Natural disasters are not only becoming more frequent, but more deadly. In 2011, there were 553 deaths in the U.S. as a result of tornadoes, which was more than 2001 to 2010 combined, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. The Oklahoma Insurance Department estimated damages from the 2013 tornado which destroyed the town of Moore to be over $2 billion. The New York Daily News estimated total damages caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011 to be well over $15 billion.
Preparation is key to mitigate damage, potentially save the lives of your family and salvage your home and belongings. These three items are must-haves for anyone serious about disaster preparedness.
A generator will be essential for short-term preservation, and will be a source of electricity for your most essential electrical items. The size and power of the generator you choose all depends on what you need it to power, so start by purchasing a Kill-A-Watt meter. These devices allow you to plug any electrical device into it and get a reading for the amount of power required. Most people want to keep their refrigerator and freezer running, along with some lights for day-to-day activities. Add up the total wattage of all the appliances and devices you would want to run during a power outage, and that will give you an idea of the size of generator your home will need.
The average American home uses about 3,000 watt of power per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, so a 2000-watt unit should suffice for a refrigerator, lights, and even to charge cell phones and computers. A larger unit will be necessary if you want your home to have the same power capabilities no matter the situation. If you’d like to test before you buy, consider renting a generator from Sunbelt Rentals and conducting a trial run in your home. Keep in mind, the larger the generator, the more fuel it will need to run.
2. Propane Heaters
There are several options for propane heaters on the market, but the Mr. Heater line makes units specifically for indoor use. The Big Buddy model will heat an area up to 400 square feet for well over 24 hours on two of the little green one-pound propane tanks. You can also connect a large 20-pound tank to the unit for extended use.
Despite Mr. Heater building these units for indoor use, some precautions still need to be taken. Carbon monoxide is odorless and can be deadly in minutes when oxygen levels in the room are too low. A cheap carbon monoxide detector should be utilized any time propane is burned indoors. Its also best to leave windows cracked slightly for ventilation. Place the CO detector near your sleeping quarters if you choose to sleep with the heaters running.
These units are also ideal to keep water pipes from bursting as a result of freezing, which can prevent thousands of dollars in damage.
3. Life Straws
Humans may be able to survive a few weeks without food, but they can only live about three days without water. Life Straws can clean harmful bacteria, protozoa, and other microbes from dirty water to make it drinkable. Thus you’ll be able to drink water from any source without the fear of contracting a waterborne illness.
There are anecdotal accounts of individuals filtering their own urine through Lifestraws and sustaining themselves. The filters will not remove the salts and other less harmful impurities, so the resulting water will likely not taste very good. Still, in a survival situation, it could save your life. The Hydro Photon SteriPEN and the MSR Miniworks EX are two more options to consider for quick and portable water purification.
Survival is possible in any situation with the basic tools. This foundation of essentials will provide you with the chance to continue long-term once the smoke clears.