Six months after Yolanda hit Southern Tagalog, residents reeled, trying to make it through each day and got stuck in uncomfortable temporary shelters until relocation gets completed.
An extreme situation can make a comfortable life into a nightmare overnight.
A reliable GRID of power lines, clean water service and just-in-time food supply deliveries to markets that people access with ease can literally disappear and take forever to restore as we have already seen all over the world. People lose their dignity and turn into looters just to find food to survive just in the first week after the extreme situation. Even with all the comforts and redundancy features of am urban GRID ecosystem, an individual household must be prepared for anything that can happen for survival.
Here are some pointers for BEING PREPARED for extreme situations.
Having Back-Up Power
No power gets old rather quickly when you can't store fresh food, lose contact with the world, and if everything you have works on electricity, you just entered the stone age.
Generators may cost one up to 2 months salary but they are worth all the trouble of maintaining because an extreme situation happening on the GRID will be something you can deal with.
Get a professional electrician to teach you the ropes and have him safely install your generator as a back up for your connection to the GRID. If connected wrong or if mechanical failure ensues, generators can be very dangerous, as well as expensive to repair. Another thing to remember is regular maintenance. You just can't get a generator and stick it in some outhouse filled with fuel and forget about it. But if you maintain your gear, you get heat, cold and hot water, lights, refrigeration, web access for your computer or mobile device. One good thing now is that there are PORTABLE SOLAR PANEL generators available and this might be an even better option than gas powered generators because you can use them on a semi-regular basis as part of their maintenance and for lowering electricity consumption unlike gas powered generators which emit toxic fumes.
Water is Life
The human body needs 2 gallons of water a day, for drinking as well as food preparation and sanitation. If an extreme situation arises, and you want a week's buffer before you decide to evacuate or take other plans, you will be needing 28 to 56 gallons for a 4 person household.
Even if you have city tap water, something could happen that would leave you high and dry. Always keep a water reserve or consider other water sources. A rain water cistern linked to a purifying system can store FREE water from runoffs from your roof.
Cooking Off the Grid
When the power grid goes out, you like to conserve you electricity use from your back up generator to the most essential tasks only like cooking food. With no generator you resort to burner stoves to boil water and to cook. A camping stove might serve as a very handy temporary cooking stove. There are dozens of local ceramic stove / baking oven inventions that use charcoal and are very energy efficient and can cook a lot of food on minimal fuel.
Keeping a Food Surplus Bank for Emergencies
Mom always teaches us to be smart and buy food in bulk and to keep a food surplus in the pantry so that food never runs out. Shortages always occur and mom is aware that emergency situations require that even a 3 day food surplus is a lifesaver. If the supermarket got run out of stocks or is closed, or got looted, and if roads to your community got cut off, a food surplus store that is constantly replenished as well as used for sustaining daily meals is a no-brainer.
Take advantage of food sales and seasonal surpluses, buy in bulk for cheap surplus. As an investment too, for when shortages spike the prices of food. Choose canned goods and dried fruit that can be stored without refrigeration and eaten without cooking. Ramen and instant noodles also make for good temporary emergency rations to fill your belly with something warm and filling. Never buy warehouse-sized cans, unless your household can consume it all in one go. You cannot allow food to spoil sitting around. Buy a hand-crank can opener too.
Ask your doctor for back-up prescriptions for any maintenance medicine you are on. Mom also always keeps a supply of basic medicines like those for colds, cough and fever, as well as diarrhea. Basic antibiotics for flood ailments like leptospirosis, malaria, and respiratory infections or stomach ailments should always be on hand.
Keep a store of toilet paper too, soap and other cleaning agents. Bleach helps in disinfecting the household after a flood to keep one safe from deadly mold attacks.
An Emergency Storage Place
Remember movies or even Smallville where Clark had an underground storm shelter for keeping emergency supplies and for hiding and sitting out extreme storms? Before you grab those things you need, make sure that where you store your stuff won't get hit by a flash flood or easily be stolen.
Find a balance between setting space for emergency supplies, and items for a weekly food surplus store. Choose storage space that is cool, dry, away from direct sunlight that might affect food contents; maybe a secure room or even extra space in your kitchen or the empty corners and spots under tables and beds. Cover stacked boxes with tablecloths and use them as end tables.
The last thing anyone wants in an extreme situation is to be left empty-handed. With a hand-to-mouth existence you might be forced to do things one is never supposed to do no matter how desperate your situation is. Be prepared, just like ants and squirrels. Even nature shows us how to live properly and carefully.