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28 Emergency and Disaster Preparedness Notes
This page is presented to give our customers some ideas
about preparing for emergency or disaster situations.

First let me say that I am no whiz on this topic, there are
many people out there who know a lot more than I do.

I will float ideas about equipment, supplies and offer my own opinions.

There are other sources much better suited for learning how to use
these items.

Please take everything you see on the internet, including this page,
and use some common sense to see if it sounds accurate.
Many people are more than willing to give you advice, be it on-line,
in print form or face to face.
You and yours are the ones to suffer if the advice is wrong - not the
"expert" who was giving it.

To prepare means to make or get ready before it is needed.
It does not mean to make or get ready after things go sour.
My mother always said "Don't leave the house without a clean
handkerchief." Well, I am in my fifties and there is a clean hanky
in my back pocket. She never needed to mention clean underwear
as that went without saying.

Being prepared does not mean buying some items and throwing
them in the closet or garage. The time to learn how to use emergency
equipment, techniques and supplies is now, not when someone is
bleeding, freezing, thirsty, hungry or just plain scared.
The time to find out if what you have will work in a crisis is now.

There are many kinds of disasters we face: ice and snow storms,
hurricanes, floods and out here in California - earthquakes.
Emergency situations can last from a day, and in some cases, like a
big earthquake, can last from weeks to months.

Priorities are of the utmost importance.

If you are into camping or backpacking, many of the items you already
have and know how to use can be of value in an emergency situation.

This is my list in order of importance.

First Aid, a person can bleed to death in a few seconds.

Shelter, exposure to the elements can cause permanent injury
or death in a short period of time.

Water, you cannot live long without water.

Heat, you need it to cook with and in adverse weather conditions
it will be needed immediately for survival.

Food, depending on one's health, physical exertion and the
environment, you can survive for days without food.
First Aid

My suggestion, take a first aid and and C.P.R. course.
This will give you a starting point as to what to do in an
emergency. It will also help in deciding what supplies to
have on hand. If you, or anyone in your family takes prescription
medications, please consider that pharmacies may be out of
commission for a while.
Adverse weather can also keep you from getting to the pharmacy.
This includes planning for your pets.
Some first-aid supplies have a limited shelf life, please take this
into your planning.
Always remember the four "B"s:
Bleeding, breathing, broken bones and burns.
If you know what this means, you are partway there.

Do you have warm clothes, sleeping bags, extra blankets or maybe
space blankets (those metalized plastic sheets)?
In the case of an emergency where homes and buildings are toppled
it might be nice to know how to make an emergency shelter.
Heavy painters plastic drop-cloths, an axe or hatchet, a coarse
toothed wood/pruning saw and regular wood working tools might
come in handy.
Don't forget some rope and heavy cord, such as 550 paracord.

A good quality knife is an absolute must have item.

Along the lines of shelter, folks living in areas which are very cold and
are subject to power outages might consider this:
Many heating systems will not work without electricity, even though a
supply of propane, natural gas, wood pellets or heating oil is available.
Now is the time to consider a backup power source to run your heating
system as wll as to contact a licensed electrician to find out about the
installation of an electrical sub-panel and transfer switch dedicated to
your heating system.
One suggestion would be to use a gasoline, diesel or propane
powered generator outside.
Another is to use a battery charger to maintain a battery bank in a
safe location which would power up a d.c. to a.c. inverter.
If you choose this route, make sure that the inverter will safely operate
the motor and controls on your heating system. Some heating
systems are very sensitive in the quality of incoming power.
Storing water.

My first suggestion is to store drinking water. A simple way is to use
empty bleach bottles (don't rinse them out), fill them with water
and squirrel them away. You can find sources that say the water
will keep from two to ten years. I will keep my opinion to myself.

There are commercial water preservatives available.

Collapsible five gallon plastic water containers are worth looking
into if you are planning to be on the move during an emergency.         
If you have the room, new fifty-five gallon food grade plastic drums
are available from on-line retailers and auctions - make sure they
are unused food grade. Just put some chlorine or a water
storage treatment product in the drum and fill it with clean tap water.
Drum pumps, bulb-type siphon pumps and simple siphons
(using plastic tubing and a foot valve) are available from twelve to
twenty-five dollars.

