Category Archives: Preparedness

“My Town Disappeared”

large explosionThere is an ongoing crisis with train derailments that result in fiery explosions.  These explosions happen when tanker cars that are ill-equipped to withstand collisions are used to transport crude oil.  The oil usually originates in North Dakota, whose oil industry has grown so fast over the last few years that it is now second only to Texas as an oil-producing state.   North Dakota doesn’t have any oil pipelines, so in order to get the oil to the refineries, the oil companies transport it by train.  And they transport the oil in tanker cars called DOT111’s, which were not designed or built to transport hazardous material.

One such explosive derailment took place in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada on July 6, 2013.  Forty-seven people were killed in that small town and a large portion of the town was destroyed.  As one townsperson described it, “My town disappeared.”  You owe it to yourself to take ten minutes and educate yourself on this issue.  Watch this video prepared jointly by The Weather Channel and InsideClimate News:

Now, don’t console yourself by thinking that this is one incident that took place in Canada.  It is, in fact, one of several incidents.  Similar incidents have taken place in Virginia, Alabama and North Dakota as well as in Alberta and New Brunswick in Canada.

In addition to the deaths that have occurred, the explosions result in environmental degradation.  Toxic fumes, destruction of property, disruption of utilities and emergency services in the town, contamination of the water supply and other hazardous consequences have occurred or could occur from accidents like these.

In light of this, you need to ask yourself what you would do if something like this happened and your town disappeared.  Do you have several alternate routes out of town, so that you always have a way to go away from the hazard?  Are you prepared with alternate destinations?  Is your bug-out bag ready, one for every member of the family?  Does your bug-out bag contain enough cash to pay for an inexpensive hotel for a couple of nights?  Is your gas tank at least half full?

These disasters are horrendous.  Although, in the big scheme of things, you can predict that these derailments will continue to happen, any particular incident comes completely out of the blue.  You can’t prevent or predict them and you probably can’t avoid them.  But you can prepare yourself in advance to be able to weather the catastrophe.

What do you think are some of the most important steps in prepping to survive a similar disaster?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Know When You Need To Bug Out

Prepared ConceptYou’ve either bought a bug-out bag kit for each member of the family or you have built one from scratch.  You have made your evacuation plans and practiced them with your spouse, children, pets and anyone else that you consider family.  You’ve got your paper maps, compass and alternative routes ready.  You always keep your gas tank at least half full, but you know that if you need to bug out, you may have to do it on foot.

So when do you need to bug out?

It’s time to bug out when the place you are in is at risk of becoming unsafe.  Don’t wait until you are actually in danger.  Leave before the danger comes.

The danger can be due to any number of things — a severe weather event, civil unrest, a contaminate hazard, a terrorist attack, or anything else that puts you and your loved ones in harm’s way.

If you live near a chemical plant, you should be aware that both corporate and government officials can and will cover up the potential harm in the event of a discharge.  Don’t wait for their advice.  Pick up and go.  And keep alert to news events.  A tanker car on a train or truck can be damaged in transit and discharge toxic materials.  Evacuate — in the opposite direction of the accident.

Leave if there is a city-wide blackout.  Criminals love to hide under cover of darkness.  Likewise, if the 911 system goes down, you should bug out.  When there is no way to communicate with law enforcement, the entire city is at risk.  Don’t wait  it out, hoping for the best.  And don’t risk your life trying to protect your property.  Take matters into your own hands and leave.

In the case of a serious weather event, bug out before government officials tell you to.  Don’t delay until the roads are congested with people who wait until the last minute to leave.  You may end up stranded on a crowded road as the blizzard or hurricane bears down on you.

Much of what I advise you to do on this blog is to plan and prepare.  You must do that.  But you also must act resolutely and unapologetically if a bug-out-worthy event is imminent.

Have you ever bugged out?  Or didn’t and wished you had?  Leave a note in the comments and let us know your story.  Or share your thoughts about your planning and preparation.

