Outdoors with John Perkovich

Posted: Tuesday, October 11, 2005

As I turned to the computer to write my weekly story, I was startled to read about yet another disaster, the earthquake in Asia. Early estimates predict some where between 18,000 to 25,000 deaths. We all have heard about the hurricanes in New Orleans, Texas, and also several of them in Florida last year. Then throw in the 250,000 people killed in the last tsunami in Asia and the reality of it all becomes a very scary situation for all of us to deal with. Natural disasters seem to be occurring at a more frequent rate then ever before.

Is your family prepared to deal with a natural disaster if one would occur? Do you have enough emergency food put away for your family to survive in the event you have no water, power or transportation for several days? Do you have any extra canning jars on hand in cases of emergency? Do you have drinking water set aside? Do you have an alternate heating source just in case the emergency happened in the wintertime?

I hope the following ideas can help you prepare your home just in case it is our turn to deal with natural disasters here in Alaska. First of all drinking water is something we should all be concerned about. You can go buy a few cases of water to have on hand for emergencies, or you can keep your (rinsed out) milk jugs to save frozen water in your freezer. A full freezer is more economical to run than one half empty. Always keep your freezer as full as you can year round. As you empty your freezer, add milk jugs of water to keep it full. As you need more space, take out a few milk jugs to make room. If the power goes out for long periods of time these frozen milk jugs of water will help keep your food frozen. As they thaw out you also have drinking water.

If you always keep extra canning jars around, you could can the contents of your freezer on a Coleman camp stove in times of pro-longed power outages. You’re better to can it than to have it all thaw out and spoil before you can eat it. The only real trick here is somehow keeping those glass jars from breaking during an earthquake. Earthquake proof canning jars ...never mind I was going to try one attempt at being funny!

Generators can be bought fairly reasonably these days for emergencies. Something that will run a few electric items like a heater, refrigerator, or a few lights can be bought from $300 to $500. After an emergency you could be expected to buy triple that if you could even find one. There should still be plenty of these smaller ones still lying around after the Y2k scare. If you don’t have the extra money to buy one talk your neighbor into buying one and buy just enough extension cord to reach from his generator to your home! It should be a whole cheaper and might give your neighbor a chance to do something nice for someone too!

A few roles of plastic and some duct tape might become very handy in case you have broken windows to repair, especially in the winter. You can use almost anything to insulate plastic sheeting from the cold once you are able to keep the wind out. An old blanket or even clothes will work in an emergency, providing they are not the clothes that you are currently wearing.

Keeping several cases of canned vegetables on hand at all times is also something that every family should do. The cans will take quite a beating and might be all you’re left to eat if we have a bad earthquake. Also store up some dried food like beans, or several types of energy bars or powdered food. Keep these items in a safe space and away from any area that could easily get wet.

Always have an alternate heat source of some kind. Propane stoves can be both safe and very effective in a variety of situations. Always make sure whatever type your using is properly ventilated and used in a safe location and manner. NEVER light anything if there is a gas leak or the possibility of a gas leak till you KNOW for sure it is safe to do so. Wood stoves can also be an option if you’re prepared for burning wood before the emergency. Keep emergency candles in both your home and your car in the wintertime.

If you have children, make up an emergency plan just in case something happens, and make sure they have another safe place to go to if your home is destroyed. Discuss this with your neighbors and let them know your children have been instructed to go there if there is an emergency. While you’re there you can measure how much cord it will take to reach his generator from your home. Don’t buy a whole lot of extra cord that you really don’t need. Most generators today are mounted on wheels, so you can always push it a little closer to your house. Let your wealthy neighbor buy the extra cord! Also advise him to buy a three-way plug-in too for the end of your cord, just in case your kids want to listen to music.

Another wise thing for you guys out there who seem to have restricted freedom or should I say have a hard time getting out of the house to go camping or other manly things. Keep some winter camping gear together for types of emergencies like earthquakes, terrorist attacks or simply as a way to get out of the house now and then. Throw that ratty old sleeping bag, some snow shoes, and a few other items like a hatchet and any old tent in your pick-up and tell the Mrs. you’re off to test your winter survival gear. If she doesn’t smile and start to wave good-bye you might want to throw that emergency bouquet of flowers you have on the seat beside you. You will be surprised what a $3 bouquet of flowers will do in a real emergency. Before She can even say, “You haven’t finished painting” ......You will be gone! If you are able to get out of the house without using the flowers, sneak back over to your neighbor’s house (you know the guy with the new generator) and sell them to him for $10! See you next week!

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