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Friday, May 6, 2011

Emergency Preparedness Week - Back To Basics - Communications & Security

Let me get one thing cleared up first, by communications & security, I DO NOT mean police grade walkie talkies & guns-n-ammo.  This is a series aimed at the beginning prepper, with basic supplies that every household should and could have.
There are two forms of communications we need to consider.  First, we will want to be able to contact family members both locally and out of the area.  Since land lines will likely be overloaded, or not working at all, I advise you to get a cell phone and keep it charged and at the ready.  You can get a "pay as you go" type where blocks of time a purchased on a gift card.  All you have to do is enter the serial number on the card to activate the time.  This will avoid to monthly bills for a service you may not regularly use.  Keep in mind that cell lines may also be taxed during an emergency.  Text messages are handy in this situation as they will continue to attempt to get through until they succeed.  To help keep in touch with each other locally during the aftermath of a disaster, small handheld 2 way radios are a great solution.  You can find these now at electronics stores and camping stores with ranges in the 1 mile area.  The other form of communication is keeping up to speed with current events.  Since electricity is usually the first utility to fail, television will be out of the question unless you keep a backup generator.  Battery operated AM/FM radios are a must.  Actually, I prefer and recommend crank powered radios.  No batteries are needed so they will never be flat.  AM radio will provide you with news and information regarding the disaster affected area and FM will provide you with some entertainment.  I find that a little music in the background usually help reduce the stress of emergency situations.  There is a model I found at Canadian Tire that is an AM/FM radio + 1 or 3 LED flashlight + cell phone charger.  This cost me about $15.00 and I have 2 of them already.  They can also be kept charged by plugging the included USB cable into a computer.  This leads me to the issue of security.  Most of your security concerns are centered over light.  During a crisis, daily chores will be more numerous and take longer so light at the end of a day will be important.  The crank combination units mentioned earlier will work well for finding your way in the dark, but how about lighting up the kitchen for cooking or dishwashing?  There are several options for lighting available to you.  Beware of open flames such as candles & oil lamps.  These must be used with care so as to avoid a potential fire hazard.  Battery powered lanterns give off good light, but you have to remember batteries.  Unlike flashlights, lanterns are used for longer periods of time and will wear down batteries quickly.  There are crank powered lanterns available, but they give off mediocre light and are still quite expensive.  Propane or Naptha lanterns give good light, help add heat, and a tank full of gaz will last several hours.  However, as with candles, care must be taken to avoid tipping.  Weapons are advocated by many preppers, but I think that this kind of thinking is beyond the scope of this series.  If you do feel the need for protection then there are many non lethal options at your disposal.  I WOULD suggest pepper spray as good personal protection HOWEVER, at the time of this post, civilian possession of pepper spray is illegal, THEREFORE I cannot advocate it's use.

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