What do you do in an emergency situation when no doctor is available? Unfortunately, we sometimes find ourselves in these situations. The problem compounds under survival conditions with no 911
What Bushcraft Can Teach You about Surviving Emergencies Pine needle tea, cooking potatoes in aluminum foil over hot coals, using the bow drill method… all of these sound exciting for those looking to get into bushcraft. But little do they know that these types of experiences can teach them some very important lessons about surviving … Continue reading What Bushcraft Can Teach You about Surviving Emergencies
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I look at the prepping lifestyle as getting your preps with as little cash outlay as possible. I spend enough of my cash just trying to get by in the
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When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans it was one of the worst natural disasters in modern US history. At least 1,200 people – maybe as high as 1,800 – died
The post The First Cities To Be Relived By The Government After SHTF appeared first on Ask a Prepper.
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans it was one of the worst natural disasters in modern US history. At least 1,200 people – maybe as high as 1,800 – died
The post The First Counties To Be Relieved By The Government After SHTF appeared first on Ask a Prepper.
Mention a dystopia to most people and they’ll probably think of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Thought Police and Big Brother. That’s understandable, because there are worrying hints of it in our
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There was a time when writing about the threats we face as a nation was little more than conjecture. Many long-winded articles often injected fear into the reader based merely
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Ditch Medicine Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Audio in player below! This episode is all about “ditch medicine”. Ditch medicine makes due with what you have on hand. The idea is to stay alive (or keep someone else alive) with whatever is available, until you reach help or help finds you. Sometimes this includes herbs, … Continue reading Ditch Medicine with The Herbal Prepper!
If you’re one of those folks without power, heat, or warmth because of the recent snow storms, you probably know that you need a cooking tool that can bake, boil, fry and saute. It should also be able to function with a variety of heat sources, since you don’t know when the electricity might come back on.
My nomination for this wonder implement has been around for hundreds of years. It’s easy to find, cheap and effective. Go get a cast iron Dutch oven. This cooking tool has a proven track record, and it can use virtually any heat source.
Survival with the Dutch oven
Hurricane Katrina was due to hit land in a few hours, and my relatives in Mississippi, about 150 miles north of New Orleans, weren’t sure what was going to happen. I overheard my wife talking on the phone to her sister, Patti, of Clinton, Mississippi. In the middle of the hurricane preparation discussion, they started talking about recipes and what to cook, using a cast iron Dutch oven!
Everyone near Katrina faced a potential power outage that could last indefinitely. There was a discussion of evacuating, versus staying put. Among the urban survival necessities in any natural disaster is a way to cook and purify water by boiling, and a Dutch oven serves this purpose beautifully.
We had given Patti a hand-me-down cast iron camp oven with the lipped lid and three legs. Designed to be heated on top and bottom with campfire coals or charcoal, the camp oven was considered a necessity on the American frontier for at least two centuries. That type oven was taken on the Lewis and Clark expedition, was used by travelers on the Oregon trail, who surely used it to cook foods on this list. The oven was indispensable in countless cabins, lean-tos and soddies.
Technically, a “Dutch” oven has a rounded top and no legs and can be used in a conventional oven on top of a stove, or on an outdoor propane fish cooker of grill. Here is an example of this style of oven.
Today, a camp oven is on my short list of tools for my disaster survival kit. And if you’re one of the people stranded at home because of the record snows, or are anticipating some sort of disaster, you need a Dutch oven, too.
A Dutch oven can be used to boil water, make a stew, bake bread, and cook virtually anything that can be fitted inside. And if you were forced to evacuate an area, a camp and/or Dutch oven is compact and light enough to be easily transported. My wife’s advice to her sister was to go to Walmart and get:
- At least 50 pounds of charcoal
- 3 of the round, 14-inch diameter metal pet food dishes
Put the oven, these items, and some basic cooking utensils in a square milk crate for storage, and you’re ready to bug out. If you have more than one Dutch oven (one to use for everyday cooking and another for camping/emergencies), this milk crate system is excellent. Just store it with your other camping/hunting/emergency supplies.
Must-haves for your Dutch oven survival kit
I’ve been cooking with Dutch ovens at hunting and fishing camps for decades, and on many camping trips and Boy Scout and Girl Scout outings. Beginners frequently ask for a list of tools to get started in Dutch oven cooking. So, here’s the basic, bare-bones list of Dutch oven survival kit necessities, proven over the years.
1 12-inch Lodge brand shallow cast iron oven
I like Lodge cast iron best because it is made in America and has a proven quality record, but that’s just personal preference. Other experienced Dutch oven cooks may use different brands, such as Camp Chef, so chose whatever you like. You’ll get what you pay for. A cheap, poorly-made oven won’t work particularly well, and you’ll probably end up replacing it with a quality piece. Sometimes, I take an aluminum oven on outdoor excursions instead of cast iron to save weight.
3 shallow metal pans with lipped rims
These are critical, and common dog food pans work very well. Put one pan underneath the oven to protect the coals from dampness and help regulate heat; and another pan is used to store coals. The third is a spare that is used to cover the oven and protect it from rain or snow while cooking. Here is an example of this type of bowl. See the video below to see how these pans are utilized.
1 Lid lifter
In a pinch, a pair of channel lock pliers will work. Don’t underestimate the weight of the Dutch oven filled with food or how hot it gets! A lid lifter gives you plenty of distance from the heat source when you want to check on your food or stir it.
1 Trivet or tripod
This is a wire or metal rack that holds the lid while you stir the contents of the oven or adjust seasonings. It keeps the lid out of the dirt and clean, and if you’re cooking outdoors, you may not have a nearby, heat-proof surface.
You probably don’t need a tactical or survival knife, (even though, in an emergency, any knife you have is a “survival knife”), but you will need something that will work for food preparation.
1 Nylon spatula and nylon spoon
This is used for cooking, serving, and cleaning the oven.
