I was born and raised in Pensacola, FL, where hurricanes and their resultant tornadoes are an expected part of each summer. We stayed home for them all and prepared for the potential flooding, damage and power outages that come with the territory, no mater their severity, realizing that it was just part of choosing to live in Florida. One of my earliest memories is getting out during the eye of a hurricane with my parents in the short period of time that it was sunny with no rain, to go check on an elderly neighbor since the phones were down. The eye of the storm came up so quickly from the severe weather we were having that the calm was startling to me.
Currently living in the Appalachian Mountains, we don’t worry about the severe winds and surging tide from a hurricane, but we do worry about flash flooding taking out roads or ice storms and severe winds bringing down power, damaging the house and making our very steep road impassable. We also have to give consideration to the nearby river in case it floods. Several years ago, flooding from the remnants of a hurricane that came up through the Gulf of Mexico devastated this area and some roads are still not repaired. Right before Christmas we had a snowstorm that brought in 15 inches of snow and had three trees fall on the house due to the ice that occurred after the storm. We went without power for several days in severe (for this area) cold, and it was several days longer before our curvy and steep road was cleared of multiple downed trees and the road was plowed so we could get out.
Sometimes when disaster strikes, you have to stay where you are. If you are unable to leave your home or you choose to stay during a disaster, it is called sheltering in place. There are a number of things you can do in order to make sheltering in place a more pleasant experience. Being prepared ahead of time for a potential loss of power, water and essential services can make life much easier for your entire family while you wait for things to return to normal.
What you should have on hand for sheltering in place depends largely on the type of crisis you could face. Think about where you live. Are you located near a river or body of water that could flood? What roads cross that river and can you get around without them? Don’t let the 100-year flood plain fool you, that 100 year flood has to happen sometime. Anyone in weather, geology or urban planning can tell you that two one-hundred year floods can occur back to back. Are hurricanes or earthquakes a possibility? Tornadoes or severe weather that could take out power for a week? What about forest fires, a flood or a train wreck taking out a road you need to reach town? Maybe you still have power, but you can’t get to a store or easily get to medical treatment.The first step to making a supply list for sheltering in place is to know the types of scenarios you are most likely to face. You don’t have to worry about flooding if you live on top of a mountain and you probably don’t worry about being snowed in if you live in Florida. Make your list of what you could possibly need based on the most likely occurrences. Then make a list of the items you still need to acquire and budget the purchases.
Commonly used items for sheltering in place include:
- Fire extinguisher. This is one of the most commonly over-looked items, but it is critical for times where emergency services wouldn’t be able to reach you quickly, which characterizes most natural disasters. This is especially true if you have small children, use candles for light or heat with a fireplace.
- Three days to two weeks of water.
- Three days or two weeks of easily prepared food per person on top of what is already in your BOBs plus what is needed to prepare that food- a camp stove, wood burning fireplace or the like. Find out the longest power has been out in your area after a disaster and add a couple of days to it to decide how much easily prepared food to have on hand. Don’t forget food and water for pets and livestock. Consider wet food for your pets, since it provides water.
- Two manual can openers. Always have a back-up.
- If you have an infant, disposable diapers and wipes. If a nursing mother is in your family, a couple of extra gallons of water for her and some extra quality snacks to keep her calorie intake up through the stress. If your child is on raw milk formula, enough powdered formula in a can to last for two weeks. This is especially true if you rely on a freezer stash of milk to provide your child’s formula.
- A way to heat water.
- Duct tape, rope, shovels, axe, dust mask, tarps and heavy plastic, plywood, screws, nails, bolts, staple gun, cinder blocks. A chainsaw if a tree could possibly fall on your house, well house, barn or other critical structure.
- A multi-tool, scissors, wire cutters, screwdriver, hammer and other basic hand tools.
- Flashlights, lanterns, matches and lighters. Oil lamps or candles can be placed up out of the reach of small children on tall pieces of furniture or in wall holders.
- An emergency radio that uses batteries or winds up.
- Batteries for the radio, flashlights and other needed devices. Spare lantern bulbs or flashlight bulbs if available.
- A way to wash clothing and hang it to dry inside the house. Powdered laundry detergent doesn’t easily dissolve for hand-washing, so stick with liquid detergent. Get a drying rack or plan to hang things over the shower curtain rod, however heavy-duty items like jeans can break the newer shower curtain rods.
- Heavy duty work boots and rain boots in case you have to go out and make repairs in bad weather or dangerous conditions.
- Seasonally appropriate clothing and gear such as hats, gloves, heavy jackets, blankets, and sleeping bags if you live in an area that gets cold.
- Paper towels, trash bags, extra toilet paper, disposable cups, plates, forks, knives. Baby wipes for all family members in case water is not available for a full bath.
- Bleach for disinfecting water.
- First aid supplies, tylenol, 14 days supply of each prescription you are on. The supplies to make any herbal remedies or things like electrolyte drinks you would normally keep on hand for illness in case someone gets food poisoning or disease becomes an issue. During our snow storm, an ambulance could not have reached our house for several days due to downed trees and ice on our very steep and curvy road.
- Medical devices such as a spare pair of glasses, hearing aid batteries.
- Entertainment items that don’t require batteries or electricity. Board games, puzzle books, coloring books and crayons. Some age appropriate school work for the kids.
Things to consider for your situation:
- If you live in an earthquake prone area, store supplies in several different areas of your house, having some on each floor. This is especially important for food and water, as we are currently seeing with Haiti.
- How will you heat food and water for washing and bathing? Is it safe for use indoors? If not, make preparations to use it outdoors in the severe weather or pick another method.
- How will you heat your home if the emergency is during winter?
- How will you cool your home if the emergency is during summer?
- How will you obtain water for drinking, cleaning and bathing? Flushing the toilets? If you have a well, how will you access water? If you have public water, what will you do if the authorities announce the water is unsafe to drink?
- If the plumbing is unusable, how will you use the bathroom and bathe?
- What will you do with your trash until pick-up resumes? How can you keep the neighborhood stray animals out of your trash if trash doesn’t pick up for a few weeks? With our recent snowstorm, we didn’t have trash pick up for almost three weeks.
- If damage to your house occurs, how will you repair it or prevent further damage until the power comes back on?
- How will you wash cooking vessels and laundry? Keep the floors clean without a vacuum cleaner?
KerryAnn Foster runs Cooking Traditional Foods, the longest running Traditional Foods Menu Mailer on the internet. KerryAnn has over nine years of traditional foods experience and is a former Weston A. Price Foundation chapter leader. Founded in 2005, CTF helps you feed your family nourishing foods they will love. Each mailer contains one soup, five dinners, one breakfast, on dessert and extras. You can learn more about our Menu Mailers at the CTF website. For a free sample Menu Mailer, join our mailing list. You can also join our forum to chat with other traditional foodists and learn more.