Check List: Are you prepared for the next emergency situation?

Unfortunately, most people have a normalcy bias.  They are stuck in a dangerous groove, thinking that the future will be like today.  But what if it isn’t?  

Given the option, responsible people have insurance policies for their vehicle, home, and medical care.  Why not develop your own ‘insurance’ policy as a hedge against an emergency situation? 

You’ve probably already made some preparations, but are you 100% ready?  Are your preparations comprehensive and complete, so you are ready to face all threats, including the new ones that are now emerging?  

When an emergency situation develops that isn’t in your local area, it may seem like it’s not going to affect you.  However, what if that problem causes a interruption in the supply chain or in your electrical power? What if the affected area experiences a shut down in the manufacturing of goods that you need? What if it interferes with the supply of the food you eat? What if a distant blocked highways prevents the delivery of important goods to your local stores?  

This is our new world.

Are you ready?

Are you prepared for at least three weeks without doing any shopping? What will happen if you no longer have access to outside help? What will you do if you no longer have access to services such as police, fire, and medical services?  If you are not ready for these developments, we encourage you to get busy today. If you think you are, use this as a ‘check list’ to evaluate your preparations.

Determine what you will need to be fully self-reliant for a minimum of three weeks. A few years ago the standard was 3-days, it’s now 3-weeks. Are you ready?

Check List: The Top-10 Essential Preparations

1.  Personal Safety

To the best of our ability, we must be prepared to protect ourselves from an assortment of dangers.  The modern world is becoming increasingly like America’s Wild West.  We need to be ready to defend ourselves, and we need to keep an eye out for trouble.  Developing ‘situation awareness’ is paramount so that we can be proactive about escaping from problems.  And, we need to look out for the safety of our neighbors, too. 

2. Water for drinking, food prep, and hygiene.

Most of us depend on a municipal water supply or a water-well operated by an electric pump. But without power, neither of these water sources will function. This will create a serious problem if you aren’t ready for it.

We can survive for nearly a month with very little food, but only 1-2 days without pure drinking water.  Therefore, we need to either store pure drinking water, or be able to purify water from another available water source. 

At a minimum, plan for 1-gallon of water, per day, per person in your household.  And, don’t forget the water needed for flushing toilets, sanitation, and to care for your pets and animals. 

We have various water purification options, but understand, most water filters do not purify water.  Yet, pure water is essential to avoid waterborne illnesses which are everywhere. Clear, clean-looking water may not be pure.  

If you plan to use household bleach to purify water, it cannot have additives such as color-enhancers. To purify clean-looking water with bleach, use 8-drops per gallon; 6 tsp. for a 55-gallon drum.

3.  Food Options

Stockpile canned food, plus staples like beans, rice, and pasta that have been repackaged for long-term storage, and/or freeze dried food such as backpacking meals or dehydrated bulk foods.  Or,  MREs – “Meals, Ready to Eat” (military rations). 

According to the U.S. Depart­ment of Defense, adults re­quire 1,100 calo­ries/day if inactive, and 3,600 if active. And, don’t forget to store the food you will need for guests or nearby family and friends who might come to you for help.  Plus, remember to stockpile the food you will need to feed your pets and ani­mals.  

To help those in need, donate canned goods, rice, beans, pasta, or money to a food charity or church.  It is very risky to giveaway food yourself.  If it becomes known that you have a supply of food, that can put you at risk. 

A propane camping stove is far more fuel efficient than is a barbeque grill. And, using a 5-gallon (20 lb) propane tank is a far more efficient fuel source than using the standard 1-pound bottles. Don’t forget to also obtain the necessary adapters and hose needed to connect the stove to your tank. 

4.  Shelter

Stockpile tarps, roofing nails, wood, and other supplies for emergency roof and house repairs.  Having a camping tent may also be worthwhile. Not only can it provide emergency shelter, when setup inside your home, body heat will warm the tent’s interior.

5.  Communications

Don’t depend on your cell phone or the Inter­net for communication, news, weather alerts, maps, or other key resources. These services may not be working.  

Have a portable battery-powered radio (with spare batteries) in case it is needed. The ability to obtain news reports on your situation is often invaluable for sound decision making. Your radio should be able to receive AM/FM com­mercial radio stations, and also WB (weather band).  

Ideally, you and your nearby family members and friends will also have 2-way radios so that you can communicate with each other.  When a significant emergency situation strikes, cell phone services are typically overwhelmed, jammed, or out-of-service.  (Note: Text messages can often be sent when you are unable to make voice calls.)

We regard 2-way radio communication to be essential.  Amateur (Ham) radios require a license, but they are the best 2-way radio communication option.  Review the article on this topic here at, or for more information.

The universal call frequency for amateur radios in the United States is 146.520 MHz.  If you live in another country, learn what it is for your area and the rules for use.  This may sound like a bother but it is well worth the effort. There are budget options such as those outlined in our article on this topic. Find a local radio club to get additional advice. 

