We often take for granted that with just the flip of a handle clean drinking water is dispensed straight into most homes. But how many of us actually know what is coming through the tap?
A chemical spill polluted water supplies in West Virginia on Thursday. Schools and restaurants closed, grocery stores sold out of bottled water, and thousands had to go without drinking, bathing, cooking, or washing their clothes with municipal water.
According to Tom Aluise, a state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman, the tank that leaked holds at least 40,000 gallons, but they’re “confident that no more than 5,000 gallons escaped.”
Although not lethal, the chemical in question is harmful if swallowed or inhaled, according to a fact sheet from Fisher Scientific. It can cause eye and skin irritation, along with other symptoms.
To read more about the chemical spill, check out the article here.
Even if you don’t live near one of the nine affected counties in West Virginia, it’s important to prepare against the chance of water pollution. When you’re prepared, an emergency can seem less like a crisis to you and your family.
Having a water storage supply and a means to filter and purify your water are useful during a variety of emergencies. In cases such as this, however, typical microfilters and purifiers won’t be able to cleanse the water from the chemicals. But the Hydropackwill.
The Hydropack has .05 micron (5 angstrom) sized holes for water to pass through when dropped into a water source. The spilled chemical (4-methylcyclohexane methanol) is larger than 5 angstroms; the cyclohexane molecule itself is 5.3 angstroms. That means the chemical molecules are too large to pass through the Hydropack’s forward-osmosis filtration membrane.
Simply drop the Hydropack into your water source and let it absorb the water, filtering out chemicals and other contaminants to create an electrolyte drink much like a sports drink.
Although the Hydropack can help in a situation like this, storing clean water is important so that you can rely on yourself in times of emergency without having to wait for a filter or relief groups to get set up. There could also be situations when the pollutant in the water is small enough that the Hydropack won’t solve the issue.
We’ve seen several blogs over the past year titled “Top 100 Items to Disappear First.” I spent an afternoon recently comparing these lists and found them to be remarkably similar. That makes sense, of course, but none of the lists identified a source for their information (I like to know where information is coming from). The list is clearly in the public domain, so I’ve taken the various lists and created our own version. Generally, I’ve maintained the list as it appeared in many articles. However, you’ll see that I ended up with only the “Top 94 Items to Disappear First.” That’s because there were places in their lists where it just made sense to combine items or reorder them. For example, in most of the lists I reviewed, “cookstove fuel” was number 6 or 7 but “cookstoves” was number 20 or 21. OK, I can understand that stores would run out of fuel before running out of cookstoves because a number of people would already have the stove and they would be buying more fuel. Still, from a prepper list perspective, if you don’t have a stove, you don’t need the fuel, so my list puts cookstoves and fuel together at number 6. So my list isn’t strictly in the order that items would disappear. Deal with it. (I’m sure the first items to disappear would vary from one region to another anyway.) Better yet, read this list with an eye toward what you have and what you need to buy. Then start making your list! A word, though, about being overwhelmed: Don’t be! I am easily overwhelmed by long lists and too many options, so I considered breaking this into four articles. Obviously I didn’t. It seemed that continuity would be lost. So let me offer some advice: Take the list and work through it as much as you can without being overwhelmed. Then make a plan of things you need to buy or learn. Then work your plan. When you’re nearing the end of your plan, come back to the list and make a second plan. You can do it! Here’s my list of the top 94 items to disappear first in the event of a widespread emergency:
Generators – Everyone has this at the top of their list, and they’re great for short-term emergencies. Remember, though, that you have to feed them – and that means storing plenty of fuel (and stabilizer) in a safe environment. It also means protecting the generator and the fuel in a long-term situation.
Water – See our blog here to determine how much you’ll need.
Lamp oil, wicks, lamps, and lanterns – Buy clear oil while it’s available. If that becomes scarce, stockpile any oil you can get. Don’t forget to buy extra lantern mantles or your lanterns become useless.
Camp or cookstove and fuel – Several sites say it’s “impossible to stockpile too much fuel.”
Personal protection gear – Guns, ammunition, pepper spray, knives, and whatever else you might use.
Manually-operated kitchen tools – Can openers, whisks, etc.
Honey, syrups, white and brown sugar – Sugar virtually stores forever (if you’re careful to store it well so that no bugs get into it) and is much less expensive than honey and syrups, but the latter contain more vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes and other good things. Honey can also be used medicinally to combat some viruses, bacteria and fungus, and is great for a sore throat.
Rice, dried beans and wheat – These can be stored for more than 20 years if stored properly, so stock up now.