To over-state the obvious, locate your drum out of the elements (if
outside, out of the sun) before filling it. A full drum can weigh around
450 pounds. If there is a chance that the drum will freeze, fill it to
about 85% capacity. This will reduce the chances of the drum splitting
if frozen.
Also, if you are in earthquake country the drums should be placed away
from buildings. A drum of drinking water will not do you any good if the
wall from a building or block fence flattens it.
Obtaining water.

This is more problematic. Using a solar still, water can be pulled
from damp soil, vegetation and urine. This method is very
dependent on available sunshine, ambient temperature and water
content of the soil / plant matter. Even commercially made solar
stills also have limited production capabilities and in my opinion,
this is a last ditch option.
This summer, 2010, I tried a couple of portable pre-made solar
My opinion still holds - we would not count on a solar still to either
produce or to clean water.
If you are near surface fresh or salt water there are methods to
make it potable (drinkable). Plastic food grade flexible tubing,
collapsible containers and a hand pump are worth keeping in an
emergency kit.
If you are in an urban or suburban area, it would be good to go
on-line and get some satellite views of your neighborhood.
It would be nice to know where swimming pools are located.  
Making water useable.

Boiling fresh water (check around to get boiling times) can kill most
organisms. Filtering water using activated charcoal/ceramic filters
can remove most, if not all, organisms and some man-made
contaminants. A solar still can help but is of limited capacity.
Stove-top distillers and water-makers which start with salt water or
questionable fresh water are another option. Bear in mind that the stove
top units require fuel to produce heat. When using a still, please
consider that light organics (such as petroleum products) can carry
over into the clean water output - this can be reduced by having a
corrugated bubble cap on the top of the still. The hand or battery
operated water makers, which start with salt water, use a membrane
and operate on reverse-osmosis which makes for a complicated
device that can require a lot of maintenance. Water purification
tablets are also available for use with fresh water.
Heat and Light

Now things become a little more complicated.

First off - any method that produces heat or light by burning
fuel consumes oxygen, and in most cases produces
carbon monoxide.
Another example of how I am a Master of the Obvious - we
need oxygen to breathe and carbon monoxide is a deadly
It is bad enough when we do something wrong and hurt
ourselves - it is much worse when we hurt others due to
our lack of smarts.
Heating and cooking.

There are many options for heating. Just make sure that the
method/device you are using is safe for indoor use or will only
be used outdoors.

The two fuels that come to mind are kerosene and propane.

Please read the following closely: in my opinion, white gas
appliances should not be considered for indoor heating,
even the catalytic type.

Kerosene heaters have been around since the middle of the 1800's.
They have a tank which holds the fuel, a wick which draws the fuel
into a burning area and a protective housing. Many parts of the world
still use kerosene as a heating and cooking fuel. Kerosene heaters
used to be very common in the U.S. until "cheap" energy relegated
it to remote or specialty use.

There are many kerosene heaters available on the second hand
market, both used and new in the box. A few are still being
imported by on-line retailers.

Do not operate any type of heater near anything that will burn.

There are three basic types of kerosene heaters available.

The first, the blower type shop heater which is readily available and
has no place here as they use electricity and are made to heat
large areas using lots of fuel.

The next type is the portable convection heater which draws cool air
in the bottom, heats it and releases it through the top and sides.
This could also be called a space heater. They are available from
8,000 btu's to over 20,000 btu's.

Please bear in mind that a kerosene heater has a narrow heating
range (wick height). If the wick is either too high or too low the
heater will waste fuel and smell. It is usually be best to have two
smaller heaters instead of one large one.  

We use a Kero-Sun "Moonlighter" which is about 8.700 btu's
and has a glass sleeve which allows you to see the flame and
produces a soft light. They look great and with a plastic wick guide,
changing the wick is a breeze.
We also use a Perfection heater and changing the # 500 wick is
very simple.
Please note that the Perfection heaters Do Not have a safety
cage around them. The heater housing gets hot and can burn
careless fingers.

Also, unlike most modern kerosene heaters, the Perfection heaters
Do Not have a safety shut off which is designed to retract the wick
if the heater is tipped over.  

