Emergency Preparation – Basic Need: First Aid

First Aid

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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


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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.


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.


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

September 2013, Every Needful Thing                              Billie A. Nicholson

Emergency Preparation – Basic Need: Food

Food storage has three major components:

What to store, where to keep it and how long to hold it. The first thing to consider is what kinds of food will you and your family eat? You can start with a short term, say three days. Select items that your family likes to eat and that can be stored without needing refrigeration. Select small containers that can be consumed in one meal, that come with easy open lids (be sure to have a manual can opener in your stash), and do not need to be heated. Items like tuna,  chicken or peanut butter will store well and can be eaten on the go, if necessary. Be sure to check the “best if used by” dates on cans or packages. This will give you an idea of how long to hold items and when to begin to rotate them. For longer term storage, assuming that you will be sheltering in place, break your food storage down into different types of ingredients, like baking components, canned or freeze-dried goods (vegetables, protein sources like meat, beans and eggs, as well as fruit and soups), seasonings, and starches. Date items when acquired and store them with the oldest items out front for easy access.
As you shop each week get extra cans of  the food you eat, like tomato sauce, green beans, fruit or soup. Do the same with dried beans, canned tuna, and starches, etc. This way you can begin to accumulate the items you like. It will not take long to realize what a benefit this is for non-emergency times.  Not everyone is so organized that they plan a week’s menu in advance. If you have extra items on hand, you can be creative and spontaneous. Remember to include replacements for the items you eat each week in your shopping list.  You can include non-food items like paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste and soap into this longer term storage plan as well. With extra items on hand, you can watch for sales and save money as well.

Variety will be key

Variety will be key as you accumulate extra food items. Mix in some frozen things for short term storage (most frozen foods will keep three months). They will taste different from canned items and will need to be processed and eaten quickly should there be a long term electric grid failure.

food storage

Setting up a storage place

Setting up a storage place to keep your extras will be necessary when kitchen cabinets and pantry spaces are full. When selecting a space, keep in mind that the best temperature for food is generally 40º to 50º F. Higher temperatures will shorten the shelf life (the time food is at optimal nutritional value) and locations with temperature swings are worse. The space you choose should be dry. High humidity will cause cans to rust and mold to grow in flours and cereals. Good air flow will reduce the moisture impact. Round cans allow better air flow than rectangular ones. Store foods in a dark place to combat the effects of light. Cardboard boxes added protection to items stored in glass jars.
The presence of oxygen can be a problem for some dry foods. It causes oils to go rancid and allows insects, fungi and aerobic bacteria a place to grow. Food purchased for long term storage is processed to exclude oxygen. Items you buy in bulk will need to be repackaged with oxygen absorbers (see July, 2013 – Every Needful Thing). Stored grains are often contaminated with insects. Canning jars and mylar bags are good oxygen barriers. Dry foods, nuts and crackers that can go rancid should be rotated more often.
Protect your storage space from rodents. They can squeeze through the smallest spaces.

September 2013, Every Needful Thing                              Billie A. Nicholson

Are You Ready for a Disaster?

How will you respond to a disaster?

How will you respond to a disaster, whether it be an electric grid failure, a major storm or an act of terrorism? Do you have a plan in place that will sustain you and your family for a minimum of 72 hours? Eventually outside help may arrive, but the first 72 is on you. This month’s newsletter discusses six of the major topics of survival that will be evident very quickly when a disaster strikes. Unfortunately, we can be thrust into the middle of turmoil without any warning, so it it imperative that we think through the types of disaster that could strike in our area and work out a plan that will be useable. Living through a disaster requires the courage to plan ahead.

  • Do you have a source of safe, clean water for drinking if your regular supply is disrupted? How can you purify water? What about other water needs, for cooking and cleaning up?
  • Can you provide sufficient, healthy food for yourself, your family including any disabled members and family  pets if food were not available at the local grocery?
  • Do you have an energy source for cooking and to provide heat for your home in cold weather?
  • Will your home have light when the sun goes down? Can you get around in your home safely without it?
  • Who can you contact for assistance or to let family know you are OK?  What will you use?
  • Can you provide first aid for family members?
  • Will you be able to leave your home with three day’s worth of supplies for each family member in five minutes? Do you know how to shut off the utilities to your home before leaving?

Customize Your Family Emergency Plan

Your family emergency plans should be customized just for you, remember to include all your family in the planning process. Make it a family project. Everyone needs to understand the the necessity of such a plan and buy into it, accepting that some major changes in lifestyle will occur, at least temporarily. The adventure begins when you not only make the plan but also practice it.

September 2013, Every Needful Thing                                     Billie A. Nicholson

September is National Preparedness Month

emergency preparedness

Our nation had a big wake up call on September 11, 2001, when terrorists flew hijacked airplanes into the two largest office buildings in New York City. Another one came in August 2005 in the form of Hurricane Katrina.We learned that we are not as “safe” as we assumed and that government organizations as well as individuals had a big knowledge gap on how to handle disasters. Many organizations were commended for their performance during both of these as well as other subsequent disasters. People found, however, that their survival hinged upon their own abilities and level of preparation. Super heroes were not available to fly in to save the day, at least not for everyone.

National Preparedness month, begun in 2004, is a part of a governmental effort to encourage Americans to prepare to take care of themselves during emergencies in whatever form or place they might occur.  September was chosen for Preparedness Month, as a reminder of the September 11th tragedy.

As of 2009, the Citizen Corps National Survey revealed that only 57% of Americans indicated that they had emergency supplies set aside in their home in case of a disaster. Only 44% have a household emergency plan.

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is responsible for the distribution of emergency preparation information through their website Ready.gov. This year everyone is encouraged to visit the site and download a list of items to add to your emergency kit. There’s even a section on the site for kids: www.ready.gov/kids filled with games and easy to understand facts and tips helping families know that everyone needs to be involved in preparing for a disaster.
Design your family’s emergency plan. If we expect the government to provide everything for everyone, we may be waiting for a long time. You
will be your own fire department, doctor, and security department. Let  the unit commander inside you come to life. Your family is worth it.

September 2013, Every Needful Thing                                 Billie A. Nicholson

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