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M. Leary


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Okay, confession time. Ever since Boy Scouts, I have been a outdoors gear nut. This has kind of translated into an odd adult hobby in which I gather not just outdoors gear stuff, but family survival stuff. Water, water purification systems, bio-fuel cooking systems, crank radios that can hear crazy survivalist people talking to each other, lighting, first aid, freeze dried foods, really cool backpacks, etc...

I don't think the world is coming to an end or that America could collapse at any second and my family needs to be prepared to survive in the national park down the street. But I do like to have about two weeks of self-sufficiency on hand for natural disasters and an excuse to play around in army surplus stores (about which I would love to write a Bill Brysonish book).

So I ask: What sort of disaster plans have you all put into place? Are people with disaster plans crazy?

Edited by M. Leary

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Lots of bottled water in the basement. Emergency radio with a hand crank that will charge a cell phone. Lots of flashlights. Standard camping gear. First aid kits. Several decks of Uno and Skip-bo. Copies of The Suburbs in multiple formats from vinyl to CD to Apple Lossless.

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M. Leary wrote:

: So I ask: What sort of disaster plans have you all put into place? Are people with disaster plans crazy?

I can't say I have one in place myself, but after the earthquake hit New Zealand, a member of my family sent the following e-mail to the rest of us:

Our authorities here have told us for years to keep a 3-days supply of canned or dried food, water, and medicines on hand at all times, on the assumption that within 3 days the army will rescue us. But in light of the Christchurch quake, we may need to increase that to a 1-week supply of food, water and medicine.

Other tips:

Keep a full box of trash bags on hand. They'll be useful when toilets stop working.

Keep plain bleach (not scented, no additives) to sterilize drinking water (see below).

Refill prescriptions at least a week before they run out.

If your emergency food needs cooking, keep a camp stove and fuel on hand.

Gasoline pumps don't work without electricity, so always keep your car's tank at least half full.

Get a car charger for your cell phone.

Add diaper wipes and hand sanitizer to your emergency supplies.

Buy several dollar-store flashlights. Keep alkaline batteries for them on hand.

Every 6 months, put new stuff in your emergency stores and use or donate the old stuff.

Batteries have their own set of tips:

Don't rely on rechargeable batteries for emergencies; they lose their charge within 2 months.

Don't buy "heavy duty" batteries; they don't last long, either on the shelf or in use.

Alkaline batteries stay fresh on the shelf for several years and last longest in use.

Some people keep a stash of toonies in case they need to buy essentials from others. You can store $50 in toonies in an old prescription pill container.

2L bottles of no-name soda water are cheap and a convenient size. The pressure slowly disappears in storage but as long as you haven't opened them the water should still be safe. If in any doubt when using it, re-sterilize it by adding 2 drops of plain bleach, shaking well, and waiting 15 minutes.

Finally: print this now, as you won't have access to it after the power goes out!

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