True Preparation: Emergency Preparedness Beyond a 72-Hour Kit
To truly be prepared for anything, you must think beyond the initial 72-hour window after a disaster.
First, draft a survival plan for sheltering in place.
Store Lots of Food
This means stocking up on the survival supplies you’ll need if you decide to stay in your home for an extended time during a local or national emergency. Get rid of the excessive, non-survival junk you no longer use and fill cool, dry storage spaces with food. Start out with a week’s worth of groceries for each loved one, then keep adding food a week or a month’s worth at a time when you find sales.
Long-term stored items are best, but stockpiling with standard groceries is fine as long as you rotate and regularly consume and replace your older stock. Remember that storing extra food will allow you to feed neighbors and others who may need your help.
Prepare for Enough Water
Be certain you have a means to get and store purified water. To stay healthy and active, each person should consume at least one half gallon of water per day, and more than that if they’re working hard, pregnant, or nursing. Never ration water, but drink what you need, allow others to do the same, and find fresh water as soon as you can.
To be safe, initially stock up on at least 50 gallons of water per person if you have the space and a safe place to store it. This amount should last several weeks if used for drinking, cooking and hygiene. Consider installing a rain catchment system if you’ll need a long-term solution.
Plan for Sanitation
If you have a gravity flush toilet and a septic or sewer system that will still drain, you can often pour water directly into the bowl from a height of several feet, and this will cause the toilet to flush. Pouring water in the tank and flushing as usual may work for other types of toilets.
If toilets won’t flush, use a 5-gallon bucket lined with trash bags as an indoor toilet. Create a seat “cushion” you fit around the edge out of a cut pool noodle. This will also hold the bag in place. You may burn or bury the waste bags. Outdoors, go in small trenches far from water sources and cover waste immediately.
Whether you bug in or bug out after storing your basic supplies, your primary concern should be family defense. Weapons training and adequate ammo will see most families through any serious threats. Offers from Brownells.com can be a good place to get started.
Power Concerns and Heating
A generator is good but only if you have ample fuel. Propane-powered generators may offer the best way to store fuel for power generation during disasters, and the gas can also heat your home and fuel the stove and water heater.
Consider downgrading electricity use during power outages by using solar panels to feed lights and small electronics. This works best if you have a secondary source of heat like a fireplace or wood stove.
Make Bug Out Plans in Case You’re Forced to Leave
To survive away from home longer than 72 hours, don’t pin your hopes on one spot. It’s likely that you’re not the only one who’s discovered the local state park. Have several bug-out locations in mind but be sure they are each good places to find potable water, food, shelter, and access to services or transportation away from the area.
There is safety in numbers, so talk to like-minded people about group survival efforts, but take the time to have your own family’s survival needs covered before you try to join up with others. It’s easy to meet other survival-friendly people at preparedness stores, online survival forums, and when taking survival skills classes.