Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Poor People's Disaster Preparedness

You would probably not be reading this if you feel good about how things are going in the country, economy and the world. We have all noticed that there have been a few glitches in the financial sector for a while and Mother Nature has been on a rampage too. I am against a lot of pointless worry. If I am going to worry it needs to do some good. I intend to get ready for disasters.

Most disasters have a certain generic quality. If you are ready for one disaster, you are ready for most other disasters, with a little tweaking for specifics. We all need water, food, clothing, shelter, warmth, a way to eliminate body wastes, safety, etc. That still applies in a disaster, any disaster.

My first step is to figure out how to survive long enough to find out what is going on and have an idea what to do about it. That is the first day or 24 hours. If you are on a tight budget that is a good place to start to avoid being overwhelmed with the cost of it all. Every time you go shopping think of one small item you could use to eat for a meal without too much preparation, especially cooking. If you can't manage a whole meal, get part of a meal at a time.

Water is something you can probably do something about for free. I am sorry for getting ahead of some people here. Lots of people do not know why you might want water in a disaster. You just turn on the tap and water comes out, right? Nope. Lots of disasters can stop water from coming out of the tap when you turn it on. An earthquake, for example, can break the water lines. Cold weather disasters can do the same thing. A radioactive disaster can make it so you won't want to turn on the tap and drink what comes out, depending on where the water comes from. Ok, I'm not here to explain every possible disaster to you. youtube does that. :-p

If you ever drink soda pop, bottled water, juice, or milk and other things besides, you sometimes have nice plastic bottles that they came in. Wash out the bottle and you now have a water container for you to store water for disasters. Free water storage for disaster preparedness is good.

Smaller bottles of water may not feel as satisfying and secure as a 50 gallon container, but they sure are a lot easier to find a way to store. You can put them under the couch, or bed or in the closet or behind the books. Find some nooks and crannies to put them in. You will need more water than you drink because you have to wash your hands and dishes, etc. A gallon a day per person is conservative. You can use less if you are careful. Experts stress that trying to ration water for drinking is a bad idea, but you can save on the cleaning water.

The next problem is what to do if you tap water is not great. I do not like drinking the water that comes out of my tap and I do not want to lug a lot of heavy water bottles around all the time, or pay for them. I like my Mr.Coffee coffee maker. It has a permanent filter that you can get to filter your water. I do not drink coffee, so it is easy for me to dedicate my coffee maker to water filtering only. If you use yours for coffee, you need to decide whether you are going to clean it out in between coffee and water filtering use or get another one. Not every Mr. Coffee coffeemaker will hold the permanent filters. My local Costco has the right kind on sale now. Unfortunately I found that out after I had already paid more somewhere else. It may not be too late for you. They say on the side of the box that a permanent coffee filter is included.

Your hot water heater may be a water source for disasters. It depends on what kind of hot water heater you have. The newer ones do not have a spigot on the bottom, but on the top. That means you will have to have a pump to get water out of them. You must know how to shut off the water going in and out of the hot water heater so it won't go down the drain, literally. If you have a disaster, keeping the clean water in your hot water heater for drinking later needs to be a priority. As soon as you get up off the floor or whatever, go take care of the hot water heater. You need either a wrench that will turn a thing that closes in the water in the tank or a special tool made only for that purpose. The special tool is less likely to walk off, so I favor it, taped to the hot water heater with instructions for use. If the heater runs on gas, you may want to turn it off if the gas is not working, to avoid an explosion.

If you live in an apartment building, you will have to talk to the manager about the water in the hot water heater, and using it in a disaster.

Toilet tanks can be considered a water source for emergencies. I gather they need to be considered contaminated. Even contaminated, they can be purified for emergencies. It is water you don't have to go out and bring home. That can be pretty valuable.

I am not going to cover purifying water for emergency use yet, because that is kind of advanced.  I am starting with the easy stuff for a few days of preparedness first.

Next post will have ideas for places to find non-consumable disaster preparedness items, and links.

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