View Full Version : The General Disaster and Emergency Preparedness, Response & Mitigation Thread

Ara Pacis
2013-Jan-11, 12:02 PM
With the discussion of recent and portended disasters that we've discussed here (or in CT/ATM), I figured it might be a good idea to have a general thread dedicated to what do to if something bad actually does happen. I've seen some threads on prepper/survivalist sites that are sometimes good, sometimes funny, and often wander into discussions we wouldn't allow here. However, I figure we can probably manage to talk about it without getting into CT or ATM territory and it could be a repository of links, information and discussion.

As far as I'm concerned, anyone can post anything they want about any situation in this thread with regards to preparations to food, energy, transportation, etc or how to respond and how to prevent or mitigate harms.

Ara Pacis
2013-Jan-11, 12:03 PM
My 2

One of my personal missions is to construct a rating and evaluation system for categorizing hazards that can be applied to any potential situation. I think it would be useful to make distinction between events based on such things as amplitude (severity), probability, frequency, duration, locality, scope, etc. I'd hope it could help people prioritize worries. Then again, bad information is bad information and some people just want to believe that if all the ice melted the seas would rise 3000 ft instead of less than 300 ft (something I saw on a "Doomsday Preppers" episode this past fall).

I used to be worried about nuclear war, way back in the 80s, but I'm not so worried now. Mostly, I think I'm pretty safe here, but the local nuclear plant could experience a leak for some reason, and a train could derail again but with hazmat, or one of the many UPS planes flying overhead into a nearby air-hub might crash. Tornados happen, but they're too small scale and random to really plan for. The other big disasters, like an earthquake, hurricane, tsunami/megatsunami, volcano/supervolcano won't happen here and an asteroid strike is too low of a frequency or probability to worry about personally. It's a decent place to live and not a big city, so it's unlikely that I'd need to "bug out" of here unless something happened to the nuke plant. Unfortunately, the nuke plant could have cooling problems if there were a long-term blackout and the coal-plants downstate couldn't resupply power or the emergency generators failed or ran out of fuel and fuel couldn't be resupplied, all of which are possibilities with a nuclear EMP or a wide-ranging and long-term blackout caused by a geomagnetic storm, though I don't expect either to happen.

So, I try to keep a few weeks of food on hand, some Potassium Iodide pills, keep some cash, flashlights, battery operated radio and flashlights/cellphone chargers, grow a garden, and keep a car in good repair in case a rare need for evacuation arises. I don't really see a good need here for the advanced and individualistic-type preps that the extreme preppers desire. I wouldn't mind building an underground room that can serve as cold-storage or root cellar and let it double as a storm shelter or fallout-shelter, but I think most preps should be something you can also use normally. That's why I probably wouldn't get special food unless I'd cycle it through a recipe frequently. I think some people look at it as a dichotomy, where life will be normal and then life will be... different, with no rules where you're suddenly willing to eat stuff that tastes like cardboard. I think it's better to think of it as creating an extension or buffer of normal life instead of a break with normality.


2013-Jan-11, 12:22 PM
My 1st bit - on staying informed.
Radio - have a battery operated radio available (or hand crank) - depending on the scope of the issue, this will likely be the best way to know what is happening and when you can expect relief (the lights to come back on, or whatever). Unless it was a forcast problem, like a hurricane that you knew was coming, it may be the only way to learn the SCOPE of the issue.

Obligatory ham radio plug: consider getting involved, even if only going to your local ARES/RACES (in the US) meeting to see how well prepared they are - most will have a station at the local 911 center, and its handy to know if any close neighbors are involved :)

2013-Jan-11, 02:00 PM
General disaster preparedness - canned foods, flashlights, radio, etc. is a very good idea. Your "average" hurricane or blizzard could give you a reason to need these. They may not end up being the difference between life and death, but they will certainly make your life more comfortable.

But I don't do any survivalist preparedness for nuclear war, zombies, or the general collapse of civilization. Frankly, given the pharmaceuticals I need, my age, my skill set and life-style, if civilization collapses, I'm going to die. I don't need to encage in the popular fantasy that 99% of the population is going to die and I'm going to be the survivor - its just nonsense (IMO). And I'm really completely unworried about the collapse of civilization; I have real issues to deal with.

2013-Jan-11, 04:15 PM
Remember to check the first aid kit yearly. Nothing is worse than have 12 pills for stomach issues and diarrhea that are 3, 5 and 7 years past the expiration date.

I keep some gimmick items around for emergencies: Gum, chalk, construction paper, matches, and chemical light necklaces in a bag taped to the first aid kit in the car. I have kids and all of those things can be safety and entertainment items.

Gum plus paper = tape that works when wet or cold. Chalk doesn't melt like crayons and doesn't need ink or sharpening. You can write on the construction paper with chalk, but it also makes a pretty good sign in snow. The dye in the paper tends bleed so, it creates a great big mess that is hard to ignore. The necklace style chem lights are things the kids want to hold on to so they won't lose them like other lights. Addition, you can color code the kids with them. :)

2013-Jan-11, 05:55 PM
A way to charge your cell phone. Folks in Sandy-affected areas were using big generators made by Chevrolet, Honda, Toyota...etc. :rolleyes: If that's your only option and you have the fuel, then do so. Keep the phones off unless/until you really need them.

Five-gallon buckets can serve multiple duties - with lids, as dry storage. With liners and a seat, as dry toilets. Or for hauling or storing water or cleaning dishes.

