Many people are looking at extreme weather events, and also at political unrest at home and abroad, and wondering if they should be more prepared. Would they be able to survive if their electricity supply was disconnected for several days because of bad weather? What if the local area, town or city was cut off, or shut down due to civil unrest or terrorist activity? If a major solar flare compromised regular satellite and terrestrial communications networks, how would you keep informed or communicate with family or friends? In most cases, a few simple preparations ahead of these types of events can make a lot of difference.
Since prehistoric times, humans have used shelter as a means of protection from the elements. Our modern world enables us to minimize our exposure to extremes of heat and cold. But what happens if our regular sources of power and heating are disrupted?
Those people with access to a wood burning fire, and sufficient fuel have a readily available source of heat and the ability to cook. People who enjoy camping may have a portable gas stove and bottled gas, which will enable them to cook hot food, but maybe not very much heat.
Emergency lighting can be provided for short periods with the use of battery powered torches, provided spare batteries are available. For a more sustained source of low level lighting, the use of candles or a portable fuel lantern are both very useful, provided there is enough fuel and sufficient candles to last the length of the emergency.
Emergency heating, for a small room can be provided by lighting a few night light candles and placing them under a terracotta pot heater. Warmth can also be provided by wearing warm clothes, especially thermal underwear and woolen jumpers.
Although people can survive for quite a long while without eating, it is not very useful in a survival situation, where additional stresses are being placed upon the body. In order to minimize this situation, it is imperative that people start to stockpile non-perishable foods before a situation arises that requires its necessity.
Most canned or bottled foods have a reasonably long life, and are often fairly cheap to buy ahead of time. Ensure that some of the canned food items can be eaten without requiring cooking, in case there is no cooking heat available.
Dried or dehydrated foods can also be stocked for a long time. Foods like rice and flours, can have a lifespan sometimes stretching to years. Care needs to taken in how and where these survival food stores are kept, to ensure they are not contaminated or eaten by insects or small animals. Before using a lot of dehydrated food items, they require the addition of water. This quantity of water also needs to be added to your stored water capacity.
If these foods are a part of your general pantry stores, ensure the items are rotated, so that the foods with the nearest dates are used first.
Although we can survive without food for a while, we require water. It is recommended that we consume at least 2.5 to 3 liters for basic survival, and may need up to 15 liters for survival, cooking and hygiene purposes per day (1). If a regular water source is not available in a survival situation, you may need to rely on previously stored water, either bought bottled water or water safely stored in other containers. Use bought bottled water according to its use by date, and replace self prepared stored water every 6 months (2).
When an emergency situation arises, phone networks are often overloaded to the point of failure, or are switched off to the public to allow dedicated access for the emergency services. In the event of a major solar event, some telephone, radio and television communications can be completely disabled for a period of time.
In any emergency situation it is recommended that a portable, battery powered radio be accessible, with spare batteries, to enable the public to stay informed about the situation as it progresses. These radios although useful, only provide information in one direction.
If you want to be in a position where you can communicate with family and friends, the use of a battery powered amateur radio is very useful. In most countries, there are a number of channels or frequencies, which can be used without a license. For even greater access, gaining a ham radio license can mean being able to communicate with people who are outside of the emergency region, people who may be able to help or rescue you, if necessary.
Often in the case of a weather event, advanced notice is supplied, which will allow people to stock up on certain necessities just before the situation occurs. In the event of civil unrest or a terrorist incident, there will be no notice, and leaving the house to buy supplies could place you in more danger. Ideally having at least several days supplies available at all times will help in being prepared.
The information in the article is for prompting people to be prepared, any suggestions given or implied should be checked against local emergency preparedness advice issued by local or governmental organizations.
(1) World Health Organization.
(2) Department for Homeland Security