The third type, my favorite, is the radiant heater. It heats up a
chamber, metal or glass, and the heat is reflected out of the front
of the heater. These are especially nice as they heat people and
objects. We use an Alladin Tropic 281. It produces a lot of heat
where you want it. I have not changed the wick yet so I don't know how
difficult it is.    

Kerosene heaters produce a lot of heat for the amount of fuel used.

Please remember, kerosene is flammable/combustable
and should always, let's say that again, always be stored
in a safe place.

The best kerosene to use is clear water-white (K-1) as it has less
impurities, will produce less smell and will give the longest life
to the heater's wick.
I avoid kerosene that has a red dye in it as this clogs up the wick.
We use a Mr. Funnel filter funnel which separates water and
particulates when fuel is poured through it.

Before purchasing a kerosene heater please check to see if
replacement wicks are available.
A few things to look at when purchasing a kerosene heater in person.
If the wick needs replacement the cost should run from seven to sixteen
If it has electronic ignition, and the wiring is good, does the igniter
work - replacement ignitors run from four to six dollars.
Does the wick move up and down smoothly. Does the fuel gauge
work. Does the fuel tank leak.
If the fuel tank is removeable, does the valve leak when full and
Look in the fuel tank for signs of rust. We also prefer using a
heater with a drip pan to help catch spills.

ONLY use kerosene fuel in a kerosene heater - NEVER use
gasoline or other light fuel products as you can wind up
with a worse disaster on your hands.  

Propane heaters are another option. They are mostly available in
the radiant types with a few convection models being made.
Many use piezo-electric matchless lighting, matches should be on
hand in case the lighting mechanism fails.

For indoor use, make sure that the propane heater is designed for
indoor use.

You can use small 14 ounce bottles, 16 ounce bottles or larger
(refillable) twenty to forty pound tanks.

A propane radiant heater will, not can, get hot enough to
burn you. We have a 45,000 btu radiant heater on top of a
40 lb propane tank directed at our packing area. I have
charred my jacket a couple of times by not paying attention to
what I was doing.

Some radiant propane heaters can also be used as a stove.
These are specifically made for both heating and cooking.

A gentler form of propane heat would be a catalytic heater.
These have no open flame but should still be treated with care
as they have a hot surface.

My first fuel choice would be kerosene.

For cooking there are many options when utilities are unavailable.
There are a number of single burner kerosene stoves available
(my favorite is the Kero-Sun model K which is long out of production).
Some are well made and replacement wicks are available for
most models.

One to three burner kerosene stoves are available but they are not
really portable.

Modern kerosene stoves are available which use one large wick,
and some use many small wicks for greater efficiency.
All of these should be looked at closely as the quality varies greatly.

Some kerosene heaters can be used to cook with. They are like the
multi-tool you carry in a belt pouch - they will work sort of okay but not
as well as a dedicated tool. Please don't send me e-mails of distress,
I have been carrying a multi-tool for years.

My second fuel choice would be alcohol based fuels.

Alcohol or Sterno (gelled alcohol) are probably the safest liquid or
semi-liquid fuels available.

Please note that alcohol fuels are poison and are not made
for consumption.

Alcohol fuels still consume oxygen but are well suited for indoor use.
Many ultra-lightweight backpacking stoves use alcohol.
A warning, an alcohol flame is invisible in bright light (that is one of
the reasons gasoline is added to alcohol motor fuels).

A down side to alcohol is that it does not have a lot of heat energy
per pound when compared to other liquid fuels.
At lower temperatures it does not perform as well as gasoline/
naptha fuels.

Origo alcohol stoves have been widely used in boating applications.
They are well made, reliable and do not use a pressurized fuel tank.
The model 1500 single burner is designed for use in a boat's galley
so it is a little heavy but I like it. Origo has also made a number of
alcohol stoves for camping and hiking, they even made a two burner
model that folds up like a Coleman stove.  

An older Sterno stove is a good and inexpensive option when
considering this type of fuel. I prefer the older models as they
are more stoutly made than those commonly available.

There are a number of Sterno type fuels. You might look into
Heat Cells which are similar to Sterno but run longer in the
same size can.

