Today I want you to think about what may happen the first 72 hours after a severe storm and other natural disasters or unforeseen emergencies take place where you live. Here’s the deal, I want you to picture life in 24-hour increments initially, then you can deal with long-term issues and can apply the best option for a response. It’s critical you consider these things before any disaster strikes or it could be too late to protect your family.
I have broken down the three 24-hour sections below so you can picture what will most likely happen within 72 hours after any disaster in any city, county, state, or country. It’s plain and simple, let’s get started.
If you can possibly get together with your neighbors to purchase walkie-talkies and set them on the same channel and test them monthly you’ll be way ahead of most families and neighborhoods. The old kind of walkie-talkies we used at Disneyland years ago no longer cut it.
Some walkie-talkies may not be useable because they won’t transmit through blocks of houses or other obstructions. This is the brand an emergency search and rescue guru recommended to a class I taught a few years ago. Walkie Talkies
72 Hours After Disasters
1. The First 24 Hours
The first sign may be a loud noise, in the case of a hurricane or tornado, or it could be very quiet with an earthquake. The lights may go off, or the furnace or AC goes off abruptly. If it’s during the day when you lose power it may not be as disturbing as it would be at dusk or later. The sun has just gone behind the mountains and it’s getting very dark outside and in your house.
We’ll check with neighbors to see who is okay or hurt and if they need any help. If the disaster is big enough, we’ll have limited county or city officials to help the entire area in the short term. Government agency support probably isn’t going to happen early on since they only have so many resources. This is where prepping comes in, we need to be ready to take care of ourselves in many ways.
I’m talking about water, food, shelter, first aid kit supplies, personal medical supplies, tools, cooking devices with the related pots and pans, etc. The most likely situation is that we’ll lose electricity. If we use gas to heat our homes that will probably not be available and you may have to turn off the gas to your home.
If you think you’ll be able to turn on the water faucet and get clean water like always, think again, the water supply may have been cut off or is now contaminated. You’ll need ways to boil water, treat it with chemicals, or use a filtration system.
The sewer lines most likely won’t work either, in the case of an earthquake or damage to the local sewer pumping facility. If you don’t have a portable toilet you better get one this week. Not next week.
I don’t plan to share my portable toilet with anyone. I know it sounds selfish, but I want my neighbors to know that that is one prepper item I don’t plan to pass around and I’ll deal only with my own human waste issues. This is one of many disaster scenarios I don’t look forward to at all.
I hope they have a good shovel to dig a hole for their own toilet, just saying. Here is a post I wrote regarding this issue and how to deal with it: Emergency Toilet For After A Disaster by Food Storage Moms. These are cheap and everyone should have their own emergency toilet or some black garbage bags, kitty litter, and duct tape to use inside their home toilets. Having enough toilet paper available is also critical.
2. The Second 24 Hours
Some people have gone through their bottles of water and emptied their food pantry or freezer and eaten whatever they have available. Remember, when it comes to your plan to store water, every family member needs at least one gallon of water per person per day, according to the American Red Cross.
I disagree, but I’m sure you know by now that I recommend four gallons of water per person per day. One gallon will not be enough for cooking, doing minimal clothes washing, or personal hygiene care. You will want some baby wipes for what I call spit baths. This is the day you hope you were caught up on the laundry.
Having water stored in containers or large tanks is an important part of any disaster plan, no matter what the circumstances.
If not, you will at least want clean underwear. Here is my post about an emergency washing machine: Emergency Washing Machine by Food Storage Moms.
Of course, you can use a sink or washtub as well. You shouldn’t just plan on using the bathtub because first of all the water lines might be cut. Second, the sewer lines might back up into your house if you try to drain the water.
3. The Third 24 Hours Will Not Be Fun
Do you know those BLACK FRIDAY sales that happen after Thanksgiving? Well, after a disaster, if the roads are driveable, the grocery stores will have lines out the door due to the rationing of water and food.
Trust me, I will NOT be in any grocery store after a disaster, I don’t do Black Friday sales either. I don’t like the pushing and shoving at the stores.
Man, just think how the crowds will be looking for water and food. YIKES! Utah, where I live, is ranked #4 for states with personal gun ownership. People get mean when they are really hungry or thirsty and they need to feed their families.
Just something to think about. The grocery store shelves will be empty or a bottle of water could cost more than you can imagine. The stores may not have change for your bills, so exact dollar amounts will be needed. Who knows, their point-of-sale registers might not even work.
One Major Decision You May Face During and After a Disaster
Things may turn pretty ugly for you during the first 72 hours of a disaster. You could very well be faced with the decision of whether to stay in your home and bug in, or you determine it’s best to leave and seek shelter elsewhere for a while and evacuate or bug out. There really isn’t a “rule of thumb” you can follow when making this decision.
