Lessons Learned: Realistic Family Preparedness

By Sean Osborne, Associate Director, Military Affairs

UPDATED 20 May 2007: Having just endured a near disaster in the wild fires of southern New Jersey, as well as the prospect of a mandatory evacuation with no guarantee that the family home would still exist in the aftermath, I’ve come away from this experience with significant additional lessons learned on how to prudently plan and prepare in advance of an unforeseen catastrophe. These lessons are an augmentation to those I have already put into place. I believe the application of the following plan might be a template upon which others could build a more robust family preparedness plan.

With respect to a mass-casualty or mass-destruction terrorist event, many American national authorities are clearly stating that it is not a question of “if, but when” such a reality visits this nation again. Similarly and with respect to any of a number of different types of natural disasters - earth, wind, water and fire - they also can occur at any time and almost without warning anywhere in the country. Following these preparatory guidelines and/or merging them with others, given the uniqueness of your own situation, will ensure the optimum chances of your family’s well-being or near-term survival at home or if evacuated to a remote location in a worst-case scenario. Following the recommendations of this special report will also go a long way relieving the unnecessary stress and tensions of last minute collecting of materials you will need to endure almost any situation.

One inherent beauty of such planning and preparation is that it invokes the most inviolate of all God-given American freedoms – the enabling right of self-determination. This planning and preparation might very likely become the critical determination as to whether or not you become just another hapless victim or a survivor.

A long-time favorite self-determination and preparedness website of mine is that of John Moore’s website http://www.thelibertyman.com. As John explains on his website, “The government cannot and will not protect individuals or families. Our government agencies are doing the best job they can to keep our country safe. However, no government agency (including FEMA) is responsible for a comprehensive defense program.”

Moreover, all facets of the safety, security and well-being of your family during a disaster scenario is your personal duty and responsibility. This is absolutely not the responsibility of the “government” regardless of all that you have heard in the MSM in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Uncle Sam will show up with multiple forms of assistance in due course, but until that time arrives you need to prepare as if your lives depended on it, because they probably will.

Here are my brief and basic recommendations for before you are confronted with a “gotta go” situation:

Finance: Keep an acceptable amount of cold, hard cash, a spare debit or credit card in a convenient yet secure location in your home, vehicle or within prepared the stocks I’ll get to later. In some really extreme instances banks or ATMs may not function where you are, so the cash will be essential.

Transportation: If you own an SUV make sure it has a roof rack. If not, get one. If you have a car, the addition of a roof rack is a good idea. Also, the addition of a trailer hitch is a good idea. You don’t necessarily need a trailer for the hitch, but it is how you can attach a carry-all for other items I will identify below. As part of this area of preparation know where you can go in an emergency by identifying in advance at least three locations to evacuate to aside from public shelters. Have two filled 5-gallon auxiliary gasoline jerry cans in reserve at all times. A hand-operated siphon eliminates spillage. Always keep your vehicle in good running order.

Communications: I recommend the purchase of a Grundig FR-200 AM-FM-Shortwave radio. No batteries are required as it is powered by a simple hand crank mechanism. Have your cell phone fully charged as often as possible, and keep a spare 12VDC cigarette power adapter in your vehicle at all times. If you have a laptop computer, buy a wireless internet adapter card. Remote off-the-grid power is found in the next item below.

Portable Electrical Power: Consider purchasing one of the Xpower AC/DC powerpack modules made by Xantrex. They are small, hand-portable, rechargeable powerpacks which come with an AC/DC voltage inverter, integrated vehicle jumper cables (with fail-safe correct connection indicators), a 250 PSI air compressor with assorted nozzles, an integrated flashlight and one each 12VDC and 120VAC electrical outlets, and AC or DC recharging. I have the 400R model and find this unit to be absolutely invaluable all of the time.

Physical Security: No regimen of preparation is complete without acknowledging the need for the physical security requirements of the family or oneself. In this regard, and consistent with the state and local laws where you live, every family should invoke their 2nd Amendment rights and acquire some type of firearm for defensive protection.

When “Gotta-Go” time arrives here are items I recommend having in pre-packed, ready to load, modular containers which will go on your roof rack and/or trailer hitch carry all.

Consumable Sustenance: This is just another fancy way of saying life support essentials. Acquire non-perishable foods, dry, canned or dehydrated from your home pantry or cupboard. These supplies should be consumed and replaced with new as required. Augment this collection with the purchase of what are known today as MREs or Meals Ready To Eat. For a family of four persons a minimum of eight 12-meal cases should be accumulated. Two sources of these items I recommend are http://www.apackmeals.com and http://www.mrefoods.com. A great assortment of tasty and nutritious meals, breads, fruits and drinks, among other items, are available at very low per meal/per person costs. Also keep a minimum of 4 cases of bottled water on hand. It would be advisable to have at least one 25-quart cooler to be filled with short-term perishables pulled directly from your refrigerator/freezer and then covered with 2 or 3 bags of ice. Depending on the situation, draining the water for other uses or purification is a bonus. The ice may be replenished according to your particular situation. At the minimum your refrigerated/frozen food will not have gone to waste.

Medicines and Sanitation: Keep all medicines and medical supplies, items for personal hygiene, vitamins and dietary supplements centrally located for quick accumulation in an emergency. Store some items in a prepared container. I highly recommend acquiring from http://www.allthingsfirstaid.com a “Standard Trauma Kit.” Also purchase and keep sealed in their original wrapper several tubs of “baby wipes” of generic or national brands. These little pre-moistened handy wipes are just about indispensable whether you’re in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan or somewhere in the US during an emergency. They will save gallons of precious water when used to take “a “dry bath.”  I would be remiss in not mentioning one medicinal item I would never leave home without. That would be a bottle of the virucidal-germicidal solution known as Oreganol P73 formula made by North American Herb & Spice. Oreganol contains the naturally occuring active ingredient carvacrol which kills virtually every virus known to man. Just two drops of Oreganol in your system will maintain your health against all manner of viruses. Certified medical research has proven the effectiveness of this product against Coronavirus, Type-A Influenza virus, with on-going studies reflecting positive results against HIV, HBV, HCV, herpes, Hanta and West Nile viruses, H5N1 Avian Influenza, Staphylococcus, Hepatitis, Candida. The other incredible health benefits of this product are far too numerous to list here. Oreganol is a germ-killer extraordinaire and can be taken internally or applied topically.

“Gimme Shelter:” Purchase one or two quick-erect, 4 to 6 person dome tents. Add ground cover or water-proof tarps for each. Adding blankets, pillows, hammocks, sleeping bags, or cots to your shopping list will ensure comfort. Some of these items can be stored in the vacuum-sealed bags seen advertised on television. This saves space and keeps the bedding fresh until needed. The same goes for items of clothing and footware. Purchase assorted camping related items and nylon rope, axe, hatchet, chain saw and the like for this segment of preparations.

As a rule of thumb, I have determined to always be prepared for a minimum of 30 days of survival necessities for four persons. Your circumstances will dictate what you can do. For other ideas, and an excellent resource you will delve into repeatedly, I would highly recommend you get the book What To Do ‘Til The Cavalry Comes released a year ago by author and subject matter expert Matt Lawrence (website: http://www.mattlawrencebooks.com ). Matt’s book is a compendium of sage advice and a guide to prudent planning for any type of a given scenario such as I am urging all to immediately prepare for with this article. There is no time like the present.

What you decide to do from this point forward will determine more than just your own survival in a natural or a man-made disaster. Others are counting on you to act prudently - now.