Emergency & Hurricane Preparedness
Who’s ready to go Camping?
Are you all set for your next camping adventure? Being ready for camping already has you well on your way to being prepared for an unexpected emergency. The idea of “being prepared” needn’t conjure up images of doom and gloom. Rather, think of emergency preparedness as being ready to camp, right where you live or somewhere else close by, but on short notice.
What exactly is it that we are preparing for? Depending on where you live, you may need to react to:
- Natural disasters, when power and transportation may be interrupted
- Man-made accidents, such as dam, levy or power plant failures, which may require you to evacuate and take everything you will need for a period of time with you
- Pandemics, where you may be asked to stay home
- Terrorism, when communications might be limited.
Identifying the likely emergency scenarios in your community will help you prepare for a situation you may actually encounter.
Make a Plan
The common theme to many emergency scenarios is the idea that you may be “off the grid” for a while, perhaps having no access to electricity, reliably clean drinking water, food, sanitation or medicines. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) advises planning for a 72 hour (3 day) supply of food, water, clothing and emergency shelter for each person. That’s a start, but the reality will vary, based on the people, for whom you are preparing, and where you are. Considerations include:
- Age – Kids might want coloring books to pass the time, while adults may want a good book to read.
- Responsibility – Include those people or things you are responsible for, in your plan.
- Location – Where is my family in relation to where I work, and how would I get to them if needed?
- Dietary needs – Consider food allergies or special nutritional requirements you may need.
- Medications – Have the actual medications you may need on hand, as a prescription can’t be filled if the power is out or you can’t get to a pharmacy.
- Pets – All that applies to humans also applies to pets, so don’t forget to plan for their needs as well.
Camping can be as simple as a can of beans under a tarp, to a fine meal cooked in the galley of your RV. So too, will individual needs and preferences vary when making YOUR disaster plan.
Build an Emergency Kit
Many campers, and especially backpackers, live “off the grid” by choice. For some, adding a few basic supplies to the camping gear you already have would be within FEMA guidelines for being prepared. Others might need to create a basic disaster kit from scratch:
- Water and water containers – One gallon of drinkable water, per person, per day for three days (72 hours).
- Food – At least a three-day supply of non-refrigerated, easy-to-prepare food. Remember to stash some fun foods to pass the time, like hard candies or lollipops; don’t forget a manual can opener.
- Radio – A small, battery-operated radio, ideally with NOAA weather coverage. Some radios have a hand crank for power, and generate enough power to charge a cell phone.
- Flashlight & batteries – Keep extra alkaline batteries on hand. Many rechargeable batteries lose their charge quickly over time. For long term storage in a kit, use alkaline batteries. You can also use headlamps which will free up your hand(s).Yet another backup option to flashlights and headlamps are lanterns for providing light.
- First Aid Kit – Don’t forget to include any special medications you or your family may require. Always check expiration dates on consumable medicines.
- Whistle – Very loud signal whistles are available, specifically designed to send their shrill tone far distances.
- Dust mask – Simple and inexpensive.
- Disposable moist towels and garbage bags – To manage hygiene and contain sanitation, limiting the spread of germs, and to make your temporary circumstances a bit more comfortable.
- Adjustable wrench and pliers – An adjustable crescent-type of wrench or pliers can be used to turn off utilities (service can only be restored by your utility provider – do not attempt on your own). Multitools (like Leatherman) are small and very versatile.
- Local and regional maps – Used to follow evacuation routes or identify areas to avoid due to flooding.
- 12VDC power inverter – Turns your car into a generator. A 12VDC power inverter plugs into your car’s 12VDC socket (cigarette lighter) and offers a household 120VAC outlet, so you can plug a cell phone, laptop or nebulizer into it.
For campers, many of us already have gear to enhance our enjoyment of the outdoors. Keeping your emergency gear and sleeping gear ready to go and in an accessible spot is the trick. It’s a good idea, if you work or spend time away from where your gear is stored, to have a basic preparedness kit in your vehicle.
Want to know more?
One of the best ways to learn how to be prepared is to volunteer for any number of local organizations that provide training to members of the community. Even if you don’t have the time to stay active in a group, often the initial training offered by these organizations can go a long way in giving you the understanding to prepare yourself and your family in case of the unexpected.