Perhaps the biggest opportunity for disaster readiness arose in the years and months leading up to the much-anticipated, but thankfully uneventful Y2K scare. This was an aberration as far as disaster readiness, in that everyone knew exactly when this event would occur. With a specific date in mind, people had ample time to stock up on food, sources for light and heat, and yes, even guns and ammunition. Y2k turned out to be a major non-event, but it did have the positive effect of forcing people to consider plans for their survival and well-being, if the country should face such major disruptions as the ones which were anticipated. Since most or all of the Y2K plans involved stockpiling of relatively non-perishable items, this readiness posture continued well past New Year's Day, 2000.
The second set of major national events that triggered serious readiness considerations were the dreadful events of September 11th, 2001. Following the horrifying terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and The Pentagon, people were gripped with a feeling of uncertainty. Many folks either began to develop some kind of disaster plan, or revived what plans they had in place for Y2K. The grim reality facing Americans now was that terrorists can strike here, and this new reality inspired many Americans to prepare for "the next time", whenever and wherever that may be. A Department of Homeland Defense was established which, among other things, urged Americans to plan and prepare for the next attack or disaster.
Assume that you have a mere 10 weeks to prepare. 10 paychecks. 70 days. Think about it. What issues would you need to address? How would you go about getting ready? This guide is merely that, a guide, a collection of ideas and suggestions on readiness. Use what you wish to, and discard what you don't. The important thing is to DO SOMETHING.
With the threat of terrorism involving nuclear, chemical, or
biological warfare, we should consider some basic emergency preparedness. We
cannot hope to cover everything in a brief discussion, so we will touch
on some basic necessities. We will assume a complete power failure,
and other normal services down too.
Should the power fail, chances are your furnace
will, too. A fireplace or wood-burning stove would probably be the best
alternative here, if you can find/stockpile enough wood. Kerosene heaters may
work also, but again, you must have kerosene already on hand. None will be
available in the event of a mid-winter power failure. Do not bring gas grills or
charcoal grills into your house. You may wish to consider acquiring good,
high-quality cold weather gear, such as cold-weather sleeping bags, for yourself
and your family. Many fires have been caused by the use of alternative indoor
heat sources, so use extreme caution.
Stockpiling food for emergencies doesn't have to be expensive. A plentiful supply of rice (preferably brown), beans, noodles, and peanut butter should always be kept on hand. You can still eat this stuff, even if there is never an emergency. Canned food will last up to a couple of years, so start buying canned vegetables, beef stew, and canned fruit soon. Many military style meals can even be eaten without cooking. You can also find military food, and other survival foods at the next gun show, or at camping stores, and military surplus stores. The time to start buying extra food is now. Rice and beans are cheap. So are Ramen noodles.
Recently, we have seen the emergence of of many "Power Bar" type of snack items. These are somewhat expensive, but less so when purchased in bulk quantities. They are great emergency rations to keep in your house, car, or locker at work. Instant breakfast bars, cereal bars, and even old-fashioned granola bars can all be an important part of any survival plan. Recently, we have seen the availability of tuna or chicken in "pouches". (SPAM is now available in single serving pouches, too!!!) These can be an entree for home made meals.
Make sure you have a way to cook your food. Do not bring a BBQ grill into your house. If you have to cook with a grill or other fire, do it outside, away from your house.
Food in your freezer can remain frozen for 24 hours or longer. A good way to help keep your food frozen is to keep several bottles of water in your freezer. Once meat begins to thaw, you CANNOT re-freeze it, so it will have to be cooked and eaten or dehydrated once it has thawed.
Be wary of using any dairy or egg-based products after even a few hours without power. Eat these first, so that they don't go to waste.
Ahead of time, stock up on bottled water. Buying it by the case at a local department store or even hardware store can be much cheaper than buying it one bottle at a time from a local quickie-mart or gas station. Buying several cases, and replacing each case as you drink it, will keep several cases on hand. If you have to purify your water, you can always boil it for at least FIVE minutes. To store water, add a few drops of regular bleach to each gallon. Filters are available at any surplus or camping store, and so are iodine tablets. Take some time to become familiar with water purification techniques. Save your milk jugs now.
At the onset of a power outage, in hot weather,
soak a few washrags in cold water and keep handy to wipe yourself down with.
This has a decent cooling effect. You might also wish to fill your bathtub,
washtub, and other containers with water for washing or flushing purposes.