Sources of heat and organizing your gear
Charcoal is easy to use, and generally, in good supply. But when the charcoal runs out, you can use firewood, driftwood, coal, wood scraps from a dumpster, etc. Shipping pallets, generally found about anywhere, burn quite well. If the pallets are made of hardwood, which many are, then you’ll get great coals! You can also prepare for disaster by integrating an outside heat source into your normal cooking routine. My propane fish cooker stays operational year-round on my patio because it is used constantly. Even when there is snow on the ground, we still go outside to fry bacon or cook fish.
If your plan is to use mostly charcoal briquettes with your outdoor cooking, a Chimney Starter will make life much, much easier for you. It heats up the briquettes super quickly so you have coals for cooking in no time.
The lid lifter, trivet, “survival knife,” spatula and spoon all fit inside the oven. All these items fit into a nylon commercial Dutch oven holder. Another great way to carry everything is in a square milk crate. Put the metal pans on the bottom, and the oven won’t tip over. The loaded crate stacks nicely.
Cleaning a Dutch oven is easy. Take the spatula, scrape out any food residue, and fill it with water. (Never put cold water into a hot oven. It might cause it to crack.) Put the oven back on the coals, and boil the water. Usually this will be enough to clean the oven, and all that remains is to scrape out the softened food debris and wipe it dry. Rub the cast iron with a light film of oil to protect against rust.
Obviously, there are other “nice-to-have” cooking items that could be included, but this basic Dutch oven survival kit will get you by. Check out these Dutch oven no-fail recipes for getting started or even if you’re an experienced outdoor cooke!
For more information about Dutch ovens and cooking outdoors, contact:
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When we think of survival and disaster preparedness the images most people conjure up are basically rural. Preparedness is all about being ready to harvest the essentials from the land,
Some things in life you can never have too much of. But for this article, we’ll concentrate just on radio range/efficiency! There are many ways to boost the range of
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I’ve been watching the recent flooding in Louisiana and the response to those in need. Churches in my area have loaded up trucks and trailers and have coordinated with Louisiana churches to provide assistance. No requirement of church membership, proof of tithing, approval of lifestyle, racial quotas — none of that. It’s just, “You need some diapers for your baby? Here they are.”
That’s how charity is supposed to work. You learn about someone in need and then you find a way to meet that need. The founder of Salvation Army knew this and founded the organization on those principles. You can read his fascinating life story in this book.
“…Freely you have received. Freely give.” Matthew 10:8
So now I read an article about how the Red Cross has been operating in Louisiana, and it reeks of government interference with what most charitable-minded people would like to do. Here’s one example from Nancy Malone, an American Red Cross spokesperson regarding giving food/meals to displaced people:
“We are held accountable to state regulations. This food has to come from a certified kitchen.”
Volunteers were turned away if they hadn’t gone through Red Cross channels. In one case, a woman volunteered to come in and clean bathrooms and toilets but was turned away. Bureaucracy at its finest. In another instance, volunteers put up their own shelter but Red Cross took it over when they finally arrived in town. The goods handed out by Red Cross can only come from their approved suppliers.
In a crisis, whether a natural disaster that dislaces you from your home, war, or TEOTWAWKI, this is exactly how you will be treated by government so-called assistance. Red tape, bureaucrats, nonsensical rules that deny help because of more nonsensical rules. Nothing will come easy. The process will favor a few. Your needs will be met only on occasion and by pure coincidence.
Now, maybe you’re the type who likes to follow every rule even though it flies in the face of common sense. There are plenty of those sheep everywhere. I’m not cut from that cloth, though, and I would bet most preppers aren’t. We want to provide our own meals, our own shelter, our own water, and on and on. Hopefully, we have enough to share and when we do, or can, we want it to be on our own terms — not confiscated from us by officials who think they know better.
One of the results from large bureaucracies/government taking over charitable giving is that it removes that charitable instinct. Why should I donate or volunteer? FEMA will be along to help. The Red Cross will show up any day now. Without realizing it, we defer to faceless bureaucrats what we are naturally wired to do — help our fellow man.
The best way to do that is to actually get to know your fellow man — through social events, volunteer work, church, community organizations, etc. That way, when there’s a disaster in your area, you will know, first hand, where help is needed, who needs help, and who is coordinating local assistance. Then, you give. If you are handy with tools, you help with rebuilding. If you have a pickup truck, you help with hauling away debris. If all you have are 2 hands, you can help in so many ways. The Civil Air Patrol and CERT are two organizations that offer the type of training that comes in handy during emergency response situations.
I wish I could encourage you to join up with the Red Cross, and there are probably chapters around the country who are not quite as bound by rules and regulations as to be of limited help. One buddy of mine who has worked in emergency response for decades claims that local Red Cross groups can be effective and very helpful. However, I tend to shy away from donating to groups with massive overhead and huge salaries to their top people. That’s just me.
If you don’t want to stand in long lines for bottled water or sign a lengthy form of rules in order to have a roof over your head provided by a government-run shelter, then keep prepping. The alternative is relying on government, or government-like organizations, to decide what you need and what is best for you. That just doesn’t sit well with me.
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Natural hazards, calamities, war, violent rebellions and other ominous events are eventually bound to happen. Our lives will be turned upside down, shaken to the core. But do these catastrophes
34 Practical Ways to Use Duct Tape for Survival & Emergencies I stumbled across this post and I had to share it with you all today. This miracle stuff was created during World War II when the US military needed a flexible, durable, waterproof tape to use making repairs in the field. This handy product …
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by Susan: Inflammatory diseases can affect any part of our body, from joints and muscles to our intestine, internal organs, and even our skin. Many are not life threatening, but
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Image this; you’re in a large department store in the shopping mall with your family on a busy Saturday. Suddenly, without warning, you hear the unmistakable sound of an AK-47
While not exactly edible, stocking up on these ten items will make everyday life more comfortable, whatever your emergency.
Picture this. You’ve been in your bunker for three weeks. Sponge baths are a rare treat. Then you remember your stash of Secret anti-perspirant. Ahhhh….. instant morale booster, especially if shared.
