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The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

A natural or man-made disaster could strike at any time, preparing ahead of time will help you and your loved ones survive. The local, state, and federal governments will be overwhelmed initially, and for a significant amount of time afterward. People will likely have to rely on their own devices for an extended period.


Our electrical grid is very vulnerable. Electricity may be disrupted, everything will come to a grinding halt. It could be out for an extended period, weeks if not months. Orders won’t be placed, deliveries won’t be made. Gas station pumps won’t work, and ATMs won’t dispense cash. The ease and convenience we now have in our daily life will abruptly end. People need to think of what life was like in the 1800s and plan accordingly.

Food - Emergency food supplies with a decades-long shelf life are commercially available. These aren’t gourmet meals, but they are high in protein and they’ll keep you alive. Also, canned goods (vegetables and canned meats) have a long shelf life, as well as many canned goods. Dried meats like jerkies can also last for quite a while and will provide you with sustenance. Stockpile plant seeds and plant a garden if you have the space. Remember, grocery store shelves are going to empty quickly, and food riots could break out. Think of ‘Black Friday’ sales after Thanksgiving, when people are fighting over flat-screen TVs, then now substitute food in place of a Sony 72” screen for $200. Best to plan and avoid it altogether.

Paper goods - Toilet paper, and paper towels can be stockpiled over time, no need to go buy a cart full next time you’re at the store. Just pick up an extra package each time you shop. That’s what I’ve done, and I probably have 400+ rolls stored in my basement. As well as packages of napkins (take up less space and can substitute for ’TP’), and a couple of dozen packages of paper towels (which also can be used as a ‘TP’ substitute).


Water - Keep enough cases of water on hand to provide 2 bottles minimum for each family member daily. You can rotate them in/out by using an older case and replacing it with a new one as you use them.

Also, save gallon milk jugs and fill them with tap water. They can be used to flush toilets (most are gravity based), but it takes two jugs generally to flush a toilet. Find a space in your house to store them for future use. I have roughly 50 gallons stacked in a corner. It won’t last forever, but it’ll carry you for a week or two. You can also collect water from rain or a nearby stream and refill your gallon jugs as you use them. With a little effort, you can also tap into the water pipes in your house and collect the water from there.

Gasoline - I have six, five-gallon gas cans I keep full. As I use one to mow the lawn or for my UTV, I replace the gas in it and rotate which cans I use so it doesn’t go ‘stale’. It’s not going to last me forever, but my UTV gets excellent gas mileage, and hopefully will carry me until gas stations are back online.

Meds - If you have prescription medications you need, try to keep a three-month supply on hand at all times if you can. Prescription drugs only lose a small percentage of their effectiveness over time, so they have a longer shelf life than most think, and can still be effective.

Buy a book that describes all the naturally available plants and substances that can replace some of the medicinal values of prescription medications.


Pet food - Don’t forget your furry family members. They’re going to need food too. Canned food supplies are best since they have a long shelf life.

Guns & ammo - Predators will be out in force since they did not prepare for any emergency. They will be looking to take YOUR food and supplies. Be prepared to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your stash.

Battery-operated radio - A good radio with extra batteries is necessary to find out what’s going on, and to keep abreast of recovery operations, or instructions from authorities.

Family plan - This is extremely important. All of your loved ones may not be at home when an emergency happens. Naturally, you will be concerned for their well-being, and your instinct will be to go out looking for them. That may not be the best thing to do unless someone responsible can remain home to protect your property, and you know exactly where your loved one is located. Put together a family plan so that each person will know what to do, where to go, or where to hunker down in the event of an emergency. Cell phone and landline service may be disrupted and useless. There are commercially available satellite phones/devices. A little pricey for every family member to own, but if purchased over time the cost can be deflected. These usually have a long battery life as well, days if not a couple of weeks. I have a gas-powered electric generator that can be used to power or charge household items, so communication devices can be maintained and operational. Eventually, the gas to operate it will run out, but hopefully by then, things will return to some semblance of semi-normal.


This list is by no means all-inclusive. I’m sure there are many more good ideas out there that people can share. I’m providing this not to scare people, but to educate them. A natural disaster can happen at any time. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, or other pandemics can disrupt services we rely upon. Think of Puerto Rico after the hurricane a few years ago. Devastating, and the government was unprepared and ill-equipped to respond. People were on their own, and few had emergency supplies or a plan in place.

So start working on your survival plan just in case. You’ll be glad you did if ‘it’ hits the fan.

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