Getting Started in Prepping, By Jared B.

As a survivalist/prepper, I hear a lot of, “I don’t want to be a prepper, but I want to be prepared. What should I do? How do I start?” So I compiled a lot of information from FEMA, Red Cross, and other places that have very “basic” information and started typing up a list for them. The four “basic” areas I decided would be a good starting point: getting your whole family involved, what to do before an emergency, what to do after an emergency, and emergency sanitation. I say “basic” because this is only a starting point! This by no means is all you should do. If you think it is because the government will step in … I feel sorry for you. I tell this to everyone I give this information to and encourage them to research more and be ready for when “it” happens because you won’t be able to find me in my secure well stocked locations.
So, here is the list I compiled:

  1. Get your whole family involved:
    • Build your first aid kit with the whole family.
      • They might think of something that needs to go in there that you don’t.
      • Make it an activity to decorate and build your emergency kit.
        • While you are decorating it. Make sure that everyone is familiar with what it looks like and where it is located.
        • If there are items missing, make it an activity with kids to hunt for those items around the house.
        • Remember to review your kit’s contents regularly.
          • Make sure that medications, batteries, identification, food, and any other items are up to date.
        • Recommended list of items:
          • 2 copies of your family emergency plan. ( Always have a backup just in case)
          • Personal identification for each family member.
          • Minimum of $20 cash. (Have different denominations. Coins will come in handy if you need to use a payphone, snack/drink machine, or for other vending items.
          • Extra copies of family health records, list of prescriptions, and insurance papers.
          • First-aid kit and manual. (Not everyone will know first aid or remember it in a stressful situation. The manual will help refresh your memory.
          • Prescription and nonprescription medicines for at least 3 days, and an extra pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses.
          • Three gallons of water per person. (At least one gallon of water per day. Don’t forget to add extra water for pets and if even more if you plan on using freeze dried food.)
          • Three day supply of ready-to-eat nonperishable foods and a manual can opener, since you may not have power or the means to start a fire.
          • Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio; there may be broadcasts of what is happening or time frames on when help may arrive.
          • Flashlight and extra batteries. Make sure to test the flashlight regularly. Batteries do expire and should be swapped out when needed. If possible look into a solar powered or hand crank flashlight.
          • Tools. They can be used to turn off utilities, fix or secure areas, and to help get in and out of places. Don’t underestimate the power of a hammer.
          • Personal hygiene items, such as liquid soap, shampoo, lotions, and ointments. They may not seem important until you don’t have them.
          • One comfort item per child (and adult, if needed). This can be a teddy bear or soft blanket that will help calm them down.
          • Pet supplies, including food, water, pet carrier, collar, and leash.
        • Additional items to consider if you are building a Bug-out-Bag:
          • Whistle to signal for help. If you are separated from your group, you will appreciate this item. It also works great in back country settings.
          • Spare set of keys to your car and house. If you are like me and lose your keys a lot, this will save you time when you are in a rush.
          • Local maps in case your current location and the main streets become unsafe.
          • Paper cups and plates, and plastic utensils. Light weight ones are preferred, if you need to leave.
          • Blankets or sleeping bags. These should be light weight but not cheap. You may need to sleep in less than ideal conditions where staying warm can save your life. Exposure is not only dangerous, it can be deadly.
          • Moist towelettes and/or hand washing gel. You may have to stay moving and these items will help you sanitize on the run.
          • Plastic trash bags. There are too many uses to name.
          • Change of clothing, rain gear, and sturdy shoes for each family member. Make sure the shoes are broken-in and worn properly; blisters are not your friend. You will also want to wash your clothes to avoid mold, bacteria, and any other hitchhikers. Rain gear can also double as shelter.
          • Sunscreen and insect repellent. You may be forced into an area where you are exposed to the elements with little to no cover. A spider bite or bad sunburn could be extremely dangerous.
          • Additional items for party members may include paper, crayons, books, and travel-size games. These items will help the party stay calm and relaxed.
          • Special items for infants and/or the elderly. Small toys, nonperishable snacks, a cane, and/or a hearing aid may be quite important. A binky to stop a baby from crying can be just as important as an elderly person’s cane. Overlooking these items can cause problems for everyone in the group.
    • Plan together:
      • Build your family emergency plan with your family. This will not only help everyone remember what it is but will ensure nothing is overlooked.
      • Use planning time to help explain the different type of emergencies.
        • Everyone has drills at school and work, but what about home. If a fire alarm goes off at school, kids know what that schools drill is. What about when it goes off at home and the parent is in the restroom? What about when there is no alarm, and there are loud noises outside? Going over these different situations and what to do will help you practice them later.
        • Explain that sirens and lights mean that there is an emergency and help is on the way. Going over the different sirens, lights, and alarms will help everyone understands the surrounding noises and can help calm them down.