Periods don’t stop for something trivial like a nuclear war. A six month’s stash of tampons, especially o.b., won’t take up much room, and will greatly improve your quality of life. However, a much better option, by far, is a menstrual cup, such as the Diva Cup that I review here.
Small items for entertainment
Choose multi-use toys and games. Playing cards or Play-Dough, for example. Yard sales, dollar stores, and thrift shops are all very good places to buy these. They’ll keep kids busy during stressful times and will provide diversions for the adults in the group.
In a pinch it can be used for shampoo and even laundry. Buy a variety of soaps, including some that do not have a lot of extra dye or perfume added. You should also stock up on classic laundry soaps, such as Zote or Fels-Naptha. These are terrific as stain removers and as an ingredient for homemade laundry detergent.
Zip-Loc bags of all sizes
These can’t be beat for everything from a tooth for the Tooth Fairy to containing nuclear waste, aka dirty diapers.
Rope for a clothesline and clothes pins. Air-dried laundry smells and feels so clean and crisp. It may become your preferred method of drying, even after the electricity comes on, and of course there’s the added benefit of being oh-so-Green!
A pack of never-before-opened underwear for each family member
This is something that most folks will overlook in their zeal to stock up on freeze-dried food and ammo, but sooner or later, the kids are going to outgrow theirs and mom and dad will appreciate having a nice, fresh set. Ditto for bras.
Battery-powered CD player & CDs
There’s just something about beautiful music for defusing tension and calming nerves. I put this in the category of “Sanity” when it comes to packing emergency kits and making survival preps at home.
Seriously. Do you really want to be 100% conscious wrapped up in your silver emergency blanket, huddled in the back seat of your mini-van for hours?
While it’s true you can’t stock up on enough toilet paper to last indefinitely, but you can stock up on a year’s worth. I’ve done it. Use coupons and store sales to bring the price down. Keep track of how many rolls your household uses in a month, multiply by 12, and you’ll know about how many rolls you’ll need. Some have argued in favor of using cloth wipes in lieu of TP, and this isn’t a bad idea in general, but it will require the ability to bring a few gallons of water to a boil at least 2-3 times per week, and then dispose of the resulting “black water” in an area that won’t contaminate ground water or growing, food-bearing plants.
Preparing for natural disasters, nuclear war, complete societal breakdown, doesn’t mean we have to lose our sense of humor. In fact, your sense of humor should be #1 on this list! Don’t ever hunker down in your bunker without it!
This article was originally posted in June, 2009 and has been updated.
It seems that every year I see one or more stories on the evening news and on the Web about someone who has ventured into the wilderness for recreational purposes
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When it comes to prepping, age-related needs come at both ends of the spectrum. Small children and elderly parents can have very specific needs because their bodies just aren’t able to self-regulate the way a healthy adult in the prime of their life does. Elderly preppers have unique needs to take into consideration.
Even when the needs are the same, such as pureed food or diapering, they have to be approached differently when it’s an elderly person with a lifetime of being independent, or even an adult who has been dependent their entire life. They either have memories of not being this way, or they know other adults are not like this. It’s important to never make them feel like they are being made fun of for something that is beyond their control, whether that is a physical or mental attribute.
First Steps for Elderly Preppers
Most people can retire when they are sixty or sixty-five and that’s a reasonable time to start asking more questions and thinking about putting some preps in place for your parents and other older relatives, although many are still quite healthy and spry well into their 60’s and beyond. Initially, simple steps like having a copy of their will, medical Advance Directives, such as a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), and other basic forms and information is probably sufficient. As time goes on and takes more and more of a toll, you will need to take more steps to help them, but this is normally a gradual process over a period of a decade or more.
The key items to do in advance are primarily paperwork. In addition to a will and DNR, try to have copies of these documents:
- Medical and financial powers of attorney
- The front page of their passport
- Copies of drivers licenses, insurance, and other basic IDs
The truth is, that these are good to have on hand largely in case something happens and they lose their wallet or purse, especially while traveling. (It would be a good idea for you to leave a complete set of all your IDS and basic legal documents with them for the same reason.)
In addition to Advanced Directives/DNR for the state they live in, it’s a good idea to have one for any state you reasonably expect the to visit or travel through. (DNRs are different in different states and specify what should be done in a medical emergency in terms of pain medication, feeding, and life-extending measures.) Of course, also have copies of any prescriptions and diagnoses they have, and a complete list of all their doctors’ names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers.
A HELPFUL TIP: Create a Grab-n-Go Binder for your elderly loved one. It should be stored in an easy-to-find location and you should have copies of its contents scanned and stored in the Cloud or on a thumb drive OR have hard copies in your own binder.
Single family home
Just because your elderly prepper is well enough to stay in their own home, doesn’t mean they will take care of emergency preparedness items. After all, most young people don’t either. Even small amounts of mental deterioration may make it hard for them to realize how dangerous certain situations are and what they need to do to be prepared, and sheer stubbornness may lead them to deny obvious danger signs.
There are certain emergencies most people are prepared for. Almost everyone knows the importance of smoke detectors and being prepared for a fire. Depending on the location, preparing for earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural hazards may be nearly as common place. These familiar events are a good place to start if the idea of prepping is new to them. Let’s face it. It’s a lot easier to talk about preparing for a tornado than bringing up topics like bug out bags and how they can handle two weeks without access to medical care or their prescriptions.
Smoke detectors are very nearly universal in all homes. Some, like the one linked in the last sentence, play a recorded message so you can direct family members what to do and where to go in a fire. Forgetting to check batteries in smoke detectors is almost as universal as owning them, so go ahead and do this when you visit elderly loved ones. They may find them hard to reach on their own, and testing the detector is also a good way to be sure they can still hear it. If they can’t, it’s time to switch to one with a strobe light.
We have emergency ladders to get out of every bedroom in our house in a fire. If your parents have one, can they still safely climb down it? If they fall, how hard is the surface they will land on? Even if they can still safely climb down, you need to make sure they have a safe area under their window in case they fall to minimize the chance of breaking a hip or other bones.
