Disaster Preparedness, Part 2
by Glenda Lehman Ervin (Item numbers refer to the Lehman’s Catalog items.)
We each have a responsibility to take care of ourselves, and those who count on us: Pets, children, disabled, the elderly. As accountable adults, we should have the following on hand (see previous issue for details):
1) an emergency preparedness kit, including a three-day supply of food and water
Some disasters, however, exceed our ability to respond, no matter how much preparation goes into them. Some are sufficiently inconceivable that it’s just not rational to prepare. An asteroid hitting the earth? A massive volcano that destroys the atmosphere? What about real civilization-threatening cataclysms? It does not make sense to prepare, or even worry, about these types of disasters.
The key word to all of this is PREPARE, which our good friend Webster defines as:
1) to make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity
So, long before any disaster hits, you should sit down and skim through Making the Best of Basics: Family Preparedness Handbook (Item#723252, $22.95)
The 319-page book shows you how to store food, fuel and water long-term. If the power goes off or you can’t buy groceries or get water, you’ll be ready. It includes hundreds of charts, recipes and tips, as well as a very useful listing of over 2,500 preparedness product suppliers. The key is to be ready for the unexpected and to know how to use the products you have carefully researched and purchased.
In less than 24 hours power was restored across the country, but let’s just imagine what our lives would be like if it hadn’t. If there was no traditional power system across half of the United States for days, or even weeks…and it was the dead of winter. Do you have a way to heat your home? Obtain fresh water? Feed your children? Heat, water, food and light are your primary concerns.
Here are some products that you can incorporate into a modern lifestyle that will allow you to flourish in the absence of electricity. First and foremost, a wood burning heating and/or cooking stove (see www.mostwoodstoves.com for details). Not only will it dramatically reduce your fuel bills in the winter, who really needs a complete meal in two minutes?
The smell of a beef stewing simmering on the stove all day; homemade cocoa – with milk, not water! – or even whirly-popped popcorn. Now that’s old-fashioned goodness. And it can keep you warm and comfortable, regardless of the status of the electric grid.
Just pour “raw” water in the top chamber and draw off sparkling clean water from the lower chamber. Gravity does all the work. Special ceramic elements contain carbon media to remove bacteria and reduce chemicals, rust, sediment, and bad tastes/odors.
Of course, if you have an electric water pump, just getting to the water in your well may be an issue. For that problem we recommend a galvanized well bucket, which is made by the local Ohio Amish exclusively for Lehman’s. You can get water from any well by hand, and it works at any depth. A special leak-proof valve opens to fill, then closes automatically when the bucket is drawn up. (Galvanized Well Bucket: Item #550202. $42.95)
If the power is off for more than five hours, which is the case in our “black out scenario,” you should be concerned about the safety of your refrigerated and frozen food. While a cooler with ice (or even the front porch, if it is the dead of winter in northeast Ohio), will work for a while, a prolonged power outage is going to take a gas-powered appliance, such as a Servel gas refrigerator (Item# !RGE400X, $1219) or an eight-cubic foot freezer (Item# CF240LP, $1935).
The last thing on our long-term, must-have list is non-electric lighting. During the California black-outs several years, we discovered that many of us are still very afraid of the dark. Because when the grid is down, it gets very, very dark. Those of you that live in or near an urban area are unaccustomed to the pitch black of a dark sky.
Most non-electric lighting will burn kerosene or lamp oil or (our personal favorite) liquid paraffin. As with any product using a live flame, it is important to use caution around oil lamps. Never leave one unattended – the custom of leaving every light on in the house, even when that room is unoccupied, is a 21st century notion. In the old days, the family gathered in one room, and that was the room with the best heat and light.
If you choose to fully prepare yourself for a long-term disaster, don’t let it scare you. After all, this is the way our grandparents lived every day. Use your time and energy to teach your children not only the importance of self-sufficiency, but how to minimize our impact on the environment.
In the next issue: The lighter side of preparedness. It’s Day Three and the Kids are Driving us Crazy! ■
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