Choices in Emergencies
Should I Stay or Should I Go now?
Not just words to a classic rock song, but the key question you gotta ask if you have warning of an impending disaster. However you answer that question determines the rest of your emergency response plan of action.
Whether you evacuate and then return after the catastrophe or stay put and try to survive, you can be sure there will be a lot of work to do. If you are fortunate to be spared much damage, you will have lots of opportunities to volunteer and help your neighbors. By being prepared for disasters, you not only help yourself but also your community because there will be many others that did not plan ahead as you did. Be generous in times of emergency with both your material goods and your labor, if you are able. Read more about emergency volunteer opportunities
Often the best response to an emergency and sometimes ordered by protection agencies is to evacuate. By leaving the scene before a disaster occurs, you are fairly assured of your family's safety and the ability to start again if necessary. Unfortunately, the attachment people have to their 'things' sometimes causes poor decisions resulting in loss of property AND life.
A housefire requires immediate, get-out-now, evacuation but most other decisions to evacuate include at least a few minutes to gather gear and pack up. Unfortunately, a housefire is the most probable reason you'll have for evacuation. Read more about Housefire Emergencies.
Your home evacuation plan should include:
- Meeting Point - safe place such as neighbor's front yard or lamp post across the street.
- Assigned Tasks - who turns off utilities, gets pets, collects
- Emergency Contact - out-of-town grandparents or friend that everyone will call if separated. Memorize the numbers.
- Family Grab and Go Kit - essential items for short-term survival.
- Personal items by each bed - flashlight, handkerchief, robe, sturdy slippers or shoes.
- Emergency escape ladders in each upper floor bedroom.
- Map of the house in your Grab and Go kit.
- Practice Schedule
- teach everyone how to shut off utilities
- have everyone memorize emergency contact number
- practice at least twice a year - summer and winter
- combine this practice with your semi-annual food and water check
Snow storms that block travel for a week or more are fairly common in the Rocky Mountains and across the plains states. Some areas are known to flood, stranding residents for days at a time. People living in locations that consistently have natural events that strand them will often stay put instead of evacuate. They are aware of what is coming and are ready, so the weather event is not truely an emergency or disaster but it still requires preparation.
If you decide to stay put and ride out the storm, then you need a more long-term plan that includes supplies for a longer duration. Staying put in the face of impending disaster is usually a foolish choice, but some disasters give us little or no warning - earthquake, windstorms, and blizzards for example - and we need to stay safe at home. Emergency preparedness is critical for these situations.
If you are preparing for long-term survival, more than 3 or 4 days, then your family's emergency kit is no longer a small, portable bag. You now need to consider setting aside emergency water and emergency food for the length of time you plan to stay - 1 week, 2 weeks, a month, or more.
Storing of basic staple food is a good way to go since it has extremely long shelf life and is much less expensive that manufactured meals Of course, you will need to do some cooking, but this is long term survival, just imagine you are a pioneer surviving in the wild. A good way to set up your food pantry is to have a shelf that you access from both sides. Place new food in one side and use food from the other to continually rotate through your supplies.
Be sure to have a cool, dry, dark area for storage. A room in your basement works great as long as it is not too humid - better than a dry attic that gets hot and cold throughout the year. Keeping the temperature constant helps extend the storage life of food. Keep all your food in sealed, food-grade containers. If you store whole grains, then you also need a grinder to make meal or flour.
Here are some ideas for basic foods with approximate amounts. Using this list as a core supply and enhancing it with dried fruits and vegetables and foods your family enjoys would allow you to survive a very long-term disaster:
|Food Item||Amount||Shelf Life|
|Enriched Flour||3+ yr.|
|Corn Meal||3+ yr.|
|Rolled Oats||3+ yr.|
|White Rice||3+ yr.|
|Dry Pasta||3+ yr.|
|Dry Beans||3+ yr.|
|Split Peas||3+ yr.|
|Dry Soup Mix||2 yr.|
|Dried Bouillon||2 yr.|
|Vegetable Oil||2 yr.|
|Peanut Butter||1 yr.|
|Powdered Milk||6 mo.|
|Iodized Salt||3 yr.|
|Vitamin C||3 yr.|
|Canned Tuna||2 yr.|
|Canned Chicken||2 yr.|
|Canned Fruit||1 yr.|
A site with a bunch of information about storing food is Walton Feed.
You will also need to have a water source instead of storing water due to the space it would require. Keeping a water filter in your survival gear is important. Without adequate water to prepare and cook your dried food, it will do you no good. Plan ahead and think through your plan.
Find Emergency and Disaster Info at EmergencyDude.com