The better prepared you are and the more skills you have, the less fear and anxiety you will experience in case of an emergency or disaster situation.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the American Red Cross and the U.S. Department of Agriculture developed the brochure “Food and Water During an Emergency” that warns: “If an earthquake, hurricane, winter storm, or other disaster strikes your community, you might not have access to food, water, and electricity for days or even weeks. By taking some time now to store emergency food and water supplies, you can provide for your entire family.”
To protect yourself and your loved ones, learn how to stay warm, build a shelter, find and filter water, and build a fire. Also, be sure to stock emergency food and other fundamental items in your vehicle and bug-out bag.
One time, my husband and I were caught in a terrible blizzard 150 miles from home. We were outside for more than two hours trying to load a trailer. Luckily, we had a flashlight, gloves, hats, rope and a tarp. I thought I was going to freeze to death. We had to keep going until we could get out of there. I vowed never to leave home without an emergency backpack filled with items that would enable me to have warmth, shelter, water, fire and food — in that order.
It is very important to keep warm clothing in your vehicle as well as in a backpack that you can easily grab as you head out the door. Pack warm socks, a hat, a sweatshirt, waterproof gloves, a waterproof jacket and snow pants. Also pack a tarp, a sleeping bag and wool blanket. If you have these items, you can bundle up and stay warm if you get caught in a storm or natural disaster or if you get stranded inside or outside your vehicle. Even when the weather is warm, sometimes it gets chilly at night; so keep these items packed year-round.
Build A Shelter
You should always find water and build your shelter before you build your fire. A good shelter is important for several reasons. Not only does it shield you from the elements, it can also hide you from scary animals and provide comfort. If an emergency comes up in the middle of the night, your main concern should be to make it through the night until you can properly assess your situation and get help. It is important to remain calm and in control. Depending on the situation you find yourself in, you will need to find a way to build an emergency shelter.
- Use fallen trees as a sleeping area that you can crawl into to get out of the weather. Use branches, leaves and other debris on top of the shelter so it stays dry like a thatched roof.
- If there are no fallen trees, find one that has thick tree branches that provides a canopy-like covering to shield you from the elements.
- Stack boulders and large logs as high as you can to break the wind.
- Put branches and pine needles down to lie on and keep you up off the cold ground.
- Get inside a cave or under an overhang to provide shelter from wind and rain. Stay close to the mouth of the cave so you don’t get lost, and be very aware of animals seeking shelter also.
- Stay in your vehicle if possible. If the vehicle is wrecked and unsafe, find shelter somewhere near it so you can be seen and rescued.
Find And Filter Water
- Carry water with you in your vehicle and in your bug-out bag.
- When drinking from a stream, be very cautious. Never drink from stagnant water. Always find a free-flowing stream or water source. Do not drink the water unless it has been boiled or filtered.
- If you cannot find a water source, look around for moss growing on trees. Because moss holds moisture, you can squeeze the moss and drip water into your mouth to stay hydrated.
- A hiking water filter is the best way to filter water. A Katadyn water filter is small so it doesn’t take up much space. This filter should be with your emergency supplies in your vehicle or backpack at all times.
- If you don’t have a filter, you must boil any water you drink or cook with. This kills the bacteria and makes the water safe.
- I always carry a product called ION water treatment in my vehicle and bug-out bag. ION stabilized oxygen kills all anaerobic bacteria on contact. It is lightweight and comes in a 2-ounce bottle. Put eight drops in a glass of water and stir. ION should be in every medical kit, car kit and 72-hour emergency bug-out bag.
To purchase ION, click here.
Build A Fire
There are many methods you can use to start a fire without a match. Some are easier than others, and they all require a bit of practice. Practice building a fire when you go camping; it will help build your confidence.
Build your fire on dry ground that is flat and protected from the wind. Gather a large stockpile of tinder, kindling and larger branches and logs. The fire should be close to your shelter and close to a water source, if possible.
- You should have alternative methods of building a fire with you at all times. Carry newspapers, waterproof matches or lighters in your vehicle and bug-out bag. Other items might include long-lasting candles, a long fire starter, flint and steel. And always have a flashlight and waterproof gloves with you in case you need to find wood in the dark.
- A fire will not only keep you warm and dry, but it will give you a way to boil water to kill any anaerobic bacteria.
- A fire can calm you down in a stressful situation. It brings comfort and peace knowing you can stay warm and dry.
- Cooking emergency food over a fire is very important.
- A fire keeps insects and animals away.
- A fire can act as a signal for search and rescue.
Stock Emergency Food
- Prepare two bug-out bags with food, water and a pot to boil water in. Keep one in the house and one in the vehicle. This will help to sustain your life until you can get help.
- The “Food and Water During an Emergency” brochure advises: “As you stock food, take into account your family’s unique needs and tastes. Familiar foods are important. They lift morale and give a feeling of security in times of stress.”
- Pack dried fruit, beef Jerky, drink mixes and other easy-to-open types of foods. I keep tuna in Mylar® pouches in my vehicle. If you have a cooking pot and water, you can cook ready-made emergency meals such as the ones I have talked about in other articles. They are called GoFoods. Everything is in the pouch except the water. They are easy to make and taste delicious. Check them out here.
This information came from my book Emergency Food Storage And Survival Handbook. Check it out here.