Thoughts on Preparing for an Emergency

Thoughts on Preparing for an Emergency

By Jim Butzbach

One of the hardest things about a Civil Defence emergency is that you can’t just give up in the middle of it. Your living situation may be uncomfortable for an extended period of time and you have to find the mental resilience to deal with that. One strategy that works quite well is to set yourself a challenge and a few goals each day to help keep you focussed.

Of course – having supplies on hand to take care of your most basic needs is essential.

Here are the things that make up my ‘emergency’ kit:

1. A decent sized first aid kit – Often most normal first aid kits only have supplies to deal with minor injuries like paper cuts. Get 3 or 4 decent Gamgee wound dressings and a few crepe bandages…..just in case.

2. An emergency kit with gloves, torch, batteries, wet weather poncho, battery-operated radio etc. Add a multi-fuel cooker, some cooking or eating vessels, a light-weight sleeping bag and sleeping mat.

3. At least one large receptacle of water (enough for several days).

4. Chlor-o-gene and a pair of thick clean socks: Chlor-o-gene is a chemical treatment that you can use to treat your own water. I always keep 2 -3 bottles of this about the place. If you put 1 cap per each litre of water that you’ve strained through a clean pair of socks (if the water is murky), it is a “bush trick” that can help you eliminate all bugs from the water. (It won’t get rid of heavy metals, oils or other toxins in the water (only bugs)…to get rid of other toxins you will need to boil the water and put the steam through a condenser).

Next, let’s talk tucker, my favourite subject. Fresh, frozen, canned, and freeze dried food are what you may have on hand when an emergency strikes. Use them up in that order – fresh and frozen food (e.g. fresh fruit, icecream etc) need to be eaten straight away before they perish.

Try to make an appetising hot meal if you can, it raises the spirits and makes the situation more bearable. Clean your dishes thoroughly otherwise you will attract pests. So make sure you have sanitation supplies on hand too.

Be aware that in an emergency situation you can get tired and stressed so you’ll need to think a little harder about what you are doing, to avoid making dangerous mistakes. E.g. if you’re thinking about lighting a fire outdoors, factor in the risks first. On that note, leave alcohol alone. It can further dull your perception and can lead to unnecessary panic when the hazardous situation takes a turn for the worse.

If you’re on medication please take your pills. If you’ve been prescribed them by somebody useful, you probably need them.

Listen to your radio, be well informed, and have a plan so you give yourself the best shot at getting through. Don’t stress if your cell phone doesn’t work. If your cell does work, use it in short bursts. Your mate might be trying to get important information out over that overloaded communication system so don’t place unnecessary strain on the system for non-essential communication.

Finally, check your neighbours out. There is comfort and a degree of safety in numbers. We’re in this together!

-Jim Butzbach

Former search and rescue medic, Jim Butzbach, shares his thoughts on how to prepare for an emergency.