Disaster preparedness doesn’t have to be expensive. Many of the things we need can be incorporated into our weekly shopping routine without breaking the bank. Food supplies can be slowly increased without shredding your budget and if you’re watching carefully, other things can be gradually added as well. There are, however, at least five items you should be sure you have that aren’t cheap, but necessary to survive a disaster.
1. A means to cook your food when the power goes out. Cooked food is more nutritious, hot food is a morale booster and just plain better to eat than cold food. If you don’t own a camping stove, get one. A new Coleman (or similar brand) starts out somewhere in the neighborhood of $50.00. There are more expensive, fancier models on the market, but if you just need a basic, heat-your-food stove, that will do the trick. I picked up a near-new condition, still in the box Coleman, propane stove at a city-wide garage sale sometime back for $15.00. Of course there are solar ovens, rocket stoves, and all manner of food-cooking devices, but the point remains: Get one!
2. Have the capability to purify your drinking water. If you live out in the country and normally get your water from a well or spring, this may not pertain to you. Either your water has been tested and meets health criteria or you already have a self-contained means for purification. Although I live a ways out of town, my water comes from a municipal water source and is filtered and chlorinated by the city. If for some reason the city ever loses that capability, then many of us are on our own. If water still comes out of the tap, it may not be purified. I recommend a stand-alone filter such as the “Big Berkey” or a variation. These filters require no electricity and the impure water is simply poured in the top half, the water trickles down through a filtration system into the lower half of the unit. The ceramic filters take out the smallest particles (down to .02 microns) of anything that will make a person ill. Boiling and bleaching are also recommended method of purification. Boiling is the safest method, but filtering the water through a stack of coffee filters, or some cheesecloth, then adding ⅛ teaspoon of chlorine bleach (unscented) to a gallon of water is an accepted method of purification. I also recommend storing water, but it is impractical to think you can store enough water to get you through a prolonged period of time. Still a stack of cases of bottled water in your back bedroom is good insurance and brings some peace of mind. Just remember to rotate your supply every few months.
3. Battery powered radio. Keep in mind the three basic rules of disaster preparedness are Get A Kit, Make A Plan and Be Informed. Keeping informed is made possible with a battery powered radio. There are some pretty cool radios on the market. Some have built-in solar panels, hand cranks and also run off standard batteries. Most models have AM/FM bands and several channels capable of picking up the NOAA weather alerts. Cost will be in the $50.00 range for a good quality radio.
Next week I’ll cover the other two items needed. In the meantime start shopping around for good quality items. If you’d like a set of plans to build your own water filter, email me at the address below. As always send your questions and comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For previous columns check out 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 at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.