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  • Writer's pictureAnita Tosh

Disaster Prep for Beginners

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

Disaster Prep for Beginners

by Anita Tosh

Disasters can come in many forms, but most of the preparations are the same. You need somewhere to live, water to drink and food to eat. These are the basics for life. Let’s take them one at a time.

A place to live

Being in a city is the worst place during a disaster. First off, traffic makes it difficult to leave. If you must live there, prepare a place you can get to that is far enough away to be safe and close enough to reach, on foot if necessary. Many people have a cabin on a bit of rural property for a backup. It is wise to keep a “to-go bag” (described later) ready to go. Some have more than one, keeping one in their vehicle and one at home, for instance.

Water to drink

If you are in a city or in the country, the best assurance that you will have clean water is to purchase a gravity-fed water purifier such as Berkey or Alexapure Pro. These will purify gallon after gallon for you, year after year. In the city, having a few days of bottled water is handy to get you to your backup place, which must have a water source. A year-round stream or lake is good. A ground well maybe even better.

Food to eat

Many people purchase the long life “25 year” storable food. It is good to have some of this, but don’t let this be your only source of food. If you rotate your canned food, you can keep some of your favorites on hand. For good health, you need protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Be sure to purchase high-quality food that will nourish your body. Not Twinkies and junk food. Things like dry beans and brown rice store well and provide protein, carbs, and fiber, as well as many other nutrients.

Also, it is worthwhile to learn how to preserve and store food to use as time goes by so you can replenish your original store of food. Fermenting vegetables is easy and extremely healthy as is drying meat for jerky. It would also be good to know how to trap and prepare small animals to eat. If you will be near water, keep fishing equipment and learn how to fish. Don’t forget to include something sweet like canned or dried fruit.

Knowledge of wild plants for food and medicine may prove invaluable. So many plants that grow wild are edible and some could save your life, but you need to learn what they are and how to use them. For instance, every part of the dandelion plant is edible. Some parts are medicinal. There are many books on the subject. Start reading.

Somewhere to “go”

One more thing. You must be able to take care of human waste. The best and easiest way is with dry composting. You can purchase a compost toilet or assemble a make-shift emergency toilet with a 5 gallon can, an empty milk jug with a funnel, and covering material such as dry leaves, cat litter, peat moss, or just plain dirt. If you separate the liquid from the solid waste and cover the solid with dirt it will turn into compost and you will not have any odor problem. The liquid can be diluted and used to water plants. While you are walking or hiking to your cabin, a simple hand shovel will suffice. Use the shovel to dig a small hole to “go” in and then cover it with dirt. Always leave your campsite cleaner than you found it.

A list for your “to-go bag”

Water, space blanket, a small shovel, knife, twine, baking soda, vinegar, washcloths, small lightweight towel, solar flashlight, solar/crank radio (optional), tarp, packaged food, matches, fishing line, and hook. Learning how to backpack is highly advisable. The sleeping bags, tents and cookstoves are small and light allowing you to carry more that weighs less. A solar water heater/cooker like the Sun Kettle gives you hot water from sunshine rather than a fire.

For first aid, toss in some Band-Aids, a clean white undershirt and some essential oils: Lavender to keep insects away, tea tree for cuts and scrapes, peppermint for tea, stomach and headache relief.

A note on keeping clean

If you have baking soda and vinegar, you’ve got it covered. Baking soda can be used for brushing your teeth, and washing anything: clothes, hair, dishes, etc. Vinegar mixed with water is a perfect hair rinse and household cleaner. Add a couple drops of essential oil of your choice to the vinegar water for a clean fresh aroma.

Where do I Start?

If you are new to the idea of prepping, start by buying a little (or a lot of) extra storable food each time you shop. Keep track of the “best by” dates to use the oldest items first. Put together a “to go” bag. Read applicable books and articles. Hike, stay fit and decide upon a safe place to resort to if/when needed.

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