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Are You Ready?

 

Every community is subject to disasters such as extreme weather, earthquakes, power outages and even acts of terror.  Based on this, it is in our best interest to prepare for a variety of natural and man-made disasters.  Although local officials and relief workers will be around after a major disaster, they cannot reach everyone immediately. Your help may arrive in hours or possibly take days.  Electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may also be off for extended periods of time.

Disasters often bring out the best in people. Unfortunately they also bring out the worst. After any disaster, whether local or widespread, there will be individual’s intent upon creating trouble. Lawlessness and disorder may quickly become the rule of the day. While some individuals are lending their neighbors a helping hand, others will be helping themselves. There may be looting, stealing and an increase in acts of violence. Violence can become more common, even among individuals who formerly took no part in such activity.  The police will be overwhelmed, so the responsibility will fall on the individual to provide protection for self, family and property.

Even a well-armed individual will be unable to hold out long if there is a violent group intent upon taking his or her possessions. Your chances for survival will increase substantially if you are able to ban together with your neighbors for your mutual defense and use of resources. It is unfortunate that neighbors can sometimes live side-by-side for years without getting to know each other.  Disaster preparedness experts recommend that you get to know your neighbors and befriend as many as you can. Don't wait until a disaster occurs. Do it now! Someday your life may depend on it.

After a disaster the police may have their hands full in more ways than one. History has shown that during any emergency there will be individuals in law enforcement who will also abuse their authority. In the months following hurricane Katrina, 200 New Orleans police officers were disciplined for various offenses, including looting, which were committed during the chaos that enveloped the city after the hurricane.

Firearms

The Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right of the people to keep and bear arms.  Regardless of your opinion, if there are individual’s intent upon doing you harm, and the police are unable to help you, your chances of survival will improve if you are armed.  Are you willing to risk the welfare of your family to the whims of a marauding gang, or will you take steps to protect the ones you love?  When selecting a weapon for home defense you should consider the following firearms;

  • 12 Gauge Shotgun - No, not because of the sound it makes when cycling the action! Shotguns can be bought for less money than many other systems. Many cannot afford a $1,000 carbine, but a perfectly adequate pump shotgun can be found for less than $300. While not the biggest issue, this can be important for many people.  At ranges of less than 25 yards there is no more of an effective weapon than 12-Gauge loaded with #1 or larger buckshot.
  • .223 / 5.56mm Carbine - You may know this type of rifle by the name AR-15. The carbine is a very powerful weapon system. A carbine loaded with the .223 ammunition is an excellent intruder stopper. They are much more powerful and effective than any normal handgun.  A magazine fed carbine is much easier and faster to reload than a shotgun. And with a 10 to 30 round magazine, it will have less manipulation than a handgun or a shotgun, as you will not need to reload it as often.
  • Semi-Automatic Handgun - Pistols are "convenient" as they are small and easy to carry and store.  They are one of the most popular home defense weapons used today. Pistols are harder to aim and hit the target with than other systems. Practice can improve your accuracy, but they cannot be operated as accurately as a shoulder-fired carbine or shotgun.

Unless you are already an experienced gun owner, everyone in your family who is old enough to hunt or use a firearm should also take a firearm safety class. Then you should take your firearms to a practice range and become proficient with their use. Always keep your guns and ammunition locked up and out of the reach of children.  Your survival supplies should include not only the firearms, but plenty of ammunition as well. During a prolonged emergency, ammunition might also serve as a useful item for barter, so don't fail to stock up.

Intruder Alerts

If you have an alarm in your home you will want to have a reliable battery back-up that will work even when the electricity is off for an extended period of time. If you do not have such a system a very effective yet inexpensive alternative is to install wireless, battery operated Sonic Alarms above each door and vulnerable window.

Sonic alarms are easily installed with the self-stick tape backing included on each unit. When the door is opened, the movement activates the device which emits an ear-piercing sound that is sure to startle any intruder and awaken everyone in the house. Most intruders will immediately flee the scene when they hear such an alarm, so you will probably never see them or have to confront them. If you do have to confront them it will be on your terms, with your weapon in hand, which is far better than being awakened in your bed with a gun at your head or a knife at your throat!

Disaster Supplies

Make sure all of your family's immediate needs are met by creating an emergency supply with food, water, a first aid kit and other essentials. Here's a complete list of supplies to include in your emergency supply:

Supply of Drinking Water

  • A minimum of one gallon of water per person per day.
  • Buy bottled water or store tap water in washed plastic, fiberglass or enamel-lined metal containers. Sanitize containers with a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water before using.
  • If your tap water is commercially treated, you can use it as-is. For well water or untreated public water, follow treatment instructions provided by your public health service.
  • Seal the water containers tightly and label them with the date. Store in a cool, dark place. Refresh your water supply every six months.

Food Supplies
Use a permanent marker to date foods and replace items every six months. Pack foods in watertight bags or sturdy plastic containers.

  • Canned foods are a good choice. Buy ready-to-eat meats, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Buy canned or boxed juices, soup, and powdered milk.
  • Peanut butter is a good source of protein.
  • Crackers, granola bars, cereals, trail mix.
  • Instant coffee and tea.
  • Sugar, salt, pepper, other spices.
  • Consider packing food in air tight mylar bags such as beans and rice
  • MREs.
  • Don't forget a manual can opener!

