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Disaster Preparation: How to Handle Last-Minute Survival Shopping

by R. Jacob Herman   |  November 8th, 2012 7

Hurricane-Sandy_001Hurricanes do not appear out of nowhere. During the now infamous super storm Hurricane Sandy, 8.2 million people did not lose power without notice. Yet, hundreds of thousands were without basic supplies like running water and food in the aftermath of the storm. Others were without protection as the world around them became decidedly more hostile.

At the height of the confusion in Queens, a man pulled a gun at a gas station and demanded to go to the front of the line. A scary moment for anyone who has ever feared for their lives should society start to breakdown. This is as close to that reality as we’ve seen since Hurricane Katrina.

Sandy turned citizens of our nation into refugees. Well, if you subscribe to the UN train of thought, they were turned into displaced persons.

Let’s rewind 72 hours prior to landfall. The writing is on the wall, the storm is going to hit, and it is decision time. Are you going to leave work and make some quick and dirty survival plans, or are you going to wait on the curbside until the government comes to help? I am a firm believer that everyone needs to have three months worth of supplies on hand and a secondary location if you need to evacuate. But the following is not for my group of thinkers.

This is the most simple-to-follow survival plan I have ever written. This is not how preppers, as we have become known, do things. Any decent prepper would be at their secured location, eating warm wholesome food from storage, watching a movie on a laptop powered by a solar panel and being protected by their semi-auto rifle. Living like this in a disaster requires some prior planning and dedication–without that planning you will just be surviving, albeit better than those who choose to do nothing.

Even though FEMA advises that every family have several weeks of supplies on hand, few choose to do so. Buying food and supplies ahead of time will keep you out of rationed gas lines and make sure you and your loved ones can find a degree of comfort. Beyond that, be prepared for the hard rewire that is required during a disaster. You do not need TV, Internet or air conditioning to survive. You do not need iPods and Facebook. All you need is water, food, fire and a way to keep evil people from taking it.

This survival guide is for the person who probably has never had more than two days worth of food in the kitchen (a common occurrence in urban America). This is a guide for the person who has never considered the need for protection from looters, thieves and threats to their family’s safety during a disaster. If any of this sounds familiar, you better keep reading.

Here’s a quick and dirty shopping list for those of you who came up lame when the stuff hits the fan:

Food
A human can last without food…for a while. Let’s just avoid this issue all together though, and hit the¬†grocery store if a storm is coming. But when you do, avoid bigger stores that may not be taking cash. You want to buy food that does not require cooking and hopefully requires very little water, as you will be purifying most of it. You are going to be burning more calories than you could imagine, so pick high-calorie foods. During an emergency you should probably be taking in 4,000-plus calories in a day. Pack up on beef jerky, pre-packaged shelled nuts, power and cliff bars (not diet bars), and single serving protein shakes. Pick some kind of drink mix like Gatorade, and you will be good to go until help arrives to drop off your boxes of FEMA MRE’s.

Protection
Disasters both natural and man-made will bring the scum out of the woodwork to prey on the more fortunate or the well-prepared. You more than likely will be unable to obtain a firearm during an emergency, as many states that were effected by Hurricane Sandy have strict gun control. This leaves Americans unable to protect their families from looters and criminals. But even though you may not be able to obtain a modern defensive firearm there is always Grandpa’s shotgun. I know many liberal Northeast families that are anti-gun, but still have an old double barrel in the closet. Know what kind of ammunition it uses and keep a box or two at hand. Any gun is always better than no gun. It’s hard to argue with that logic.

Hurricane-Sandy_002MSR Mini Works EX Water Filter
Water is a basic need. You have to stay hydrated. One gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds, and you need a gallon per person, per day just to drink. Throw in cleaning and sanitation and you are going to use three gallons per day. That’s 700 pounds of water for a family of four for one week. It is going to be hard to store and move that much water, so filter all the water you use. A small filter is easy to carry, and you can throw it in a backpack and move if your shelter becomes inhabitable. A waterborne virus will kill you during a disaster.

Strikeforce Fire Starter and some kind of fuel tinder
You have water and now you need to stay warm. Hypothermia will kill you even in 70-degree weather if you are wet and the wind starts blowing. A fire also has a physiological effect. Mankind has been sitting around a fire for warmth and protection for thousands of years. Try lighting a fire with a Bic lighter when your hands are cold and the lighter is wet. You’re in for a rough time. So, only use one as a backup.

  • https://www.facebook.com/DisasterPrep101 Paul Purcell

    Good article, and dead-on with the concept that Hurricane Sandy was not a surprise event. There was ample warning time.

    To help readers of this article follow other threads on post-disaster efforts and also on preparedness education, we thought we'd share some links.
    http://www.disasterprep101.blogspot.com/2012/11/h… is a short list of steps to take if you find yourself in the aftermath of a hurricane.
    http://www.disasterprep101.com/news.htm has a collection of no-cost preparedness articles that will help prevent you from needing the first article.

    Hope these help.

  • Richard

    Sorry to mention the obvious but if this is last minute, can it still be called "being prepared" …

  • Jim

    Hey, Jon Stewart would laugh at me if I prepared for disaster … I wonder where HIS food, protection, and shelter came from in the aftermath – don't suppose he missed too many meals…

  • Joe

    The MSR water filter will not protect you against waterborne viruses but it does protect you against bacteria.

  • walli

    one thing that proved right during Sandy (I am in central nj) is that during such a disaster,you will see the difference between a friend and a neighbor. most people you broke bread with in good times will have nothing to do with you in bad – UNLESS you are bringing something to the table. the lesson to learn is the table had better be yours and the rice bowl is for family first
    .Generators were a nice touch,they got stolen,fought over and make you expose your vulnerability at rationed gas lines.
    learn from your experiences,build up and modify stocks compared to day one of the last mess and don't expect any saviour care about about you.
    or take the easy way out and change your last name to Donner!

  • Steve Alonso

    I have been working in New Jersey restoring power to factories, etc. I drove up from Virginia with generators, fuel stocks and cabling. These people had no food in the house, did not fill their car gas tanks, had no flashlights or heaters. They have $600 iPhones but never spent $200 on a basic set of necessities to cover their needs for a week. There are many people here that lost their homes and everything in them and deserve help. It's sad that emergency resources are being diverted from the needy to those that just failed to prepare. If everyone just followed the meager FEMA guidelines, the problem would have been far more manageable and those in dire need would get help more quickly.

  • Rick

    The Brownells ad prevented from reading the complete articles.

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