Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Emergency Preparedness

My initial bug-out bag

I've wanted to write this post ever since I first started the countdown clock. It's all about emergency preparedness. Now everyone is getting in on the act.

Emergency preparedness can save your life. I read Zombie Squad regularly. Here's an article from the St. Louis Dispatch about them.

One of their biggest tips is to have a "bug-out bag" ready to go at all times. I put one together out of stuff I pretty much had lying around. The keys are food, water, clothing, and shelter for 72 hours. Here are some of the items in my bag:
* extra clothes
* dry towel in a ziploc bag
* blue tarp
* MRE's/bottled water
* Duck tape (gotta have it)
* A loose dryer sheet (to keep everything smelling nice while in long term storage)
* knife
* matches
* radio (USCG band- the only thing that worked during Katrina)
* Louisiana emergency map
* Toilet Paper (probably the most important item)

There are some other items in there, but that will give you an idea. Nothing in there was too expensive (besides the radio). The MRE's could easily be substituted with a couple of Snickers bars and cans of chili. The key is to have it packed and ready to go AT ALL TIMES! Don't go in there to get something because you're too lazy to go to the store. I plan on getting an ALICE pack of Ebay soon (less than $50!) and building a better one, but this one is adequate for now.

A bug out bag is to be used when you have to leave without much packing, like a last-minute evacuation. Or, say, your house is on fire and you've got to get out fast. Or you decided to ride out the storm, but the levee broke and you've now got to run. The possibilities are endless.

Here are some of my lessons learned from Katrina. Hope it helps. Please leave your tips and help others get ready:
* Keep some Tony's handy. It helps spice up bland food and give you a taste of home. Chickory coffee is also great, but Wal-Mart (a post-K lifesaver) carries Community.
* FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING THAT IS HOLY, STAY OFF THE INTERSTATES! We evacuated to North Mississippi using little farm-to-market roads. Just a mile or so away, people were stuck in a giant parking lot. You need a good map (or someone who really knows the area) to do this, though.
* Leaving early is nice. Leaving at night will help you avoid the crowds. But, you can still get out at the last minute. Don't stay just because you think it's too late to leave. I had one friend who didn't make it out of the city until the outer bands were pelting the city. She even had to evacuate east, but she still made it.
* Family/close family friends are key. Even distant cousins will do. Much better than a hotel or FEMA shelter. We stayed with the best man at my parents wedding. It was especially fortuitous because he had founded a small telecommunications company that was later bought up. His house was an excellent base of operations. Multiple lines, free long distance, wireless internet, fax, etc.
* Use the internet to contact people. Phones are unreliable. The internet was invented to withstand a full-blown nuclear exchange between the US and Ruskies.
* Get a free email account with Gmail or the like. Tulane, in their infinite wisdom, took down their email server 48 hours before Katrina hit and didn't get it back up for a MONTH! That was ridiculous. Fortunately, the students and faculty were smart enough to work around that act.

Anyway, that's all I can think of now. I'll add stuff as I think of it. I'm interested in what y'all have to say.


Nola Blogger said...

I would add cash, flashlights and batteries to the list and include at least one flashlight and one radio that operate on hand crank power rather than on electricity or batteries. For those so inclined, personal protection beyond the knife you recommended can be included as well.

Leigh C. said...

There's a great Hummer flashlight Dan got for Hanukkah one year. Shake it up for thirty seconds and it gives you five minutes of light.

Clay said...

I didn't list everything in there. I've also got some medical supplies , petty cash, and "other goodies" (I'll just leave it at that).

My goal was more to get people thinking and encourage everyone to put something together and KEEP IT TOGETHER. This isn't a "one size fits all" scenario. Each person's bug out bag should be individually tailored by person who uses it.

If you want a great flashlight, get one that runs off the little 3V lithium batteries. You can now find them in Target and other places. Make sure you get one that has the "tactical" on/off switch (the end cap can be momentary on, or on/off). Very useful.

Leigh C. said...

I heard recently from some other friends who ended up evacuating after the levee breaches occurred. The only way they got through a large amount of the downed trees and shrubs was with the help of a firemen's axe.