      • Make sure that everyone knows the emergency meeting place, if you are not home. Phone lines might be down and you have no way to contact your family. Make sure that if you have a child in daycare, you know the emergency plan there and where they go in an evacuation.
      • Reach out to your trusted friends, neighbors, and emergency workers. If your house is inaccessible, make sure your family knows that these places are safe.
    • Practice makes perfect.
      • You may think that your spouse, parents, or teenagers know what to do, but putting them to the test is the best way to make sure everyone is prepared. Make it part of a monthly ritual. You wake up early and set off the alarms and tell everyone that there is a certain type of emergency and then go through the motions. After, spend the day together and talk about it while doing something the family enjoys. Having a ritual will help everyone remember what to do without having to think about it. Play games with your family to keep their memory fresh. Make a scavenger hunt with meeting spots or a matching game with family members and their phone numbers.
  2. What to do BEFORE an Emergency:
    • Safeguard your home.
      • Check for potential hazards. Get appropriate insurance coverage.
      • Bolt or strap down top heavy objects, such as bookshelves, water heaters, and gas appliances.
      • Check electrical connections and gas pipes for faulty joints.
      • Place heavy objects on lower shelves.
      • Securely fasten shelving to the walls.
      • Store glass vases, china, and other breakables in low or closed cabinets or drawers.
      • Be sure your home is anchored firmly to its foundation and structurally safe.
      • Keep properly rated and tagged fire extinguishers on hand and learn how to use them properly.
      • Store copies of important documents in a safe place away from home.
      • Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
      • Remove hazardous objects from sleeping areas. These might include mirrors, bookshelves, and hanging plants.
      • Properly store flammable liquids and gases in proper locations.
      • Locate potential fire hazards and reduce their potential.
    • Implement preventative safety measures for you and your family.
      • Know where and how to shut off gas, propane, water, and electricity.
      • Work out a meeting plan for disasters.
        • Discuss responsibilities for each family member .
        • Remember to be flexible.
        • Practice occasional drills.
      • Find out community evacuation plans; learn them for your home, work, school, and other locations. Remember that you may not be able to use vehicles.
      • Have a complete home storage of necessities, including water, food, sanitary needs, and fuel.
      • Have a 72 hour kit that is always easily accessible.
      • Keep a flashlight/light stick, quick dress clothes, extra shoes, and glasses by your bed.
      • Have a first aid kit and know how to use it.
      • Learn basic first aid and CPR.
      • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and test them regularly.
      • Have an out-of-state emergency contact for everyone to check in with.
      • Learn local emergency warnings and what they mean.
    • Have your home inspected for compliance with current codes.
  3. What to do AFTER an Emergency:
    • Prepare for aftershocks, if earthquake related.
    • Check for injuries and give first aid. Do not move persons with serious injuries unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
    • Turn on a radio or television to get the latest official information from authorities. Note the location of emergency shelters.
    • If you need medical aid, food, water, or clothes, go to your local Red Cross stations.
    • Check your utilities for damage.
      • If you smell gas, turn it off at the meter. Open doors and windows to air out the gas. Extinguish any flames and leave the building.
      • If you suspect damage to the electricity, turn it off at the main switch or breakers. Do not touch downed lines or broken appliances until power to them is cut.
      • If water pipes are broken, turn water off at the main shut-off valve.
      • Before using toilets, make sure sewer lines are intact.
    • Use caution when cleaning up breaks or spills.
    • Do not tie up telephone or cell phone lines unless it is an emergency.
    • Cover broken glass to prevent injury.
    • Take wet wooden furniture outside to dry, but not in direct sunlight.
    • Leave buildings that have been moderately or severely damaged until they are made safe. Check structural members before entering a flood or mud damaged building.
    • Stay away from flood waters if possible.
      • They may be contaminated.
      • They may be electrically charged.
      • Moving water can sweep you away, even if it is shallow.
    • Be aware of where flood waters recede. Drive only when necessary. Roads can be weakened and may collapse under vehicle weight.
    • Do not use elevators, even if they are working.
    • Treat all water properly before consumption.
    • Do not use fireplaces until they are checked and certified for damage.
    • Do not go sightseeing.
  4. Emergency Sanitation:
    • After a disaster, water and sewage lines may be disrupted, and you may need to improvise emergency sanitation facilities.
    • Supplies: (Always have basic sanitation supplies on hand.)
      • Medium-sized plastic bucket with a tight lid.
      • Heavy-duty plastic garbage bags and ties.
      • Household chlorine bleach.
      • Soap, liquid detergent.
      • Toilet paper.
      • Towelettes.
    • How to build a makeshift toilet: If sewage lines are broken but the toilet bowl is usable, place a garbage bag inside the bowl. If the toilet is completely backed up, make your own. Line a medium-sized bucket with a garbage bag, and make a toilet seat out of 2 boards placed parallel to each other across the bucket. An old toilet seat will work as well.
