Phase 3 – Safety Tips for if You Shelter in Place
If you remain in your home during an emergency situation or a disaster (shelter in place), for whatever reason (you choose to stay to protect your home and/or pets, you did not or could not evacuate in time, etc.), you need to know some things about staying safe so that you don’t make a bad situation even worse. This phase is to provide information about food safety and your personal safety.
The GO BAGS that you set up last week will be equally as important if you shelter in place as they are if you are forced to evacuate. For this section, I want to focus on food safety.
In my own home, I have a section of my pantry set aside for emergencies. If an emergency occurs and I can stay home, I will be set for at least 2 weeks based on the preparations I’ve already made. Now that those shelves are set up with canned and packaged items that I will be able to use during an emergency, I constantly replace the items on those shelves with new items as I bring them home so that those emergency shelves are constantly kept up to date. I put the new items in the back of the items already on the shelves.
In fact, one thing that I learned from working at a medical center is to conduct a test to ensure that I have addressed all potential contingencies. The easiest way to do this is to spend 5-6 hours with no electricity. Plan those hours so that they go into night-time hours so it is dark outside. You will discover things that you take for granted when the lights are out and it is dark.
- Lack of electricity: how will I open the cans and then serve the food items?
- Will there be any way that I can heat food items? This is not necessarily critical; however, I also want to try and be as comfortable as possible for as long as I possibly can.
- Food safety: although a person can live up to 3 weeks without food (see Rule of 3 Survival and Survival at Home) eating contaminated foods can kill you instantly.
Because of the “walk-through” that I conducted, I moved ice chests that I normally use for picnics, purchased an emergency hand-wind light that also is a radio and has a USB slit so that I can recharge my cell phone. I never would have thought about that had I not conducted a “walk-through”.
Water and Food Safety
There are many resources that you can use to prepare for the event of an emergency or catastrophe. However, if you wait until that happens, you will be at the mercy of others. Unless you live under a rock, you know that there are many more violent weather-related catastrophes now than there ever has been before. It does not matter the reason. What does matter is” are you prepared for any of these emergencies? Food, water, and cash should be high on the list of preparing in advance, whether you shelter in place or must evacuate.
Have you ever been to a grocery store when their power went out or the internet connection for their credit card machines was interrupted? If you have, you will know that the cashiers simply apologize repeatedly and explain that they cannot ring up your charge and they continue to apologize. However, no sale is made.
This phase is to check out a variety of websites that show how you can prepare and then put as many items and processes into practice as possible so that you will be safe and, hopefully, comfortable in the event of an emergency. I have arthritis and I am painfully aware that there are certain positions that I simply cannot get into anymore. When I conducted the “walk-through”, I found other positions or simple adjustments that I could make that helped to relieve some of the pain; however, although some of the items were at my home, I had to purchase other items.
Food and Water Safety
- FDA Food and Water Safety During Hurricanes, Power Outages, and Floods
- CDC: Keep Food and Water Safe After a Disaster or Emergency
- USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service Preparing for a Weather Emergency
Consider investing in is a camp stove & gasoline as well as an ice chest with thick insulation. With both of those items, even if you have a power outage and an electric stove, you can still boil water and if you can get ice, you can keep food items that you will need frequently in the ice chest to avoid opening the refrigerator or freezer doors.
Check back next week for Phase 4: Home Photo Insurance Inventory