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Disaster Preparations at Home

Posted to Usenet by Bob Gilbert

Why? Oh, how about floods, tornadoes, blizzards, etc. Electric power goes down, phone communications quit, no water, possibly no fuel and no help on the horizon for at least some period of time.

Won't happen with modern technology you say? Bet me. Just recently here in Minnesota and the surrounding states we have been hit by repeated blizzards. Power lines have gone done for more than a week. People trapped in their houses (or at least on their own property) for days, people stranded in vehicles for 40 plus hours before being found, etc. Not a lot of fun with a wind chill of -80 to -90 degrees. For those of you who can't imagine the situation, the snow was blowing so strong and the white-out was so complete that people were disoriented and lost within a couple hundred yards of places with which they were familiar.

A few years ago, the company that I work for sent me to Missouri to assist local telephone workers during massive flooding. Power was out over areas serving many tens of thousands of homes, only isolated places where phones still worked. Think a cellular phone is the answer? Sorry, the cell antennas require power to pick up your call and pass it on. And a cell phone will only reach a couple miles max. I found people living on the top floor of 2 floor houses and in houses on a hill totally cut off from anywhere else by the water.

Medical assistance? In our last storm one doctor, attempting to reach a woman needing a cesarean delivery, required two snow plows to escort him and at that it took him 8 hours to get 40 miles. Many people had to settle for local first aid.

I was in San Francisco when they had their big earthquake. Food supplies were disrupted in some areas for over a week. Some places had no gas, electricity or water for several weeks.

So preparation is something that all of us should keep in mind. Being prepared is not something suitable only for those waiting for

TEOTWAWKI. (The End Of The World As We Know It)

Things to consider:

1. Shelter
2. Food
3. Heat
4. First Aid
5. Clothing
6. Protection
7. Communication

My thoughts on these:


I listed this first as it is often vital. If you are cold and/or wet it is difficult to collect your thoughts, organize and get the rest you will need to survive. In some disasters, lack of shelter will kill you straight off.

My home, as most in Minnesota has a basement. We have a re-enforced 'gathering corner' down there. It is away from any glass and likely to survive the collapse of the house. (verified by the architect) It also has an escape hole which I installed. In this corner I have stored supplies of water, food, a first aid kit, pack of dry clothes (sealed), flashlights, a couple of hurricane lamps, radio, batteries, etc. Also a small toolkit of essentials and a pry bar.

Each of the 2 major family vehicles has a first aid kit, winter survival kit, small tool box, flashlights, etc.

If you have to abandon the house...hole up in a vehicle! Go to a hotel you say? One may not be available and even if it is you may not be able to get to it.

As a side note, we keep a lock box ready to grab at home with some cash and valuable papers, etc. A copy of the valuable papers is kept at a relative's house some distance away. (Copies of insurance policies, etc.)


We buy can goods and paper goods by the case and store in the basement. Don't tell me you can't afford it. Just takes discipline. I and my wife have been doing this since we were poor newly weds. We also do home canning and drying. I have a large and a small freezer always full. Probably overkill. We could probably last 6 months at least with no worries. After that I'd have enough of everything except meat, for another six months. I would suggest that a family keep at least a couple of weeks worth of food in the house. Beans and cornbread might get old but it will keep you alive.

Not that we would have to 'rough' it. If the house is intact, we have the stuff and know-how to make candies, pizza's, and other goodies which make life good. We have always been ones who enjoyed made from scratch stuff. Cooking? Natural gas stove. If that fails, electric pans. If that fails, Coleman oven with spare fuel. If that fails, coal bar-b-que pit. If that fails, homemade wood burner.

Water? I'm on a well system. Also keep 3 five gallon containers in the basement, 5 gallons in the shed and have installed a 200 gallon water tank behind the house. Kept full by the pump. I flush this regularly. It has a hand pump attached so that water may be retrieve if there is no power.

For extended periods of water outage (due to power loss), I have both a portable hand powered pump and a battery powered pump (12v car battery) on hand, a nearby lake, a cart with a water tank. The cart is actually used for my gardening but I have a 30 gallon plastic, inflatable water tank to fit it and a portable filtration system I made to attach.


Natural gas forced air furnace. If the electricity fails I have a small 2kw generator. I modified the electrical hook up to the furnace so that the cable bringing 120v power to it terminates in a standard male plug. This is plugged into a female receptacle at the furnace. I make a double male extension cord for the generator. Cheap arrangement. Power fails and I unplug the normal power at the furnace. Start the generator and plug it into the furnace. The old plug has a cover in case normal power is restored. The generator is large enough to power the fan on the furnace. Also has enough extra juice for me to run an extension to give limited light and power a radio or TV. I keep 30 gallons of fuel in various sized containers in a shed away from the house and have a buried extra 20 gallons.

No natural gas? Two kerosene heaters in shed and 30 gallons of kerosene. Also have kerosene burning hurricane lamps. Also have about 30 lb. of assorted candles. You would be surprised at how warm you can keep one room of a house, even in Minnesota, with very little heat. One winter power was lost and a blizzard was blowing. Decided to wait till morning to fire off the generator. Brought everyone into one bedroom, covered windows with a vapor barrier (sheet plastic). Kept the door closed to the rest of the house. At -24 degrees, 40 mph winds, the body heat of four of us in a sealed room kept it above 50 degrees. Comfy sleeping!

