Options for Lighting Your House in an Emergency

When the Power Goes Off  emergency preparedness

Electricity is often one of the first services households lose in severe weather or a natural disaster. What are you planning to use to be able to see and what are the benefits/dangers of each option? Here is a closer look.

CANDLES 

Candles are fairly inexpensive and can be easily lit in an emergency. But if it gets knocked over, it can create an even bigger problem. The best advice is to not leave a candle, or any other open flame, burning without someone attending to it. Set them in a bowl of sand to reduce the dangers of hot wax.

FLASHLIGHTS 

Flashlights come in many different shapes, sizes and brightness. It’s portable and is not a fire hazard. However, do you have enough batteries to outlast the need? Do you have the right size of batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, etc.)? Some flashlights are self generating, which means there is no need for a battery, and LED flashlights consume less electricity than your standard-bulb flashlight. Consider all of these elements as you purchase flashlights and store them in a very accessible spot in your home.

GENERATORS 

If you search for generator options, you’ll find gas-powered generators or products like the Duracell Powerpack. The costs in both options range from $100 to $600+, but the gas-powered option requires a storage of gasoline, and some local laws prohibit large amounts of fuels to be stored in a home. They can also be noisy and emit carbon monoxide from the spent fuel, so it should not be run inside a closed room to avoid poisoning.

Regardless of the type of generator you have, strands of LED christmas lights can be very illuminating and consume very little amounts of electricity (plus it adds a little festive atmosphere to the situation!).

CONCLUSION 

While each option has its advantages and disadvantages, having options to choose from in an emergency, including redundant options, will be a handy convenience.

 

July, 2011 Every Needful Thing

Jason M. Carlton

Half Full Should be the New Empty

Running of Fumes

The ever-fluctuating, and often rising price of gasoline, is causing people to stretching the life of their gas tank to a maximum. But in an gas guageemergency, a nearly empty gas tank can create some real challenges.

When natural disasters hit, such as flooding, hurricaines or landslides, people often need transportation to flee the area and find safety. A gas tank less than half full may not allow you to travel as far as necessary, and could place you in a more challenging situation if you run out of fuel and end up on the side of the road.

Get Peace of Mind

Encourage your family, friends and neighbors to keep their gas tank above half. While this requires more frequent stops at the gas station, it can provide peace of mind.

 

July 11, 2011  Every Needful Thing

Jason M. Carlton

First Aid: Over-the-Counter Medications

Include Over-the-Counter Medications

There are thousands of over-the-counter medications used to treat an unlimited variety of ailments. This can make stockpiling medications difficult. Every health care professional has their personal recommendations, but the following are the five OTC items that should be bought in bulk. They are cheap, effective, and each covers a wide range of potential maladies:

1) Aspirin
Can be used to relieve pain, relieve inflammation, thin the blood and lower fever (do not take on an empty stomach)
2) Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
Can be used to treat itching, rash, allergic reactions, and is the most common ingredient in over the counter sleep aids (will cause drowsiness)
3) Pepto-Bismol
Can be used to treat indigestion, nausea, heartburn and diarrhea.
4) Neosporin
Antibiotic ointment for cuts, scrapes and burns
5) Primatene Mist
The only over the counter inhaler capable of minimizing the symptoms of or stopping an acute asthma attack.

No first aid kit is complete without those five. – LA, R.Ph . SurvivalBlog.com

October 2013, Every Needful Thing                Billie A. Nicholson, editor

First Aid: Healing With Water

Water Has Healing Properties

Did it ever occur to you that if we make the best use of water, we could reduce the amount of sickness and death in the world? From microbes to soap, contaminated water is a major source of diarrhea. An important part of its prevention is to purify water used for drinking and preparing foods. Boiling and filtering water will help make it safe to use.

First Aid: WaterIf cooking fuel is limited, pasteurization (using the WAPI kit in a Sun Oven®) will make water safe for consumption. Hand washing with soap and water before eating or preparing foods and after defecation is important.

 

Babies are especially susceptible to diarrhea. A common cause of death in babies and small children, is severe dehydration. By giving the infant or child plenty of water, this can be prevented, even if given a spoonful at a time.

