A Little Ray of Sunshine

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Where I start from

Arielle's comment on my last post got me thinking a bit about where I came from in starting preparing for disasters. I grew up in a place where winter storms regularly took the power grid down, so I came by it naturally. One useful link is this http://www.captaindaves.com/guide/ particularly the first chapter, entitled OK, but what do I prepare for? Another is this http://www.bob-oracle.com/ which gives lists of stuff to stash in various places just in case. Don't think you need to do all the things either author list, lots of them don't apply to your situation. For example, my husband has no use for the suggestions at the BOB oracle for a work bag. It's geared to the sort of person who might be trapped in an urban office building for an extended period of time, perhaps by the power grid going down. Well, he works two blocks from home. We have found the car bag extreemly useful, but if you don't drive, what's the point?
The Captain Dave site is a favorite of mine whenever we move (six times in six years) to reassess our situation. Where we are now winter grid-down and summer wildfires are our biggest concerns. We're so far from everywhere that we're unlikely to be targeted by terrorists, experience civil unrest, or be the ground zero of a pandemic. There're no chemical plants nearby. So you see where I start from. We need to be able to stay warm and fed for several weeks if there's a bad ice storm and the lines go down all over the place. Or, we need to be able to get out quickly if there's a fire. I have to say, I am not particularly organized.

Having a backpack with a change of clothes for everyone (in the children's case in the size bigger than they currently wear because I am cheap and will not buy an extra outfit for this purpose) and a few diapers, and making a practice of keeping shoes by the door and half a tank of gas in the minivan is enough prep for our peace of mind for a fire. Beau can do Hummer's seat belt, Hemi can do his own, so we can just jump in and go. The key to pulling this off quickly is having children who obey. Of course, that's also the key to liking your children, so I hope anyone reading this has already invested the time in it.
As far as winter grid-down, if you have a wood stove and a reasonable supply of wood, you're halfway there. If you don't, you'd probably better have a friend who'll let you camp out by theirs. Most fireplaces won't cut it, though the Rumsfeld type are supposed to. Have enough food that's easy to fix, canned chilli or whatever, to see you through, and sufficient bottled water. Plan on wearing your outdoor gear indoors. Sanitation: babywipes are good, but the toilet will probably crack. A bucket with a lid, like detergent comes in, can replace the toilet for a time. Take that stuff with you to your woodstove owning friend's.
That gets you through the disaster. It's not a huge amount to do. It doesn't take much organizing (except maybe picking up a couple cases of food and water the next time there's a sale on something your family eats).
Depending on what disasters you think most likely, your plans will be different. Planning is easiest if you're willing and able to drop back a tech level or two temporarily. (Generally if you're healthy, you can get by without electricity for a time, so skip the generator.)

The rest of preparation is mostly psycological. Who can you afford to help and under what circumstances? What if you get the evacuation notice and your children have friends over? If your next door neighbor comes knocking because he's out of food a week into the power outage? It's not stuff you dwell on, just consider when it comes up and make a decision. (Tell the neighbor you'll let him know in an hour. Throw the friends in the car and worry about getting them back to their parents later.) Having made the decision during an unstressed time (like now) means you don't have to make it then, when you may not be thinking clearly, and there will always be plenty of things you missed thinking of in advance.