Once you have reviewed the preps that are in place, talk to them about any improvements you think they could use. As dull as it sounds, those might make a good gift. (Do you think they really want another coffee mug or dust collector?) A few suggestions for those are:
- A bucket of just-add-water meals to provide food for a week or more. These meals are very lightweight and as long as your loved one can heat water to boiling, this food will provide the nourishment they need.
- Large print road map. If the are still able to drive, this will be a huge help.
- A “Panic Alert” emergency dialer
- Waist pack, formerly “fanny pack”, to make sure they always have certain items with them, no matter what.
- Small LED flashlights in each room. Velcro these to tabletops or other handy locations to make sure they don’t easily get lost.
- Fashionable reading glasses, for the ladies.
- A Kindle loaded with books, both for entertainment and reference. It’s easy to change the font size, so this really is a must-have for anyone with vision issues.
You can also talk about the need to improve their tornado/hurricane/earthquake/whatever preps. Even if they aren’t open to all your suggestions, they are still adults and you need to respect their choices, even ones you know aren’t smart, as long as they aren’t endangering anyone else.
Once your relatives can no longer care for a yard or remove snow from the driveway and sidewalk, it is probably time for them to move into a senior apartment, particularly if no one lives close enough to help. Their emergency preparedness needs will change when this happens. For example, even if they can still use an emergency ladder, it is time to replace it with something less physically taxing.
Part of moving from a home to an apartment is downsizing. They will have to get rid of a lot of stuff, some of which may be useful to you in your preps. Items I bought from an elderly woman moving into assisted living included wool throw blankets, high-quality hand-powered kitchen gadgets, cigarette lighters from back when they were daily use items, and really good gardening tools.
We all collect more stuff than we need, and your loved one may need help in sorting through their own household goods. If possible, and if there’s an urgent need for cash, help them organize and hold a yard sale.
With downsizing, it’s a good time to review their paperwork. Some of their doctors may change when they move, so be sure to check their list of doctors both right after they move and a few months later, when they have settled in a bit more. It’s possible you may be the one to seek out new doctors, so be ready to ask for referrals and do some research in order to find the best care in this new location. Sometimes transportation can become an issue at this stage, and that is something to keep in mind as new doctors are found.
In an emergency, elderly loved ones who are living on their own, should be able to pack for an evacuation, but will almost certainly need a list to work from. Create a list with them (in a large font!), post 1 or 2 copies in handy locations, then review it with them every six months or so to keep up with their health. You don’t want to have their cane on the packing list, only to end up at your destination and find that they are struggling without their walker. Put the list inside a plastic sheet protector with a dry erase pen and a facial tissue. The dry erase pen can write on the sheet protector, and the tissue can be used to wipe it off, making the packing list reusable.
TIP: The Survival Mom has written an entire, easy to read manual on the subject of Emergency Evacuations.
When their condition deteriorates to the point that they can’t live on their own any more, they will need to move into assisted living. This option is for people with most of their abilities to live independently intact, just not enough to be on their own, to those with no ability to care for their daily needs. This move will also lead to another round of down-sizing.
Whatever their condition, an elderly person should be able to pack their own bag, or direct someone else to pack it. Some may need to have a very detailed checklist to follow while others may only need to be told “pack enough clothing for at least a week” and they will have everything they need, including toiletries, spare shoes, and sunscreen. You need to evaluate your loved one’s condition and give them the support they need to successfully pack themselves.
You should already have copies of all their prescriptions and diagnoses. Now it’s time to find out what medical equipment, if any, they will need. In this move, they shouldn’t need anything too large or expensive. The largest thing someone in assisted living is likely to need is an oxygen tank or wheelchair and keeping one or two spare tanks of oxygen handy. These don’t take a lot of space. Honestly, I have that much space dedicated to shoes I rarely wear.
Assisted living residents can also have their own bug out bags assembled and ready to go. These should contain copies of all the paperwork discussed in the last paragraph.
By the time your elderly loved one is in a nursing home, you can’t count on them doing anything to help themselves in an emergency. At most, they will be able to pick up and carry their own emergency bag. Realistically, most people in a nursing home will be hard pressed to hold onto a bag while someone else pushes their wheelchair to the exit. You will need to have everything ready for them.
Unlike a person in their own home, their room will contain very few personal items. They will have downsized as much as they possibly can and are unlikely to have anything substantial beyond clothing, toiletries, and a few small items. You won’t need to have clothing pre-packed because you can take a bag and empty their drawers/closet into that bag as you are getting ready to leave. You can clear out the medicine cabinet/bathroom sink into a toiletries bag, making sure you have all their key medicines. The upside of having few belongings is that it takes only a few minutes to pack them up.
TIP: Prior to this move, be sure you have had discussions regarding personal belongings, real estate, and finances.
You should already have copies of their key paperwork and medications (discussed above). At this stage in their lives, you should ask their doctors and the nurses who oversee them on a day-to-day basis to find out what else they need. Will they need a bedpan, catheters, IVs, or other medical equipment? If so, you can buy those and have them ready in an emergency or at least be prepared to make arrangements as soon as possible after leaving the facility. Check frequently with facility administrators, nurses, and orderlies to keep up with any deterioration in their condition.
An elderly woman I help care for complained of “some leaking” when she woke up in the mornings. When we eventually moved her out of her apartment, her mattress showed how much she had been in denial about her incontinence problems. This is something no adult wants to admit, but it’s all too common among the elderly. If there is a chance you will be evacuating or otherwise in the car for a long time, you should pack disposable incontinence underwear for them, especially if there won’t be easy access to bathrooms.
Incontinence issues affect many people of all ages.
Before an emergency evacuation, tell the truth: You will be in the car for a long time and may not be able to get to a bathroom quickly. You have Depends, or some other brand, handy and let them make the choice whether or not to use them. If they are having problems, they will probably go ahead and use the Depends IF they can do it without being made to feel embarrassed or shamed. If they won’t do it for this reason, they probably won’t wear one for any other reason.