You should have a transistor radio with spare batteries. A CB is good to have also. You can run it off of a car battery, and use a trickle charger to keep it charged. There are also hand-crank radios available; check the gun show, or electronic stores. It would be a good idea to get your amateur radio license, and get an amateur radio, to send and receive in the two-meter, and 440 megahertz range. Radio Shack may have information on this. Or contact your local Militia.
Certain brands of FRS radios also have AM/FM capability. These can be used in addition to a larger, battery powered "boom box" type radio. Large boom box radios require lots of "D" batteries, so keep enough extras to reload this radio at least once.
If you need batteries for your smaller radios or flashlights, you can always consider raiding all of the remote control devices that you have lurking around.
During the Blackout of August 03, many phone services remained operational. Having an electric cordless phone did not enable everyone to take advantage of this service. You should get an older style back-up phone, that only plugs into a phone jack, and does not require the use of an electrical outlet. Many cell phones were operational. Consider getting a cell-phone, and a battery charger for your car.
Some militia units have a specific frequency
to monitor during an emergency. We have announced 146.420 as a two-meter
emergency frequency, and FRS Channel 1 as an FRS frequency to monitor. You local
amateur radio club may have more information on this.
A gas powered-generator will only work if you have gas, but
they would keep the lights on for a few days, at least.
There are gasoline additives (such as Stabil) that will help keep gas from going bad, if you want. Solar and steam generators may work, but they are an expensive and time-consuming option. Buy rechargeable batteries for your radios and flashlights, and get a small solar re-charger, at an electronic shop. Keep flashlights, candles, and kerosene lanterns for emergency light. Chemlights (light sticks), which are available at military surplus stores, through mail order suppliers, and even in the camping section of some department stores may also be available at your local dollar store. Check the expiration dates on your chemlights, because they don't last much longer beyond that.
The "shaker lights" which operate under the Faraday principle of impedance have proven extremely valuable to many militia members over that last few years.
Keep a source of light in your vehicle, in your
home, and in your locker or desk at work. Keep your batteries fresh, and keep a
spare set or two (or more) on hand. Know where your flashlights, candles,
chemlights, and lanterns are BEFORE a disaster hits. Even keeping a
small key chain flashlight with your keys is a good idea.
It would be best if you took a Red Cross First Responder Course. They are taught at some community colleges, and private ambulance companies. The commercially available first-aid kits will work, but bear in mind that you may not be able to replace anything that you use. Stock gauze, bandages, antibiotic ointment, and whatever medications you normally use. Pain-relievers, anti-diarrhea medicine, and cold and flu medicines should be kept handy, too. Keep plenty of reference books on hand, and learn some first-aid BEFORE A DISASTER HITS. Avoid buying expensive surgical kits, unless you are a surgeon.
INDIVIDUAL BASIC FIRST-AID KIT: This should be considered as an absolute, bare-bones minimum first-aid kit. After much discussion, we decided on these items. You are free to add whatever personal medication or other items that you feel is necessary. Some kind of pain-killer/analgesic, anti-diarrhea medication, anti-histamine or other allergy medicine, and maybe some cough drops are possible considerations, but they are not requirements. Please be certain that your medications are completely LEGAL. The required items are:
a) BATTLE DRESSING. This is, typically, a military-style compress dressing, with attached cloth "tie-downs" used to tie the dressing around a wound. The location of the item, usually on your non-firing shoulder, or in your upper left pocket, must be known to all of your team-mates. In a pinch, a feminine sanitary napkin or even an infant diaper may be used, along with a gauze roll.
b) 32" TRIANGULAR BANDAGE This is the type of bandage that can be tied around a wound, even a large, serious one. These may also be used as a sling. Any 32" triangular bandage will be fine. In a pinch, you can even cut your own triangular bandage from a clean sheet. Keep the bandage in its package, or if you cut your own, in a baggie by itself.
c) TRIPLE ANTIBIOTIC. This is a good, general purpose ointment for minor cuts and scrapes. In a field environment, nobody can afford an infection. This ointment is available either with Lidocaine, a topical pain reliever, or without. This is available in small packets, and you should carry five or more of these small packets in your first aid kit. If you want, you may also buy a large tube to carry with you. This is an item that is very useful to have even if you have no militia inclinations whatsoever, so go pick up a tube or box the next time that you are out.
