(Note: An abbreviated version of this information for posting on local websites or publishing in local news venues is available here)
(This is a special report prepared for The Patriot Post by the Emergency Preparedness and Response Planning Committee, a public policy group chaired by a member of The Patriot Post's National Advisory Committee.)
In 2012 we convened a knowledgeable team of emergency preparedness and response experts, including federal, state and local emergency management professionals, and specialists from the fields of emergency medicine, urban and wilderness survival, academia, law enforcement and related private sector services. They compiled basic individual preparedness recommendations to sustain you and your family during a short-term crisis. The objective was to outline a Two Step Individual Readiness Plan which would enable you to shelter in place in the event of a local, regional or national catastrophic event, including a pandemic.
There are two emergency scenarios which may require you to shelter-in-place.
1. The most likely scenario requiring you to shelter-in-place would be the short-term need to isolate yourself from chemical, biological, or radiological contaminants released accidentally or intentionally into the environment. (This could require sheltering for 1-3 days.) This means selecting a small, interior room, with no or few windows, and taking refuge there. It does not mean sealing off your entire home or office building. If emergency personnel advise you to shelter-in-place, follow the instructions provided below for your location. Make sure you have an operational battery-powered radio.
2. Less likely but more consequential are scenarios requiring you to shelter-in-place for a longer period of time, including but not limited to meteorological, geological and technological hazards, which pose a serious threat to power and communication grids (which are increasingly complex), transportation and material supply lines, food supplies, and both water and sanitation systems.
Additionally, a natural or manmade bio-hazard emergency could require sheltering for 1-6 weeks or longer.
A significant biological threat is a pandemic, involving a virulent contagion transmitted by animals (bird or insect transmitted viruses) and/or through contact with other people. Outbreaks of such contagions are a growing risk given the intra- and inter-continental mobility of humans. There is a very real and growing threat of a bio-terrorist attack utilizing humans to spread contagions—bio-bombers—terrorist "martyrs" who, instead of strapping on a bomb and detonating themselves in a crowded urban area, become human hosts for virulent strains of deadly contagions. A pandemic can be incited if a cadre of bio-bombers fly into the U.S. legally, and park themselves in major airport hubs around the nation for days, where they can infect others traveling across country with pathogens, symptoms of which may take days to manifest.
In the event of a pandemic threat, you must isolate yourself from other people in order not to contract an illness. The best location to shelter-in-place in the event of a biological threat, is in your residence.Sheltering in place for pandemic or other threats which necessitates isolation for more than 1-3 days, requires basic preparations. Follow our Two Step Individual Readiness Plan as outlined below, to unsure you and your family are prepared for a longer-term requirement to shelter-in-place.
We buy insurance coverage for our autos and homes, which we hope never to use. Preparing a Shelter in Place Basic Kit for two weeks is far less expensive than other insurance premiums, and though we hope never to use those provisions, if the day should come when you need them, their value will be priceless.
These easy instructions will simplify the process of setting aside minimal provisions for a short-term emergency. Of course you can take the two-week basic provisions list and multiply it in order to establish sufficient supplies for longer crisis duration. While two weeks of provisions is considered the absolute minimum, six weeks of provisions is the recommended threshold per person. However, the more provisions you set aside, the better able you will be to assist others in need.
Moreover, building more substantial emergency provisions will provide you with the opportunity to share those provisions with others in need, and reduce dependence on local, state and federal government relief efforts. The fact is, government relief programs for critical events are underfunded, undersupplied and in the event of a regional crisis, the most basic provisions may not be restored for weeks.
Even with relatively inert weather threats, the shelves of urban and suburban food and supply sellers can be emptied in hours, and can remain empty for days or weeks because resupply warehouses are often in other regions and clear transportation routes may be a problem.
This Two Week Shelter in Place Basic Kit is designed to meet basic needs of one adult should there be a local or regional disruption of services and supplies. This Kit should be modified to account for the ages of members in your household and special medical or dietary needs including prescription drugs. Many of the provisions on this list can be easily transported in the event you must evacuate the area.
There are two stages required for preparing your Two Week "Shelter in Place Basic Kit." First you must determine your nutritional and health needs. Second you must determine your shelter needs. The information below is designed to greatly simplify that process.
Determine how you plan to store and rotate items with limited shelf life. This would include food and medicines, and water. When considering nutritional supplies, you can either store common canned and bagged goods, or you can readily purchase long-term food storage buckets (5-7 years) at Costco, Sams, Amazon.com, and other suppliers. Store your emergency provisions in a cool, dry location (not an attic) to extend shelf life. Large plastic bins with lids are readily available from any household retailer, and ideal for setting aside provisions for each person in your household. Water jugs may be stored separately. (Purchase a battery-powered or hand crank radio with NOAA Weather Radio capabilities for emergency broadcasts -- readily available from any major retailer.)