First Aid Supplies

  • First aid manual, scissors, sterile bandages, gauze pads, cotton balls, safety pins, latex gloves.
  • Antibiotic ointment, cleansing agents such as isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, germicidal soaps, moistened towelettes.
  • Needles, tweezers, scissors, thermometer.
  • Aspirin, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids, syrup of ipecac (to induce vomiting), vitamins.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice if you wish to store your regular prescription medications.

Essential Tools and Emergency Supplies

  • Battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries, a NOAA weather radio.
  • Flashlights and extra batteries.
  • Glow light sticks.
  • Matches in a waterproof container.
  • Shutoff wrench, pliers, shovel and other tools.
  • Duct tape, scissors, plastic sheeting.
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • Paper, pens, pencils.
  • Needles and thread.
  • Paper plates, plastic cups and utensils. Plastic trash bags.
  • Hand sanitizer, liquid detergent, towelettes, soap. Toilet paper, paper towels.
  • Chlorine bleach and other disinfectant cleaners.
  • Household documents, contact numbers.
  • Copies of important documents. Cash or traveler's checks.

Other Items

  • Blankets, bedding, sleeping bags.
  • Comfortable clothes and shoes.
  • Supplies for babies and the elderly.
  • Supplies for your pets.
  • Gasoline generator with supply of gas.
  • Camping stove with supply of fuel
  • Things to do: books, games, toys.

Bartering

Every good survivalist has a stockpile of things he or she recognizes their family may need to survive a natural or man-made disaster. However, many people forget the value of maintaining a barter store as well.

If things hit the fan, particularly in an economic collapse where the dollar is nearly worthless, a number of non-monetary goods will be more valuable than a fistful of dollar bills.

It’s also important to recognize that we can’t possibly store enough of every item to account for every scenario for an indefinite period of time. However, what we can do is have some items on hand to barter with neighbors to plug gaps in our preparations.

Imagine a neighbor with a large garden and some chickens trading a half dozen eggs and some squash for a box of ammo, or a small bottle of vodka.

Consider stocking up on the following items, even if you have no plans to use them yourself, for their potential barter value.

Things to Stockpile with High Barter Value

  • Bullets - Obviously, it’s a good idea to have a decent store of ammo representing all calibers of the weapons you own. However, it is also a good idea to store extra ammo in common calibers (9mm, .22, .38, 12-guage shells, etc.) as a potential barter. After all, a gun without ammo is just an innacurate throwing object.
  • Alcohol - Alcohol could serve a variety of purposes.  It is valuable as a potential bartering commodity, and it also has medicinal uses. Did you know Vodka is a great home remedy to counteract the reaction to poison ivy?
  • MREs - More portable and easier to barter than larger 5-gallon buckets, or even #10 cans of dried foods, MREs are great to have on hand for bartering. Keep a variety of flavors and different kinds of foods because you could be holding something that could complete a meal for a hungry person.
  • Prescious Metals / Silver Coins - Keep in mind this doesn’t necessarily mean only silver dollars with a full ounce of silver, but even older, less expensive coins with a high silver component (90% silver coins minted until 1964, for example).
  • Water - To someone in bad need of water, a bottle of water could be worth its weight in gold. Remember the rule of threes: you can live three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Store accordingly.
  • Matches and lighters - A box of matches is relatively inexpensive, but for someone needing to build a fire a pack of matches or a lighter could be very valuable. Be sure these are stored safely, and if they are not waterproof make them so by storing in a watertight container.
  • Sugar - My grandfather used to tell stories of things that were in limited supply in the Great Depression. Sugar was something he often mentioned. Imagine how easily you could win over a sweet-tooth with the promise of a bag of sugar in exchange for something you are short on.
  • Toilet paper - This one is rather self-explanatory, isn’t it? Sure, there are substitutes for Charmin, but who wants to keep using leaves when paper feels so much better.
  • Water Filters/Purifiers - Water purification drops and filters could mean the difference in offering family members treated water or potentially harmful, bacteria-infested water. Who’d be willing to trade for that?
  • Bleach - May be used to disinfect water, or keep living quarters and soiled clothing sanitized.
  • Batteries - Can be used to power up flashlights, radios, and other electronic devices.
  • Candles - Emergency candles would be a great barter item for those in need of providing some light to their living quarters without electricity.

At Work and In Your Car

  • Keep an emergency backpack at the office in case you can't get home right away.
  • Store a supply of food and water in your car. Include jumper cables, flares, ice melt and other seasonal items.
  • Keep your gas tank filled.

In Summary

It's never too early to start preparing for an emergency or disaster.  You should find reliable information sources, warning systems and alert systems in advance. Family communication is very important as well.  Meet with family members and consider both people and pets. 

Remember, you may also have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take essentials with you. You will probably not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them.  A disaster supplies kit is simply a collection of basic items you may need in the event of an emergency. Assemble your supply well in advance of an emergency, so you and your family can survive on your own after an emergency.