So this would have gone live yesterday BUT I have been dealing with a computer that decided to freak out yesterday and continued its meltdown today. I so sense a post coming from this experience…Emergency Preparedness: When Life Ends Because the Computer Freaks…okay maybe not that but definitely on what happened and how to handle it.
I digress from what I actually wanted to share. I have talked a lot about being prepared and frankly on “bugging out” when an emergency happens. I have touched on staying put but mostly, I have been focused on leaving in an emergency. But there are a great deal of emergencies that that is either not wise or not an available option.
The first thing I highly suggest when considering “Do I bug out or do I hunker down?” is to ask yourself:
1. Does the emergency allow for me to make a decision or does it dictate one or the other?
There are times when the situation determines the answer. For example, I probably would not be asking myself should I stay or go if my house were on fire. Easy one there…GO. On the flipside, in our recent post fire rains left people considering this question with respect to possible mudslides. I would personally say if my house is in a potential mudslide area and I have been asked to voluntary evacuate or mandatory evacuate, then I would say bug out. However, for some this was a question of should I stay or should I go.
2. Assuming that it does allow for a choice, which options best meet my needs?”
- Heating and Cooling?
Okay so this one in my mind is kind of a no brainer. Safety is the primary question in making the choice (followed immediately by water). If one option – bug out or hunker down – is the safer option, then in reality, you need to choose it. Enough said. For example, in an earthquake, while the immediate threat may be over and the damage is so-called done, then you need to look at your surroundings and see if it is safe to stay. If there is a gas leak that can’t be shut off or structural damage that could potentially cause walls to collapse in an aftershock, then staying is not safe and you should leave. However, if your house is standing safely, there are no threatening leaks and is therefor safe to stay, then staying may be the better or at least a reasonable option.
As I said in my post Emergency Preparedness: When Emergency Days Turn into Emergency Month, water is the most important essential to survival. Without water, our body, specifically our kidneys, will shut down and as it does, then we could find ourselves in an irreversible situation that could lead death. I know that’s serious but it is true. We are literally made of water and hydration is paramount. So when deciding whether to stay or leave, ask yourself, “Which option meets my need for water AND safety?” Regardless of the other 5 remaining factors, whichever answers this question is the option you should choose.
So if the need of safety and water can go either way, then which provides and meets your need for food the best? While it is true that our body can survive a long time without food, it is not advisable. If you are prepared for your 72 Emergency Kit, then food can be met best by either in a 72 hour disaster. However, if things look like they are going to be longer, then are you prepared at home to meet your need for food? Do you have larger supplies of food stored at your home to meet your needs? For tips on unique and crafty storage ideas check out this post on Small Spaces Storage Solutions from Food Storage Made Easy. They collected solution ideas from bloggers and readers a like and some are down right creative and also prompted me to think of some others.
You will also want to ask yourself, if I stay, do I need to cook my food and do I have a way to cook it? In some emergencies, electricity and gas may not be effected so you regular cooking appliances would work. However, there are times, and believe me I experienced plenty in North Carolina, where neither worked. In those cases, my dad’s camping gear and MREs (meals ready to eat) were awesome. The only challenge is to make sure you have a fuel source for your cooking source. If you intend on using a fuel powered cooking appliance, like a propane powered grill, then make sure you have backup supplies for them. For more creative solutions or alternatives for powerless cooking options, Food Storage Made Easy has some wonderful tutorials and reviews.
So safety, water and food are a go for either side. Consider your need for shelter from the elements. In leaving do you have a place to go, other than your car, to provide you with shelter? My mother whenever there was a threat of a tornado would adamantly insist on wanting to go down to the ditch/basin on our farm. Smart thinking to get out of the metal sided trailer (since tornados seem to be like magnets for them) and get to lower ground since tornados usually jump low ground. Only problem with my mother’s thinking…in North Carolina tornados came with heavy rains, winds and often lightening. So if we were to follow her plan, we would be standing in a basin filled with water, getting rained on and possibly electrocuted by the lighting…no shelter to protect us from the elements.
I spoke earlier on the subject of sanitation in my post called Emergency Preparedness: When Emergency Days Turn into Emergency Month so I am not going to go too much into this. However, it is important to make sure whether you stay or go in an emergency that you do have proper sanitation facilities available. If not, then you could find yourself exposing you and your family to dysentery and other diseases as well as just a majorly uncomfortable situation. I know in North Carolina, when the power went out, so did the pump that flushed our toilets…so not good. Not only did toilets not run but spit baths with stored water became the norm. Ask yourself, if I stay will I still be able to maintain the ability to dispose of bodily waste and maintain good hygiene? If I go, am I putting myself in a situation where I am worse of regarding sanitation? For more longer term solutions regarding sanitation and the disposal of waste, check out this post.
Heating and Cooling?
While probably not a top essential that comes to mind for most people, surprisingly it can save lives and at very least help keep you comfortable. Though not an emergency situation, we had a record summer for heat this year in So Cal. There were days it was so hot that my well-insulated home had its AC running non-stop to keep the house cooled to a balmy 87 degrees Fahrenheit. The challenge is extreme heat, and extreme cold, can cost people their lives, especially for the elderly and the really young. That’s why this one is number five on my list.
There are several ways to keep warm in emergency situations. Start by adding dry layers. Think hats, gloves, extra socks, sweaters, jackets, etc. Make sure to insulate the extremities of the body as hands, heads, and feet loss heat the fast in our bodies. Get creative in making warmers by heating rice or dry beans over fires and fill socks or gloves with them. Thermal undergarments are great emergency items to keep handy. They are designed to be worn underclothing to stay warm. Have a good supply of blankets around…steal them off your bed and don’t forget sleeping bags. If you have a fireplace, make sure to have extra wood supplies stocked and easily accessible. And lastly, pack your clothing with anything that will add insulation. This could be stuffing from pillows (if desperate), blankets, leaves, other clothing, etc.
When it comes to cooling, the immediate solution is to loose any and all non essential clothing and consider clothing that cools. There are some really cool fabrics out there that actually cool the skin or prevents sweating. Battery power fans are a great option, even little mini personal fans. Portable fans that can move with you from room to room or even ceiling fans in every room. Drinking plenty of water also cools the body. Open your windows to take advantage of the breeze. And when there is none or its too hot to leave windows open, consider blackout or light out options for window coverings. Sheets work in a pinch but there are blackout curtains available on the market as well as some awesome plantation shutters. Ours knocked the heat down drastically in our house this summer.
Lastly comfort. If all the other essentials of safety, water, food, shelter, heating and cooling are met, then ask yourself which is going to be more comfortable. I know that sounds silly but ones comfort contributes a lot to ones survival. If you are not comfortable, odds are you may not have the most positive attitude and attitude has been shown to drastically effect ones physical and mental well being.
Hope this helps both with deciding whether to bug out or hunker down. I will see you next post on Last Minute Emergency Preparedness Ideas.