How to prepare to shelter in place

There is a big difference between being a prepper and being prepared. The Preppers, the Debbie Downers of the militia movement, are preparing for complete societal collapse, whether it’s an economic calamity, an invasion by armed forces in black helicopters or, the big kahuna, of a zombie apocalypse.

Someone who is prepared, on the other hand, knows that such scenarios are unlikely, but realizes that real disasters happen all the time: hurricanes, ice storms, power outages caused by waves of heat and global pandemics. So they want to be prepared to shelter in place if they have to live without electricity, running water, or empty grocery shelves for days or weeks at a time.

Experts warn that such scenarios are becoming increasingly common.

“We see more disasters, more extreme weather every year,” said Jeffrey Schlegelmilch, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University in New York. “Even after the initial disaster, our reliance on global supply chains means it could be weeks before things get back to normal. Remember the baby formula shortage? »

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Like most disaster experts, Schlegelmilch recommends storing food and water for you and your family anywhere from several days to a week or more, depending on where you live.

“The further away you are, the longer you may have to be alone,” he said.

Here are some suggestions to help you and your family through a disaster.

If the great toilet paper shortage of 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the supply chain is not set up to meet a shortage of basic supplies.

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start early

If the great toilet paper shortage of 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the supply chain is not set up to meet a shortage of basic supplies.

“With the exception of Hurricane Katrina, most major disasters don’t last more than a week,” said Creek Stewart, disaster preparedness instructor, author of “The Disaster Ready Home: A Step-by- Step Emergency Preparedness Manual for Sheltering in Place”. .”

Stewart suggests stocking up on 10 to 20 items that you and your family eat regularly that have a shelf life of at least a year. These include pasta, preserves, and dried beans.

“I tell people to shop in the interior aisles of the supermarket, not the perimeter where the produce and meat is,” Stewart said, “and buy foods that they normally eat; if you don’t eat spam, don’t fill up on spam.

Be aware that canned foods are often high in salt, which can be problematic for people with high blood pressure and other medical conditions. Buy low-salt versions when available.

Although you should focus on nutrient-dense foods, be sure to include comfort foods that you or your children enjoy, such as chocolate, candy, or chips.

“You also have to think about your mental health,” Schlegelmilch said.

If you can’t afford to buy an extra week’s worth of food all at once, spread the cost by buying one or two extras of the same item to store each time you shop. In a few months you should have a full stock of emergency rations.

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You may not have access to your oven or stove during a disaster and its aftermath, so make sure a good portion of your stock is food that doesn’t need to be cooked. . This can include canned goods like tuna, chicken, fruits and vegetables.

And don’t forget your outdoor grill, if you have one. Always keep an extra propane tank or a supply of wood, charcoal or grilling pellets handy. And buy some inexpensive pots and pans from Goodwill or a thrift store to use on the fire.

Store your emergency food in a cool, dry place that's off the ground to discourage critters and other pests.  Make sure it is easily accessible in an emergency.  Good places include the kitchen pantry and the guest bedroom closet or, if you have one, the basement.

Store your emergency food in a cool, dry place that’s off the ground to discourage critters and other pests. Make sure it is easily accessible in an emergency. Good places include the kitchen pantry and the guest bedroom closet or, if you have one, the basement.

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Storage of your stock

Just because something is dried or canned doesn’t mean it will last forever. Do like the manager of your local grocery store and rotate your stock.

“When you run out of things in the kitchen, replace them with what you have in stock,” said Joyce Cavanagh, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension disaster assessment and recovery specialist. “And then replace that item in your stock the next time you go shopping.”

Although the best before and best before dates listed on product packaging have more to do with how fresh a product is than whether it is still edible, use these dates as a general guide for when food must be consumed.

Store your stock in a cool, dry place that is off the ground to discourage critters and other pests. Make sure it is easily accessible in an emergency. Good places include the kitchen pantry and the guest bedroom closet or, if you have one, the basement. Do not store food in the garage and shed or anywhere else with extreme temperature swings.

Regularly check canned foods to make sure they are not puffy or puffy, which may mean that the contents of the food have spoiled and the cans should be discarded. Store foods that aren’t in a sealed package, such as flour, sugar, even canned pasta, in airtight, pest-resistant containers.

Have a go-kit ready in case you need to evacuate quickly. It can be something as simple as an old suitcase, preferably on wheels, which can quickly be filled with food.

Don’t forget the water

Store at least a gallon of water per person (and pet), per day, and more than that in warmer climates like San Antonio.

For drinking water, you can either stock bottled water sold in stores or fill plastic soda bottles marked PET or PETE with tap water. Larger amounts of water can be stored in containers ranging from seven to 55 gallons sold online or at home centers.

Properly stored, the water should remain drinkable for years, but for added safety and the freshest tasting water, consider replacing your supply every three to six months.

If you have enough warning, freeze as many milk jugs filled with water as possible. These will keep the freezer cold longer in the event of a power outage, can be used in a cooler to keep other foods cool and, once they melt, as drinking water. Also fill tubs, buckets, or other large containers with water to use for bathing, toilet flushing, and other uses.


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