Disaster Preparations at Home
Posted to Usenet by Bob Gilbert
Why? Oh, how about floods, tornadoes, blizzards, etc. Electric
power goes down, phone communications quit, no water, possibly
no fuel and no help on the horizon for at least some period
Won't happen with modern technology you say? Bet me. Just
recently here in Minnesota and the surrounding states we
have been hit by repeated blizzards. Power lines have gone
done for more than a week. People trapped in their houses
(or at least on their own property) for days, people stranded
in vehicles for 40 plus hours before being found, etc. Not
a lot of fun with a wind chill of -80 to -90 degrees. For
those of you who can't imagine the situation, the snow was
blowing so strong and the white-out was so complete that
people were disoriented and lost within a couple hundred
yards of places with which they were familiar.
A few years ago, the company that I work for sent me to
Missouri to assist local telephone workers during massive
flooding. Power was out over areas serving many tens of
thousands of homes, only isolated places where phones still
worked. Think a cellular phone is the answer? Sorry, the
cell antennas require power to pick up your call and pass
it on. And a cell phone will only reach a couple miles max.
I found people living on the top floor of 2 floor houses
and in houses on a hill totally cut off from anywhere else
by the water.
Medical assistance? In our last storm one doctor, attempting
to reach a woman needing a cesarean delivery, required two
snow plows to escort him and at that it took him 8 hours
to get 40 miles. Many people had to settle for local first
I was in San Francisco when they had their big earthquake.
Food supplies were disrupted in some areas for over a week.
Some places had no gas, electricity or water for several
So preparation is something that all of us should keep
in mind. Being prepared is not something suitable only for
those waiting for
TEOTWAWKI. (The End Of The World As We Know It)
Things to consider:
4. First Aid
My thoughts on these:
I listed this first as it is often vital. If you are cold
and/or wet it is difficult to collect your thoughts, organize
and get the rest you will need to survive. In some disasters,
lack of shelter will kill you straight off.
My home, as most in Minnesota has a basement. We have a
re-enforced 'gathering corner' down there. It is away from
any glass and likely to survive the collapse of the house.
(verified by the architect) It also has an escape hole which
I installed. In this corner I have stored supplies of water,
food, a first aid kit, pack of dry clothes (sealed), flashlights,
a couple of hurricane lamps, radio, batteries, etc. Also
a small toolkit of essentials and a pry bar.
Each of the 2 major family vehicles has a first aid kit,
winter survival kit, small tool box, flashlights, etc.
If you have to abandon the house...hole up in a vehicle!
Go to a hotel you say? One may not be available and even
if it is you may not be able to get to it.
As a side note, we keep a lock box ready to grab at home
with some cash and valuable papers, etc. A copy of the valuable
papers is kept at a relative's house some distance away.
(Copies of insurance policies, etc.)
We buy can goods and paper goods by the case and store
in the basement. Don't tell me you can't afford it. Just
takes discipline. I and my wife have been doing this since
we were poor newly weds. We also do home canning and drying.
I have a large and a small freezer always full. Probably
overkill. We could probably last 6 months at least with
no worries. After that I'd have enough of everything except
meat, for another six months. I would suggest that a family
keep at least a couple of weeks worth of food in the house.
Beans and cornbread might get old but it will keep you alive.
Not that we would have to 'rough' it. If the house is intact,
we have the stuff and know-how to make candies, pizza's,
and other goodies which make life good. We have always been
ones who enjoyed made from scratch stuff. Cooking? Natural
gas stove. If that fails, electric pans. If that fails,
Coleman oven with spare fuel. If that fails, coal bar-b-que
pit. If that fails, homemade wood burner.
Water? I'm on a well system. Also keep 3 five gallon containers
in the basement, 5 gallons in the shed and have installed
a 200 gallon water tank behind the house. Kept full by the
pump. I flush this regularly. It has a hand pump attached
so that water may be retrieve if there is no power.
For extended periods of water outage (due to power loss),
I have both a portable hand powered pump and a battery powered
pump (12v car battery) on hand, a nearby lake, a cart with
a water tank. The cart is actually used for my gardening
but I have a 30 gallon plastic, inflatable water tank to
fit it and a portable filtration system I made to attach.
Natural gas forced air furnace. If the electricity fails
I have a small 2kw generator. I modified the electrical
hook up to the furnace so that the cable bringing 120v power
to it terminates in a standard male plug. This is plugged
into a female receptacle at the furnace. I make a double
male extension cord for the generator. Cheap arrangement.
Power fails and I unplug the normal power at the furnace.
Start the generator and plug it into the furnace. The old
plug has a cover in case normal power is restored. The generator
is large enough to power the fan on the furnace. Also has
enough extra juice for me to run an extension to give limited
light and power a radio or TV. I keep 30 gallons of fuel
in various sized containers in a shed away from the house
and have a buried extra 20 gallons.
No natural gas? Two kerosene heaters in shed and 30 gallons
of kerosene. Also have kerosene burning hurricane lamps.
Also have about 30 lb. of assorted candles. You would be
surprised at how warm you can keep one room of a house,
even in Minnesota, with very little heat. One winter power
was lost and a blizzard was blowing. Decided to wait till
morning to fire off the generator. Brought everyone into
one bedroom, covered windows with a vapor barrier (sheet
plastic). Kept the door closed to the rest of the house.