Water: Water is critical for survival. Water can be stored and/or filtered or disinfected. 2.5 gallons is the minimum recommended amount of water needed per person, per day. Much more is required in hot weather and with high levels of physical activity. Store at least ten gallons of water per person. That will provide sufficient water for several days, in order to locate additional water sources. Alternative water sources in your home, if the water supply is disrupted, include the water stored in your hot water heater, which has a drain valve. Additional water may be available from swimming pools, rainfall runoff and groundwater sources. Disinfect water from non-sterile sources with a stored supply of household chlorine bleach, 16 drops per gallon of water. (Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.) Be sure and have spare containers to collect and store water, if necessary.
Water can be stored several different ways. At the time of an emergency, you can fill clean bathtubs with water. Also, water can be stored in 55-gallon clean, food-grade drums available at chemical companies or even in rinsed-out 2-liter soda bottles. A 2-liter bottle of water needs 4 drops of bleach; a 55-gallon drum needs 10 teaspoons of bleach. If you are using water from a tub or pool, boiling the water before consumption would be best if you have a power source.
If you have a natural water source available, purchase of a water purifier may be a wise investment. They range from $35 to $300 depending on the volume you wish to purify before changing the filter. Choose a water purifier that can filter up to 0.002 microns. And remember, in an emergency, swimming pools provide a source of water that must be filtered, and your home hot water heater provides a source of ready to use water.
Food: After water provisions, food is the next most important concern, and will take careful planning. Store what you eat. Canned goods that require no cooking or refrigeration are quick and easy solutions. Be sure to have a manual can opener. For foods that require preparation, a small camp stove, cook kit and fuel for stove may be required, if you do not have a natural gas stove or grill. An LP grill can also suffice without electric or natural gas appliances. Keep a supply of disposable cups, plates, towels and serving/eating utensils as water may not be available or sanitary for cleaning dishes.
Storing common canned and bagged goods (canned meats and vegetables, bagged rice and pastas, etc.) requires more planning as these goods will have to be rotated out of your kit with some regularity. The process is as simple as determining what you consume in a day, then figuring out quantities for two weeks. Those products should then be placed in an airtight bin and stored in a cool, dry location.
Don't expect to stock up on necessary food supplies the day after a crisis occurs. Because of "just in time" inventories, stores no longer maintain more than one or two days of shelf inventories. In other words, the shelves will be empty in the first hour of a crisis. One method for accumulating a food surplus is to purchase extra quantities of your family's favorite foods -- preferably on sale -- when doing your regular grocery shopping. Be sure to purchase food types that will store well. A cool, dark place is best for food storage and will extend its shelf life by almost double. Canned food can usually keep up to two years, however, if you purchase food you already like and eat, then rotating your food putting the newest purchases to the back will keep your food at it's best when you need it. Having extra pasta, rice and beans, canned meats and vegetables will require storage space, but these basics are essential in an emergency. Don't forget infant formula. Those who want food that lasts longer may consider dehydrated, freeze-dried foods or MRE's (meals ready to eat). These are generally available in camping stores or catalogs. They are expensive, but their shelf life is 10-15 years. Of course, existing perishables and pantry foods should be consumed before long-term stores.
Many vendors now sell long-term emergency nutritional supplies in a 30-day bucket for one person. These pre-packed buckets include freeze dried and dehydrated foods. (Freeze dried foods do not require much heat to rehydrate and serve, while dehydrated foods require hot water.)
Vendor sources for emergency supplies (use search engines for long term food storage and other products):
Medical: Determine your medical needs similarly. What medications do you use daily, including prescription and non-prescription items, and other health products like vitamins? Now, calculate your needs for the two-week supply kit. Remember personal and feminine hygiene products. Note expiration dates. Of course, a well-stocked first aid kit is important. Set aside additional prescription glasses, extra contact lenses and contact care supplies. Dust masks will help filter contaminated air. Most personal physicians will fill prescriptions for emergency storage.
Remember -- your nutritional and health provisions will need to be checked on a yearly basis in order to replace items that are beyond shelf life expiration dates.
If you or a family member have specific medical needs or medication requirements, check with your doctor about having enough supplies on hand for an additional six weeks. Be sure to check for expiration dates on medications and rotate your supply so that you use the ones with the most recent expiration first. You should maintain a good supply of basic antibiotics to treat secondary infections as many deaths related to pandemics are caused by secondary rather infections rather than the primary virus. Consult with your physician about appropriate antibiotics and other medicines for problems such as infection, urinary and digestive problems, etc., and have plenty of the basics -- vitamins, antioxidants, ibuprofen, aspirin and other basic remedies. Also, purchase or put together as comprehensive a first aid kit as possible along with an instruction book to administer first aid in an emergency. Get hard copies of your medical file, x-rays, etc. so that you or someone else can have a comprehensive knowledge of your medical history. Another consideration in this area is supplies for sanitary needs: diapers, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, etc. If the water is working, waste disposal may not be a problem. If water (incoming) is a problem, putting undrinkable or wash water into the toilet may still allow it to "flush". If you wish to think beyond this possibility, consider purchasing a portable toilet (camping item).