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Consider A Bug-Out Bag Kit

Prepared ConceptAlthough you certainly can create your bug-out bag from scratch, you may want to get off to a faster start and invest in a bug-out bag kit.  It can actually be more economical to start with a kit and add to it than to purchase everything separately.

When you choose your bug-out bag kit, start with a good backpack. For information about backpacks, check out What You Need To Know About Backpacks For Your Bug-Out Bag.  Make sure your kit starts with a sturdy but lightweight, watertight backpack.

Then have a good look at the contents of the kit.  You’ll want your bug-out bag to include some standard supplies, so be sure that your kit has them.  A good kit will include a first aid kit, some food supplies, a flashlight, lightweight thermal blankets and heavy duty gloves.

But even the best kits will need to be supplemented.  Your kit may include food but you may need to supplement it or change it out.  Most kits don’t include water, so you’ll need to be sure to add that.  You’ll need to add paper maps of your regional area.

Of course, you’ll need to add your own clothing, copies of your legal documents and prescription medications.  You’ll need to add your favorite past-times and entertainment items.  If you have children, you’ll need to add their food, clothing, formula, diapers, wipes, bottles, pacifiers and toys.

Then you will need to consider whether you need to add anything given your surroundings and the types of emergencies you are likely to face.  Do you live in an area with a chemical plant?  Protection against chemical leaks will be essential.  Likewise, consider whether you are likely to face hurricanes, tornadoes, wild fires, snowstorms or other weather-related events, then be sure that you add any specific items needed for them to your bug-out bag kit.

And, in general, review the contents to be sure that it includes everything that you consider essential.   Even a well-chosen kit may be missing a few items, such field glasses, a compass, a fold-up tent, an emergency radio, a sleeping bag or other things.   Compare the items in your bug-out bag kit to the items on my checklist in Your Bug-Out Bag Checklist.

Even though there’s no one kit that can meet all of your needs, purchasing a bug out bag kit is an excellent idea for making sure you have a good basic set of essentials. For many people the idea of gathering many items for a 72 hour emergency kit is overwhelming.  Or you may feel that an emergency is imminent and you need to get prepared immediately.

When you purchase a kit, you can get most of the items you need and only have to add a few personal or supplemental items. It may actually cost you less money to purchase a kit than it would to purchase items individually.

And when you purchase a kit, most items are designed to have a long shelf-life making them a good value. If you’re more willing to buy a kit than to collect individual items, a kit will get you one step closer to being self-reliant and prepared for an emergency.

In a disaster, you can’t count on anyone else to take care of your basic needs. Having a good basic bug out bag kit can help you to be prepared for a disaster that requires you to leave your home.

Did you begin your bug-out bag with a kit?  Leave a comment to let us know how that worked for you.

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Your Bug-Out Bag Checklist

A bug-out bag is a bag, usually a backpack, that contains supplies necessary for you to survive the first 72 hours of an emergency.  It is crucial for your bug-out bag to be prepared in advance.  The idea is to have it complete and conveniently located, so that you can grab it and go when an emergency arises.

It can take some time to gather all the materials for a bug-out bag.  While you are getting your supplies together, don’t think about what you don’t have yet.  Think about how much more prepared you are than you would be if you hadn’t started.

When you begin to gather your supplies, start with a checklist.  Make a plan to gather supplies as your budget allows.  Keep the checklist and the plan in your backpack.

