Preparing for disasters big and small

Why should we be prepared for bad times? Well because bad things can happen to anyone at anytime and rarely do they come with a warning. Now I am not going to talk about everyday emergencies such as running out of gas or getting a flat tire in your car. Hopefully you know how to tackle those situations. Nor am I going to talk about some far fetched alien zombie apocalypse. No folks, I am going to talk about simple disasters that could happen at anytime. So put away your tin foil hats.

Lets be honest, we have all seen news. Between wildfires, train derailments, chemical spills, civil unrest and rioting, terrorist attacks, and economical troubles, we all have something to worry about.

Understanding what disasters you are vulnerable to can be difficult. There is just so many possibilities and it seems that new ones are popping up all the time. In reality there is no way to protect your family and yourself from every possible disaster, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try to be prepared for some of the more practical disasters out there. So many people nowadays can’t even imagine something bad happening to THEM. And if something bad did affect them, they would just wait for the Red Cross or the National Guard. I mean that is why we pay taxes right? It could take those organizations several days to bring aid. Meanwhile, those who never thought to prepare will go hungry, thirsty, and cold. They will begin to think that they are entitled to any supplies that anyone else has. It won’t matter to them that they never thought to prepare or they didn’t pay for the supplies you have. Civilization only lasts until the last can of beans and bottle of water are on the shelf. Then things could get ugly. Given a disaster lasts long enough, people will die for very stupid reasons. So why would you want to allow your family to ever be put into those circumstances?

So now that I have hopefully convinced you to not be one of those people who go through life naively thinking nothing bad will ever happen, lets take a look at some various things that could actually happen. To get a good idea of possible disasters that could effect you, start looking at how dependent your household is on utilities. Also take a look at the various industries and infrastructure surrounding you as well as your local demographics. I will illustrate this by explaining where Kallie and I stand here at the homestead.

As you know we have a little over 2 acres. All of our neighbors are very friendly older people who have about the same amount of land. We are at the end of a quite road on the outskirts of a small town, just touching the huge pastures and fields. Getting closer into town the houses get older and are located on smaller lots. We, and all of our neighbors, have private wells and septic tanks. Most of our neighbors, along with us, have 500 gallon propane tanks. In general we are pretty well set.

So what could happen to us? Well we live in Oklahoma, so tornadoes in spring and sometimes ice storms in winter are common. Both of these events could leave us without power for hours to days. In the case of an ice storm, we might not be able to get out and go to the store. We have plenty of food on hand and with our new propane stove we can cook easily. We also have a wood burning stove that can heat almost the whole house. Until recently though, losing power meant not having water since our well needs electricity to pump. That is why I built the hand pump for the well so we will always be able to bring water up to the surface. Hopefully soon I can tie the hand pump into my plumbing and be able to use water out of the facet instead of having to use a bucket to haul water inside. In any case, we would survive a power outage caused by either of these events.

Very close to our property runs a railroad line. There lies a possibility that a train could one day derail, potentially spilling thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals. In this case we would likely have to evacuate quickly. This is why our camping gear is always pack (we will always have at least a tent over our heads) and we have some cash on hand along with some buckets of nonperishable food. We could load up and be gone within minutes, hopefully avoiding any exposure to chemicals from the spill. Even if we didn’t have to evacuate right away, it is likely that the chemicals could leach into the soil and thus pollute the ground water and our well.

Wildfires are another possibility here and in many parts of the country. Of course the smartest thing to do is leave. Most of the vegetation around the house is kept cut back and luckily the house is made out of brick. In case we have to leave, the bags are packed.

Now to take a look at some other possible disasters depending on where you live. For example, a chemical spill or an industrial accident could cause major devastation to a whole town. Just look at what happened in the 2013 explosion in West, Texas. There is probably dozens of different industrial complexes close enough to you that if a major accident happened, it could inconvenience, harm, or even kill you. This website from energy justice is a great tool that tracks power plant locations and pollution. If a nuclear power plant disaster scares you, then take a look at this website to see the possible fallout tracks. Or if you want to see what a regular nuclear bomb might do check out this website.

If you have watched the news lately, you will realize that a terrorist attack could happen anywhere, anytime, and take any form. From random shootings, hostage situations, to dirty or convention bombs, or more serious a chemical or biological attack. What today’s world has taught us is that radical terrorist like ISIS can be influential anywhere in the world. It doesn’t matter how large of a city or how small of a town, terrorist could attack anywhere. You don’t have to be scared but just need to be prepared. Adapt and overcome any situation. Hopefully you own a firearm and have received training on how to properly and accurately shoot it. I also hope that you have a license to carry firearm and do so on a daily basis.

What if the stock market takes a huge plummet. It has been quite finicky for months now. Certain industries are doing very poorly, such as oil. There is talk of default, devaluing, and countries giving up the American dollar as their backing. The stock market can still crash and many people would be without work very quickly. You could lose all your investments. Maybe the stock market keeps going but you get laid off. How will you feed your family? What if you stashed some non perishable food away now just in case you need to survive off it later. At the very least the food saved up today would be a buffer for you and your family while you try and find another job. And even if that day never comes, you can still eat it. Can you eat cash in the bank?

Perhaps you live in a more heavily populated part of a city. How would you defend your family if rioting were to break out after say a police shooting of an unarmed teen as we have seen in Baltimore or Ferguson?

As you can see there are hazards all around us everyday. Start analyzing potential hazards around you and then implement controls to help you survive them. Start small. The disasters listed in this post are some of the more easy ones to prepare for. Once you have a good solution to these, move on to more difficult hazards such as contagious disease outbreak, full scale nuclear attack, complete social breakdown, EMP attack, cyber attack, or any other possible disaster.

What you will need for any disaster are these things, usually in this order. Shelter, water, food, security. You can die without proper shelter in extreme temps within hours. Days without water will kill you. Weeks without food will kill you too. Other threats such as people can kill you anytime in a disaster. Think about these 4 things when trying to problem solve how to survive. Once you have those covered, think about communications, transportation, alternate power sources, long term food supplies, building materials, personal hygiene items, and general resources (in no particular order).

Remember, your family should not have to suffer due to your lack of preparedness. It can be as easy as having a bag with supplies ready to go anytime you need to leave or having extra food on the shelf to see you through hard times. I truly hope you prepare, even if you never have to go through any of these hard times.

-Dale

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