 Making a Rehydrating Drink

A rehydration drink made with half a teaspoon of salt and 8 teaspoons of sugar per liter (~32 oz.) combined with half a cup of fruit juice, coconut water, or mashed banana will replenish the electrolytes. This should be given often in small sips, every five minutes, until the person begins to urinate normally.

Additional uses of purified water include bathing skin infections, washing wounds, lowering high fevers, hot water vapors to loosen mucus and using hot and cold compresses. When water is used correctly, often medicines are not needed, and the body will heal itself. (“Where There is No Doctor,” Hesperian Health Guides.)

October 2013, every Needful Thing                     Billie A. Nicholson, editor

Public Shelters

Searching for a Shelter?

To search for an open shelter, use your cell phone and text SHELTER and enter a zip code to 43362 (4FEMA). The Red Cross will have shelters after a disaster, too. You will be able to search online: Local Chapter.  Red Cross also has an iphone Shelter Finder  app available in the iTunes Store. They have a website where you can register first and last names and a brief message. Concerned family members can check this site to learn if you are safe and well.

What Do You Need to Know about Shelters?

When you arrive at a public shelter, there are some things you need to know. First of all, make up your mind to be one of the good guys. Every person in the shelter is a refugee, some in better condition than others. Mass sheltering puts many people in a small space, so your part will be limited. Respect the rights and privacy of others. Most public disaster shelters can provide some water, food, medicine and basic sanitary facilities. Keep your emergency kits with you, and in your immediate control, so you will have the specific supplies you need.

Requirements at the Shelter

You will be required to sign in before being admitted to any shelter. The name and contact information of a “next of kin” not in the shelter is required. You will sign an agreement to abide by the shelter’s regulations, which means you will be required to stay until an authority determines it is safe to leave. You will be responsible for your personal belongings. Keep valuables locked in your car or with you at all times, as the shelter will not be responsible for lost, stolen or damaged items. Begin making alternative plans to leave as soon as you are settled.

If you are part of a family in the shelter, plan to take turns on watch duty to make sure your belongings don’t grow legs. Keep your supplies contained and concealed. You will decide if you are willing to share. If you know other families in the shelter, team up to help one another.

Prohibitions in a Shelter

No weapons will be allowed, except those carried by security personnel. No alcohol or illegal drugs are permitted. Parents are responsible for controlling the behavior and location of their children at all times. Keep your space in the shelter clean and organized. Noise levels must be kept low. Quiet time is observed after 11 PM. Be sure to tell the shelter registrar if you have any medical condition that needs attention. You will be referred to a paramedic for treatment.

The amount of time you need to be in a public shelter may be short or long, depending on the conditions that brought you in.  Take turns listening to radio broadcasts to stay informed.

Additional information: Red Cross  and  FEMA

October 2013, Every Needful Thing                                 Billie A. Nicholson, editor

Before Evacuation

Semper Paratus – Always Ready

This Latin phrase is most well known as the motto and the official marching tune for the United States Coast Guard. Perhaps it should become the motto of the emergency preparedness and food storage specialists as well. In the September issue we discussed the basic needs of preparedness. This month, we will continue this conversation beginning with what to do when we have to evacuate. What reasons would cause you to leave your shelter? Make your list of top 10.

When Sheltering in Place is Not Possible

When sheltering in place is not possible and you know you must go, there are some steps to take to secure and minimize future damage to your property.

Assuming that you have already prepared your evacuation kits (each family member has one), often referred to as “bug out bags,” get them into your escape vehicle, which you NEVER , EVER let the gas tank drop below half full.

Identify where you are going, get the address, and look at your maps to determine alternate routes to the shelter before you get on the road. Take the maps with you.

Remember to take your stash of cash. Hopefully, you have small bills and some coins, too, in case you need to have exact change in vending machines.

Grab your important papers, including emergency contact telephone numbers, extra glasses, medicines and any supplies for children and pets. And don’t forget to pack the children and pets.

Secure the following items:

  • Find your main electric breaker and turn off the main power switch.
  • If you have city water, find your water meter. The shut off valve will be there. This can be a handle (move it perpendicular to the pipe) or a knob (turn it clockwise to close). If you have a well, shutting off the electric will suffice.
  • Turn off any natural gas valve. This will be at the gas meter. May need a wrench.
  • Secure outdoor furniture so they do not become missiles.
  • Lock all doors and windows.