If you are concerned about a possible incontinence problem and they won’t use Depends, cover your seats with bed sheeting fabric. It’s about $4/yard at the fabric store, is waterproof, and feels like flannel. (It’s also great as a diaper changing pad for toddlers.)
“Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”
Special Needs Preppers is a complete series of articles for every family with loved ones whose needs have been overlooked by most other survival and prepper blogs and websites. Most of us can’t fathom leaving behind a pet — how much more important is a grandmother, autistic child, or a bed-ridden loved one?
If you have other, helpful suggestions for any of these special needs preppers, please leave your comments.
- Mental Health Challenges
- Physical & Medical Challenges
- Pregnancy, Babies & Toddlers
- Severe Disabilities
- Single Moms
My children are big enough to not need many special accommodations, but when they were younger, just keeping their emergency supplies up to date (in other words, clothing that fit and food they would eat) could be a challenge! The truth is that little kids end up with a lot of emergencies, most of the potty, food, and otherwise messy variety. Parents already carry a lot of “emergency supplies” with them!
In a larger disaster, the challenges are determining what you need for a longer period, quite possibly away from home, and ways to keep your little one comfortable and content away from home. If you’re an expectant mother, you have your own set of unique needs.
Emergency needs for pregnant women
Given how swiftly needs change during pregnancy, your Bug Out Bag or emergency kit may not be up to date. You’ll probably want to add a month’s supply of prenatal vitamins, a portable water filter (hydration is extremely important and you may end up in an area with questionable water), a few Mylar pouches of water, high calorie nutrition bars, and antacid tablets. Another good addition is a small bottle of acetaminophen, deemed to be safe for pregnant women, Benadryl (can be helpful as a mild sleep aid, too), a laxative, and any other medications your doctor recommends.
Nutrition will be an extremely important consideration, so carefully consider the emergency food you have on hand. These store especially well:
- Canned or dry beans (naturally high in folate)
- Lentils and lentil soup
- Freeze-dried bananas for potassium and energy
- Freeze-dried and/or canned chicken (quick meals, great protein source)
- Eggs — dried eggs are handy and store well
- Oatmeal — Make your own “instant oatmeal” by briefly processing oats in a blender and adding dried fruit, dried milk, and a little sugar.
- Freeze-dried spinach — a good way to have a leafy green that stores long-term
- Orange drink powder — I don’t love the sugar content, but the Vitamin C is necessary and the sugar can give you a quick energy boost.
- Almonds, walnuts — a healthy source of fat
- Freeze-dried or dehydrated fruit
If you’re pregnant and have strange cravings, it wouldn’t hurt to add a few servings to your kit. If it’s something like Taco Bell Quesaritos, well, I guess you’ll just have to keep on hand a map of all Taco Bells within 100 miles or so!
Whatever you pack, it’s smart to keep a basic list with notations of where to find the items in case someone else needs to pack for you because you either aren’t home or aren’t feeling well. Pregnancy brain is infamous for making women forgetful, and so is sleep deprivation, which continues until at least when they start school. Lists are your friend!
Along with food and water, at a bare minimum, you will need pre-natal vitamins, any other medication, doctors’ diagnosis, and comfortable clothing with room to grow. If you have any kind of sleep or comfort aids, including wedge pillows, belly bands, etc. note it. If you have any medical issues, have up-to-date copies of your prescriptions and medical charts. It’s also a good idea to bring something from your doctor, like an ultrasound picture, that shows your Estimated Delivery Date. There may be restrictions (and extra assistance) once you reach a certain gestational point and the last thing you want is to be unable to prove either that those restrictions don’t apply to you or that you do rate the assistance (if needed) because you don’t “look” the way someone thinks you should.
If you are pregnant, part of your emergency preparedness should also include a “Plan B” for your birth. Few things are as scary to a pregnant woman as the prospect of birthing in unfamiliar or dangerous conditions. Mothers-to-be are busy enough making “Plan A” for their birth, most of us never even consider a “Plan B” that involves giving birth elsewhere because of evacuation or inability to get to a hospital. Even if your “Plan B” isn’t meticulously planned out, it’s helpful to have a general idea. Many birth classes go over what to do if you unexpectedly find yourself in the middle of an unplanned unassisted birth.
Some women have pregnancy-related bladder leakage problems. If you are one of them, pack accordingly. Even if you aren’t, be prepared for your water to break, even if you don’t think you are far enough along. A few extra maxi pads don’t take much space and if you don’t need them, you might help out another woman.
If I could go back in time I might not make the same decision, but I only used disposable diapers. Even so, I kept a pack of cloth diapers on hand, just in case of emergency. We still use them as dust-rags. If you don’t use them, you know they will definitely be in the bag in the event of a true emergency. After all, would you rather use a cloth diaper or dad’s shirt? It’s kind of a no-brainer when you think about it.
READ MORE: Want to learn more about the pros and cons of cloth diapers vs. disposables? Read this.
Diaper wipes and rash ointment are the other obvious needs. Even if your child rarely (or never) gets diaper rash, you could end up in a situation where you aren’t able to change them as often as you normally would or are forced to use a different brand of wipes or diapers, resulting in a rash.
If your little one is in the middle of potty-training, or has recently been potty-trained, the stress may cause them to regress, so be prepared. Bring plenty of diapers, pull-ups, wipes, extra big-kid or training underwear, and resealable bags for soiled clothing. A reusable wet bag is very helpful for containing all types of messes.
THINK ABOUT THIS: Pack a roll of dog waste bags in your emergency kits and diaper bag. One roll usually has 40 to 50 bags and these have infinite uses.
In an evacuation or other emergency situation, accidents can be even more of an issue. No one wants trapped in a car for hours with the smell of poopy diapers or vomit. Kids ‘n’ Pets is a great solution for that. There are foldable travel potty seats, although you may just want to bag the one they are used to and bring it along. Don’t forget a stool to help them reach the seat safely!
Food for infants and toddlers
If you are pregnant and have had cravings, try to plan for that. Some foods are easy to find, like the burritos I craved during one pregnancy. Others, not so much, especially regional or seasonal treats.
