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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Emergency Preparedness Take #7- Protect Yourself, Your Home and Your Car Against the Elements (and Other People)

Okay, we're about halfway through our emergency preparation tasks now.  Protecting yourself, your family, your home and your car against the elements is a pretty broad topic and involves many different areas of prepping.  I don't expect you to accomplish any of these tasks in a day or even a week.  Every person and every item will need different kinds of protection.  And that protection will vary based on climate, geographical region, your health and the likelihood of particular disasters hitting you.  Someone living in San Francisco, CA is going to having much more likelihood of experiencing major damage due to an earthquake than someone living in upstate New York.  Others live in areas where week-long blackouts are par for the course, while others would consider that highly unlikely.  Many regions which have particular disasters that tend to plague them repeatedly (San Francisco is one such place) already have written emergency preparations written up which document how to prepare your home and self to deal with those.  I highly recommend that you look these sources up online.  These sites will advise you on specifics that go beyond the scope of what I can broach here, such as how to turn off water, gas lines, etc.  Everyone should be prepared for a blackout, water getting cut off and other very common mishaps, though.  So I'll be focusing on what to do for preparation in those most common circumstances.  In other words, I'll be covering the basics of seventy-two hour protection against a more "normal" emergency.

Get yourself and your immediate family members some rain and foul weather gear.  A rain hat, poncho, some skid-resistant/waterproof boots are a good start.  You don't want to be traipsing out in the dark of night some during a thunderstorm to cut off the power to your house in flip-flops and short shorts!  If you had to evacuate temporarily, you want to have clothing and footwear that will make the job easier.  Again, you'll need to look at your own health and where you live to determine what will work best for you.  If you deal with harsh winters, then you'll need to have a good warm coat, gloves, a winter scarf, snow pants (especially if you live in areas that get deep snows) and winter boots with good tread to travel in.  If the power goes out in the dead of winter and you had to travel to a relatives house thirty minutes away in order to stay safe and warm, could you do it?  Think about the possible adventures and outcomes here, especially based on your past experience.  I'm not telling you to worry about every little problem that could ever arise, just to be realistically prepared.

For this reason, I recommend that you have an overnight bag packed for yourself and any immediate family members at all times.  This comes in handy not just for weather-related disasters, but in the event that one of you gets sick and has to stay overnight in the hospital.  This isn't a bug-out bag, which is meant for an entirely different purpose.  This is just a bag with the essentials that you'd need for a one- to three-day stay somewhere outside of your home.  Please consult my previous blog on packing an overnight bag if you need some direction in this area.

Protecting your home will also be specific to your climate and the particular disaster that's hitting you, but you can prepare yourself ahead of time with at least some basics that will cover a variety of issues.  Having a tool box with wrenches, pliers, a hammer, a small chain saw (in case you have to cut through a tree limb or something similar that falls on your house or car), etc., is a must.  Keep the directions on how to turn off your major utilities in the tool box or in your emergency supply box in the house.  Print these directions off now, if you need to, so that you're ready for a problem if it were to happen today.  Plastic sheeting, duct tape, good sharp scissors and similar supplies should also be on hand to help protect and insulate windows and doors.  If you have a fireplace, stock up on firewood and waterproof matches, a firestarter or a good lighter and fuel for it.

A tool kit for your car should also be on the list of supplies, too.  Don't forget to carry some extra water, motor oil, a gas can, a seat belt cutter and similar supplies when you go on a long journey away from home, especially during a time of emergency.  Always keep your tank as full of gas as possible (or charged, if you drive an electric-powered car), so that you'd be okay to drive for a good distance in the event of an emergency. 

Personal protection against intruders is such a vast topic that I hesitate to bring it up here in depth.  People have such different feelings about what should and should not be allowed when it comes to protecting their home and loved ones.  I'm not advocating going out and buying a gun unless that works for you, you know how to use it safely and you know how to store it safely.  But there are many ways to help protect yourself without having to use weapons of deadly force.  Pepper spray, mace, alarm systems that will work even if the power goes out...in today's world there are lots of options.  In a relatively minor disaster, it's quite unlikely things like this would be necessary.  But if you live in an area where it takes a long time to get emergency services, if you live in a high-crime area or if you just wouldn't feel peace of mind without preparing to defend your loved ones and property this way, look into these measures of self-defense.

This blog is by no means a full-out explanation on personal and home protection, but I hope it has served as a jumping-off point for you, giving some food for thought. 

Here's to being a prepared organized minimalist,
Liz

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