In some cases, the decision is made for you when you are directed by local authorities to evacuate. In essence, you are being told that your home or your personal safety is at risk and you’re facing one of those worst-case scenarios where you’re better off leaving. Hopefully, it won’t be for an extended period of time, but you never know. In most cases, unless your home is considered destroyed, full of debris, or beyond repair, it won’t prove to be the long-term solution.
If you have to evacuate with the kids, some of the stay-at-home issues change. That might include leaving your stored food supply, water storage, some survival supplies, and other things that would be available to you at home. You should be able to take some needed items like blankets, firearms, radios, means of communication like cell phones, extra clothing, and more.
If you are directed to leave home you need to either go to a designated location or another family or friend’s home so you have essential services available to you. You want to count you and your family as survivors after it’s all said and done. Sure, you’d like to stay home and enjoy that fireplace or wood stove, home-cooked meals, and your own bed. But if it’s deemed a true survival situation, hit the road and make the most of it.
Be sure to take some things to occupy your free time when you get situated, like board games, some books to read, or coloring books for the little ones.
Before A Disaster Some People May Think:
1. Why do I keep hearing the phrases “get prepared, be prepared, and are you prepared?”
2. Sometimes people may think nothing will happen to me.
3. The government will have to step in and help us.
4. God, or whoever you pray to, will take care of you.
5. I can’t afford to buy extra water or food.
6. I can’t afford preparedness items.
7. I don’t have time to learn skills.
8. My neighbor is prepared, I’ll just go over there.
9. My house is too small to store anything extra.
My Favorite Bartering Items For After Disasters:
1. Safety Protection Supplies
3. Cigars (do not store cigarettes-they go bad)
4. After a disaster coffee drinkers will barter for instant coffee (Starbucks might not be open).
5. The food you grow in your garden (get heirloom seeds you can keep planting year after year if you save the seeds).
6. Basic staples you have stored like flour, sugar, honey, oil, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
7. Skills like bread making, learning to make biscuits and crackers.
8. Skills-handyman stuff.
9. Skills-quilting and sewing will help us mend clothes or even make clothes we may need.
10. First aid supplies.
11. Chickens and eggs (as long as you have the food to feed them).
12. Meat (grass-fed animals will be a premium).
13. The skill of hunting for animals to eat (learn how to preserve them).
14. Trading your canned food items (you need to know how to can and preserve your garden products).
15. Water and food (be sure and have a way to purify your water). Turn off the water to your water heater before the water becomes contaminated if you hear about an anticipated water problem.
16. Fuel for car and cooking.
17. Learn to make your own kitchen soap and laundry detergent.
18. Lemonade mix, hot chocolate mix, or good old sugary Tang, if they still sell it (these will make water taste better).
19. Cooking oil, of any kind, will be sought after.
20. Cooking devices for outside cooking with fuel, like a camp stove using propane or butane.
21. Flashlights, lanterns, and extra batteries.
22. Buckets or all types of uses.
23. Matches and Lighters.
24. Magnifying Glass or
26. Katadyne Filter
27. 50 Foot Paracord
28. Buck Pathfinder
I’m not saying run out and buy everything on this list. We’ll all need the skills to help each other. We must all be able to bring something to the table in order to help one another. We are responsible for ourselves, no one else is going to take care of us.
If and when our economy crashes, you may not have that Social Security check, retirement check, paycheck, or pension check in the mail or deposited. Who knows what banks or businesses could be affected by the disaster?
People keep telling us to pay off our houses, pay cash for cars, stay out of debt, and be prepared for the unexpected. Have cash, precious metals, and things to barter as your finances allow. It’s human nature to think that disasters only happen to other people living elsewhere.
If that is the approach you’ve taken up to this point in your life when it comes to self-sufficiency, think again. Disasters can come our way in many forms, like getting sick and unable to work, losing your job due to layoffs, or company closures. Accidents happen, whether in your car or at home doing projects.
You may have the best plans to make your home safe and secure, but your neighbor may have a fire disaster just waiting to happen by storing dangerous fuels in the garage or on the side of their house. If their home goes up in smoke yours may be next based on wind and ashes.
I read an article this week about a drunk driver who drove through the front of a home, nearly killing the occupants. They were lucky the car didn’t burst into flames. You may think that disasters only come in the form of floods, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other causes we call Mother Nature. Disasters and emergencies come in many forms and at any time, so try to be self-reliant and be as prepared as possible.
Sure, we need to think of these items and issues so we can be prepared, but more often than not it’s the surprise events outlined above that bring the most heartache and challenges to families. Do your homework and be as prepared as your time and finances can allow. You’ll be glad you did, and so will those living with and nearby. May God bless you and your family to have the means to be prepared for the unexpected one step at a time. May God Bless this world, Linda
Copyright Images: Flooded Roadway AdobeStock_112079131 By EugeneF