In most cases a micro alcohol (ultra-light backpacking) stove
would not be recommended.

You can get plans on the internet for do it yourself alcohol
high efficiency stoves from new paint cans. The ones made
from soda cans are not recommended as they are easily
crushed and are designed for for small cooking applications.     

My third choice is propane.

The safety and mechanical properties are the same as for
propane heaters.

When considering a propane stove, the amount of burners
needed will be dependent on the type of cooking and the
number of people you are providing for.

A suggestion, I would recommend that if you are considering
a propane stove that you look at older models which can be
found in excellent condition.
You would want to look closely at the connections, valves and
hoses if any for deterioration. Also check to see that all of the
parts come with the stove. I have seen a few beautiful mint
Primus and Bernzomatic stoves for sale that were missing parts.

The few current production stoves I have seen show less
quality than the older ones. We have a few one and two
burner propane stoves, the newest is twenty years old.
These older stoves are built like a tank. Their heavier
construction does add to the weight of the stove.

My fourth choice would be mult-fuel solid fuel stoves.

This would be the first choice for us but as solid fuel
stoves require some skill to light and keep running they
are down on the list as far as suggestions go.
There has just been an earthquake, hurricane or some
other disaster, but wait - all around you is wood, some
dry and some not so dry.

There are many types of solid fuel burning stoves available:
wood (leaves, twigs, charcoal and Esbit solid fuel tabs).
Some use very advanced burning techniques which I will
not go into. Suffice it to say than many are extremely efficient
and produce little, if any, smoke. Some even use an electric
fan to increase efficiency (I am not keen on battery operated
stoves in an emergency).

Again, practice with your solid fuel stove before you need it.

First off, Never use one of these indoors.

The following is a list of stoves I have used, handled or both.
You might want to do an internet search for more information.

Rocket Stove (portable) by
Bush Buddy
Grover Rocket Stove
Bush Wacker
Trail Stove
Six Dogs

And there are many small backpacker stoves that can be
packed flat and assembled into a solid fuel or alcohol stove.
My fifth choice would be a white gas stove.

The upside of a white gas stove is that the fuel has lots of heat
output per pound and they work well in very cold environments.
The downsides are that the fuel is expensive, can be difficult to
find, very flammable, a leak can become a new disaster, the fuel
tank needs to be kept pressurized with a built-in pump which has
a seal that can either wear out or dry out.
NEVER use a white gas or automotive gas fueled stove or
lantern indoors.
There are conversion kits available which allow the use of
propane in some white gas stoves.

A note on dual-fuel and multi-fuel stoves.

Dual fuel usually means white gas or automotive gasoline.

Multi-fuel can mean white gas or automotive gasoline, but it
can also include kerosene. Some multi-fuel stoves that burn
kerosene require a generator (which pre-heats the kerosene
so it will ignite in the burner) - make sure it is included with
the stove. Most multi-fuel stoves need to be pre-heated when
using heavy fuels such as diesel or kerosene. Some have a
pre-heat pan which uses liquid or paste alcohol.
We have a couple that allow you to dribble some of the fuel
into a pan from the burner, light it and when it just about burns
away, the burner should be hot enough to volatize the fuel from
the tank for proper burning.

My last choice would be solar cooking.

This is low on the list because they are bulky, depend on fairly
warm ambient air temperatures and on the available sunshine.

There are basically two types:

The solar oven which is an insulated box with a glass top and
sometimes has reflectors around the glass. The cooking container
is placed inside the box. These are sort of tough to keep aimed
at the sun for maximum heating.

The solar cooker has a fan (like an old-fashioned photographic
flash gun) of reflective plates or sheets. The cook pot or pan is
suspended at the focal point (where the sunlight reflecting from
the plates comes together) of the cooker. Some of these have
a pivot to keep the reflector assembly aimed at the sun.

I did not go into solid fuel tab stoves - they are nifty and
compact, but the fuel is expensive and should only be used

A note on extending your available cooking fuel.

You might want to look into hay-box type cookers for
"retained-heat" cooking.
You start cooking a pot of food and after five to twenty minutes
(depending on the food and container size) you pull it off the
stove and place the pot in a heavily insulated closed box
where it continues cooking on its own.

