In A Disaster, Remember To Listen To Your Body
If you ever find yourself in a disaster recovery situation, keep in mind to “listen to your body”. Whether you ride out a storm or evacuate and come back later, guess what? The mess will be there. August and September in south Texas aren’t fun for anyone that must work outside. Those that do work daily in the heat and oppressive humidity get somewhat acclimated to it. Others may have an inside job and spend very little time in the heat. The clean-up seems daunting at first, but always be sure you listen to what your body says. Take it easy. The debris isn’t going anywhere; trust me. Take breaks when needed, work at a steady slower pace, cool down when it’s necessary, and wear the proper clothing and sunscreen. It’s no fun having a sunburn on top of everything else.
Electrolyte Replacement Drinks and Pickle Juice
Electrolyte replacement drinks are invaluable in an austere environment when physical labor is required. Drinks like Gatorade or Powerade work well, but care must be taken not to drink too many in a day. There is a lot of sugar in those drinks, and when you have too many, diarrhea will ensue. This completely goes against everything you are trying to accomplish by drinking those drinks. A good rule of thumb is to use the 4:1 ratio. For every four waters (say 20 oz bottles) have one of those sports drinks. (I like the 12 oz versions). Don’t shy away from those drinks with sugar in them either, but use them in moderation. Most of the sports drinks are making a “lighter” version using artificial sweeteners.
Do a quick Google search on artificial sweeteners and see if they are what you really want to use. (I wouldn’t.) Another great product I found that works wonders when you get a little overheated is pickle juice. I’ve used both the pickle juice that pickles come packed in as well as drinks made by “The Pickle Juice Company”. Both work well, but the latter goes down a little smoother. One of the first signs of overheating is muscle cramps. If you take a break and drink one of these pickle juices at the onset, and cramping will go away within about 10 minutes normally.
Other environmental factors will require different ways to work in them. Know what and how to do it before you are thrust into a situation where you have to do it.
No Major Damage To Home
We were blessed in the fact that we didn’t have any major damage to our home. A few shingles were gone, our wooden fence was down, and an outdoor light was mangled. Cleanup was quick at our house. Now our goal was to survive with no city power, no city water, and worst of all no sewer. The power really didn’t faze any of us. We had a generator, plenty of flashlights (with a load of extra batteries), hurricane oil lamps, and a camp stove. My house now is all electric (which, again, I know is not good for SHTF), so cooking would have to be done the old-fashioned way.
Duel Fuel/White Gas Camp Stove
When I purchased this camp stove many years ago, I opted to go for the white gas (Coleman fuel) model instead of the propane burners (Editors Note: You can turn a dual fuel stove into a tri-fuel stove with this adapter from Stansport. You can then use the one pound propane canisters as well, or with the addition of a hose, use a 20lb propane tank – We have used ours for over 10 years). I did this for a couple of reasons:
- First, those little propane bottles can be hard to find at certain times of the year, depending on geographical location. White gas is usually easily accessible. And the model I got is a duel fuel stove, so in a pinch I can run gasoline to cook up some grub. I have never had to use gasoline in mine, but I can speak of the white gas. Compared to the propane models (I’ve had both over the years), I get much more cook time using white gas. A full tank will go for a very long time.
- Lastly, I like the nostalgia of pumping up the little tank. It reminds me of when I was very young starting out in the Cub Scouts and then moving up to the Boy Scouts. If we weren’t cooking over an open fire pit, we were pumping up the little tank on one of these stoves. So lack of power was not really an issue.
Water, It Goes Quickly
Water, though, is one of those pesky little things you need to keep on kicking. I felt I had a handle on the water. Under beds, back of closets, and when all else fails just stick it against a wall somewhere. I have no idea how much water I started with, but let me tell you water goes quick. They suggest one gallon of water per day per person. This may work if really rationed out, but in real life the water goes quick. The oppressive heat caused most of it to be used internally, but there is also a fair amount of water used for cooking and cleaning.
If I had it to do all over again (and living on the coast I’ll probably have another chance), I would suggest getting one of the tanks that you stick in the bathtub and fill up before a disaster strikes. It comes with a built-in hand pump and holds about 100-gallons of fresh water for your enjoyment. (I’ve got one on the way.) I would probably get some odd glares if I had one of my bathtubs occupied by a 100-gallon water tote year-round, but I guess you could do it. The thing with a hurricane is, you know it’s coming days before it gets to you. In my situation, I can just have one handy and fill it up before the water is shut off. Some other disasters don’t have the “last minute” prep time. Again, prep accordingly.
Backup Water Plan
Water wasn’t an issue for us for the two weeks it was either shut off or under boil order, but if it had lasted longer, it very well could have been. I did have a backup for this potential situation as well though. A few years ago, I purchased a Sawyer mini water filtration kit for everyone in my family. They work much like a Lifestraw, but there are more bells and whistles with the Sawyer. The Sawyer is as good or better in most cases as far as filtering out the bad stuff. The two cost about the same, but the Sawyer is more versatile. I have tried mine but not in really bad water, and I didn’t have the opportunity to try it during this hurricane.
So food and water weren’t the issue, but what goes in must come out. This was the biggest hurdle to overcome.
Biggest Hurdle- Managing Without Sewer System
The sewer system for the city had been shut off with no timeframe for when it would be back on. Great. I’m not much more than a shade-tree plumber, but I know the two basic rules: “It” runs downhill, and don’t bite your fingernails. Most city systems, unless the grade is just perfect, have lift stations strategically placed around town to pump the waste to the waste treatment plant. Aransas Pass is no different. So, in theory, if you lived in the right place, the sewer line from your house may run directly to the treatment plant, but more than likely it does not. With no electricity to power the lift station and if people keep flushing and the lift station fills up, “it” is going back from whence it came.
Our Toilet Solution
We decided not to tempt fate and instead use a bucket with plastic bags. (We double bagged and then double bagged again.) Sitting on a bucket to do my business is not in the least fun. I began thinking for an alternative that would be more like using the toilet.
Why not just use the toilet, not to its full potential of course? I started by removing any water that was left in the bowl. I then placed a contractor-grade trash bag in the bowl and set the seat back down. We placed a generous portion of kitty litter, which was widely available at the stores in the area once they opened back up, in the bottom of the bag. With this, you were ready to do your business. Once done, sprinkle more litter and a few sprays of bleach, and done.
While it wasn’t the most pleasant smell, the litter-bleach combo did wonders to keep the smell down. Then after a few “deposits”, the bag could be removed and taken for disposal.
Biggest Prepping Mistake
After several days of being home, I realized my biggest mistake in prepping. I was the only one who knew how most of the tools and gadgets worked. My job site was shut down, due to damage incurred from the storm. The company that I work for has multiple locations around the country, and they called to send me somewhere else. This was good for a paycheck, but it was not so good for my girls at home.
I was going to have to leave them to take care of everything while I was gone and hope for the best. My wife has always been supportive in my prepping but has shown little interest in how these preps will help us. I just assumed that I would always be there when SHTF. Yet, with one phone call, I was not going to be there.
I spent the day before I left giving them a crash course in how to do stuff. Thankfully, while I was away, no looters tried to break in, the food and water held out, and the electricity was back on 4-5 days after I left, followed shortly by the water (although still under a boil order for a week or so).
So my final thought on this disaster area survival is to have the tools needed to survive for several weeks. Food, water, shelter, and protection are the necessities. Know how to use what you have, and have a backup plan for when that doesn’t work. Teach those around you how to do it. Get everyone involved in every step from canning food, using a camp stove, making a toilet, shooting a gun, and every other step.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 73 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value), and
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 73 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.