October 2013, Every Needful Thing                                 Billie A. Nicholson

Emergency Preparation – Your Family Emergency Plan

PLAN TO PROTECT YOURSELF & YOUR FAMILY

Prepare yourself and your family for a disaster by making an emergency plan. Most important thing: update and practice your plan.

Download the Family Emergency Plan, print the pages and fill them in offline. This is an In Case of Emergency (ICE) communications listing. Basic descriptions of all family members and contact information are listed. Each family member should have a copy with them at all times. Even if you do not have a personal telephone, with the numbers you can call when you do have telephone access.

Your emergency planning should also address the care of pets, aiding family members with access and functional needs and safely shutting off utilities.

You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at work, daycare and school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one. Read more about school and workplace plans.

Once you’ve collected this important information, gather your family members and discuss the information to put in the plan. Practice your plan at least twice a year and update it according to any issues that arise.

September 2013, Every Needful Thing                              Billie A. Nicholson

Emergency Preparation – Basic Need: First Aid

First Aid

Photo by: Dreamstime.com

They don’t call an event a disaster if there are no injuries! Get over the sight of blood or other injuries, your life or another’s may depend upon your First Aid Skills. We could make an entire newsletter containing First Aid lessons. In this issue, we’ll touch on some basics related to emergency preparedness and include some links for further study.

Immediately after an unpredicted or forewarned disaster, there are generally two types of response. One is Panic and the other is Normalcy Bias or Negative Panic.

Using these responses people are either running around screaming and maybe bleeding or just staying right where they were when the event occurred, in a state of disbelief.  Both types of reactions are dangerous. People in panic mode can cause additional damage and injuries. People not responding can become participating victims by not responding to get away from the danger.

As difficult as it is to imagine bad things happening, we need to think about what kinds of events could happen in our homes and communities. Is your community subject to hurricanes, tornadoes, or earthquakes? Do you know what accidents can happen and what can be done before help arrives?

What kind of accidents can happen in your home? Falls, cuts, electrical shocks, burns from explosions? Multiply that by a large number of people involved and it is easy to understand what pandemonium will be like.  Now is the time to get out the First Aid book and assemble a First Aid Kit. A few basic items can make a big difference in survival.

The proper response is to quickly evaluate personal danger and respond accordingly. Only when you know that you are okay and will not be in danger while assisting others, can you be of value. Many fatalities occur because victims received help too late or because people on the scene administering first aid didn’t know what to do. During an emergency situation, often there are more injured people than helpers, so helpers should establish the priority of victims to aid first.

When you find a victim, check for a response. Ask “Are you OK?” and whatever other actions make sense, like touching. If there is no response, send or call for help. These are the 4 B’s of First Aid:

  • Breathing – are they? Includes airway obstruction and breathing impairment
  • Bleeding – covers circulation and deadly bleeding
  • Breaks – includes all bones, including spine and skull
  • Burns – bad ones turn into blisters filled with fluid that isn’t in the blood where it belongs

 

First Aid kits for home use can be procured in a variety of stores from big box to pharmacies. When you get your purchase home, open it and review the contents. Make sure your kit includes tweezers that actually grasp, hydrocortisone cream for itching insect bites, pain relievers, gauze and tape, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, allergy medications as well as assorted sizes of bandages.

Next, before an emergency event occurs, take time to learn some basic techniques. MedicineNet.com  has online first aid essentials slide shows with photos and explanations. Local Red Cross chapters and most volunteer fire departments offer training. Community colleges also offer EMT and paramedic training. Community emergency response teams (CERTs) are in need of volunteers and will provide the necessary training to teach members how to assist in a disaster until other help arrives.

September 2013, Every Needful Thing                              Billie A. Nicholson

Emergency Preparation – Basic Need: Fire

Fire

Photo by: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For centuries humans have carried fire wherever they have gone.  Whether you shelter in place or have to create a temporary shelter, you will need an energy source to provide some warmth, cook food and even serve as a signal. Before starting a fire, take a minute and decide where to put it. To benefit most, it should be near some sort of backdrop, perhaps that lean-to shelter you just built. It will absorb and reflect some of the heat. If you sit between the shelter and the fire, you will get the most benefit. Don’t build a fire in the shelter. Build a fire pit with stones or a sand berm to keep the fire contained.