A good - physical -book on camping and living off the land (now, where did I put that Foxfire book...and who was president when I last saw it?)

A generator is only as good as the fuel supply chain.

I lived in south Florida for much of my life and we always had water and canned food on hand (plus a manual can opener.) If it looked like we might get hit, we'd wash out the bathtubs with bleach and fill them with water. I guess that made us "preppers." :)

2013-Jan-11, 06:01 PM
I lived in south Florida for much of my life and we always had water and canned food on hand (plus a manual can opener.) If it looked like we might get hit, we'd wash out the bathtubs with bleach and fill them with water. I guess that made us "preppers." :)
Your hot water heater is also a good source of water in an emergency, even if the water isn't hot.

2013-Jan-11, 06:54 PM
The water heater a good idea... 50 Gallons of potable water sitting in the basement. I've seen bladders that you can insert in your bathtub to fill, too. ("WaterBob" is one brand) They aren't too expensive, but are pretty-much one-time use due to the difficulty of completely draining and sterilizing the things. If you have adequate warning, they might be useful for water storage.

The most likely disaster around here would be a hurricane or blizzard that damaged the infrastructure. In those cases, I think that being able to live "off the grid" for about a week is sufficient for outside help to arrive. We're far enough inland that we'd be unlikely to have to evacuate, even with a big hurricane hitting the state. Owning a tent is cheap shelter in case the house gets damaged to the point of being unsafe to occupy.

As for disasters without warning, there aren't too many likely candidates around here. A bug-out situation seems a lot less likely than it did in the days after Sept 11, when nobody knew what capabilities terrorist organizations had. Still, there is a small, but non-zero probability of a nuclear power plant accident or derailed freight train carrying toxic chemicals that could force us out. In those cases, the result would probably be our imposing on relatives outside the danger zone.

As for end-of-world preparations, I won't bother. Like my father said to the guy peddling fallout shelters in the 1960s. "Why would I want to crawl out of a hole in the ground to live in the aftermath?" Of course, our town had a target painted on it, as it housed an anti-aircraft missile battery to defend NYC.

2013-Jan-11, 07:28 PM
Five-gallon buckets can serve multiple duties - with lids, as dry storage. With liners and a seat, as dry toilets. Or for hauling or storing water or cleaning dishes.
Any single bucket should be single duty, though. Especially if you've already used it for a toilet - now that's all it is. :D

2013-Jan-11, 07:56 PM
My small contribution to this thread: I have a small flashlight in nearly every room in our house in case of power outages. Nice to have a flashlight nearby in case the lights go out.

2013-Jan-11, 08:12 PM
Speaking of flashlights, I take a small flashlight with me when I travel and keep it on the hotel nightstand. I find the thought of negotiating a dark, unknown, hotel during a fire rather unsettling.

2013-Jan-11, 08:49 PM
Speaking of flashlights, I take a small flashlight with me when I travel and keep it on the hotel nightstand. I find the thought of negotiating a dark, unknown, hotel during a fire rather unsettling.
I have a small LED flashlight I keep on my keychain. Very useful, even without a disaster.

Ara Pacis
2013-Jan-11, 09:08 PM
I made a typo above and it looks like I repeated flashlights, but I meant to say crank-operated flashlight/cell-phone chargers. A genny seems a bit of overkill for charging a phone, but my hand-crank charger should work. I may need to get a new one though since I don't think the ones I have have a micro-USB connector like most new newer phones. Alternately, there are battery rechargers for cell phones that use once-time use fuel cells (zinc-air, I think) or can charge from regular batteries. My first cell phone, in 1996 actually had an accessory power pack where you loaded it with several AA alkalines. Or you can use your car to charge it, using 12v DC adapters or a 110v AC inverter (my car comes with one built in).

It's the possible failure of the cell network and the short standby power issues of most smartphones that makes me think the idea to get rid of outdoors sirens is a bad idea. Of course, it may have been a bad idea to go with electronic horns instead of the old mechanical air sirens.

Another idea for water. Instead of rushing to disinfect the bathtub, you might get some suitable plastic film wide enough to cover the bottom and walls so that the water is contained inside. Then, when the emergency is over, you just cut a hole in it near the plug and pull the plug.

2013-Jan-11, 10:36 PM
When I was living in the mountains in Segovia a few years back, I returned from an overseas trip as some light flakes were falling. No one was home, all were away visiting family. Few groceries around. Jet-lagged, I fell into a nice sleep.

I awoke the next day with a meter and a half of snow, and frozen water pipes (yes, water meters are left at ground level here, smart!) During the night the snow had fallen off the roof and blocked one door, while the snow plow had blocked my front door (close to the road in our small village.)

Spent four days melting snow in a wok over the fireplace and eating boiled eggs.

Apart from having a little extra canned food around, however, I have made no other adjustments. If the world ends, so be it.

2013-Jan-12, 12:57 AM
I have a crank-operated radio, but also would like to upgrade it to one with a USB port for charging cell phones. The newer ones also have LED flashlights built-in. Mine has a light bulb that kills the battery faster than you can crank it up.

My emergency kit also has a shake flashlight. It isn't as bright as a regular one, but if you shake it for a minute, you get several minutes of light from it. I bought it a number of years ago a a boat show, and it works pretty well. I suspect there have been improvements since that time, though. Back then, you couldn't get an LED crank light.