d) 5 BAND-AIDS, minimum. These should be the regular size adhesive strips. You may wish to have more, and of different sizes, but you must have at least 5 regular band-aids. You may want to consider the waterproof/ sweat proof kind. Please avoid brightly-colored children's band-aids. You might want to add a handful of butterfly bandages as well, to help close more serious cuts.
e) 1 ROLL OF GAUZE. These are available by the box at any drug store. You must have at least one in your first-aid kit, and you should keep a box or two at home. These can also be used to wrap and/or tie around a wound.
f) 1 4"X4" GAUZE PAD. You may actually wish to obtain several of these, as they are not usually available in single packages. They must be secured to a wound in some fashion, such as tying with a bandage, or securing with surgical tape. Surgical tape is not a requirement, but it is highly suggested that you obtain at least a small roll.
g) 1 PAIR OF LATEX GLOVES. These will be needed if you ever have to work on someone who is bleeding. It is important to avoid contact with anyone else's blood or other bodily fluids. These gloves take up almost no space, weigh next to nothing, and are usually available by the box at any drug store.
h) Either one additional battle dressing, or one additional 4x4 (or larger) gauze pad.
All of your first-aid gear should fit in a baggie. You can carry this in your butt-pack, or it will fit in an AR15 ammo pouch nicely. There are also some military first-aid attachments for your web gear, available at a local surplus store, or through one of the several mail order companies.
It is important that your fellow militia members know where your first-aid kit is, so inform them verbally, and use black electrical tape to mark the location of your kit with a cross. You may wish to trail a small, dark red ribbon from your kit, to further help your team-mates in finding your gear, should you become incapacitated.
You should mark your first-aid kit with your blood type.
Your first-aid gear is for YOUR use. It should be maintained and updated on a regular basis. Do not allow your personal medication to expire, and check any sterile packaging periodically to make sure that it hasn't ruptured.
All of your disaster preparedness will be a waste if you can't protect yourself and your family. Buy a gun. To protect your home, we suggest a good pump action shotgun, like the Mossberg 500. Buy plenty of shells, preferably 00 Buckshot. If you want, buy a good military type rifle, like an AR15, or something similar, and LEARN HOW TO SHOOT IT. Get plenty of magazines (clips), and plenty of ammunition. If you can, get a handgun, too. LEARN HOW TO SHOOT. YOUR LIFE MAY DEPEND UPON IT IN AN EMERGENCY. Your local Militia people will be happy to teach anyone who wishes how to shoot, and they are more than happy to offer advice on which guns to buy, and which to avoid.
Every adult and teen in your family should
know how to shoot, and have access to a firearm in the event of an emergency.
Old military surplus bolt action rifles are effective, durable, and inexpensive.
Check your local sporting goods store (like Dunham's) and make sure that there
are enough guns to go around. The Mosin Nagant 91/30 or M44 are good, reliable
selections. The Yugoslavian SKS is also a relatively inexpensive semi-automatic
rifle to pick. For smaller or younger shooters, you can always look for anything
in .22 long rifle, such as the popular Ruger 10/22 . The .22 should be in
everyone's gun rack as a survival gun.
You will survive any disaster better if you are in good shape.
Take some time to evaluate your diet and exercise routines. Start getting in
better shape now, and it may very well pay off if there ever is an emergency.
How much can you improve your fitness in 10 weeks? Can you trim off ten pounds?
Run two miles? What if you had 10 weeks to work on it?
Fire-extinguishers, tools (axes, saws, and shovels, too), extra blankets, plastic sheeting, extra plywood, good boots, extra sets of eyeglasses, plenty of duct tape, rope-string-twine, fishing, camping, and hunting gear, good heavy cooking pots, plenty of salt, cold-weather socks, rain gear, a sewing kit, a wash tub, and any number of books on survival and first aid, can all come in handy in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. In case the banks and ATM devices fail, you should keep cash (lost of smaller bills) and coins on hand. Some keep silver coins available, too. The best survival tool you have is your mind. Careful planning and preparation will help you through almost any situation. The time to prepare is NOW, not when the lines are long at the market, and the shelves are empty, and the power goes off.
AND STOCK UP ON TOILET PAPER, PLEASE!!! YOU WILL USE THIS ANYWAY, BUY IT NOW!!!
Additionally, you can find links to survival-related web sites, and links to companies that sell gear, first-aid equipment, and other supplies on the following pages:
This information is furnished as a public service by WWW.MICHIGANMILITIA.COM