The four things needed to start and maintain a fire are tinder, spark, fuel and oxygen. Those waterproof matches in your pack will provide a spark so all you’ll need is some dry tinder. Small, dry twigs (like in ‘been dead a long time’ dry), some dead dry plants parts including leaves, lint and dry, soiled tissues in your pocket, pine tree shavings or needles, tree fungi, and bark can all be used with your spark (water-proof matches or fire starter flints). As you are searching, locate a source of water or sand with which to douse the fire, if it gets out of hand. Gather enough dead, dry wood of varying sizes to keep the fire going. You will start with the smaller pieces and add the larger ones after the fire is established. Stack the items cross-ways to allow space for the fire to breathe (let in oxygen). Tip: Taking leftover sparklers from a patriotic celebration, cutting them into three inch strips, sealing them in mylar and adding them to your pack will give you a hot (4500º) fire starter. Remember to seal in a ziplock bag to keep the remainder together after opening the mylar. This flare will start even the wettest wood. One more thought, never leave your fire unattended. If you are leaving the area, put it out completely.

Fire can also be used as a signal for searchers, if you are lost. Add some wet, pitchy – like evergreens, or green wood to create smoke. The wood will not burn, it will smolder, creating smoke but not much warmth. This can be seen easily by searchers.

The following Checklist from “The Preppers-Playbook” lists some fire starting materials.

Fire

Thanks to Joe Marshall of www.SurvivalLife.com for use of this table from his book, “The-Preppers-Playbook”.

If you are making a fire outside of your non-electrified home and have all your appliances available, your SunOven® can be used on sunny days,  reducing your needs for cooking fuel.

Along with the need for fire is the need for light. A fire will add light in one area, but not all around. Flashlights, battery operated lanterns and even decorative, outdoor, LED solar lights can be carried as you move about a dark area. Candles and oil lamps have been used historically and are even available in the 100 hour burning kind. You get to choose. Then practice using them, so you can operate them in the dark or near dark. Try going for a night using only alternative lighting. You will develop an appreciation for light quickly and will probably go to bed earlier than usual.

 

Emergency Preparation – Basic Need: Shelter

Our homes protect us from inclement weather and from the intrusion of other people. We live and store our personal property there. It is the center of our daily activities, and contains a place to prepare food and sanitary facilities. It is our home and we have the right to defend it. It is our obligation to maintain our shelter by paying attention to the need for repairs, whether we do the work or have someone else do it, repairs mean safe shelters. Security also involves habits like locking the door behind you, having screens on windows, and  placing dowels in sliding doors.

ShelterAdd a steel plate over the frame of doors to reinforce the deadbolt area. This will reinforce the door locks. Remove existing door trim, screw in steel strip. Make sure your screws don’t interfere with the bolt positions. Replace the door trim. The door will not give way easily.

During disasters, our first instinct is to shelter in place at home.

If our home is damaged, we may have to leave it and find protection from the elements elsewhere. Depending on the situation, we may be able to find a public shelter in a school or other facility manned by a humanitarian organization.  If the disaster is widespread, you may need to make do with items you have in your emergency supplies or apply some wilderness survival techniques to make one. If you find yourself in this situation, preparing a shelter will be a first priority. You will want to get it finished before nightfall.

This will be the time that you are happy to have an emergency kit. Items included in your kit like a flashlight, rain poncho, hand warmers, extra clothing and waterproof matches will be welcome. You may not have an air mattress, but that thermal space blanket and plastic tarp will help avoid hypothermia.

There are many ways to improvise a shelter, based on the situation you find yourself in. It may require some creativity on your part. To stimulate your creative juices, here are some suggestions.

Thanks to Joe Marshall for use of this table from his book, “The-Preppers-Playbook”.  Joe is an average guy with a passion for sharing everything he learns. He is managing editor for www.SurvivalLife.com. Joe is graciously making this book available to Every Needful Thing readers at a special price. Click on The-Preppers-Playbook link.

Shelter

Remember the 4th Survival commandment: “Adapt to the surroundings, wherever they may be.” Gaye Levy

September 2013, Every Needful Thing                              Billie A. Nicholson

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