Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us

by Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson

Five Essentials Part II
Originally published October 28, 2014

As I write this, Northern California is cleaning up from a 6.1 magnitude earthquake. Reported as the biggest quake to hit California in 25 years, officials are reporting approximately 15,000 customers without electricity, and some 160 injured. The damage to buildings and businesses and seems substantial and the disruption of thousands of lives has yet to be measured. One thing is certain; those who have prepared in advance for just such an event have a huge advantage over those who keep putting it off. A 72-hour kit would be just the ticket for this event. No trips to the store, no worries about water to drink, and your only concern would be to make sure your neighbors were looked after.

Last week I mentioned there are five essentials everyone should have on hand. The first three are a camp stove (or some method of cooking without electricity), a method for purifying water, and a battery-powered radio, preferably one that includes a NOAA weather channel.

Item number four is a backup light source. Everybody knows about Coleman lanterns. (There are also other brands, but Coleman is the most popular.) They are propane (or liquid fuel) powered and put out not only a very bright light, but a significant amount of heat as well. The drawback is anything that puts out light, requires either fuel or batteries. So include fuel or batteries in your plan. Battery powered devices come in either the rechargeable type or regular version. Either way, when the power goes out, it’s pretty handy to be able to lay hands on a flashlight or lantern within minutes of the failure. Another suggestion is to pick up a few of those little flashlights you see at most checkout counters. Keep them together in a dresser drawer and during a power failure, give one to each family member. That way if they need to leave the room, they don’t have to take the primary light source with them. A word on candles; I’m a big fan of candles, but they are an open flame so use appropriate caution. If you have propane or natural gas, don’t be too hasty to light a candle. In an earthquake, those fuel lines can rupture and if you strike a match it could have disastrous consequences. Next trip to the store, pick up something that makes light! And batteries, you can never have too many batteries. Get a variety of sizes, but get some!

Lastly, item number five isn’t something you can go out and buy, but you need some on hand. Cash. With widespread power outages comes widespread inconvenience. That debit card you carry in your wallet is worthless. Same with the money stored in your savings or checking account. When the power is off, ATMs aren’t going to be working. Neither are credit card processing machines. One day last week, I visited a local bank, or should I say I tried to visit. The doors were locked. A helpful employee directed me to the drive-through (I was on foot). It seems someone somewhere had inadvertently snipped a fiber-optic cable and their computers were all down. I was still able to transact my business, but if there is no electricity, you’ll need some cold cash. How much you keep on hand is up to you and your budget. I recommend making it small bills and keeping it in a secure location.

There are many other items you will want to add to this list, but these are the starters. Get these on the shelf and you’re on your way to being prepared for a disaster.

As always send your comments and questions to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.

Note: Dave Robinson is Bandon's Postmaster and has worked for the postal service for 30 years. He has a background in law enforcement, served in the Air Force in Vietnam, worked nine years for the Coos County Sheriff's Department, and serves on the Myrtle Point School Board, where he lives. He is the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us”.

additional columns by Dave Robinson