My first choice would be 12 or 24 volt d.c. lighting

Only a couple of our lights are considered portable such as
the Flexcharge Nite Stick shown here:

and the Thin-Lite VFI-30PT shown here:

You might look around the internet. A small solar panel,
charge controller and battery should not cost much. For
a small simple and reliable charge controller I would suggest
the PV 7 - 12 volt  by Flexcharge.

Please look for the best quality you can find. When something
fails in everday use it's a drag, in an emergency situation it can
be life-threatening.

My second choice would be propane lighting.

All of the propane lighting I have seen or used, use a consumable
(and fragile - don't forget the spares) mantle, like white gas lights.

You might want to look into an older propane lamp. If it has
electronic lighting make sure that it can still be easily light using
matches. You can hand-carry propane lanterns when using small
cylinders and also mount them on the top of a large propane
tank using a P.O.L. (Prest-O-Lite) post for area lighting.

My third choice would be a kerosene lamp or lantern.

A good quality standard wick type (hot-blast or cold-blast) kerosene
lantern is pretty simple. Just make sure to have extra wicks
on hand, maybe a spare globe and some clean fuel. You might
look into a pre-1970's lantern as most made since then are
imports, some of which can have leaking/weeping bottoms from
improper rolling and soldering of the bottom.

Pressurized kerosene and multi-fuel (kerosene, white gas,
automotive gasoline and even alcohol) lanters are available.
These put out a lot of light but can be complicated. I would not
recommend one of these unless you are willing to learn how
to properly use it.

Many people like kerosene wick type mantle lamps, so do we.
They produce a tremendous amount of light, as well as heat,
for the amount of fuel used.

These do have some down-sides. The chimneys and mantles
are very fragile (you should keep spares on hand). And they
should be used with a bug screen on the top of the chimney.
I learned about bug screens after replacing a few mantles that
were destroyed by flying insects that were incinerated by the
heat coming out of the chimney and then crashed into the mantle.

For most people a wick type kerosene lantern would
be the best choice.

My last choice would be a white gas lantern.

There is not much to say as they have basically the same
strengths and weaknesses as the white gas stoves.

Don't forget the flashlights.

There are many typed of portable battery operated lighting
We use both incandescent and LED lights, re-chargeable as
well as non-rechargeable.
Take your time, save your money and buy good stuff.
There are a lot of flashlights out there that are just ugly paperweights.

Another item worth having on hand would be chemical light sticks.
These have been around for a long time and have proven their worth
time and again.
They produce a reasonable amount of light without producing heat
or a flame.
I would not suggest the party type glow sticks.
Lite sticks are available with several different run times.
As a rule, the shorter the run time - the brighter the light stick.
Light sticks have an expiration date on them, this is not just for
looks. If they are way out of date, don't expect them to work.
It would be a good idea to keep one near the water heater,
electrical service entrance and next to your bed.
The high-intensity versions usually run for about fifteen minutes.
The standard outputs run from six to twelve hours.
The ones we have are Cyalume.  

Fire starting methods and tools.  

There are about a zillion methods of both primitive and
modern ways to start a fire.

We will only mention ones here that I have used.

Paper book matches - don't bother.

Wood matches - not bad if kept in an air-tight container
and not allowed to get wet. A drag in the wind or rain.

Wood matches that have been soaked in wax or a sealer - a little better.

Windproof/Waterproof matches (also known as life boat matches).
These are nifty, once lit some will even burn under water.
These are not "strike anywhere" so don't lose the container they
came in as the striking strip is on the box or bottle. You want to be
very carefull with these as the match head is usually over half the
length of the match.
Fire starting tools.  

Magnesium fire starter. A rectangular block of magnesium with a
sparking rod on one edge. Scrape of some chips/curls of
magnesium onto your tinder and the strike sparks onto it.
The magnesium burns very hot and is very bright.
The downside is that the chips are very light and
the wind can carry them away. I have had a Doan's fire starter
for years and they work well. Also they are waterproof.

