Each of the Layers of Personal Emergency Preparedness is aimed at helping you increase your independence and self-reliance. As you add layer upon layer to yourself and your loved ones, you are increasing your skills, abilities, and supplies--and increasing your opportunities for succeeding in emergencies. Taken together, as a whole, your layers help you deal with short term and long duration trouble. We have talked about the layers that will help take you through two weeks of difficulty in previous posts. Now we're ready to talk about the last layer in the set, the one specifically designed for extended emergencies and their long aftermaths--the Home Storage Supply. Because this is the most comprehensive and far reaching layer, know that it will also be the one that takes the most preparation and planning of them all.
So let's start now.
What is the Home Storage Supply?
The Home Storage Supply is simply this: everything you need to be self-sufficient for an absolute minimum of one year. And that includes you, anyone living with you (human or otherwise), and your home and property.
While this seems like a really daunting layer--and it can be if you go at it without any proper planning!--you will find that if you pay attention to your focus categories, that it really isn't as scary as it seems. The simple key is persistence.
Like they say, eat an elephant one bite at a time.
Now, if you've been building your layers as we've gone through them, you already now have increased your self-reliance to two weeks. What we are going to do now is just keep on building.
So how do I start?
First, begin by going through the following categories and meeting your complete needs now for one month. Then another month, and then another, and so on. If your personal finances are tight, then bite off a smaller piece--and go for one more week or two. What matters is that you keep adding. Why do we do it this way, instead of getting everything in one category before moving to the next? Because we aim to be self-sufficient as we go rather than wait until the end! After all, we never know when an emergency will happen.
So here we go!
The categories that you need to keep focused on are:
*Warmth, Light and Clothing
*Food and Water
*Medical and Hygiene
*Tools and Weapons
*Comfort and Entertainment
*Library and Documentation
*Cottage Industry and Barter
Let's talk a bit about each of these categories--again, keep in mind that you must consider yourself, those with you (human and other), and your home and property when you think about each one.
Warmth, Light and Clothing
It is very important that you compensate for possible periods of extended loss of electrical power. You might be lucky and keep it the whole time, but there's no guarantee! Do your research and know exactly how long each one of your choices last--otherwise you'll fall short. Cold or rainy climates need to pay really close attention to this category to help guard you and yours from suffering from cold related medical trouble. You will also find that children, elderly and animals need special considerations in this category, so tailor your plans to you!
Warmth: You must be able to stay warm--this means your home and anything living in it! Some ways you could plan for this could include: installing non-electric powered wood burning stoves (not pellet ones!), increasing the insulation of your home, getting generators, having proper clothing layers of correct materials, storing quality wool or down blankets and cold temperature sleeping bags, etc. Don't forget that you must also cover all the maintenance needs and fuels for these things as well! Plan for keeping your animals warm--fur is often not enough!
Light: You will need light outside of daylight--this is more than just psychological, it for work assistance and security! This could mean installing solar panels or one of the other alterative ways to draw your own power off grid. But this also means actual supplies of stuff that gives you light. Some things to consider are: lanterns, oil or kerosene lamps, candles, flashlights, area lights, high powered lightsticks, etc. Again, you must also include all parts, fuels and maintenance needs for each of the items you choose. Remember that you have choices in how these things operate--there is solar power, hand power, fuel or battery operated, etc. Research!
Clothing: You must have a supply of sturdy and climate appropriate clothing for each person in your plan--suitable for hard work and able to be repaired by hand. Learn how to layer clothing correctly, what types are most effective, how to launder them by hand, and how to repair or make more of them. Don't forget to include the supplies which will let you do your own repairs or make replacements--which also means, that you must learn how to do this stuff! Don't forget your animals in this area--dogs and horses are just some which often need coats or blankets to help protect them from severe cold or penetrating chill.
Food and Water
It is important in this category that you remember that you may not be able to resupply yourself and your animals from the store--or receive one of those oh-so-convienant government supply drops like you see in tv shows like Jericho. You will need to plan for your own food production or acquisition, food processing and proper storage, cooking, cleaning up, and disposing of garbage. Just as you need to plan on locating and hauling water, purifying and storing it to replenish your supplies. And don't plan on having electrical or fuel powered assists to do this stuff! You will need some serious skills in this area and lot of practice. Be extremely detailed oriented in your supplies to do this stuff--and think of the need to reuse and keep going over a long period of time.
Food: You will need to plan for approximately 600-800 lbs of food per person per year. This gives you 'wiggle room'--the ability to safely counter: greatly increased physical activity, exposure to the environment, illness, high stress, theft or partial confiscation, spoilage or infestation, cooking failures, sharing, trading, new additions to your family, etc. Choose foods that require no refrigeration, ones that you actually like eating, those that provide good nutriention, and ones you know how to use in cooking. Store them properly and never all in one place (it's the whole eggs in one basket saying!). Balance your food supply by including: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk and milk products, meat and meat alternatives, oils, leavenings, sugar or sugar alternatives, seasonings and flavorings, and treats. Plan for more than you need. Always.