I joke that I was designed to be a wet nurse. When my son needed 20 ccs of milk, I was pumping 12 ounces. The amount of leakage was no joke. I was wet and uncomfortable for the first three months of my sons’ lives, then engorged and intermittently uncomfortable for at least another three after that before everything settled down. (For a more in-depth discussion of breast-feeding, keep your eyes out for a forthcoming post on subject.) If you are like me and produce lots of milk, pack lots of both disposable and reusable nursing pads, every bra that fits, and about four times as many shirts as you normally would if you have to evacuate. As long as you can do laundry, that should work out.
READ MORE: In a time of major crisis, the concept of wet-nursing may make a comeback. Read more here.
Whether you produce a lot of a little, definitely pack at least some nursing pads, whatever you use for privacy while nursing, your breast pump, bottles, and a bottle brush. If your breast pump has an option for a car power plug, buy and bring it along. That gives you more choices about when and where to pump, especially if you have a solar power source that has a similar power outlet. For a more portable option, consider a simple hand pump. It’s smaller and requires no electricity, but the trade-off is that it is not as efficient as an electric pump.
Bring two or three times as much as you think you’ll need. It is all too easy to spill or lose items, especially away from home. This is especially important if your child is picky or has dietary restrictions. If they do, make a note of places you can order more online, chains that often carry it
It may sound obvious, but don’t forget water to mix the formula, and a small bottle of dish detergent (with a bottle brush) to clean everything after each feeding. Bonus points if you bring a small dish basin, which can also double as a small toy corral. Double bonus points if water can be heated on that basin to allow warming bottles. (Grills are available at many rest-stops and campsites.) Depending on the situation, you may also need a way to filter and treat the water to make it potable.
READ MORE: Wondering about all the different water filters out there? Read this for more information.
For at-home emergencies, you still need a way to heat water both to warm formula for feedings and to adequately clean and sterilize all parts of the bottles in case there is a power outage. A Sun Oven can heat water to pasteurization temperature and is also helpful for heating and cooking food when the power is out.
First Foods and Snacks
With small children, pickiness definitely comes into play at meal and snack time. If you know your toddler will absolutely melt down if they do not have Honey Nut Cheerios mid-afternoon, be sure to grab an extra two or three boxes as soon as any potential weather disaster enters the forecast. Include these on your packing list because they are as essential as diapers and formula for your sanity and well-being.
Small amounts of snacks can be kept in Ziploc bags or sealed using a Food Saver. Try giving your kids various freeze dried foods, such as freeze-dried yogurt bites and get them accustomed to the taste and texture. When you purchase these in either pouches or the smaller #2.5 size cans, they are lightweight and very packable when it comes to getting an emergency kit ready or having extra food on hand for the duration of an emergency.
If you make your own baby or toddler food, bring the basic equipment you need. Don’t assume it will be available wherever you end up. This may be as simple as a stick blender, scooper (or one of the new “spoonulas” – a great invention in my humble opinion), and a bowl.
Back before most audio music was purely digital, we old-timers listened to our favorites on CDs and owned small carrying cases to hold our favorite disks. These same carrying cases can hold DVDs, and that makes them take less space while still protecting them. As soon as it starts looking like you may need to evacuate, select the DVDs the kids will tantrum without, along with some family favorites to enjoy as “family movie” time. If you have time, a brand new DVD is a great way to provide a fun surprise and a few hours of quiet time for mom and dad.
CHECK THIS OUT: Our list of survival movies with a romantic edge.
Pack a portable DVD player or a laptop with TV connector cables so you can watch them. If you have Amazon Prime, toss in the Fire Stick and remote, but know that you may not be able to access it when you get where you are going. Favorite books (especially for bedtime), read aloud chapter books, coloring books (including adult coloring pages for older kids), and electronic devices also go a long way toward making long trips less unpleasant.
If you have time, create a few new music playlists for the trip – or have the kids do it! Then they’ll have something fun to listen to. You may even want to download some new tunes to surprise them. Perhaps a soundtrack you don’t hate from one of their movies?
Naps for all!
Babies are often quite content to nap either on a blanket or in their car seat. A blanket that blocks out the light and dampens the noise can be thrown over a stroller or car seat in a pinch. I’ve always kept small Gymboree blankets and a few towels rolled up and stored beneath the back seat just for this reason.
If your baby is used to sleeping in a Pack ‘n Play on a regular basis, those are fairly easy to pack and move.
Toddlers may not be quite as easy to put down for a nap as babies. They are infamous for being picky about when and where they nap. In an emergency, there will probably be a lot of commotion and stimulation making napping difficult. At the very least, there will be a new environment, which is not relaxing or safe-feeling for a young child.
The easiest solution is to have a small tent or shelter for them to sleep in. Let them use it at home, too, so it is already familiar. The Privacy Pop is a great solution is you want something that goes over an entire bed, including the mattress. An inexpensive tent or play space works, too.
Bring them. You don’t want to abandon them and the kids will probably flip out if you try. They may even endanger themselves and others by going back into a dangerous situation to rescue their beloved pet. This will require some advanced planning, and is the subject of another post, but a few advance phone calls should help you find a place where your pet is welcome along with the family.
READ MORE: Pets have always been a popular topic on The Survival Mom blog. Here are a few articles that will help you get your beloved pets ready for emergencies:
- Evacuation Time? Don’t Forget Your Pets!
- Have You Thought About Pets in Your Preparedness Planning?
- Put Together an Emergency Kit for Your Pets
Clothing tips for pregnant moms, babies, and toddlers
Finally, remember that babies go through about six to seven outfits per day. Pack your 72 hr kit accordingly. They’ll also need blankets. If you have to bug out on foot, ditch the 40-lb baby carrier/ carseat. Invest in a wrap, or make one yourself. Wraps are more comfortable than other baby carriers because they put the weight of the child onto your hips instead of your shoulders and upper back. Wraps have the added benefit of leaving your hands free and any other adult or older child/teen can also “wear” the baby.