Fire steel or Swedish Firesteel (ferro cerium).
You rapidly scrape sparks from the fire steel onto a well setup
bed of tinder. These work well and are water proof.
Also available with a plastic handle and attached steel scraper as
well as in spring loaded versions.

Misch Metal fire starters. These are similar to the Swedish fire
steels except that the rod has magnesium incorporated in it.
Instead of throwing a shower of sparks, these throw a few sparks
and molten goblets of metal.
This is my favorite fire starting method and there is one (an Aurora)
sitting in my pocket.

Magnifying glass / fresnel lens. These are pretty self-explanatory.

Fire Piston. These gems consist of a cylindrical body with a hole
bored most of the way through. Usually the hole has a brass sleeve.
A wood or metal piston with an opening in the end holds a small
piece of tinder (char cloth or other tinders). The piston has a rubber
o-ring or string wrapped around the end. When the piston is forced
into the housing, the air is compressed and heated, and the tinder
is ignited. This takes some practice and you really want to have a
good bed of tinder in your fire-makings. A little breeze even helps
the tinder glow hotter. When you show someone hows these work
it always amazes them.

You should always practice making a fire with any method you
choose. Now is the time to figure it out, not when your hands are
shaking from the cold.    

Before we go into this section I would like to make a few comments.

I grew up in Huntington Beach, California.
As a kid, there were lots of small truck farms in the area.
Our next door neighbors had strawberry farms on leased land in
Garden Grove (several miles away).
As the land prices went up and the population increased, the truck
farms were sold off for development and the farming leases were
not renewed.
We are about twenty miles north of Huntington Beach, and other than
nurseries under high power lines and a few community vegetable gardens,
there are no vegetable farms in the area.
As time has gone on, farming has moved some distance from the
population centers.
As recent history has shown, in a disaster the super markets are cleaned
out in a day or two.
I would not be comfortable in relying on someone else taking care of us.
We are in the Los Angeles basin area, in a disaster several million people
would be in need of food and water within a very short period of time.    

There are basically four types of food to consider for use in emergency
or disaster situations.
Please remember, the higher the temperature the food is stored at,
the shorter the shelf-life will be.
This may be another example of my stating the obvious, but it should
be said.

Every day food.  

The foods you have in your pantry and cupboards are the first to use.
They have the shortest shelf-life. If the power goes out, once you
open your refrigerator or upright freezer it goes down hill from there.
If you have frozen meats and a smoker, you can smoke the meat to
extend its life. Drying fruits and vegetables will also slow down
spoilage. A chest type freezer may be good for a few days once the
power goes out and you open it.

MRE's (meals ready to eat)

These military type foods are convenient, especially if you have
MRE heaters which are activated with water. The shelf life is not
so great and they are more affected by storage temperature than
other storage foods.
The can be stored from one year, in a high temperature environment,
to ten years, where the storage temperature is around 60 deg. F.  

Dehydrated (Air-Dried)

When the moisture (most of it) is removed using air-drying
dehydration methods, the cells and texture of the food collapses.
Some losses in nutrition can also follow. This changes the look,
feel and tast. The up-side is that once a container of air-dried
food is opened it does not spoil as fast as its freeze-dried
equivalent. The collapsed food does not absorb moisture from
the air as fast.

Freeze Dried

Freeze dried food is food that has been frozen, then placed in a
vacuum chamber. When a vacuum is pulled, the frozen water
sublimates (changes directly from a solid to a gas without entering
the liquid phase). This pretty much maintains the texture, color, taste
and nutrients. Freeze-dried foods usually won't last as long as
air-dried foods once the can is opened. The open voids in the
food absorb moisture from the air much faster.

And again, please don't forget your pets. Keep a good supply of
their food on hand. If your pets are not accustomed to eating people
food, feeding them from your food supply can be a problem. You don't
need your pets to have the runs in an emergency situation.

The big picture.

Before you purchase any items for emergency situations please do your
homework first.

In December of 1999 I was in a local surplus store picking up some replacement mantels for Aladdin kerosene lamps.
Customers were running around grabbing things off the shelf and piling their
shopping carts until there was no more room.
At the check stand they were asking the clerk what the items were for that they
were buying.
Let's stay away from that.