Basic Medical List: This list is provided for those who want to establish a longer-term medical supply capability in order to better serve their community in a crisis.
Your kit should contain at a minimum: First aid manual, Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes, Assorted sizes of safety pins, Cleansing agents (isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide)/soap/germicide, Antibiotic ointment, Latex gloves (2 pairs), Petroleum jelly, 2-inch and 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6 each size), Triangular bandages (3), 2-inch and 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls each), Cotton balls, Scissors, Tweezers, Needle, Moistened towelettes, Antiseptic, Thermometer, Tongue depressor blades (2), Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant, Sunscreen, Extra pair of prescription glasses or contact lens, Aspirin and nonaspirin pain reliever, Antidiarrhea medication, Antacid (for stomach upset), Syrup of ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the poison control center), Laxative, Vitamins.
Always have at least a 6-month supply of prescription and non-prescription medication that you need. It would be better to have a 1-year supply of meds that are necessary for life (asthma, diabetes, blood pressure, and thyroid)
Self-Defense: The ability to defend your family and community is essential. We advocate -- consistent with the Constitution's Second Amendment mandate -- that all households should have at least one knowledgeable user of firearms and the appropriate arms and ammunition. In a major crisis, combine your families or neighbors into a central location so that you can work together for security and safety.
Consider the establishment of a safe room in the event of a chemical or biological attack. Have duct tape, scissors and plastic for doors, windows and vents for the room in which you will shelter in place -- this should be an internal room where you can block out air that may contain hazardous chemical or biological agents. To save critical time during an emergency, sheeting should be pre-measured and cut for each opening. If sheltering in place is not necessary, have a plan with your neighbors or extended family to combine your families into one or two houses so that you can work together.
Shelter: Fire starter, tent, warm sleeping bag, large tarps (for shelter and cover for damaged housing), roll of plastic sheeting, duct tape, matches in a waterproof container
Power and Heat: Take inventory of heat and power sources in your home. If your central gas or electric heat system is not operational, do you have a fireplace and wood to burn? If possible, the installation of a wood-burning heater in your fireplace provides an excellent alternative heat source. Make sure you have the obvious -- extra warm clothing and blankets. Without electricity, what source of power would you use for lights, cooking, or running essential equipment? Consider the basics such as batteries for flashlights and propane for outdoor grills or camping stoves. Should you purchase a generator to power your refrigerator or the electric blower on your wood heater? Keep in mind, your emergency planning committee recommends enough supplies to sustain your family for at least six weeks.
Communication: Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger, portable handheld two-way radios if cell phone service is down. Good supply of batteries. (Note that as many households are giving up their landline phone service and only using cell phones, in a crisis, your cell phone service may be far more limited than a household landline -- with a phone that does not require batteries or power. Be sure to have a battery-operated radio and a large store of batteries. Keep a set of handheld two-way radios on hand and a NOAA weather band radio.
Clothing and Bedding: If you live in a cold weather climate, you must think about warmth. It is possible that the power will be out and you will not have heat. Rethink your clothing and bedding supplies to account for growing children and other family changes. One complete change of warm clothing and shoes per person, including: jacket or coat, long pants, long sleeve shirt, sturdy shoes, hat and gloves, sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person, rain gear
Light: Flashlights, extra batteries, Generator, Cords, fuel, candles, lanterns, and lamp oil.
Security: Ability, Equipment (choose what works best for your situation) and training for self-defense/protection. Additional items: fire extinguisher, whistle to signal for help, and a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
Tools: Gas and water cutoff wrench, hand ax, knife, multi-tool, shovel and rake. Keep on hand a well supplied household tool box, available for purchase if you don't maintain your own house.
Transportation: Gas pumps don't work without electricity. If you could not obtain gasoline for a period of time, what would be the alternatives? In a catastrophic emergency, you probably would be making few, if any trips anywhere unless you needed to relocate to a safer destination. Discuss with your family and friends what they plan to do in an emergency.
Sanitation: Heavy duty garbage bags, 5 gallon buckets with lids, toilet paper, disposable baby wipes, bleach (basic unscented), dust – face masks, shovel. Moist towelettes and hand cleaners/sanitizers, disinfectant
Administrative: Copies of important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. Make a set of extra keys and have cash or other negotiable instruments for transactions. Paper and pencil -- 3x5 cards as your phone and laptop/desktop computers may be disabled.
