September 8, 2005 14 Comments
In light of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans I’ve been thinking about emergency plans for the Jones family. My main concern is being caught in a blizzard like the one we had in 1994, with the potential loss of power, heat, and telephones. There’s also a remote potential for an earthquake. East Tennessee is on a large, but largely inactive, fault line. This should also encompass even more common occurrences such as medical emergencies, fire, car breakdowns, power outages, etc.
This is me thinking out loud. Any advice appreciated.
What we have now
- Propane grill, 1 cylinder, propane heating attachment bought two winters ago UPDATE: replaced the radiant heater with a Mr. Heater Buddy from Lowe’s as a Christmas present. 2008 update: we now have three 20 pound propane cylinders.
- Lots of candles and flashlights (mostly StreamLight TwinTasks) and lots of batteries bought in bulk at Home Depot or Lowe’s.
- Battery-powered radio for AM/FM/UHF/Weather Band (the UHF TV is actually more useful than the FM/AM – local TV news has great, almost non-stop reporting during bad weather). 2009 update: with the move from analog to digital TV the UHF option no longer works. It’s worth remembering that in many areas a local TV station broadcasts the audio portion of their programming near the bottom of the FM dial.
- Cell phones. Charge them in advance of a winter storm and have DC/cigarette lighter chargers handy. In a prolonged power outage the batteries in the cell phone towers will give out, meaning you’ll need other means of communications.
- First aid kits in backpack and house, though both need re-thinking/replenishing UPDATE: added all-new OSHA-approved kits from Beprepared.com.
- Plenty of guns, ammo, holsters, etc. if the SHTF. Plan is to take a couple of concealable handguns and a long gun for basic self-defense.
- Pocket knives, sheath knives, and Swiss army knives and multi-tools on person, in car, and in house, compact shovel in car
- Tarps and ropes UPDATE: added ratcheting tie-down straps (4 for $15 at Home Depot) which make it easier to tie down loads tightly
- Tools and gardening tools
- Arkansas credit card (gas siphon hose) UPDATE: it turns out the cheapie model I had didn’t work well at all when one of our cars ran out of gas because the hose was too wimpy to force into a gas tank; I’m going to get a better model with a more substantial hose and handpump)
- Fire extinguishers in cars, house, bedrooms
- New FirstAlert OneLink smoke and CO2 detectors with wireless links and voice alerts LATER: these turned out to be overpriced junk. I replaced them with more-conventional smoke/CO2 alarms.
- Computer backups & important documents offsite in bank safe deposit box (cheap at $38/year) with pictures and MP3s backed up to DVDs stored at work, LATER: We still use those backup options, but now also use Mozy online backup, which is easy, automatic, and cheap at $5/month. If you’re just starting your backup plans skip everything else and go directly to online backup.
- Car emergency kits (road flares, booster cables, tow cables, blankets, tire inflater, etc.) and a large synthetic blanket in the trunk.
- Lots of backpacking equipment (tents, sleeping gear, water treatment, packs, lightweight stoves and mess kits, flashlights and LED headlamps)
What I know we need off the top of my head
- Emergency baby food supply
- Emergency pet food supply
- Hurricane lanterns UPDATE: got them in the camping section at Wal-Mart for $4.50 each; they burn lamp oil, kerosene, and tiki torch fuel, which is handy since we always have a few gallons around for the patio torches.
- Multiband crank radio (and I’m not talking about Art Bell) UPDATE: got the Coleman Outrider model, which works very well with minimal cranking, and also runs for 20 hours on the internal rechargeable battery.
- Propane-powered stove burner and spare propane cylinders UPDATE: got the spare propane cylinder as a birthday present, and got a propane turkey fryer (which is basically an outdoor burner) at an after-Thanksgiving sale for 50% off. UPDATE 2: we now have a third propane cylinder.
- Spare butane cylinders for the backpacking stoves UPDATE: got them
- Power inverter (for running small AC electrical equipment off of car’s DC cigarette lighter – also handy for car camping and other things) UPDATE: we got this Xantrex model from Amazon; it isn’t clear in the Amazon photo, but it can connect to either a cigarette lighter adapter, or directly to the car’s battery posts (which is necessary for higher wattage appliances); both cables are included. Also got this Husky power box which contains a car battery, inverter, a compressor to inflate tires, and cables for jump-starting a car.
- Information for bank and insurance accounts and other important info.
- Gasoline containers UPDATE: got three five-gallon cans ($6 each at Wal-Mart) and a spare spout
- Utility trailer for evacuating (I want one anyway for moving furniture and such) UPDATE: I may ditch the utility trailer idea and get a receiver hitch rack which is less expensive, takes less space when not in use, and is easier to maneuver; we now have a Honda Odyssey, which makes for a better bug-out vehicle; it has a GPS nav system, roof rack, trailer hitch, and much more room and seating capacity; we also keep a state atlas in the van
- UPDATE: we now have an appliance dolly (“hand truck”); along with ratcheting tie-down straps this is a great way to stay mobile if we run out of gas
- Pair of hand-held ham radios; will need to get trained and licensed; also useful for hiking, backpacking. UPDATE: Bought a set of inexpensive FRS/GMRS radios for $10 each, and a Cobra Road Trip CB radio. UPDATE 2: Snagged a CB radio with a cigarette lighter adapter and magnetic antenna at a yard sale for $10.
- Water storage and treatment strategy (have iodine and household bleach, may get one of these MSR units – also useful for backpacking) UPDATE: got extra iodine tablets ($3 a bottle in Wal-Mart camping section), three seven-gallon potable water containers ($7 each at Wal-Mart), and two flats of bottled water ($4 each at Home Depot) that we keep on top of the kitchen cabinets and rotate once a year.
- Decide on a place to keep emergency supplies for easy access in a hurry UPDATE: using overnight backpacks we use for camping
- Create a supply check list
- LATER: Cash. In an emergency without power credit card readers won’t work and you won’t be able to withdraw money from ATMs. We keep rolls of quarters and a pack of 1 dollar bills in the cars for emergencies. If you routinely travel outside your county keep enough cash to pay for enough gas to get home as well a few meals and a night in a hotel.
– Inexpensive Alternatives to Emergency Generators
– Emergency Communications over Two-way Radio
– Government recommendations (Ready.gov)
– Doc Russia’s recommended first aid kit part 1, part 2
– Countertop’s thoughts
– Preacherman’s lessons learned from his New Orleans bug-out
– Water supply and storage
– Storing gasoline
– Head’s experience evacuating from Hurricane Rita