When my family first when through a disaster we were totally unprepared. We lived in a condominium in Sarasota, Florida and were hit by the north edge of a pretty devastating hurricane. Our water was off for about 24 hours, and there were suggestions that we shouldn’t drink from it for about another 48 hours. Our local grocery stores had a run on bottled water, and they were flat out empty. Not to mention having been raided of nearly all their dry foods that didn’t require water to prepare.
We were, as you might say, totally unprepared for the simple realities of the aftermath of a storm that didn’t seem that disastrous to us. We had some minor damage to our home, but nothing that couldn’t be repaired quickly. We had some broken windows but figured they would be easy to replace. Little did we know that there simply wasn’t enough supply for the entire community.
We suddenly were in a first-come-first-serve economy. Where it wasn’t first-come-first-serve the merchants had jacked up their prices so much that it was only those who could afford the supplies that were getting them. Normally easy to find things like lumber, plywood, and food were suddenly much more difficult to find.
If you have had the misfortune of experiencing a panic situation like this, or worse, have experienced a major disaster then you know preparedness can make the difference between getting what you need and riding through the situation in comfort, or feeling the frustration involved with not being able to find the basics and the suffering that comes along with that.
In this week’s West Weekly, I want to start with one of the first basic needs food, and water. Having access to food and water is vital in almost every disaster and emergency situation. Look at some of the more aggressive hurricanes like Katrina or Harvey, and you’ll see thousands of people who desperately needed help, and thousands more who had to wait for that help until the government, or kind neighbors were able to step in.
So, let’s talk about how to get started. My suggestion is always to start small. You can always adjust how much you need upwards, but buying too much can not only be costly, it can be wasteful. I suggest starting with a 7-day supply per person in your home. Our solution comes from the Alpine Aire. For less than $200 per person, you can have 21 servings of food; including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For a family of four that is a month of easy to prepare food for less than $800.00.
This simple package includes everything you’ll need to eat and best of all it has a 25-year shelf life. This means you won’t have to cycle this food in and out of use like you would with items purchased at your grocery store, you can simply purchase it, and then store it until you need it.
If you feel like 7 days is too much, or you feel like you may need to pick up and go we recommend the 72-hour option. This will keep you fed for 3-days while you ride out the toughest part of most disasters. We recommend one-month simply because of the great value, you can nearly 10 times the food at less than 3 times the cost. Despite that, we still suggest that you only prepare for what you think you will need, and if you don’t believe you can shelter in place, purchase smaller amounts of food that are easier to take with you.
Along with both packages you’ll need to have water. I suggest packages of bottled water that can be picked up at bulk food stores, or even at your local grocer. Bottled water has become inexpensive, and as a result, its ability to be stored long-term has diminished. Be prepared to keep about as much water as you keep food. FEMA suggests one gallon per person per day. That is about 7.5 bottles of water in the 16.9 oz size per person per day. For a single person for three days, you’ll go through about 27 bottles. That includes water you’ll use to drink and for basic cooking.
I also suggest a small camp stove to prepare any foods that need to be cooked safely and relevant supply of propane. Suggested by Coleman, a major provider you’ll use about 4 gallons a month for cooking, and about 0.2 gallons per day if you cook for one hour. So if you are preparing for a month, keep 4 to 5 gallons of propane handy, and if only for 3 days then keep about a gallon handy.
Check back in next week when we will talk about what kind tools you should have to begin with, including flashlights, candles, hatchets, and more!