Ten items to help you gear up for stay-put urban disasters and emergencies
If you are a New Yorker, you probably know what things you should have had to deal with Hurricane Sandy. But what if the storms were a wake-up call? You live in an apartment with limited storage space – what are some of the things needed to get started being prepared?
by Leon Pantenburg
One reason I love the wild, open spaces of the west is that I was once, briefly, an apartment dweller in downtown Washington D.C. But even in the late 80s, I had a backpack full of survival gear ready to go. Basically, all I did was put all my backpacking stuff together and buy some freeze dried food.
Last week, after the storm hit the east coast, I read about unprepared victims and about loaves of bread that cost seven dollars and ten dollar boxes of matches. A big concern, apparently, was charging cell phones.
Suppose you live in an apartment in an area with the potential for natural disasters. You don’t have a lot of storage room, but want to start gathering a few supplies to get you by for a few days when the power goes out.
Here are some suggestions:
Five gallon plastic bucket with lid: This will serve as a storage container, a water bucket, or an emergency toilet. In the case where the toilet still flushes, the bucket can be used to haul water to fill the tank. You can store many of your survival tools in the bucket it until they are needed.
Spare batteries, extra toilet paper and paper towels: No brainer.
Water containers: If the power goes out, you’ll need to store some water ASAP. I have been using the collapsible Platypus water containers for years, and I find them to be reliable, durable and compact. Get some of the collapsible five-gallon plastic containers. Figure on a minimum of a gallon of drinking water per person per day.
Backpacking stove: A lightweight backpacking stove will give you a burner to cook food on, boil water, and to some extent, heat with. Any stove that relies on a flame will produce carbon monoxide, so make sure the cooking area is adequately ventilated. Also, make sure there is a fuel supply easily available. The propane canisters may be hard to come by, whereas denatured alcohol may be easily found. Check out your local hardware, home improvement and backpacking stores for potential fuel sources.
Dehydrated food: Put in a three-day supply for each person. The shelf life on some of these foods is 10 to 15 years, so you don’t need to worry about spoilage. Get the kind where all you need to do is add water, and that don’t have long simmering times.
Crank cell phone charger: I bought a simple crank charger for about $15. It will re-charge my cell phone and laptop, so communications can continue.
Crank flashlight: Batteries wear out, so get a source of light that can be re-charged. Solar charged lighting tools might be an option in some areas.
Candles and lamps: Interior lighting might be a major problem, especially during the winter months when it starts to get dark about 5:30 p.m. Hit up the thrift stores and buy whatever candles they have. Kerosene or oil lamps are another option. Check out hardware stores for the small oil candles that burn for days.
Water filter:I use a Berkey sport bottle a lot when hunting or hiking. During a power blackout, your water quality might be suspect, so some sort of water purification method should be considered. Boiling water is probably the safest way to purify it. Once the water is brought to boiling (212 degrees) everything that boiling can kill is dead. Boiling water for extended periods of time doesn’t make it hotter or cleaner.
Sleeping bag: A night, a warm sleeping bag will allow you to sleep comfortably. Extra blankets are always a good idea.
Duct tape and visqueen: These are multi-purpose items. Duct tape is used for everything, and the large sheets of plastic visqueen will allow you to cover a broken window, partition off a room, rig an emergency shelter etc.
As a long-time prepper, this selection of gear seems woefully Spartan to me. But this collection is much better than nothing, and it will get you started. Use the suggestions as a basis to – hopefully – get moving toward being fully prepared for any emergency.