“It pays to plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” — Anonymous
Floods, hurricanes, heavy rains, massive snow and ice thaws, dam releases, ice dams, levees, storm seasons, and even new real estate development can all lead to increased water levels and, ultimately, a disaster. When the waters rise, there is no better a place than dry land. If dry land is not available, then a boat is the next best option. That being the case, it seems to reason that a boat would be a good thing to own as part of a preparedness plan, if there is a possibility of needing one.
Consider the following points when deciding on a survival boat.
The area a residence is in will be the primary factor in whether there is a significant risk of flooding or high waters to the residents. At the risk of stating the obvious, a person living on the side of a mountain is not nearly as vulnerable as the person who lives below sea level a half mile from the coastline. Flood plains and risk areas are located across the world. For those residing in the United States, the website www.floodsmart.gov offers a wide array of information about floods and the risk of flooding in America. The website www.floodmap.net offers users the ability to check individual areas for the effects of flooding through their interactive mapping system.
Find A Boat
There are about as many types of boats as there are models of cars, it seems. What the best boat for the job is depends on: where you will take it, whom you will put in it, what you will put in it and what it will get used for. For the purposes of survival, aluminum boats that are flat or V-bottomed are likely to be the ideal choice. In flooding conditions where trees, buildings and just about anything else can be hiding under the water, a fiberglass boat could be subject to significant damage. A canoe or kayak is an option, but they have less space and capacity on board. A pontoon boat with aluminum pontoons may be a good option because of the space available as well as clearance off the water.
If a boat is less likely to be needed, a rubber raft could be a great substitute for a more expensive option. In the event that a raft is your boat of choice, keep an air pump and patch kit readily accessible.
Regardless of the type of boat you decide on, there are a multitude of suitable places to obtain your boat. Boat dealers, Craigslist, eBay and Boat Trader are all good places to search for the perfect solution to your waterborne survival needs.
I am not talking about shoes that match your purse here. A boat is a good start; but without a way to move the boat and survive until being rescued, it might not do much good. Consider adding the following “bling” to the boat:
- Anchor: An anchor seems like a fairly obvious choice of something to pair with a boat, because it is. Put an anchor in any boat, but especially if it’s a boat used for survival purposes. This facilitates putting the boat in a stationary position when there is nothing to tie up to. This can be especially beneficial if calm water is found or if the need to “hole up” for a period of time arises. This could be especially helpful in avoiding the need to drift aimlessly through the night.
- Tie Line: A tie line can be used to tie up the boat as well as for towing, if needed. This same line can be used to toss to someone that is floating in the water or a passenger who falls out of the boat. Any line that is used for marine application should be chosen for it resistance to water and tensile strength that at a minimum meets, if not exceeds, the strength required for tying up or towing the boat and its load.
- Lighting: Setting out in a boat in an emergency could mean ending up in the dark or inclement weather. This makes a light source particularly useful. A high-powered, handheld spotlight, waterproof flashlight or chemical light sticks could be good options for meeting this need. Something that does not require batteries is a definite plus.
- Propulsion: A gas-powered motor is the ideal solution, but it comes at a great expense and requires regular maintenance. There are small motors that run on a deep cycle battery but would not necessarily provide the power needed. Oars are an option but probably sit further down on the list of power generated, while being the most affordable option for most. If a gas-powered motor is your chosen method of getting around, ensure that an adequate supply of stabilized fuel is on board, as well as any required oil and lubricants.
- Seating: Any extended period of time spent in a boat can be made significantly more comfortable through the availability of a seat with a back on it for every passenger. While this is certainly not a requirement, it could make a difference.
- Life jackets: For every person who is expected to be on the boat, there should be an appropriate-sized life jacket. In an emergency, there is no better idea than to wear this life-saving piece of equipment at all times. Some boats offer the option of stowing life jackets under the seats, where a basic open design aluminum boat might be best served by using a plastic tote for keeping life jackets at the ready.
- Fire extinguisher: A boat that is motorized runs the risk of catching fire regardless of whether the motor is battery- or fuel-powered. Only the foolish man builds his house upon the sand or has a motorized boat without a fire extinguisher. This is all aside from the fact that to be on the “right side” of the law in most areas, this is a required piece of equipment.
- First aid kit: Make sure that your kit is in a waterproof container and tailor any first aid kit for the most likely injuries or illnesses that will be encountered. In the case of a survival boat, basic bandages and over-the-counter medications are a good idea. Some other useful items could include: CPR mask, motion sickness medication, antiseptic and waterproof tape.
- Signal: A reliable method of signaling is a must. Ideally, each boat should have at least two methods to signal with one method being suitable for daylight like a brightly colored flag or panel and the second method best suited for darkness such at signal flares or chemical light sticks. A very cost-effective method of signaling that can be cheap to obtain and attached to every life preserver is an all-weather whistle.
- Survival equipment: A few basic survival items can decrease the chances of injury or death. Emergency blankets, hand warmers and ponchos are essentials.
- Bailing bucket: A boat in the water should not be full of water. If your boat springs a leak or starts to fill with rain, a bucket or scoop to remove this water is invaluable. Simple solutions for a bailing tool could be a small bucket or a 1-gallon jug with the bottom cut out. To ensure that this bucket does not get lost, tie it to the boat with a length of water resistant cord.
Many of these items could potentially be packed easily into a backpack or duffel bag that, in the event of a disaster or emergency, could just be grabbed and tossed into the boat. In addition to the boat-specific items, if the boat will withstand the weight and space required, every person should take a bug out bag with them that contains a basic three-day supply of food and water along with a change of clothes, basic hygiene supplies and perhaps even some comfort items like candy or a radio.
A boat might not be a necessity for every prepper; but when the waters are rising, it is not a good time to learn to swim.