Saturday, June 16, 2012

Survive in Comfort

A few days ago, we had our second (and third) tornado warning since being in our new home. It was the first, though, that was actually a dangerous situation. Our town actually had several touchdowns and a small amount of damage. We only ended up with a few small branches downed by the wind on our own property.

The weather radio and our online warning went off and then we got the ‘Reverse 911’ call and we proceeded into the basement. We already had food and water down there (actually enough to feed about six people for maybe a full week or even more) so we just grabbed a few things extra on the way down. Once down there, we realized that even though we had a change of clothing for each of us, we had forgotten our daughter’s shoes.

Back up the stairs I went. Once again back in the basement, I realized that I had forgotten, of all things, my flashlight. Back up the stairs I went. This process actually happened about six times or so. And here I thought I was prepared. In all honesty, the things I had to run back up for really were extras. We did have what was actually needed. Because of this, my first two suggestions for you are to have a check list and to keep as much as you can stored in your emergency/panic room.

This blog post, however, is not about the list and the forgotten things. It’s about being comfortable and having a few of the ‘extras’. Moral is very important in any emergency situation and being comfortable is a big part of that. With this in mind, we have a few changes that we’ll be making down in our little hidey hole.

Right off the bat, the first two changes will be a ‘potty’ and a futon. We have this shower curtain ring thing that was here when we moved in that we’ll put up in a corner with a shower curtain on it and a 5/6 gallon bucket with a toilet seat. That will eliminate half of our ‘run back upstairs’ trips.

One thing you should know is that our basement is a half basement, unfinished, and a hundred years old. It’s all concrete and the floor is actually very, very cold and there are no windows or any way to know what’s going on outside. So, next is a ‘home made’ pallet futon to keep us up off the floor along with a few more blankets or sleeping bags.

Now, luckily, our power only just blinked a few times and stayed on, so we actually had internet the entire time and were able to watch the storms pass over us via various websites. We also had phone service the whole time and kept in touch with a few friends. There are a few more things that we need to change around or add to what we have in addition to what we have already covered.

We need to improve our ‘kitchen’ with a small camp or sterno stove, making sure it is one that can be used indoors with very little ventilation. The other kitchen items we need to add are: utensils, measuring cup, paper plates, a pot or pan to cook in, a small table, and last but not least, pet (cat and dog) food and water bowls.

We each already have our own separate backpacks, in addition to our emergency bug-out-bag, with changes of clothes and assorted comfort items. We will be adding a small shelf section with a few more books, games, and multiple weather clothing. We also need to install a small safe that can keep all of our document copies in one safe spot and easily grab-able in case we need to get out. This will help us organize things a bit better as well.

Electrical outlets (for now) are very limited so we will also be adding several extension cords and power strips. We have two flashlights and a few candles and a liquid fuel lantern but we also want to add a few more candles and at least one ‘auto on’, rechargeable, emergency light.

The last two things I would like to add to our “Family Cave” are unneeded but handy devices. The first is a small, externally vented generator. Like I said, it’s not really ‘needed’ but a little power helps us feel like not so much is out of place in the event our local grid goes down.

I would also like to install is a sort of ‘periscope’. This could be an actual periscope or some type of battery powered camera. The only indications of what was going on outside of our house, besides having weather maps available on the laptop, were the sounds coming down through our old chimney. If we had lost power, all we would have had was the sounds. For me, personally, that was the worst part of it. As a hubby and a daddy, I have the need to know what’s going on in order to make sure the wife and kiddo are safe.

As for a check list, here is a nice simple one:
c  Water: at least a 3 day supply; one gallon per person per day
c  Food: at least a 3 day supply of nonperishable, easily prepared food
c  Flashlight, candles, oil lantern
c  Lighter AND matches
c  Battery or hand crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
c  Extra batteries
c  First aid kit
c  Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane, etc.)
c  Multi-purpose tool
c  Sanitation and personal hygiene items
c  Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
c  Cell phone with chargers
c  Family and emergency contact information
c  Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
c  Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
c  Tools/supplies for securing your home
c  Sand, rock salt or non-clumping kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery
c  Warm coats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots and extra blankets and warm clothing for all household members
c  Multiple alternative sources of heat with proper ventilation
c  Extra cash

Here are a few other resources for check lists:

Here are a few resources for supplies and food:

Please be safe and take the necessary steps to protect those you love!
As always, here are my companion sites: