Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Short Term Emergency Tips for Power Outages

Hurricane Sandy Report:  I am very grateful that this storm passed through our area with as little damage as it did this week.  Here at the farm we were without power for 12 hours and half of those were at night so it was just a minor inconvenience rather than a major problem - no lugging buckets of water for the sump pump this time as we had rain but not enough to overwhelm the basement.

The outdoor damage was minimal - one tree lost in the donkey and sheep paddock to clean up and I should be able to manage it myself since the tree wasn't huge.  Repairs to the cedar rail fence should be simple and it looks like the electric fence is stretched but still functioning. 

This storm was a good test of the emergency preps.  I can never pass up a good deal on unscented candles but if we really want good lighting to read or work by kerosene lanterns are more efficient.  We use them in the winter just for fun so they are always on display in the living room.  Several of them are the cheap hardware store versions and one of those has a malfunctioning wick turner so I'll have to take it apart this week and see if I can fix it.  The one below is an upgrade from the ones I own but conveniently available from your local hardware store - and pretty too!  I've seen many of these at antique/junk shops and they can get expensive fast.  Be sure to check for cracks in the glass base when buying second hand.

It's always good to remind yourself that kerosene lamps are useful but with pets and children around to be extra cautious about placing them somewhere they can't get knocked over.  I put them in a glass bowl in the centre of the table when in use and put them away up high when not in use.  I would NOT recommend using coloured or scented kerosene - instant headache for me - buy non-scented or low odour lamp oil.

The best lantern one we have is a Dietz..  It wasn't expensive - under $20 - but it lights up a room!  Canadian Tire and Home Hardware sell the Worlds Famous brand that is similar but doesn't look as well constructed.
I also used the power failure as an opportunity to try a few new things when it came to heating up water.  I always have some cans of sterno on hand and I wanted to see how  efficient it was for boiling water.  I know it works well to keep food hot when it's already hot.  I have multiple other more efficient ways to boil water without electricity but I was looking for one that is easy to store and can be used in the house without concern for fumes.  I put the sterno into a large dry pot on the stove, covered the pot with a cookie rack and placed the kettle on top of that.  I will say - it works but it's very slow.  I moved the sterno closer to the bottom of the kettle and that did speed things up but it would still have taken 20 minutes to boil water for 4 large cups of tea.  On the plus side - it's easy to store and it's safer and simpler than some other methods.

Here are some things to do to prepare for a storm:

Put juice containers filled with water in the freezer and keep them there at all times.  This makes the freezer more efficient by keeping it full - remove bottles when you need room for food of course!  The jugs also serve to keep the freezer frozen when the power does go out, can be used to turn your refrigerator into a giant icebox if the power failure is prolonged and provide you with clean drinking water.  Covering the freezer with comforters or old blankets also helps to maintain the temperature.

Fill the kitchen sink with soapy water.  It's a simple way to wash your hands and you won't waste bottled water.

Have bottled water!  I have large 15L water jugs that I keep in the basement along with a few cases of water bottles and as many juice jugs as I can find filled with water and a few drops of bleach.

Have hand sanitizer available in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Consolidate your kitchen freezer with your large freezer if you have one - one less place to have to keep cold.  Don't open the fridge or freezer without a plan.  Put a sign on the fridge door that says - DO NOT OPEN - to remind yourself.

Mom will yell at you!!

Keep matches, flash lights, candles, batteries and lanterns in a specific spot so you don't have to go looking for them in the dark. Keep slippers beside your bed for the same reason.  Hang mini flash lights on the basement door and bathroom doorknobs.

Keep a good supply of simple to prepare foods.  Figure out the most efficient way to heat food and water.  Sterno?  Camp stove? BBQ? Fondue set? Kerosene stove!  Have a supply of fuel too.

If it's cold or the kids are a little nervous have a camp out in the living room.  Drag down sleeping bags and pillows and stay together.  A room that can be closed off from the rest of the house is a good idea because you can attempt to keep a smaller area warm.  If you have no way of heating the room you could pop up a small tent and sleep inside.  The tent will hold in your body heat and keep you warmer.

Wash the dishes and clean the house before the storm arrives - a clean house to begin with makes sense.

Bake some muffins or pull together some easy to eat snacks before the storm hits.  Start a soup or stew you can keep warm with the sterno or use your crock pot and wrap it in towels after the power goes out and put in in the cold oven to keep it warm.

Boil  water and fill a large thermos so you don't have to heat the water all over again for another cup of tea! You can do that before the storm or after boiling water on your stove of choice - something you don't want to repeat too many times!

Keep your cell phones charged.  Get a charger for the car and don't forget you can charge them in a charged up laptop as well.  

Have at least one phone in the house that is a regular plug in - not a cordless - so you will still be able to use it if the power is off.

Play some games.  Pull out a puzzle.  Spend time with your loved ones and enjoy life without electricity for awhile while hoping and praying the power comes back on soon.  Be safe and PREPARED!

Any additions to my list?  Share your thoughts!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Be Prepared for a Zombie Apocalypse

Be Prepared for a Zombie Apocalypse
By Christine Faraday

Nothing fires up the imagination more then the thought of a zombie apocalypse. With Halloween approaching and season 3 of my favourite show The Walking Dead beginning, I do have a case of zombies on the brain. I thought it might be fun to do a look at preparedness through the lens of the threat of a zombie attack.
In my mind zombie prepping does encompass all aspects of prepping and although it obviously has a bad name due to the fantasy aspect, it does cover all the basics of prepping and then some.
I'm going to say that again for effect, if you prep for a zombie apocalypse, I believe you are prepared to ride out just about any storm until the end of your days. It covers pandemic preparedness, defensive and offensive action, food, water and medicinal supply prepping, societal collapse and bugging out among many other facets.

We're going to begin with a scenario about how it might go down, and end with some ideas for prepping and surviving during and after the event.

It starts with a pandemic.
A strange fever brought back from the deep jungles of Africa by a brave yet hapless explorer who unknowingly shared the virus with his team and all others who travelled on any bus or flight on their respective trips home. All passengers on any of those trips carried the virus to their respective destinations and so on, and so on. The virus itself might not be anything totally new, it might be a combination of several known viruses that have spliced and mutated. It could be rabies combined with the common cold or flu, giving it an extraordinary ability to spread like wildfire. No matter what it is, it is new to us and therefore very difficult to combat as quickly as it mutates and infects new hosts.
The pandemic begins in several major cities and quickly spreads to the outskirts. With a dormant period of about three weeks, it has already been spread to much of the population without any symptoms.
Just three weeks after that explorer walked out of the airport, half of the country has already come in contact with someone who was a carrier.
Four weeks after he left the airport, people all over the world are showing symptoms of the virus.
In the beginning, it presents with a terrible headache, high fever, loss of appetite, and flu like illness followed by extreme confusion, uncontrollable anger, a large increase in appetite and encephalitis.
Five weeks later, there are just too many sick and infected to continue to keep up the infrastructure. Many people who did not become infected leave their jobs to take care of their families. As a result, hospitals, police and fire services are stretched way beyond capacity and begin to shut down. Rolling blackouts are the new normal as the grid cannot maintain the regular level of service with so little manpower. The grocery stores were emptied out early on in the pandemic scare and there are just not enough truck drivers willing to risk their lives to deliver goods any longer. The infected, driven by their massive appetites begin to loot all possible food sources. Eventually they do turn to cannibalism.
Those who were prepared and saw the signs early did manage to hole up in seclusion during the event and avoided becoming infected.

Ok fine, maybe it can't happen that easily, maybe it can. The point is that it's an exercise in mental preparedness. It's a little bit fun to imagine ourselves as the heroes in these stories especially when we do put some time and effort into surviving anything that we can imagine. I've put together a couple of little reminders for you on prepping for the zombie apocalypse.

What are the signs to look for?
The zombie apocalypse likely begins with a pandemic. If we learned anything from the SARS outbreak, it should have been to pay attention to the warnings. The media did a good job of getting the information out to us and keeping us updated. As a result, we took the necessary precautions to avoid a massive pandemic. The hospitals posted signs about the symptoms and requested that anyone entering with any of them was to wear a mask and use hand sanitizer upon entry. Any large events where people gather and could transmit the virus was cancelled or postponed. When you hear about any of these signs, it's time to really pay attention as if your life depended on it, because it very well might.

How to 'Staycation'-
When those flags go up you might want to begin your extended 'staycation' at home, with your closest family. It would be ideal to have on hand at least 3-6 months worth of food, water, and supplies- minimum. It could get alot worse before it gets any better. You should review plans for a pandemic and restock based on that scenario.
Be Financially Ready! I can't stress this enough. Without getting too deep into my views on the Canadian economy, I really believe that there won't be a better time in the near future to do this. Again, you will need to be able to cover your basic expenses, rent/ mortgage payments for at least 3-6 months for the time you plan on staying home.
If you are not financially prepared to leave your job for at least 3 months, you will have an impossible time making the decision to stay home and you might just reconcile your decision to continue going to work at the risk of your health and your family's well being. Just because there's a major health scare the banks will not suddenly grow a heart and the last thing you need is to be tossed out of your home during this period. The other part of that is to have a reliable banking system set up from your home to pay bills online or through the phone. Again, the goal is to remain out of contact with any possible carriers while doing your best to maintain a roof over your head during the crisis and after.
Keep Fit- Eating heavily salted, canned storage foods while being confined to your home will take its toll on your health. You should try your best to maintain a healthy exercise regiment while on your staycation. Not only will it help keep your immune system functioning at its best, but you might eventually have to outrun a horde of starving zombies.
Make sure your first aid kits are topped up-
During this time, the hospital is the last place you want to be. If you can, take a first aid or CPR course near you and make sure you know how to handle any basic first aid and treatment. Double check your kits and supplies. In my house, bandages go like water so anytime I remember I pick up an extra box of bandages and shove it in a new place that the kids don't know about. Make sure you have what you think you'll need, and what you know how to use. Natural remedies are also a great resource to know and learn about, not to mention a great store to shop at when the panicking public has cleaned out the shelves at the local pharmacy. Of course, once the general public is panicking, you should already have your shopping done. In case you didn't think ahead, there are some other stores that carry the goods that you might want when the well known stores are dry. Examples are hardware and paint supply stores for masks, and pool supply stores for water cleaning supplies. You might want to map out the area with any stores that might have useful things for you just in case it does get really bad and you end up being really on your own for a long, long time.
Home Defence-
Don't forget the vital aspect of defending your space when there might not be police to help you. You could plant prickly bushes under the windows, and put up a big fence around your yard. Some other thoughts might be to have enough plywood and screws around to be able to board up your windows when the time comes. You might want to get a dog, or at least a 'beware of dog' sign, not so much for real zombies but it helps sometimes for would be robbers.

After the Pandemic-
We're going to assume that it's not an extinction level event and most of society did manage to survive. Of course, if it does not go well you might want to print a copy of the WHMIS symbols if you have to borrow some diesel, gasoline, or propane from a tanker truck or stopped freight train. It is not a good idea to try to bust open a container when you have no idea about what is inside for numerous reasons.
Once the media begins reporting that the pandemic has burned itself out and the number of cases reported had significantly dropped or stopped, you should be ok to come out. Remember to try to keep up your immune system with exercise and vitamins just in case, and as soon as it's financially possible do try to restock your depleted supplies.

As much as I do love the zombie movies and t.v. shows, it certainly would be a nightmare of horrific proportions if anything remotely similar to a zombie pandemic were to occur. I hope that you've enjoyed this exercise, and I hope that it will remind you to review pandemic preparedness material. After all, it is flu season.
Happy Halloween!

Another New Author For The CPN

The Canadian Preppers Network would like to welcome it's newest author, Christine Faraday.

Christine believes in a down to earth, practical approach to being prepared. This belief did not come about easily and her approach to prepping has been streamlined over several years and several predicted crisis that did not come to fruition. For that reason, she believe it is best to start slowly, beginning with a 72 hour kit, and the motto "Store what you eat, eat what you store, on sale".
Then begin to build with knowledge and skills over a period of time. The learning never ends.
Books are her best friends and research and knowledge is her passion.
Being prepared is a lifestyle that is comforting and rewarding. For Christine, there is simply no other way to live.

Please help welcome Christine to the blog.