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Lack Of Skills Can Create Fear During An Emergency Or Disaster

March 12, 2012 by  

Lack Of Skills Can Create Fear During An Emergency Or Disaster

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.

Stay Warm

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.

Peggy Layton

a home economist and licensed nutritionist, holds a B.S. in Home Economics Education with a minor in Food Science and Nutrition from Brigham Young University. Peggy lives in Manti, Utah with her husband Scott. Together they have raised seven children. Peggy owns and operates two businesses: One called "The Therapy Center", where she is a licensed massage therapist and hypnotherapist, and the other an online cookbook and preparedness products business. She is nationally known for publishing a series of seven books on the subject of food storage and also lectures and teaches seminars about preparedness and using food storage products. Peggy practices what she preaches, has no debt, grows a huge garden, lives off the land, raises chickens, bottles and dehydrates food and has time left over to operate her businesses. To check out Peggy's cookbooks and self sufficiency products go to her website To get a free sample of three different storable meals that have a 15-year shelf life go here.

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  • dan

    As spring approaches…it used to be an all-American tradition to go camping for awhile …
    whether as a scout or a family or even a church group… to get in touch with ones pioneer roots and get away from the stress of modern life (phones ,work , entertainment ‘programing’ ,media/news,etc.) and to practice these same “wilderness’ skills and bond with nature.
    In these hectic days, consider establishing your own traditions….go camping/fishing/hunting/canoeing (or whatever excuse you need ) ….it’ll do you good

    • Old Henry

      Some very good thoughts dan. We, as a ntion, have become very, very soft.

      In our younger years – late 20s (seems like a hunerd years ago) – we used to take camping vacations. We would head out of IL toward CO and camp on the way. However, we did cheat some by staying at KOAs. We camped ONCE in a tube tent with one of my sisters in the CO Rockies.

      Today I would have to talk a chiropractor into going along. LOL!

  • Rocky Night

    Another GREAT article!

    Many thanks!

  • Dave

    Thank you once again for another great article Peggy! There’s a group of us from my area participating in a “Camp Out from Your Go Bag” exercise next weekend. No porta-potty, eletricity, running water (there is a fresh water source but we’ll have to filter/purify it), no tents, campers, TVs, etc. We’ll have a Map Reading/Land Navigation class as well as do some foraging.

    • Old Henry

      NO tents, Dave?? I hope yer gona at least take a conestoga wagon!

      Sounds like fun, but I WOULD HAVE TO HAVE A TENT.


  • Jim K

    Good ideas!! Living in the country, I am used to electrical outages. We had three last year of between 4 to 10 hours.

  • teatreeblogcjtech

    If you really want to be prepared might I suggest taking classes – you can run out of matches or they may get wet, or your tent may get torn and become useless, etc. I have taken several classes that went way beyond what I learned in Boy Scouts (1970′s) and basic military (1980′s). If you live in the Southeast look up Richard Cleveland (website is Earth School at He lives in the Asheville area and has learned from the best (Tom Brown Jr.) and even been Tom’s lead instructor for several years. He’s a great guy – funny and knowledgeable – and is well worth getting to know.

  • E.B. Myers

    It is of utmost importance to hone some survival skills,be it urban or wilderness,ideally both. You can have all the equipment in the world but without knowledge it’s useless. With knowledge you can provide life and comfort for yourself and loved ones.

    The very most important tool you could have in a survival situation is your brain.

    Once you start practicing survival skills you’ll find yourself looking at things in a different perspective and it just may become an enjoyable way of life.

  • http://Facebook Chris Boone

    Great comments from everyone especially E.B. Myers and teatreeblogcjtech.I’m just starting to get in to this and want to learn all I can.Thanks for the information and wisdom!

    • Old Henry

      Chris, it is good that you have “seen the light”, but be careful you do not get over-whelmed by all that needs to be learned and done as a newbie. I got into being prepared about a year and a half ago and have gotten discouraged a few times.

      It’s just like eating an elephant – one bite at a time. Slow and steady.

  • Dale

    Be prepared, keep your gas tank full, your pantry full, and your gun loaded.

  • Ben

    I am a country boy and can take care of my family and myself with no problem, I feel sorry for the liberal city dwellers that think that milk and meat come from the store. They will not last long in a big Emergency. We lasted with no problem through two back to back Huricanes in 2004 in Florida. We were hit by Huricane Francis on Labor day weekend and three weeks later by Jean and they were both Cat 2 an 3 storms, I heard people on the radio crying that they needed help because they were from up north and could not prepair for these thing but us that live and have lived along the coast line all or our lives had enough to help them out a little and the sad part is they were ungratefull.

    • Old Henry


      Of course they were ungrateful. It’s called the Entitlement Class. What’s yours, is mine. I deserve it – you do not. They are parasites. Next time let ‘em starve. It’ll be like adding chlorine to the gene pool.

  • John Maynard Keynes

    Hunting and camping is a great way to practice survival skills and have fun at the same time. No sense in having a bunch of guns and gear if you don’t practice using them.

    Good article.

  • X-Beast

    The “Scary Animals” you referred to will find you no matter what kind of shelter you are hiding in. You should keep a firearm in your bugout bag to deal with the 4 legged carnivors and the 2 legged preditors.

  • rcrain

    I live here in the great Missouri Ozarks, where electrical connections are somewhat fuzzy every time it storms. I`m also a ham radio operator, so it was just natural to buy some big 6 volt batteries, and run them into my 8,000 watts inverter, which is then run into my 10,000 watt step up transformer. This supplies me with the 240 volts needed to run my well, and my ham radios, plus my house. I heat with wood, and always have a full winters supply on hand. I cook with propane, and have several back up bottles. There are plenty of streams around here loaded with fish, frogs, crawdads, and what ever else comes from them. I have a scoped 22 magnum that will drop anything walking in these woods. I raise a huge garden every year, and freeze and can most of it. Also, my kill zone is well defined, for man or beast. With guard dogs, motion sensors, flood lights on demand, and trip wires, it would be hard to sneak up on me. I suspect that when the crap hits the fan, most city dwellers will come out here looking for anything they can find. I don`t blame anyone for trying to feed their family, and this is why I tell everyone to put something back. Store some canned goods if nothing else. But, when push comes to shove, and I close and lock my gates, anyone coming thru my property will be warned off, and if they fail to heed my warning, they will be shot if they rush my home. I will also do what I have to do to protect myself, and my family. I am not too blame cause others failed to provide for themselves, or their family. Some will say that is pretty petty of me, that I should share what I got, but I don`t agree. I have a full time job taking care of me and mine. They may eventually take my pistol, and beat me to death with it, but I will send a lot of them before me to meet Jesus. I will be knee deep in spent brass, and no one will ever say I did not try, but I will die a free man before this is over. No camp for me, at least not the camp they want to send me too!!


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