If your toddlers suffer from what we call “sock bump anxiety disorder,” make sure that you have non-bumpy socks in their kids. Whatever their size, check their bug out bags regularly to make sure their clothing, socks, and shoes are a good fit.
For a pregnant mother-to-be, loose clothing, socks, and comfortable shoes are a must. If you find that your feet swell during the day, plan on wearing socks or slippers and bring along a firm pillow or small step stool to elevate your legs. Some pregnant women tend to be cold, no matter where they are. If this describes you, store a sweater or another warm and cozy outer layer with your emergency supplies.
Preppers come in every shape, size, age, and physical condition. It’s smart to consider now, ahead of a crisis, what you will need to prepare so that each of your loved ones is equipped to handle an everyday emergency or a worst case scenario.
Other “Special Needs Preppers” in this series:
In the likely case of a disaster situation, one of the first problems survivors will encounter is the lack of supplies. All shops, including drugstores will be emptied within hours
By C. Nelson Everything nowadays depends on electricity, and most people feel lost and powerless when they suddenly discover their house doesn’t have electricity anymore. It’s one of those things
A reliable vehicle is a very important part of our preparedness planning. Not only is it transportation out of a bad situation, but your vehicle can provide lighting, heat/air conditioning, electrical power, and shelter. Most of us don’t have the luxury of procuring a dedicated bugout vehicle; we have to make the best of what we have. The good news is that you can add important capabilities to your existing vehicle without breaking the bank, and at your own pace.
One thing that will quickly defeat your bugout plan is a tree or vehicle blocking the road. In an ideal world, you could hook up your vehicle’s winch ($1,000) and pull the obstacle out of the way, or use your chainsaw ($300-$1,000) to cut up the tree so you can pass. But winches are only practical on certain vehicles, and chainsaws require significant maintenance; both also come with hefty safety issues as well.
Fortunately low-tech, cheaper alternatives to the winch and chainsaw are available, but they both require using a bit of muscle, so consider your family’s fitness level if you go this route. A good winch substitute is a cable puller, sometimes called a “come-along.” It gives you a 35:1 mechanical advantage: you move the ratcheting handle and it pulls with about 3 tons of force for about $200. Another poor man’s winch is a tow strap or chain, a fixed length of flexible material ($25-$50) that can be hooked to your vehicle and the obstacle. Your vehicle can move the obstacle, if you have the room to work.
A forestry saw ($200-$225) can cut a freshly-fallen tree or branches without the expense and maintenance required of a chainsaw. These saws are like the hand saws we’ve all used, but up to 4 feet long with huge teeth. They stow flat in your trunk with little bulk.
Staying on the Road
Just about every disaster creates debris, part of which become sharp objects that pose a danger to your tires. A flat tire during your bugout can place you and your family in danger while you attempt to repair the problem, if you are even able. Multiple flats will take your vehicle completely out of action. The good news is that you may be able to upgrade your vehicle’s tires to the “run-flat” type.
The military has used run-flat tires on their High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) or “Humvee” for many years. These special tires use several strategies to allow the tire to continue to support the vehicle’s weight even after the loss of air due to puncture or other damage. Cadillac and BMW widely make use of run-flat tires for their product lines, and several tire manufacturers including Goodyear, Firestone, and Continental offer run-flat tires as replacement tires which may fit your vehicle. The run-flat won’t eliminate the flat-tire problem, but it can give you up to 100 miles of additional driving to escape dangerous conditions. Run-flats will cost you an additional 10%-30% per tire.
But run-flats aren’t available for every vehicle. Alternatives include tires with Kevlar belts for enhanced puncture protection, and flat-fixing kits with a chemical sealant and air compressor. At a minimum, a full-sized spare is a critical need.
Pass the Gas
Fuel is one of your bugout vehicle’s Achilles’ heels. Not only is it important to have enough on hand, but protecting it from theft and vandalism is necessary and not always easy. In recent years a theft technique has been to puncture a vehicle’s under-body fuel tank with a screwdriver or sharp object and drain it into a bucket; faster and easier than siphoning for the thief, it also essentially takes your vehicle out of action until the tank can be repaired.
BUGGING OUT? Don’t leave home without this book — Emergency Evacuations: Get Out Fast When It Matters Most! Small enough to tuck into an emergency kit, but with enough details and checklists to make sure you don’t overlook a thing!
One way to secure your fuel is to mount an additional fuel tank inside the vehicle, in a trunk or rear cargo area not accessible to the casual thief. Auto racing offer many sizes, shapes, and capacities of fuel tanks that can be
adapted to this purpose; many offer a “foam-filled” version that prevents an explosion if the tank is ruptured. Due to the mechanical and safety issues raised by adding a fuel tank to your vehicle, this modification should be done by a mechanic familiar with racing fuel systems. The tank itself will set you back $120-$250 depending on size and features. Another option, particularly for diesel-powered vehicles, is a contractor-style auxiliary fuel tank.
See Them Before They See You
The most vulnerable time for a civilian vehicle is nighttime. Vehicles put out light, heat, and lots of noise that is easily detectable. Worse, the vehicle’s occupants are less able to detect other people and vehicles when it’s dark outside. If money were no object, a set of night vision goggles (about $5,000-$7,000) would allow an occupant of the vehicle to detect potential threats at night.
For the rest of us, a thermal imager can increase your survivability. A thermal imager is a device that detects varying levels of heat in the environment and produces a video image allowing visualization similar to that seen in daylight. If your local police agency flies a helicopter, odds are a thermal imager is on board to help find bad guys at night.
FLIR Systems, makers of military and commercial thermal imagers, has a consumer-level unit called the FLIR One, which attaches to certain Android-based phones and tablets and many IPhone-and-IOS-based devices. The $250 FLIR One uses a combination of a thermal camera and a standard digital camera to assemble a fairly detailed thermal image. This device can provide a passive thermal detection capability for a vehicle or person on foot that could allow movement in full darkness without lights. Potential threats could also be identified and avoided or neutralized.