For simple walkie-talkies which use FRS, GMRS, or MARS frequen­cies, as well as CB radios, use Channel-3 for emergencies. 

If your phone works, call 9-1-1 (or your local number) to contact police, fire, or medical emergency services.  If you phone doesn’t work, at that point, try using whatever 2-way radio you have available.

6.  Emergency Lighting

If your emergency supplies include a liquid-fuel or propane lantern, remember to stockpile mantles, repair parts, and a fresh supply of fuel.  

Fresh white-gas, Coleman fuel, and other liquid fuels only have a reliable shelf-life of 1-year. However, propane fuel will last almost indefinitely if the tank is undamaged.

Flashlights, headlamps, and lanterns are all important—but they are useless if their batteries are dead. 

Ordi­nary filament-bulb flashlights will only operate for a short time, often an hour or less, so consider this when selecting your lighting equipment.  LED lights last longer but their electronics make them susceptible to damage. Therefore, we recommend having both the old filament-style flashlights as well as the newer, brighter, and more energy-efficient LED lights.

LED lights designed for emergency-use may provide light for an entire night, or even longer, on one set of batteries. Read the fine print on these products before making a purchase.  Expect these products to only provide illu­mination for ½ the claimed time.  

Purchase plenty of Alkaline or Lithium batter­ies, and if possible, store an extra supply in your refrigerator as this will give them a longer shelf-life.  Lithium batteries are more expensive, but since their useful life is substantially longer, the per-hour-used cost is often about the same.

7.  Power

Generators can be useful short-term, but gaso­line and diesel generators consume a lot of fuel.  Even commercial-grade generators installed in hospitals, fire stations, and police departments, usually only have sufficient fuel for 3-5 days of operation.  

If you already have a 100+ gallon propane tank, consider a propane powered on-demand ‘inverter’ generator.  This may be the best choice for resi­dential use—but make sure you have all the proper hoses and fittings.  

Solar panels and deep-cycle rechargeable batteries are another option, but get advice from a knowledgeable source before making your purchase.  

For most people, a large supply of Alkaline or Lithium batteries is the most economical solution for 1-2 weeks of emergency power.  Try to pick devic­es which use either AA or AAA-batteries so you only need to stockpile batteries in two sizes.  

8.  Medical and Dental

Prevention is better than any cure.  During an emergency situation, take extra precautions and be ultra-careful.  What is ordinarily considered a minor injury, can become life-threatening in a protracted emergency situation when there is limited access to medical facilities.  Always wear protective gear such as safety glasses, chaps, etc.

Don’t expect areas where medical care is readily available in normal times to be exempt from these problems. During major emergencies, ambulance services and hospitals are often handling patient-loads that are far beyond their ability to provide timely care. Or, these emergency services may become unavailable during a serious emergency situation. Plan for this development.

A standard first aid kit is not enough.  A medical kit (and training) for Stop-the-Bleed, chest wounds, and other serious injuries is essential.  

Most first aid kits are assem­bled with the assumption that you will be able to obtain emergency medical aid quickly. Unfortunately, during a widespread protracted emergency, you may be on your own.  

Even if emergency services are available, if phone service is down, how are you going to contact them to summon help?  Your local fire station will likely be staffed, but you still need to get there. 

In addition to emer­gency medical supplies, remember to include emergency dental supplies, as well.  A broken tooth, a lost filling or a crown that falls out, may become a painful problem.  Dental-repair kits can be inexpensive but a godsend.  

Don’t forget to stock up on prescription and over-the-counter medications.  Especially important is medicine for upset stomach, pain, constipation and diarrhea.  Physically taxing your body, as well as stress and dietary changes, often bring on these ailments. 

9.  Essential Documents

Don’t depend on your Smartphone or com­puter.  Make paper copies of essential docu­ments, including your address book, prescriptions, vehicle and medical insurance, and medical history documents. And, don’t forget to keeps some cash on hand, too.

10.  GO-Bag and a Safe-Haven Location

Having your home and workplace well-stocked for an emer­gency isn’t enough.  Keep a GO-Bag in each vehi­cle. 

Your GO-Bag should be a knapsack that contains what you will need if it becomes necessary to walk home or to a rendezvous location.  Don’t minimize the importance of this need.  A quick drive to a store or appointment can end up being a 10-15 hour (or longer) walk home.  

Social unrest, a major traffic accident, storm, flood, and vari­ous other emergency situations may make it impossible to drive home. 

You must be prepared to both shelter-in-place wherever you are, and also to take the long walk home.  For either of these options, you will also need paper maps, compass, season-appro­priate clothing, stout walking shoes or boots, and some emer­gency food, water and gear. These should be stored with your GO-Bag but not in it.

Lastly, if it looks like you may need to evacuate, do it early. If it can be avoided, don’t get caught in a mass of people trying to flee an area.  And equally important, know where you are going and how to get there.  Don’t just evacuate “from” a danger area, evacuate “to” a safe haven.  If possible, store emergency supplies at that location in advance of the need.  

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