Disaster Prep Summer Series: Bugging In

Bugging in or hunkering down basically means staying in your house during a disaster rather than evacuating.  Next week's post will be going over some tips on  how to decide if you and your family should bug in or out.

Please note that I am talking about bugging in for the short term.  Think blizzard or hurricane not a full scale zombie apocalypse.  To prepare for zombies, please refer to the first 4 seasons of The Walking Dead.

There are many things to think about when preparing your house to be bug in ready so I have broken it down into sections.  Stockpile, Loosing Utilities, Health, Hygiene and Sanitation and Securing Yourself and Your Home.  Be aware that many things you need in for bugging in you also need for bugging out so be sure to check out our 72 hour post for a list of those items.

The first and most important thing (as always) is water.  Just like in your 72 hour kit, you will need 1 gallon of drinking water per day, per person (or pet).  You will also need extra water for cooking and bathing stockpiled as well.   Your drinking water supply that you have stockpiled needs to be water that does not need any filtration or boiling.  Look into different storage containers like this one here or ones similar to it depending on the space you have.  Also check out this website that has everything you need to know about how to properly store your water and this one that explains proper water rotation.  Also make sure you have the materials and the knowledge to filter or clean water.  This way if your drinking water gets contaminated, you have a plan B.  Its also a good idea to have rain barrels for free water storage.  You can use this water to water your plants day to day and is a good extra water for emergencies. Need more water? Check the water heater!

The next thing is food.  Now many people think that they need to go and buy cases of MREs or "emergency food".  While MREs are great for bug out bags because they are easy and light weight but for bugging in you have a lot more cost effective options.  Think about food items your family already eats that have a long shelf life.  Think canned foods, dried fruit, snack bars, pastas, jared foods, etc.  Do not rely on your freezer or refrigerator for food storage.  You need shelf stable items that will be fine even if the power goes out.  Next time you have a good coupon or see a good sale, buy several of them and keep a supply of them.  This is where us crazy couponers with stockpiles have a leg up.  Consider this your reason to start if you have been looking for one!  You should aim to have a minimum of 2-3 weeks worth of food for your entire family.  This goes for pets too.  Try to always have one extra bag of pet food.  We always have one open bag they are eating out of and one unopened bag.  If you are aware of the emergency ahead of time like a blizzard, try and hit the stores well before and stock up on some perishables like milk.  But remember that everyone else will be doing this too.

Photo By John and Belinda Bosley

Loosing Utilities
Be prepared to loose power/gas and everything that goes along with it.  No power means no lights, heaters, AC, laptops, TVs, cell phone chargers...  No natural gas means no stove, oven or hot water.  Be prepared to loose both. Don't just assume that because it is a storm that your gas will stay on.  Always, always have a back up.
The best back up for cooking is a gas grill.  You can cook your food and boil water if need be and they are something that most houses have.  Remember to keep at least one extra propane tank full at all times.
For lighting, start stocking up on candles and batteries.  I prefer the large emergency candles in glass jars.  They last for a very long time and are cheap.  You can also look online for ways to make your own.  Flashlights are  handy but they do not provide much light so I recommend lanterns.  You can get ones that run on kerosene or batteries, whichever you prefer.
Think about heating and cooling as well.  Use your wood burning fireplace or stove if you have one, wear as many layers as are comfortable and bundle everyone up in jackets and blankets and keep everyone in one room.  Getting one room warm is much easier than trying to keep the whole house warm.   Snuggling in together is also a good idea.  Dogs and children are like little furnaces.  Also your emergency candles will help warm the room after dark.   Warning: do NOT use items like BBQs or outdoor heaters inside the house.  These can emit nasty fumes that can be deadly if used inside a house.  Research heaters that can be safely used indoors and do not require electricity.
The last thing that can be affected by losing power is communication.  You can't charge your cell phone or laptop if your power is out so have some other options available.  Have a car charger and charge them in the car if you need to (just remember to move the car outside the garage or leave the garage door open while doing this).  You can also get a solar charger (we talked about these as a good item to have in a bug out bag as well).  Or even a charger that allows you to charge your phone on AA batteries.

Health, Hygiene and Sanitation
Be prepared with health, personal hygiene items and sanitation items.  Make sure you have a stash of paper towels, toilet papers, prescriptions (pets too people), over the counter meds, first aid items, soaps, toothpaste, etc.  Everything you need to keep everyone clean and healthy.  The one big thing that people seem to always have problems with is what to do about the toilet if the water is off.  This is one way your rain barrel water can come in handy.  You will need about a gallon of water every time you flush.  Just pour the water into the bowl and the force of the water should force everything down the drain.  (I would practice this ahead of time so you are not learning how to do it with a bowl of nasty.  Now the basic rule of thumb is "if its yellow, let it mellow".  So unless its solid, let it sit.  Gross yes but you don't want to be using a gallon of water every time someone goes.  Remember you can clean it when the water comes back on.  Now if you have a septic tank or something like that that will not you allow you to flush your toilet at all, you will need to find an alternative.  Heavy duty trash bags that can be placed outside is a good option.  Don't forget your mental health too.  Have plenty of books, board games and cards to keep yourself busy while the power is out.

Securing Yourself and your Home
The last big thing to discuss is securing your home.  Many recent polls have shown that about 50% of Americans are not adequately prepared for an emergency situation.  This means that there may be a lot of desperate people looking for supplies.  Be peppered for this.  Consider making some upgrades to your home now like beware of dog signs (even if you all you have is a guard goldfish), solid front door with no glass, upgraded locks for doors and windows and so on.  Many of these upgrades with also help protect your home from every day burglars.  Just like unprepared people in disaster situations, burglars are looking for an easy target.  Just making your house look more secure will help to deter a lot of them.  That being said, don't run out and start stringing barbed wire around your yard once the disaster starts.  That just screams WE HAVE GOOD STUFF, COME TAKE IT!!  Keep as low a profile as possible.  Stay inside, keep blinds and curtains closed.  Make it look like you are suffering along with everyone ells, don't stand out!  Keep lights to a minimum and cover the windows so the light cannot be seen from outside.  Keep alert and watch/listen for anyone approaching your property.  If you have a dog, train him to alert to you people outside.

Be prepared to defend yourself as well.  Pick your poison.  Firearms, pepper spray, stun guns, pointy stick...  But remember, these tools are only that.  Tools.  And tools are only as good as the person using them so learn to use them.  Take classes and practice regularly.  Keep them clean and in a safe place away from children.

Things to consider:
Consider looking into getting a small generator.  Remember they are expensive, loud, emit nasty fumes, require lots of gasoline and can only power small amounts of items.  But a small one can be nice to have to run a small heater for an hour or so at a time.
You have a manual can opener right?  Or a manual breast pump for the pumping mommies?

Check out the 72 hour bag post here and last week's post on Evacuation lists here.

Don't forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

Until next week!