Other Supplies: Some other items for your family to consider adding to its supply kit: Emergency reference materials such as a first aid book or other information on FEMA's www.ready.gov website, infant formula and diapers, pet food and water, books, games, puzzles or other activities for children. Currency -- Banks may be closed. What will you use for negotiable currency? We suggest the acquisition of hard assets in negotiable forms. Un-circulated silver dimes, quarters and half-dollars are an easily recognizable form or currency with intrinsic value.
Talk about emergency preparedness with your church leadership and neighbors. You can pool your resources and abilities to help each other. Above all, encourage neighborhood preparedness and avoid the "bunker mentality." Opt instead to be prepared for assisting others who may not have taken the necessary steps to prepare as outlined in these recommendations. The Patriot Post Advisory Committee has an abiding faith in the good people of our great nation -- our ability to come together to serve one another in times of tragedy or crisis. Plan for life without television or computer if you can! Remember board games and cards? Some of this emergency thinking can actually lead to family togetherness!!
Learn about the natural disasters that could occur in your community from your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter. Learn whether hazardous materials are produced, stored or transported near your area. Learn about possible consequences of deliberate acts of terror. Ask how to prepare for each potential emergency and how to respond. Talk with employers and school officials about their emergency response plans. Talk with your household about potential emergencies and how to respond to each. Talk about what you would need to do in an evacuation. Plan how your household would stay in contact if you were separated. Identify two meeting places: the first should be near your home -- in case of fire, perhaps a tree or a telephone pole; the second should be away from your neighborhood in case you cannot return home. Pick a friend or relative who lives out of the area for household members to call to say they are okay. Draw a floor plan of your home. Mark two escape routes from each room. Post emergency telephone numbers by telephones. Teach children how and when to call 911. Make sure everyone in your household knows how and when to shut off water, gas, and electricity at the main switches. Consult with your local utilities if you have questions. Take a first aid and CPR class. Local American Red Cross chapters can provide information. Official certification by the American Red Cross provides "good Samaritan" law protection for those giving first aid.
Reduce the economic impact of disaster on your property and your household's health and financial well-being. Review property insurance policies before disaster strikes -- make sure policies are current and be certain they meet your needs (type of coverage, amount of coverage, and hazard covered -- flood, earthquake) Protect your household's financial well-being before a disaster strikes -- review life insurance policies and consider saving money in an "emergency" savings account that could be used in any crisis. It is advisable to keep a small amount of cash or traveler's checks at home in a safe place where you can quickly gain access to it in case of an evacuation. Be certain that health insurance policies are current and meet the needs of your household.
Consider ways to help neighbors who may need special assistance, such as the elderly or the disabled. Make arrangements for pets. Pets are not allowed in public shelters. Service animals for those who depend on them are allowed.
Prepare to Shelter in Place. Sometimes disasters make it unsafe for people to leave their residence for extended periods. Winter storms, floods, bio-threats like pandemics or terrorist attacks may isolate individual households and make it necessary for each household to take care of its own needs until the disaster abates. Sheltering in place is a critical preparedness capability, particularly if there is a biological threat that requires quarantine. Your household should be prepared to be self-sufficient for three days when cut off from utilities and from outside supplies of food and water. Stay in your shelter until local authorities say it's okay to leave. The length of your stay can range from a few hours to a few weeks. Maintain a 24-hour communications and safety watch. Take turns listening for radio broadcasts. Watch for fires.
Just as important as putting your supplies together is maintaining them so they are safe to use when needed. Here are some tips to keep your supplies ready and in good condition:
Keep canned food in a cool, dry place. Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect from pests and to extend its shelf life. Throw out any canned good that becomes swollen, dented or corroded. Use foods before they go bad and replace them with fresh supplies. Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in the front. Change stored food and water supplies every six months. Be sure to write the date you store it on all containers.
Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family's needs change. Keep items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers, such as an unused trashcan, camping backpack or duffel bag.
These recommendations comport with the objectives of FEMA citizen-led community preparedness plans, often the only plans any community will have if their local government has not established a community-wide preparedness and response plan.
Additional Resource Links Page
BE INFORMED -- http://www.ready.gov/be-informed
COMMUNITY PREPAREDNESS -- http://www.ready.gov/community-preparedness
MAKE A PLAN -- http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan
BUILD A KIT -- http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit
GET INVOLVED -- http://www.ready.gov/get-involved
COMMUNITY PREPAREDNESS -- http://www.ready.gov/community-preparedness
TEACH OTHERS TO BE PREPARED -- http://www.ready.gov/preparedness-leader
and the READY GUIDE -- http://www.citizencorps.gov/ready/
Other Publications -- http://www.ready.gov/publications, http://www.ehow.com/list_6735525_list-survival-supplies.html
Remain vigilant -- a Patriot first -- in any national crisis. There is great opportunity for mischief of all sorts when a society is under duress.Back to EPRPC page