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Why you should prepare for an emergency
I know what some of you are thinking, “It Can’t Happen To Me.” and you may be right, then again I’m pretty sure some residents of New Orleans said that in 2005, resident’s of Southern Florida probably said that in 1992, I know for a fact that some resident’s of Bastrop, TX said that in 2011, (I actually heard someone say that statement, not one week before their home was burned by the wild fire that displaced many people and destroyed more homes, and more sq. miles than I can truly fathom). So when you think that it can’t happen to you, you might be right. Then again, there is always a chance some kind of disaster can leave you without water or power, leaving the roads closed so you can’t get to the grocery store, let alone the trucks that resupply that store. So let’s look at some of the most likely things that can happen to leave you without these particular amenities.
Odds are it’s going to be weather related. A big thunderstorm comes through and knocks out power in the summer, or maybe some hellacious winter storm knocks the power out and maybe freezes your pipes, leaving you without water, and without power. How do you handle it? What can you do?
Honestly, there is no way to truly prevent these things from happening, you can’t control the weather. However you can keep enough supplies to last you and your family through the clean up process and be relatively comfortable, here’s how.
First thing that you will need is going to be water, but how to store it? Simply reuse your milk jugs and 2 liter soda bottles, rinse them out really well with hot water, fill with water, add a few drops of bleach or iodine, and there’s your water supply. Now you will need to rotate out the water every month, use it to water the plants, or even to wash the car, then refill the bottles add a few drops of bleach again, and store the containers in the basement, bottom of the pantry, or where ever they aren’t likely to be in the way. I have mine in a hall closet.
How much should you store?: Well that all depends, how many people are in your house, how many pets, you are probably going to have to do laundry at some point right, and bathe yourself. The average human body is going to need 1-2 gallons of drinking water, figure a half gallon to wash yourself with per day, and laundry can be done with say 10 gallons, dishes will probably take another 5 gallons if used properly, and the average dog is going to need 1-2 gallons per day as well. It’s your household you do the math. Remember that storm related disasters can take about 2-3 weeks to get power and water back up and running.
How do I wash myself: Here’s something that most people don’t quite think of at first, since we are all so used to taking a shower or a bath we tend to think these are the only ways to clean ourselves, this isn’t quite true though. Take a wash rag and get it wet, use your bar of soap and get the wash rag nice and soapy, then scrub your body down paying special attention to the more hairy parts of your body (not the hair on your head, there are some special dry shampoos that I will recommend for this in a later post) rinse the wash rag in clean water then wipe off the soapy residue don’t throw the water out yet though. To be honest this bathing technique is used by many people that don’t have running water available to them all the time and it works pretty well for them (Backpackers, soldiers, and the like), and I use it when I go out camping for more than a week and don’t have a nice size body of water near me.
How do I do laundry: Remember that water you used to scrub yourself with, yeah we are going to use that, a large pot (something like a 10 gallon container) and it should be made of metal so you can bring the water to a boil. Go out into the backyard, and either get the grill going nice and hot (a propane grill will work as will a charcoal one) or build a fire in a safe location. You really don’t want everything catching on fire just to do your laundry, so make sure the location is safe. Fill the pot about half way with water and take your bar of soap (I do not recommend using LAVA for this) and start shaving off from the bar (you will need about a half cup if you don’t have any laundry detergent) while the water comes to a boil. When boiling, put the clothes in, and let boil for 10-15 minutes. While this might not get any stains out, it will kill bacteria from your sweat and generally make you smell better. To dry use a clothes line, set it up inside the garage if it’s winter or outside if it’s summer and not raining. If you have a wood burning fireplace or a wood stove, set the clothesline near those heat sources to help dry everything a little quicker.
Dishes can be washed by hand, hot soapy water and a scrub brush. The water can be reused by boiling for 10 minutes (to kill bacteria) and using a clean cloth (handtowel, old sheet, and bandanna) to filter out some of the nastier looking stuff.
Cooking would be done pretty much the same way as when you go camping, over the grill if you have one would be great, but honestly any heat source that will boil water will work. This post is getting to be a bit long, so I’ll cover more about cooking with no electricity in another post.