Shelter From the Storm

Alright, here we go. As promised, let’s talk about what you need to fill your shelter in place and go-kits. Let me caveat this by saying that there is no way that I can cover all of the possible items that you might need in one entry. The goal is to demonstrate the types of things you need to consider when designing your shelter in place and/or go-kit and to give some examples as well. We will cover this topic over multiple postings.

Now, lets review the types of kits: 1) Shelter in place kits (home, work, car, church, wherever you spend the majority of your time) 2) Go-kits (home, work, car)

So what do you need for each? Think about things in categories such as shelter, sustenance, medical, communication, and protection.

Shelter: When thinking of shelter in place there are many considerations for your shelter needs. What will you do for heat? Do you have a fireplace? If so, what kind of wood stockpile do you have? How long will that last you? If you don’t have a fireplace do you have sleeping bags that will tolerate your climate? Or is it time to consider a generator? If you do begin to consider a generator, what’s your fuel storage situation? If we have any type of radiological or biological event, consider that guidance suggests you have the ability use plastic sheeting/tape to seal off your home. Be sure to have enough plastic sheeting to do the job. Dont’ scrimp and buy the cheap stuff for these purposes, a heavy mil is needed to be appropriate. And enough tape to achieve good quality seals. I once received a great suggestions from a friend to have these sheets pre-cut and labeled for windows, doors, etc. In the heat of the moment, under extreme duress, I wouldn’t want to have to accomplish the task of effectively measuring and cutting plastic sheeting to seal off my home!

Also, be sure to strategize against the threats that are pertinent for your area. Are you at risk for earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding? These all present unique circumstances regarding what areas of your home will be safe during an event. Will you have access to all of your home or just some areas? Where are all of your emergency supplies stored? Can  they be safely accessed during the event? Keep your utilities in mind. It is possible that you to need to turn off any of your utilities. Do you know where and how to manage the shut-offs? Some utility shut-offs require special tools? Do you have the right tools and are they accessible or buried deep in the garage or out back in the shop? Did you know that if you turn off your gas, you need a professional to turn it back on? Do you have carbon monoxide alarms in the home? Do they run off of AC or do they have battery power in case you have lost electricity? When is the last time you checked the smoke detectors? Are they in working order? As with the carbon monoxide monitors, what is their power source?

Sanitation can be a major issue for any long-term type circumstances if you are sheltering in place. First of all, we will get to water storage issues later for shelter in place, but keep in mind that you can flush a toilet (even if your water is off) if you manually fill the tank with water. Waste issues can be a problem during a shelter in place event. Carefully consider how you are going to handle this issue. Do you have enough water to continue to flush? Or can you go outside? Even outside, there are considerations to be made. Do you have enough toilet paper? I’ve seen blogs that mention alternatives to toilet paper. Research this carefully because disease will eventually become rampant and much of it will center around improper waste disposal. Be careful of contaminating your water sources outside. Sanitation is not an issue anyone likes to deal with now, but it will be a major concern in a catastrophic event. Know your options and plan accordingly. Be ready to stick to strict, self-imposed rules regarding hygiene during these times.  

Now, for go kits. What would you need to constitute “shelter” outside of your home? If you have to leave your home due to a fire that is strictly localized to your home or area, your home owner’s insurance will be your source to put you up in a hotel, but what if the event is large-scale? If your whole local area or God-forbid worse is affected, where will you go? Are you aware of what your county/state offers for local shelters? You should know how to get to several local shelters in case overcrowding becomes an issue and you are not the first to arrive. Check your county’s website to verify their local emergency plans. If things get to be catastrophic and we have a total breakdown of basic social services, what would you need to survive outdoors? Do you have adequate sleeping bags? Any solar blankets? Solar blankets are great when measured against their cost (basic one man unit for under $5.00) and required storage (will fit in a pocket prior to the initial use. After that, maybe larger – these are like re-folding maps!). But still, great bang for a few bucks. However, if you live in an area where winters are bitter cold, a solar blanket will not cut it.

Fire. Do you possess the ability to make fire for warmth? (Also needed for outdoor cooking circumstances, but we will cover food in another session.) There are lots of options create fire, but think ahead. Consider waterproof matches, a basic flint, etc. Practice, by the way, if you are planning on utilizing flint to build a fire. Consider a fuel source. In the case of snow or flooding, what exactly are you planning on burning? Is it too wet to ignite? Again, plan in advance and practice.

These are just some considerations for shelter. We will talk about the other categories in successive posts. If you have particular questions, concerns, or comments…drop me a note.

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