The following is a recommended checklist to start you off collecting supplies for your bug-out bag:

* Sturdy backpack to hold items

* Sleeping bag

* Plastic sheet

* Tent or tarp for shelter

* First aid kit – including nonprescription and prescription medications and contraception (a three day supply)

* Children’s medications (if applicable)

* Feminine hygiene items (if applicable)

* Baby wipes and diapers (if applicable, though baby wipes are useful for cleaning up for all ages)

* Change of clothing – including pants, a short sleeve shirt, a long sleeve shirt, socks, underwear, a jacket, work gloves

* Rain coat or poncho

* Emergency blanket

* Flashlights

* Camping lantern

* Batteries

* Candles

* Water-proof matches

* Flares

* Three day supply of food – such as granola bars, protein bars, trail mix, dried fruit, canned tuna, canned chicken, Vienna sausages, beef jerky, juice, candy, Meals Ready to Eat

* Three day supply of water – about four liters per person

* Manually operated can opener

* Utensils for eating

* Shovel

* Axe

* Knife

* Rope

* Duct tape

* Solar powered radio (with back up batteries)

* Toilet paper

* Hand sanitizer

* A bottle of combination soap, shampoo and conditioner (you can use it to wash dishes and clothes, too)

* Entertainment items – such as a deck of cards, knitting supplies, a book to read, paper, pen

* Personal documents – including legal documents, insurance policies, birth certificates, car titles, copies of prescriptions, etc.

* Cash – at least enough for three nights in a hotel

* Pet items – including food, water, cat litter, leash, bedding

* Other items as needed for children such as formula, pacifiers, bottles, etc.

When it comes to food, make sure you create a menu plan so that you know what you’ll eat each day. And every six months you’ll want to check expiration dates and replace food that’s near the end of its shelf life.

You’ll also need to check the children’s supplies every six months.  Be sure that the children haven’t grown out of the clothes you prepared for them and make sure that whatever other supplies (formula, bottles, etc.) are appropriate for age and size.

Don’t forget that you need to be able to grab your bag and go.  One of the things that means is that you need to put your supplies in your backpack and leave them there.  Don’t fall into the trap of using your bug-out supplies for daily use.  That will either delay you on the way out, or leave you underprepared when you get there.

You’ll need to have a bug out bag for each member of your family. Even children are capable of carrying their own packs with some essentials. This helps them to feel more self-reliant and confident during an emergency.

Once you’ve collected these items, you’ll need to keep them in an area where you can easily access them in an emergency. A bug out bag checklist can help you to keep in mind what you have and what you still need to purchase as you prepare for survival needs.

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What You Need To Know About Backpacks for Your Bug-Out Bag

Your first defense in an emergency situation is your bug-out bag, and the first consideration for your bug-out bag is the bag itself.

Size.  The backpack should be large, but not so large that you can’t carry it when it’s full.  A large main compartment is a must.  You will also need smaller compartments to store items that you need to be able to find easily.  Also look for a pack that has loops and clips so that you can attach items that will hang on the outside.  Those are handy for water bottles or tools that  you use often.

Construction.  It should be both lightweight and sturdy.  So look for fabric that is strong but made of lightweight material.  An interior aluminum frame adds to the strength but doesn’t add a lot of weight.  The frame also distributes the weight of the pack evenly over your back and helps to keep the items packed in it organized.

The truth about backpacks it that the longer you carry it, the heavier it will feel.  To alleviate that as much as possible, make sure that the shoulder straps are padded.  You’ll need the cushion to keep the straps from digging into your shoulders.

You’ll also want a strap around the waist.  Make sure the height of the pack is compatible with your height and that the strap actually hits at your waist.  And it should be adjustable.

Other features.  You’ll want to make sure there is some protection from the rain, so either the material should be waterproof or you should have a rain cover.

Some backpacks come with a hydration system.  That consists of a bladder that’s almost as large as the surface of the pack.  The bladder can be filled with water and is attached to a hose that you can use as a straw.

Value.   A good backpack can get pretty pricey.  You don’t want to splurge on the pack itself and then be underprepared with the contents.  Since preparedness is a long-term plan, it can be a good idea to start with a pack that is adequate but not better and then trade up.

Although the contents of the backpack are the keys to your preparedness, the backpack itself is also very important.  A well-chosen backpack will ensure that the pack and its contents are portable at a moment’s notice.  It will also ensure a reasonable degree of comfort when carrying a full pack a long distance.  It’s worth your time and money to invest in a good one.

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