    • How to sanitize waste: After each use, pour a disinfectant, such as bleach, into the container. This will help avoid infection and stop the spread of disease. Cover the container tightly when not in use.
    • How to dispose of waste:
      • Bury garbage and human waste to avoid the spread of disease by rats and insects. Dig a pit 2-3 feet deep and at least 50 feet downhill or away from any well, spring or water supply.
      • If the garbage cannot be buried immediately, strain any liquids into the emergency toilet. Wrap the residue in several layers of newspapers and store it in a large can with a tight-fitting lid. Place the can outside until it can be buried.
    • Water substitutes and water-preserving solutions for cleansing: (Keeping clean is essential to good health.)
      • Because water is so precious and should be reserved for drinking purposes, consider soap and water alternatives for washing the body, such as:
        • Rubbing alcohol,
        • Lotions containing alcohol,
        • Shaving lotion.
        • Face creams and lotions. and
        • Towelettes.
      • Wash cloths. Use a wet wash cloth to clean teeth, wash face, comb hair, and wash your body.
      • Makeshift shower. Use a spray bottle to shower.
    • Disinfectants: The best choice is a solution of one part liquid chlorine bleach to ten parts water. Other commercial disinfectants include HTH, or calcium hypochlorite, which is available at swimming pool supply stores, and powered, chlorinated lime, which is available at building supply stores.
    • Intestinal Ailments:
      • Consuming contaminated water and food can cause diarrhea, poisoning, and intestinal diseases. Protect against diseases.
        • Keep body, hands, and utensils used for cooking and eating clean.
        • Use proper plates or eat from the original food containers, if water is not available for washing dishes.
        • Wash and peel all fruits and vegetables.
        • Keep all food in covered containers.
        • Prepare only as much as will be eaten at each meal.
      • Controlling rodents and insects:
        • Keep living area clear of debris, garbage, refuse, and body wastes.
        • When possible, repair holes to keep out rodents.
        • Household insecticides will work in small and enclosed areas.
    • Sanitation Equipment: We are in this together. If one person gets this wrong, the whole neighborhood is at risk for disease. You are not prepared until your neighbor is prepared. When electricity stops, water stops, the disease begins. More people die from these diseases than from the disasters!
      • Make an Evacuation Sanitation Kit. You will need it before you need meals or shelter! Get your attitudes right and prepare in a way that “you KNOW that you know how” and your family knows these skills because you have been taught and practiced. Keep your hands away from your mouth and teach others to do the same.
        • For short term toilet needs, use a 5 gallon bucket with a toilet seat. Use heavy bags to hold the human refuse so that you can store them or carry contents to your yard and bury it. Cover contents with 6 inches of soil. If you use cat litter or a chemical toilet, don’t bury waste in your garden.
        • Heavy rubber gloves, a shovel, household bleach, vinyl disposable gloves, and a bucket to collect urine separately.
        • Fly swatters and fly paper can be used by adults. You will want to stay free of flies and mosquitoes that land on refuse. Use insect repellents and netting over babies, beds, and heads. Wear long sleeves and wash hands often.
        • Use liquid soap if possible. It is more sanitary than bar soaps. You want ethyl alcohol, which is absorbed through the skin. Purell is toxic to the liver. Dawn dish soap is liked. Fill empty bottles with water so you have instant wash water with a squirt.
        • Grape Seed Extract (GSE) kills all germs on hands, food surfaces, raw meat, toothbrushes, and external wounds. For Dysentery, use four drops in a swallow of water to relieve symptoms within 30 minutes. It tastes bitter though.
        • Fire is a tool because you can sanitize water in metal cooking pots. Fire tools & matches are a necessity.
        • Laundry tools help keep you clean. Use detergent that has no fillers. Some people like Amway SA8. Clothes lines and clothes pins are needed to dry clothes in sun.
        • Toilet paper will be appreciated. Bury used paper as bio-hazard product. You can use old phone books cut in thirds. Crumpling paper before using makes it softer. If paper is not available use Peri bottles and rags that are then washed and boiled to sterilize.
        • Diapers– disposable or cloth. Using throw away diaper liners makes it easier. Babies have not always worn diapers. Eskimos held babies inside their parka and held them out to go. Google natural infant hygiene or infant elimination communication.
        • Feminine hygiene needs may include Diva Cup, Moon Cup, and Keeper as catchers. Europe uses them. Or make flannel pads and have plastic and underwear. Google “glad rags”. Women might also want to know about lady j or whiz free in order to separate urine from solid human waste. (weight issue)

I won’t say that this is the end because it should be the beginning of your never-ending, always changing list. I hope that you learned something or at least enjoyed this “basic” refresher. As always, watch your back… no one else is!

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