Water: You must have at least one gallon of drinking water per person per day--more if your area suffers from high or extended heat. Remember--any other beverages are in addition to that, not in place of. Nope, sorry, soda pop is not a water substitute! Remember, you also need to store water for your cooking needs, bathing and sanitation requirements, doing your laundry and for the general cleaning requirements of your home--at least one gallon per person per day in this area, too. You also need water purification means, water transportation assists, and the long-term storage containers to store your water supplies. Because you will need to purify the water you gather, it is a good idea to add drink mixes to your storage to help with taste. If you can, install water gathering assists ahead of time--filtered gutters that run to rain barrels, cysterns, wells (with manual pumps in addition to electrical ones), etc.
Your home takes on special importance in emergencies--it becomes more than just a living space, it becomes a necessary place of comfort and security in the middle of chaos and danger. Anything you can do now to improve your home and make it more secure and disaster resistant is a really good idea! Remember that you may not have electricity to keep your home comfortable or safe in emergencies--so plan your manual alternatives and get them installed. Make your home and property as clean, well maintained and secure as you can now, it will only help you later. So don't put off any work that needs to be done to it--it is supposed to be your sancurary in emergencies, so make it one now!
Maintenance, Cleaning and Repair: You will need the knowledge, skills, tools and supplies to keep your home as functional as possible for as long as possible--this means you will need to provide any maintenance it needs, keep it as hygenic as you can, and repair any damages an emergency or its aftermath causes.
Protection: You need to keep your home secure at all times--from emergencies themselves and from any criminal intent. Remember that you might not have electricity to help you do this. Get professional advice! FEMA and the Red Cross have information on how you can help protect your home from (or reduce the damaged done in) emergencies. Law enforcement and security personnel can help you plan your protection from the people danger side of emergencies. Don't take risks or chances with your home's security--you are going to rely even more on it in times of trouble than you do now!
Medical and Hygiene
In emergencies, especially extended ones, medical and hygiene supplies become extremely hard to locate--and personnel skilled in them, are stretched very thin. What you install and supply in your home now, will give you serious advantage later. Take professional training and plan carefully! Don't forget to make special plans for any medical conditions or age specific needs in your home. And don't forget your animals!
Medical: Store all necessary medical supplies for multi-person, long duration needs. This includes medical assists (with non-electric backups), first aid supplies, extended need medical supplies, prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines, etc. Keep modern and detailed first aid and advanced response books on hand--and take the training for them. Consider alternative medicines and take professional training in them. Remember that injuries in emergencies are common. Focus on tending: burns, lacerations, breaks, punctures, fall related or debris falling related injuries, shock, extended illness, etc. If you can, have a designated 'sickbay'--at least, have some section of your home set aside for medical supplies which you can easily get to quickly.
Hygiene: Emergencies make hygiene a serious concern--and will require you to make a special effort to guard yourself. Because you may not have power, you might not have running water or flushing toilets. Plan for your alternatives. You will need to have an emergency toilet and know what to do properly with waste matter. You must have the ability to bathe and wash your hands, tend to garbage requirements, do your own laundry manually, clean your cooking and eating impliments, and keep your home sanitary. Females have to plan for their menstral cycle. Mothers must plan for diapering and toilet needs of small children. The elderly need to have their own hygiene concerns taken care of. And you will need to be able to take care of any sick people's needs. There is a lot of training available for you in these areas--take advantage of it now! Try and put into your supply both disposable and non-disposable alternatives.
The ability to keep in contact with family members on your own property or about the city, receive information from emergency personnel and get updated news is essential in emergencies--especially in extended ones with their prolonged recoveries. Because you may not have power, any communications equipment you choose needs to run on solar, battery, fuel, manual power, etc. You may be able to use your phone or computer--but you may not. Overburdened communication systems, destroyed towers or lines, inability to recharge batteries, etc., all may render your phone or computer useless. So do some research and choose quality equipment to take their place in emergencies. Choose your equipment to fit the two needs your phone or computer would normally cover: local and long distance. You will need some form of "walkie talkies"--letting you keep in contact with your family as you move about your local area. Get something with at least one mile reach, preferrably five or more if possible. You will also need radios to receive outside information. If you can, get a Ham radio and become full trained in its use--this will let you receive information and send it, allowing you to be of great assistance to your area in emergencies. Do not forget to include the simple communication means in your supplies--like whistles, air-propelled horns, signal flares, etc.
Tools and Weapons
Simply put, you need tools and weapons. Especially when you are quite possibly on your own for an indeterminate length of time in a potentially damaged area.
