Short-Term Disaster Preparation

We will focus our attention first on what differentiates the three emergency scenarios one could prepare for — short-term, medium-term and long-term. Their triggers, outcomes and recommended supplies for survival will all be discussed.

Short-term emergency situations (those lasting 1 day to 1 week) are quite common around the world. Most families will have to deal with one or two small emergencies a year, depending on their geographic location. Of the three emergency scenarios one can prepare for, short-term situations happen the most frequently, but with just a small amount of preparation, one can easily “weather the storms” (pun intended).

In the Pacific Northwest for example, we get hit by major storms a few times a year, and they can knock out power and wash out roads. The region also sees a few snow and ice storms that wreck havoc upon the cities (and citizens) that are unprepared for them.Downed power lines during and ice storm

Every region around the world witnesses short-term emergencies, most often caused by nature.  Which of these do you see in your community?

  • Tornadoes
  • Snow storms
  • Floods
  • Hurricanes
  • Earthquakes
  • Wild-fire
  • Volcanoes
  • Unexpected weather
  • … etc …

The effects of these situations are varied, but they can:

  • Knock out electricity
  • Limit communications (telephone, cable TV, cell phones, internet)
  • Limit access beyond your home
  • Reduce the gasoline and grocery supply (due to stocking up before the disaster hits)

How comfortable are you without electricity?  With a limited food supply?

Thankfully, these situations happen often enough that most citizens in the region know how to prepare for them — though many still get caught off guard and end up having to scramble for supplies or make-do without them.  Stay ahead of the pack!

What can you do to prepare for Short-Term Disasters?

A short term disaster is cheap and easy to prepare for. Get prepared now! A little bit of preparation now goes a long ways towards making you comfortable, calm and prepared when the disaster hits.

A good resource for preparation comes from the US government at The website has a lot of great resources, including an emergency preparation kit check-list, how-to make a readiness plan, and where to go for more information. Their brochures can be easily downloaded and printed. Do it now! If your electricity is out, your printer won’t work!

There are many ways to prepare, but they can be focused into five major categories:

supplies + tools + techniques + fitness + awareness = preparation

While all five categories can be helpful in any emergency scenario, giving higher focus to some initially (supplies and alertness) will help you prepared for a short term emergency quickly. After you’ve built a supplies kit, you will need to spend time and money on the other categories (tools, techniques and fitness) to prepare yourself for medium (and long) term scenarios.

Your best bets for Short Term Disasters:

  1. Build an emergency supplies kit
  2. Be alert!  Know where and how to gather information

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Build a supplies kit now!

Supplies that will help you in a short-term emergency situation are fairly basic, but the key is having them on-hand (in a usable condition) so you don’t have to rush to the local supermarket when a disaster is looming. The panic of ordinary citizens in an emergency can lead to rude and dangerous behavior, and it is best to stay away from places where everyone else is headed in a frenzy. Grocery stores will be out of stock instantly, and you will spend more time in traffic jams and around panicked (and unprepared) citizens. Build your supplies now so you don’t need to rush to the store when the disaster hits.

What should you include in your kit?

A 7-day preparation kit won’t cost you much and is easy to assemble:

  • Eating / drinking:
    • 1 gallon of water / person / day (bottled water works great)
    • 7-day supply of food / person (canned, mountain house dried food, etc)
  • Shelter
    • Sleeping bag
    • Warm blankets
  • Electronics:
    • Battery-powered radio
    • Battery-powered GMRS / FRS walkie-talkies
    • Flashlights with spare batteries
    • Cell phone with extra battery
    • Charged batteries to power all electronics
  • Sanitation / health
    • Moist towelettes
    • Toilet paper
    • First-aid kit
    • Filtration face masks
    • Medicines
    • Personal-needs such as:
      • prescriptions
      • feminine products
      • eye glasses
      • hearing aids
      • pet food
      • baby formula and diapers
  • Information
    • Personal information (photocopies of identification, passports, credit cards)
    • First-aid manual
    • Survival books
    • Maps of the surrounding area
  • Tools / misc
    • Matches or lighters
    • Candles
    • Whistle
    • Multi-tool (Leatherman)
    • Wrench, pliers, screwdrivers
    • Can opener for food
    • Hatchet
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Duct tape
    • Plastic tarps
    • Garbage bags
    • Cash ($100 – $1000 in small bills)

Where should you assemble this?

Gather the above items and put them somewhere in your house that isn’t very damp. A bag or storage bin is recommended. Put the supplies aside and don’t touch them. Don’t grab the duct tape from your survival kit just because you can’t find the other roll. You’ll slowly dwindle your supply!

Next Post: Step 2: Stay alert, know how to communicate and gather information

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