Thursday, April 22, 2010

Surviving and Thriving In A Disaster

I'm reading a book right now that is definitely worth the time. It's fiction so it's fun to read but extremely enlightening to those of us concerned with emergency preparedness. It's called "Last Light" and it's about a community that is undergoing a world-wide power failure that is never anticipated to be corrected. This book goes into fantastic detail about what a particular family and neighborhood goes through day to day, and I was fascinated by some of the problems they have to face and the solutions that the author offers. I have never looked at a natural disaster this way and I am newly motivated to re-evaluate my emergency preparedness and add a few things to my list.

Today, I hit WalMart and ended up with an entire cart full of supplies. I've been putting this off for several years and I always cringe when I think about all the things I still needed. I felt nothing but relief when I brought it all home and put the items away, checking them off my list as I went. I only have about 3 or 4 things left that I need to buy for my emergency supplies and evacuation kit. Those things include sleeping bags for my kids, flares (I can't decide if I need road flares or aerial flares), kerosene, first aid supplies and I think that's about it. What an amazing feeling to know that we are set! Now I can focus on finishing up my year's food supply although I've got a good dent in that too.

But back to the book and the things I wanted to share with you. I know it's difficult to anticipate a disaster because each type of disaster brings its own share of challenges. But let's talk about an earthquake, the most likely type to occur in our area. It will probably cut out our electricity, most forms of transportation because of torn up roads and debris everywhere, heat/cooling and gas will probably be out and so will phones. Many of us might have damage to our homes. In many respects this disaster mirrors what these people in the book went through except they didn't have to deal with cleaning up and injuries.

So...have you thought about the easiest way to get around your community if you don't have a car? If you have a bicycle, there you go. But make sure you have a bike pump and maybe an extra tube or two because if you get a flat, there goes your transportation. Period. You'll also want to have a really good lock on it because you'll probably want to leave it outside if you go somewhere and bikes will be gold.

Despite all of the water you probably have stored in your basement, you will run out eventually. Where are you going to get it? I doubt it will be pumped to our faucets so we'll have to go get it. How are you going to carry it? Wouldn't it be easier to haul it in something with wheels? People in this book were carrying it in big, clean empty trashcans or installing wheels on storage containers. You could use a wagon. Think about it. You won't want to carry as much water as your family will need for a couple of days, especially if you need to do any clothes washing, hair washing, toilet flushing, etc. Also, think about purchasing one of those single person water purification systems that automatically purifies the water as you drink it. They're expensive but then you don't have to buy the tablets or boil all of your drinking water. Good idea. I personally also bought a collapsible water container (it was about $6) that has a handle, a funnel to get the water into it and I can throw it into my kids' wagon for easy transport.

Do you own a gun? You might need it. If word gets out about your fantastic food storage or all the emergency supplies you have, you'll be a target for robberies or burglaries. Don't think for a second they won't kill you for it. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Protect your family and your hard-earned supplies. If you're like me, you might own a weapon but never thought about the ammunition you might need. Duh. I bought two cases of shells today and feel a lot better now. Don't worry - everything is child safe.

Another thing. I have lots of oil lamps around my house. I've talked about them before; I collect them because they're pretty. So I was feeling pretty good about having them knowing that we'd have light! Hello! I don't own a drop of kerosene! All those lamps will be useless to me if I don't have fuel. Speaking of fuel - you might want to store some of that if you have 4-wheelers or plan to use anything that requires fuel (like your car). Make sure you check for safe storage methods for fuel though.

The last thing I have to say about this is food. A lot of us store food and it's no secret. But if something were to go really wrong and we needed to hunt, or we happen onto a larger cut of meat, it might be nice to know that we don't have to eat it all within 1-2 days before it goes bad. Especially if you have to suddenly use all of that meat in your large freezer. I know I have a lot of meat in there and would panic if my freezer all of the sudden lost power. People have been preserving meat for zillions of years and we can still do it today with a little bit of information. It's probably a stretch that we need to know this but wouldn't you hate yourself if someday you need to know it and you have no idea how to do it? Here's the instructions so just print out this post and stick it in your food storage and then you'll always have it.


  • 200 lbs beef (freshly killed, rounds only)
  • 1 pint salt
  • 1 teaspoon saltpeter
  • 1/4 lb brown sugar


  1. Mix the last three ingredients well, rubbing out all lumps.
  2. Divid mixture into three equal portions.
  3. Place meat in a large bowl and rub thoroughly with one portion of the mixture
  4. Let stand one day.
  5. Follow same procedure on second and third days.
  6. Turn meat several times a day.
  7. Allow meat to remain in bowl for 7 more days, then hang up until meat stops dripping
  8. When dripping has stopped, hang in a cool place about 6 weeks to dry thoroughly.
  9. Wrap meat in clean muslin bags and keep in a cool place.
  10. If in 6 months, meat becomes too hard, soak in cold water for 24 hours and wipe dry.
  11. Wrap again in muslin and hang in a cool place.
You may also want to know how to do bottle/can preservation without a stove - like how to do it over a fire. Again, you never know what you'll need. This stuff is just information and it's free right now so it's stupid not to get it and sock it away for the "what if's" in the future. The more you know, the better off you'll be. Who knows: information may be as valuable as money is today.

I hope this gives you all some new things to think about and different ways of approaching your emergency preparedness. Try to think about the things you do now and how you would accomplish them later. And for all the supplies you have, make sure you have everything you'd need to make them work for you.

2 backward glances:

Christy said...

Thanks Amy!

Rachel said...

I'm in panic already. My family all thinks I'm nuts. 200 lbs of beef. Seriously? I really need to move back to Utah so I can live near my hunting brother. Who can BUY 200 lbs of beef? I guess I'd better like deer meat again, ick.