The Bottom Line
Make a careful assessment of your needs. Consider worst case scenarios but don’t assume that you will always encounter the worst case. Build your capabilities over time, as your budget and time allow.
Did you know that in two minutes a house fire can be life threatening and in five an entire home can be engulfed in flames according to FEMA?
October is Fire Prevention Month and a time to make a plan.
House fires occur often and sadly too many children lose their lives. A house fire can happen quickly, without warning and parents need to educate themselves and their children to the dangers.
This will hit home with every parent.
According to the National Fire Association, “There was a civilian fire death every 208 minutes and a civilian fire injury every 30 minutes in 2011. Home fires caused 2,520, or 84%, of the civilian fire deaths.”
Build Survival Confidence
Every parent needs to build survival confidence into their children. A business meeting with my friend, Nathan, this week was a reminder of how fragile life is. In our conversation he shared how his son’s best friend, Joseph Hightower was tragically killed in a house fire in 2003.
I could see the loss in his eyes. He asked if I knew what real fire looked like. He proceeded to say, “it’s black” and it was hard to find the 11-year old boy.”
What You Can Do
1. Talk about fire safety with your kids. It matters. Knowledge and practice bring survival confidence.
2. Keep fire extinguishers in key locations throughout the house like in a kitchen, garage, near fireplaces and other high risk areas. You can’t have too many!
3. Check rooms for faulty wiring that looks frayed, broken, blackened or overloaded. Faulty wiring in the wall can smolder for days before a house fire breaks out. Check your teen’s room too as mine will overload plugs next to pillows, bedding and curtains.
4. Make sure your entire electrical circuit is checked for fuses and short circuits by a licensed professional. Replace all old sockets with new plug points, which could be a potential fire hazard. Periodically check the circuits attached to the water heater, AC and the oven as they consume the maximum amount of power and are highly prone to short circuits.
5. Make sure smoke detectors are working and that batteries are working properly and the detector itself is not too old. According to The New York Times, “Consumer’s World; How Long Do Smoke Detector’s Last” “Federal officials estimate that up to 85 percent of all dwellings in the United States have smoke detectors, but that as many as a third of them may not work.”
What YOUR Kids Need To Know
The U.S. Fire Administration and FEMA recommend the following: Children under five are curious about fire. Often what begins as a natural exploration of the unknown can lead to tragedy.
- Children age 14 and under make up 10-15% of all fire deaths.
- Fifty-two percent of all child fire deaths occur to those under age 5. These children are usually unable to escape from a fire independently.
- At home, children usually play with fire in bedrooms, in closets and under beds. These are “secret” places where there are a lot of things that catch fire easily.
- Too often, child firesetters are not given proper guidance and supervision by parents and teachers. Consequently, they repeat their firesetting behavior.
Practice Fire Safety in Your Home
- Supervise young children closely. Do not leave them alone even for short periods of time.
- Keep matches and lighters in a secured drawer or cabinet.
- Have your children tell you when they find matches and lighters.
- Check under beds and in closets for burned matches, evidence your child may be playing with fire.
- Develop a home fire escape plan, practice it with your children and designate a meeting place outside.
- Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
- Teach children the nature of fire. It is FAST, HOT, DARK and DEADLY!
- Teach children not to hide from firefighters, but to get out quickly and call for help from another location.
- Show children how to crawl low on the floor, below the smoke, to get out of the house and stay out in the case of fire.
- Demonstrate how to stop, drop to the ground and roll if their clothes catch fire.
- Install smoke alarms on every level in your home.
- Familiarize children with the sound of your smoke alarm.
- Test the smoke alarm each month and replace the battery at least once a year.
- Replace the smoke alarm every ten years, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
1. Teach your teen children to use a fire extinguisher. If they babysit, go through safety precautions about cooking.
2. If your children or teens sleep through “anything”, teach them to respond to the sound of the smoke alarm. Tell them to NOT tune it out! Consider a “surprise” practice run.
2. Keep a cool head. At the first sign of trouble, have your children call for help.
The good news is that children who learn fire safety tend to react quicker in a situation as described here by this fast-acting 7 year-old.
Asked your local fire department if they provide fire safety for children. The city of Milwaukee has a program called “Survive Alive House” which teaches children how to escape a fire.
Additional Resources on Children Fire Safety http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/home/fire.html
Do you look at your land line as a technology dinosaur? It is time to look at your land line with “fresh eyes” and new found respect after reading this.
September is National Disaster Preparedness month and your phone is your #1 disaster tool.
Don’t disconnect your land line just yet.
Many of us have chosen to eliminate the extra cost of keeping our land line since we rarely use them. We save them for sales
calls, annoying business contacts, distant relatives who only get “this” number and lots of recorded messages. Really, who wants a personal call on your land line?
But consider this…
Your Land Line is KEY During an Emergency or Disaster….Here’s Why!
As stated in an article, “4 Reasons to Keep Your Land Line”, by Financial Highway.com
While it is still possible to reach out to 911 operators with your cell phone, it may not be as quick or as accurate for the operator to tell where you are located based on the GPS alone. A land line has several advantages over the cell phone in the following instances:
- If you have small children in the home, who may not be able to relay their address accurately
- If you are seriously injured, cannot speak, and need to have the emergency operators know your location from just your caller ID
- If you live in an area where calls may be incorrectly attributed to the wrong cell tower (calls that come from towers across state lines, for example)
- During a major disaster, when cell phone lines are jammed due to everyone using them at once
- Reverse 911 calls need land lines to ensure information reaches the public. Cell phones are not reliable.
Land lines offer access to emergency responders in rural areas where the cell phone is less than reliable. (Who wants a dropped call when you’re clutching on to life?) While the scenario seems dramatic, for those with small children, fragile health conditions, or in an area with a poorly developed cellular infrastructure, the land line is still superior.
Immediately following a disaster, resist using your mobile device to watch streaming videos, download music or videos, or play video games, all of which can add to network congestion.
So if you feel having a land line is remaining in the dark ages technology wise, it’s time to give your land line the respect it deserves.