Ok, admit it. You promise yourself every year that you’re going to put together a few extra supplies, just in case. Everybody from the Red Cross to the government, to the local newspaper suggests that you “Get A Kit, Make A Plan, and Be Prepared.” And every year, you mean to, you really do. And the next thing you know, there’s an earthquake off in some far away place, or a hurricane on the other end of the country and you think, “I’ve really got to do this thing!”
But where to start? What to do first? Which kit to buy? What will my friends think? Here’s my approach, “Just pretend that the power goes out all over the area, and you can’t get to the store for at least three days or longer. What are you going to need to get by?”
In the event of a disaster and depending on your priorities, you’re going to need to eat, drink and find your way around in the dark. And that’s just for starters. So here’s what you do…Haul out that old camping stove and see if it still works. Clean it up, put some fresh fuel in it and try it out. While you’re at it, dig out your lantern and do the same with it. If you don’t own either and you are solely dependent on electricity for all your energy needs, then you need to at least pick up a stove. (Watch garage sales or the classifieds for some real bargains.) Then make sure you have fresh batteries for your flashlight. There are lots of battery-powered lanterns on the market. Kerosene lanterns and candles are just fine, but bear in mind they produce a flame. Always a fire hazard.
Now, see how easy that was, and you’re on your way to getting your kit together. And oh, by the way, I don’t suggest that folks buy a kit. There are hundreds on the market, they usually have stuff in them that you will never use, items that don’t fit your needs, and, believe it or not, some kits even have low quality components. It is always best to assemble your own kit. That way you will know what you have and exactly what you don’t have. Besides you can go online and see what the commercially available kits have in them, and get ideas for your own. Just remember, survival is not a kit anyway, but it does help to have a few things together. Skills and information are more important than stuff.
Disaster preparedness doesn’t have to break your budget, but with a little careful planning, you can, over time, accumulate a few things that will make life a whole lot easier the next time the lights go out. And if this prompts you to go out and buy fresh batteries for that flashlight in your kitchen drawer, or an extra bag of soup mix, then it has served a good purpose.
As always, send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is the Postmaster in Bandon, Oregon, and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.