At -24 degrees, 40 mph winds, the body heat of four of us
in a sealed room kept it above 50 degrees. Comfy sleeping!
**I always keep rolls of heavy mil sheet plastic around..great
I keep currency in my certification as a First Responder.
All members of my family have had first aid training. Besides
the first aid kits for emergencies in the basement and vehicles,
we have a main first aid kit in the house, loaded with everything.
Comprehensive first aid book in case I can't remember something
(or I'm the victim), gauze, bandages, disinfectants, scissors,
pain pills, anti-biotics, etc. We rotate from the stored
kits to the main kit as things are used. I don't know what
will work for you but we have a sympathetic Doc who, once
a year fills a prescription for me for antibiotics. He knows
why I want them and gave me the old lecture about their
use. I don't load the kits with a lot of fancy appliances,
don't want to spend the money nor do I see the need for
fancy collars, inflatable splints and such. Anyone who can
not figure out how to make a sling or splint out of any
handy materials should probably just stick to Band-Aids.
We keep a full set of cold weather clothing in water proof
packaging in the basement and in each car. Thermal underwear,
heavy shirts and pants, boots with extra liners, gloves,
socks, hats, face masks. If it is warm outside you just
put on less. With these are an assortment of blankets and
Lots of outside lighting. Steel doors with deadbolts. Small
rural area where everyone knows everyone else and keeps
an eye on their neighbors. (Very important) Three unfriendly
dogs. Yes I know a grown man can kill a dog. These aren't
here to attack. But they won't let anyone or any thing within
a hundred yards (even when they are indoors) without raising
a ruckus. Alarm system. Panic buttons with battery back-up
which flash lights and sound a very loud series of sirens
outside to alert neighbors. Wife and son trained with pistols.
Personally trained wife to shoot and keep on shooting, reload
if necessary, until whoever stops twitching. I am not into
assault weapons. See no need. A .22 rifle and pistol for
small game hunting, two very good pellet rifles for target
practice and varmint dispatch, .308 bolt action rifle for
larger hunting, 410 and 12 gauge shotguns, also for hunting.
Shortened pump action 12 gauge with 3 inch magnums, double
ought in case I don't like whoever it is who trying to pay
me a visit. You know...looters, IRS agents, other no good
types. ;-). Any Federal types reading this, send in the
local deputy sheriff first. I know them and will talk first.
One of them is a neighbor, I'd probably have a hard time
shooting him. Decent guy with a wife & kids.
As you may have gathered, I work for a phone company. So
if it is possible at the time, I know how to fix phone lines.
I also maintain CB radios in each vehicle, a base CB in
the house. I have an amateur tech radio license and a ham
transceiver. I also have a very capable scanner which picks
up most things including the illegal to monitor bands. In
addition, several battery powered radios, including shortwave
are scattered about, including a battery powered TV
Besides the 120v generator, I keep a 1350 cranking amp,
deep draw marine battery charged. It is trickle charged
from the commercial power source so that it is always ready.
In a couple of spots about the house I have installed 12v
outlets. This is used to provide additional means to power
the radios and battery powered TV. I also have on hand a
couple of 12v lamps to plug in. The battery can be kept
charged by my portable generator or by a car. I rigged up
a special battery cable to hook to a running car and on
the other end it has a plug to plug into the big battery
cables to charge it.
In the back of my property I have buried a section of large
drainage pipe, 3 ft dia., which is sealed on both ends.
It has a removable lid and is water tight. Granting the
house burns down or something, this cache is used to store
dry and canned food, toolbox, clothes, and other necessities.
It is not particularly hidden. It's only purpose is to provide
safe storage for essentials in case the whole house goes.
Fire, flood, etc.
We have a trailer permanently placed on a lake, way out
in yonder country, as a summer fishing and vacation place
and as a bug out spot if that should ever be necessary.
It is completely stocked. In addition, we have a complete
camping set packed and ready to be loaded in minutes if
needed. Not just for a bug-out. If a tornado blows the house
away, we are ready to set up temporary lodging. Plus we
The most important tool to survival....knowledge and the
skills to use it.
By profession I do heating and air conditioning repair,
electrical power repair, alarm systems repair, plumbing,
locksmithing, carpentry, electrical generator repair and
so on for a telephone company. By way of hobby I do repairs,
upgrades and programming of IBM compatible PC computers;
auto and small engine repair; tinker in amateur electronics;
ham radio; welding; vegetable gardening; home canning; food
drying; fishing; hunting; camping and hiking. I also fill
in on an as needed basis for a local emergency response
squad. I am a pack rat and gatherer of 'stuff'. If you were
to look in my shed and garage you would find tools for virtually
any type of job, lumber, metal stock, rolls of electrical
wire, cable, chain, hose and rope. Virtually every type
of electrical fitting, nail, screw, bolt, hose fitting,
tubing fitting and pipe fitting needed.
It may seem like a lot but flea markets and garage sales
are wonderful things. The cost is not nearly what you imagine.
The 2kw generator, for instance was sold to me as broken.
It required about $15 in parts and the time expended in
a tune up to put it in operation.
Family and friends used to make fun but after uncounted
times of them calling and my being able to fix the problem,
they no longer laugh. One of the reasons I view the Internet
as such a valuable resource, is that it provides an almost
unlimited access to a world of knowledge... a survivor's
Used with permission on the Project EPSILON Survival Page