly mistake in the event of a major disaster.
  • Water – We don’t really realize just how much we use indoor plumbing until we’re forced to go without it for a few days. Last winter, line breaks in our area forced us to be without water for a little over a week. Thus, we have since adopted the method of saving water for not-so-rainy days. You can purchase bottled/jugs of water and stash them away for use in an emergency. Or you can do what we do. Coming from a large family, we buy industrial sized items when shopping. Like 5 gallon jugs of cooking oil; once the jug is empty, it is cleaned, filled with water and stored in our basement until it’s needed. The Federal Government website, www.ready.gov, suggests storing a gallon of water per family member per day – for at least a three day period.
    Saving water is one of the simplest ways to be prepared. Water for cooking/drinking? Reuse two liter bottles and cooking oil jugs. Water for washing/sanitation? Just about any jug can be reused. Laundry detergent, cooking oil, milk jugs, etc.
  • Heat – Heat isn’t something we pay as much attention to until it becomes a problem. Feeling cold? Turn the thermostat up. But what do you do in the event of a power outage? During our heavy snow last week, our power went out two nights in a row for several hours in below zero temps. Luckily, my home has a wood burning fireplace that we used daily in conjunction with our central heat. We were able to gather in the living room and were quite comfortable. If your home has a fireplace, I recommend having a small supply of wood on hand. Even if you don’t use the fireplace regularly, it’s a method of heat.
    If you’re home doesn’t have such an amenity, I recommend kerosene or propane heaters. A word of caution: These can be VERY DANGEROUS and must be used in well ventilated areas. Every precaution must be taken to prevent both a fire and carbon monoxide buildup. They must never be left unattended and should be constantly checked. That said, these are excellent sources of heat and are fairly cheap at your local hardware stores. Kerosene heaters run about $100-$150 and small propane heaters run $75 to $150.
  • Entertainment – This one is probably the most overlooked when preparing for disasters. Having food, water and heat are essential, but having something to do is nearly just as important. Last week when I was snowed in, I caught cabin fever and started taping faces to my toaster out of pure boredom. This was with power, internet and satellite TV uninterrupted. Imagine a week without those three things. As humans, we’re programmed to DO things and not being able to accomplish that can be maddening. So when preparing for a natural disaster, keep in mind ways to preoccupy yourself. Set aside books to read, board games, jigsaw puzzles and even a battery backup for charging cell phones and other electronics.
  • First Aid – In the event that you can’t travel, first aid kits can be yet another literal life saver. We all know the basics to include: bandages, sterile pads, rubbing alcohol, triple antibiotic, burn cream, etc. But other items to keep in mind are prescriptions, needle and thin fishing line, glasses (if you wear the) and oral numbing gels, such as Orajel and Anbesol.
  • Miscellaneous – This category represents non-essential items. Things that while aren’t essential to life, they can make it more comfortable and safer.
    – Fire extinguisher
    – Battery powered electronics (flashlights, hand radio, lanterns, etc.)
    – Cash
    – Household bleach
    – Paper and pencils
    – Wet wipes
    – Disposable plates, cups, utensils

The media today over glorifies being prepared as being paranoid or being an apocalypse prepper-nutjob. Being prepared isn’t just for the end of the world preppers. It’s a smart decision. Some may call it paranoia, but the thing about paranoia is this: it doesn’t make you wrong. Too many people today have become dependent on an uninterrupted lifestyle. The truth of the matter is that Mother Nature might just piss all over that. So take the time to plan ahead and don’t end up cold, smelly, hungry and bored in the dark.


 Image Credit: nytimes.com


– Cameron Blevins

Follow me: @CamOnAir