Tools: This area includes all the items you might need to help take care of yourself, your people and animals, and your home and property. This means all maintenance, repairs, food procurement (hunting, fishing, trapping, planting, etc.) and processing, daily labor, etc. needs. And it includes all the items needed to take care of and use those tools as well! It is important that you take the time to receive proper training and practice your skill use of all of these things. Again, don't rely on electric powered items--and be sure and store any batteries, fuels, and parts needed to go with this stuff.
Weapons: This is an area that many people neglect to plan for in extended emergencies. It is a dangerous mistake to rely on law enforcement or military personnel to protect you--disasters spread them impossibly thin to provide constant coverage to everyone, and without power, your means to quickly call for help and receive it swiftly is also often gone. You will need to provide for your own and others' protection--and be able to protect your home and supplies. Disasters bring out the best and the worst of people--be prepared to defend the best from the worst. Know that this requires some serious professional training. Get that training now. Remember that you will need weapons for both short range and long range needs--as well as any additional tools or supplies to maintain and keep them operational.
Comfort and Entertainment
Easing hardship in prolonged emergencies and their aftermaths is essential--this is more than just 'blowing off steam', it is boosting morale and helping to keep a positive psychological outlook in times of high octane stress and severe trauma. This means building into your supply ways to play and treats to eat or drink. This also means planning for holidays and birthdays, whether there are children present or not. Again, do not rely on electric powered things. Consider: boardgames, puzzles, cards, dice, solar or manual powered radios, musical instruments, books, toys, etc. Remember to include religious items--books, hymnals, etc. Have laminated copies of your favorite and most meaningful family photos. Be sure and take training specifically on how to help yourself and others deal positively with emergencies, hardship and trauma.
Library and Documentation
You need all the information you can possibly get a hold of--specifically that which teaches you how to do all the little things you might need to know how to do. This could be anything from how to repair your home to how to procure food to how to build a composting toilet to how to sew your own clothing. You will also need to be your own source of your own documentation needs--this might be for insurance purposes, government assistance or rebuilding your life after a disaster.
Library: Build up your personal library before an emergency--while there is time and ability to locate any needed information. Stay current and use professional and reliable sources. Think of all these categories--the needs they represent--and write out your list of possibly needed skills, training and resources. I strongly recommend you use FEMA, Red Cross, and the Hoodlum Adventure Team (located in my Cool Sites to Check Out section) to help you figure out what you need to know and where to get the information.
Documentation: Gather all personal vital documentation--get any certified copies you need to replace lost items--and store it in a secure and hidden location. Be able to take this information with you if you must leave the home, so store it in a portable and waterproof container. You will need to have: personal identification, passports, insurance polices, proof of ownerships, marriage certificates, medical records, prescription orders, immunization records, education records and licenses, social security cards, bank and credit card accounts, etc.--as well as contact information for any of these things. Do not forget to have family and friend contact lists, family and pet identification pictures, etc. It is a good idea to have a backup of these things--certified copies--in a bank deposit box, in the event that your home is lost.
While it is true that there are times in extended emergencies and their aftermaths when money has no value and supplies become 'currency', there are also times when money is perfectly useful. Without power, accessing bank and credit card accounts is difficult at best and impossible at worst. Checks are rarely if ever accepted. ATMs still operating are quickly emptied. So you will need to have cash or cash substitutes (such as gold or silver) on hand to pay bills and purchase needs. Again, you must keep these things in a secure and hidden location--preferrably in more than one secure and hidden location! How much you store is up to you and your estimated need possiblities--but at least one month's bills on hand is a very good idea.
Cottage Industry and Barter
Severe disasters may mean a loss of your 'regular' income for an unforeseeable future length. But you will still need to pay bills and purchase necessities. It is wise to provide other means of income for yourself and your family.
Cottage Industry: Learn a trade, craft, or skill which can bring you income even after a disaster. Get any professional training and tools you need to do this. Become proficient and successful in it. There are ton of resources out there--think of any talents or skills you already possess and consider areas in your strongest abilities. In good times, use this as a source of additional income.
Trade Supplies: As seen in previous disasters, any needed item becomes 'currency'. Learn how to barter and trade--and have items already stored to let you do this. Think of things that are needed in emergencies, when supplies become limited and precious--remember that small things are easier to use, like 'small bills'. Consider things like hygiene supplies, clothing repair items, assistance goods (like duct tape), etc.
Now you have the basic startup for the Home Storage Supply!
By building this final layer of your personal emergency preparedness, you are giving yourself extended duration assistance--and vastly increasing your independance and self-reliance! True, this layer is going to take a lot of work--and lot of planning, learning, and supply gathering. Don't let this deter you. Just take it 'a bite at a time'--and be consistant! Steady continual work will get you there.
You can do it!
So start now!
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