**I always keep rolls of heavy mil sheet plastic around..great stuff!


I keep currency in my certification as a First Responder. All members of my family have had first aid training. Besides the first aid kits for emergencies in the basement and vehicles, we have a main first aid kit in the house, loaded with everything. Comprehensive first aid book in case I can't remember something (or I'm the victim), gauze, bandages, disinfectants, scissors, pain pills, anti-biotics, etc. We rotate from the stored kits to the main kit as things are used. I don't know what will work for you but we have a sympathetic Doc who, once a year fills a prescription for me for antibiotics. He knows why I want them and gave me the old lecture about their use. I don't load the kits with a lot of fancy appliances, don't want to spend the money nor do I see the need for fancy collars, inflatable splints and such. Anyone who can not figure out how to make a sling or splint out of any handy materials should probably just stick to Band-Aids.


We keep a full set of cold weather clothing in water proof packaging in the basement and in each car. Thermal underwear, heavy shirts and pants, boots with extra liners, gloves, socks, hats, face masks. If it is warm outside you just put on less. With these are an assortment of blankets and sleeping bags.


Lots of outside lighting. Steel doors with deadbolts. Small rural area where everyone knows everyone else and keeps an eye on their neighbors. (Very important) Three unfriendly dogs. Yes I know a grown man can kill a dog. These aren't here to attack. But they won't let anyone or any thing within a hundred yards (even when they are indoors) without raising a ruckus. Alarm system. Panic buttons with battery back-up which flash lights and sound a very loud series of sirens outside to alert neighbors. Wife and son trained with pistols. Personally trained wife to shoot and keep on shooting, reload if necessary, until whoever stops twitching. I am not into assault weapons. See no need. A .22 rifle and pistol for small game hunting, two very good pellet rifles for target practice and varmint dispatch, .308 bolt action rifle for larger hunting, 410 and 12 gauge shotguns, also for hunting. Shortened pump action 12 gauge with 3 inch magnums, double ought in case I don't like whoever it is who trying to pay me a visit. You know...looters, IRS agents, other no good types. ;-). Any Federal types reading this, send in the local deputy sheriff first. I know them and will talk first. One of them is a neighbor, I'd probably have a hard time shooting him. Decent guy with a wife & kids.


As you may have gathered, I work for a phone company. So if it is possible at the time, I know how to fix phone lines. I also maintain CB radios in each vehicle, a base CB in the house. I have an amateur tech radio license and a ham transceiver. I also have a very capable scanner which picks up most things including the illegal to monitor bands. In addition, several battery powered radios, including shortwave are scattered about, including a battery powered TV


Besides the 120v generator, I keep a 1350 cranking amp, deep draw marine battery charged. It is trickle charged from the commercial power source so that it is always ready. In a couple of spots about the house I have installed 12v outlets. This is used to provide additional means to power the radios and battery powered TV. I also have on hand a couple of 12v lamps to plug in. The battery can be kept charged by my portable generator or by a car. I rigged up a special battery cable to hook to a running car and on the other end it has a plug to plug into the big battery cables to charge it.

In the back of my property I have buried a section of large drainage pipe, 3 ft dia., which is sealed on both ends. It has a removable lid and is water tight. Granting the house burns down or something, this cache is used to store dry and canned food, toolbox, clothes, and other necessities. It is not particularly hidden. It's only purpose is to provide safe storage for essentials in case the whole house goes. Fire, flood, etc.

We have a trailer permanently placed on a lake, way out in yonder country, as a summer fishing and vacation place and as a bug out spot if that should ever be necessary. It is completely stocked. In addition, we have a complete camping set packed and ready to be loaded in minutes if needed. Not just for a bug-out. If a tornado blows the house away, we are ready to set up temporary lodging. Plus we enjoy camping.


The most important tool to survival....knowledge and the skills to use it.

By profession I do heating and air conditioning repair, electrical power repair, alarm systems repair, plumbing, locksmithing, carpentry, electrical generator repair and so on for a telephone company. By way of hobby I do repairs, upgrades and programming of IBM compatible PC computers; auto and small engine repair; tinker in amateur electronics; ham radio; welding; vegetable gardening; home canning; food drying; fishing; hunting; camping and hiking. I also fill in on an as needed basis for a local emergency response squad. I am a pack rat and gatherer of 'stuff'. If you were to look in my shed and garage you would find tools for virtually any type of job, lumber, metal stock, rolls of electrical wire, cable, chain, hose and rope. Virtually every type of electrical fitting, nail, screw, bolt, hose fitting, tubing fitting and pipe fitting needed.

It may seem like a lot but flea markets and garage sales are wonderful things. The cost is not nearly what you imagine. The 2kw generator, for instance was sold to me as broken. It required about $15 in parts and the time expended in a tune up to put it in operation.

Family and friends used to make fun but after uncounted times of them calling and my being able to fix the problem, they no longer laugh. One of the reasons I view the Internet as such a valuable resource, is that it provides an almost unlimited access to a world of knowledge... a survivor's best friend.

Used with permission on the Project EPSILON Survival Page

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