When storing food, look at the big picture.

If you have lots of fuel and water the type of storage food is not that critical.
For most of us, it is.

A good example are lima beans.

First off, you wash them off in a colander and check for debris.
Then you soak them overnight in water.
Then you drain off the water, add new water and slowly cook most
of the day.
Let's see, that means three batches of water and enough fuel to
cook for several hours, I always started cooking around 10:00 am -
added the extra goodies around 4:00 pm and we would have dinner
around 5:00 pm.

That is alot of water and fuel for a meal.  

Most freeze-dried and air-dried foods require adding hot water (with the exception
of fruits, snacks and deserts).

MRE's are pre-cooked and can be eaten cold, as well as heated with hot water or
an MRE heating pouch (just add water and they heat up).

Planning ahead can save you some grief later.


Yup, let's not forget this in your planning.

In an emergency situation you can lose you utilities
for days, even weeks.

Improper sanitation, besides being a potential source of
disease, is a psychological weight on everyone's shoulders
in an emergency situation.

If worse comes to worse, you can make a slit trench or a
"one holer".
These have many down-sides, especially if you have no
open area to dig in.

As for planning ahead.

Have some large heavy walled trash bags on hand for
make-shift toilets using an existing toilet in your home or
with a five gallon bucket (along with a couple of short
splinter-free 2' by 4's for comfort).

Some survival and camping outfits offer portable toilets
based on five gallon buckets.

A couple of other options you might consider would
be a "Porta-Potti" type toilet or a dry portable toilet.

The water-based toilets consist of a top section which
is locked onto the bottom section.
The top section has a lid, seat, fresh water tank and bowl.
You work the pump handle a couple of times to put water
in the bowl.
When you are finished you push the valve lever to drop
the waste in the bottom which is the waste receiving tank.
When the bottom tank is full everyone draws straws to see
who gets to empty it in a safe place.
After camping trips there was never an opportunity to draw
straws - I always had the pleasure of dumping the bottom tank.
Also keep in mind that they do need water to operate.

The dry toilets have netting in the bottom which supports a
heavy "zip-loc" bag which holds the waste. With the addition
of some gelling powder, some of these toilet bags can be used
more than one time.
Disposal is much easier that with the water-based toilet.

Having my 'druthers, I prefer the dry toilet even though the
bags do not come cheap.  

In an emergency situation communications can play a key
role in getting through it.

I would not depend entirely on a cell phone.
An earthquake or storm can knock cell towers down and your
cell phone becomes a paperweight.

My first suggestion would be a whistle.
The sound from a whistle will carry much farther than your voice.
In many cases, it can cut through background noise and draw
attention to you.
You can also blow a whistle much longer than you can yell.

If you are a ham radio operator with a back-up power supply
you are ahead of the rest of us.

A citizen's band radio is an inexpensive method of communication.
A number of companies have made emergency road-side CB
These come in a case along with a lighter-plug cord to
power up from the lighter receptacle in your car as well as a
short antenna with a magnetic base.
I don't know if these are still made but they can be found on
on-line auctions. You want to look for one that is in mint condition
and try it out as soon as you receive it. Many of the "new in box"
units are over twenty years old.    
State of Mind.

Thinking things through before doing them can make a huge
difference in the outcome.
Planning before a disaster can make getting through one much
After everything has gone South, reason out what you need to do
for each situation that will come up.

Many years ago, when I used to go camping and hiking, a friend
asked my a question.
He said, "How would you cross a river or a stream?"
Figuring that this was an educational moment I answered "Maybe
you should tell me."
He replied, "Take your boots and socks off, put your boots back on
and carefully cross the stream. On the other side take your boots off,
dry your feet and put your socks and boots back on."
Okay, "What is the point?"
He answered, "If you cross the stream with your boots and socks on
you will have soggy socks and boots to squish in all day. If you cross
the stream barefoot you may cut your feet on sharp rocks. Your dry
socks will help wick the moisture out of your boots when you head
on your way".        
Yep, just a little thinking involved.

Something to think about.

If you decide to prepare for the unknown, and practice the skills you
will need to meet the challenge - you will learn alot about yourself
in the process.

Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings.




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