Vegetable oil for cooking – Sautéing food in a little bit of oil is an alternative to using water to boil your food, and water is usually the most critical need in an emergency.
Charcoal and lighter fluid
Water containers – Both small and large, including some of food grade for drinking water.
Propane heaters and related accessories – Propane tanks will immediately become scarce. You’ll also need propane heads that allow you to heat an area.
Hand-operated grain grinder
Survival guide book – We would include in this category printed copies of all kinds of how-to books, including cookbooks for using your stored food.
Other lighting sources and accessories – Flashlights and batteries, hurricane lamps
Fishing supplies – Pole/line, hooks, bobbers, etc.
Vitamins – See our recent blog on this topic here.
Feminine hygiene, hair care, and skin care products
Hand tools – Saws, axes, hatchets, wedges, hand drill
Aluminum foil – Buy both regular and heavy duty because you’ll want to use it for more than you think. That also makes it a valuable item for bartering.
Garbage bags – Several sites say it’s impossible to have too many.
Paper products – Toilet paper, facial tissue, paper towels. I’d say it’s impossible to have too much of these, especially toilet paper.
Milk – Powdered and condensed (infant formula, if that’s relevant for you or you want to barter with it)
Garden seeds – They must be non-hybrid and we recommend that you begin to learn about gardening now. Start with a small plot or “container gardening” if you’ve never gardened before. Don’t wait until your life depends on being able to grow your food to learn how to do it.
Work clothes – Gloves, boots, heavy jeans, belts, durable shirts, outdoor jacket
Everyday clothes – These won’t include your dresses and suits. Jeans and shirts will be the order of the day.
Coleman’s pump repair kit
Fire extinguishers and large boxes of baking soda – One for every room, because you’ll be using alternate light sources.
First aid kits – It’d be great if you took a first aid course so you know what you want to stock in your kit and know how to use the items.
Canned tuna–Purchase some packed in oil.
Garlic, spices, vinegar, and baking supplies
Batteries – More than you think and a variety of sizes. And this is a good time to consider getting rechargeable batteries with a small solar-powered recharger.
Big dogs and plenty of dog food
Flour, yeast and salt
Matches, matches, matches – The best kind are those that you can light by striking anywhere. Boxed, wooden matches will be the first to be gone from the shelves. Find a way to keep them dry.
Writing paper, notebooks journals, diaries and scrapbooks, pens and pencils – Some of the lists added solar calculators here. I’ll probably just do math with the pen and paper and save my money for other solar items.
Insulated ice chests – Insulation works both ways. You can use a well-insulated ice chest to keep things cold or to prevent things from freezing in cold weather.
Plastic garbage cans – They’re great for storage and transporting (if they have wheels).
Deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, nail trimmers, shaving supplies
Duct tape – Again, you can never have too much.
Insect repellents, sun screen – OK, sunscreen wasn’t on anyone’s list, but I’ve added it here. You’ll probably spend more time outside than you do now. You don’t want to deal with a sunburn along with everything else.
Tarps, stakes, twine, nails, rope, spikes
Candles – Another one of those “more than you think you need” items.
Backpacks, duffel bags
Garden tools and supplies
Scissors, fabrics and sewing supplies
Canned fruits, vegetables, soups and stews – We call this “grocery store prepping.” Read our blog about it here.
Bleach – Plain, not scented, 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite.
Canning supplies – Jars, lids, wax
Knives and sharpening tools – Files, stones and/or steel
Bicycles, tires, tubes, pumps, chains, locks
Sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, mats
Carbon monoxide alarm – Be sure it’s battery-powered and that you have batteries.
Board games, cards, dice – You won’t be playing Xbox or Wii.
D-con rat poison, roach killer
Mouse traps, ant traps, cockroach magnets, fly paper
Paper plates and cups, plastic utensils – Buy these in quantity when they’re on sale.
Baby wipes, oils, waterless and antibacterial soap – The waterless soap will keep you from using precious water.
Rain gear – Coats, rubberized boots, hats, etc.
Hand pumps and siphons – For both water and fuels.
Soy sauce, vinegar, bouillon, gravy, and soup bases
Chocolate, cocoa, tang, punch – Use to flavor water.
“Survival-in-a-Can” – It’s a sardine-sized can that is water and air tight that has a mini-survival kit stored in it.
Some state emergency agencies recommend that families have a disaster supply kit in place for any emergency – a tornado or flood or any other risk to health and safety. • A three-day supply of food and water (one gallon per day per person). Include canned and dried foods that are easy to store and prepare • Clothing, blankets and sleeping bags • Battery-powered radio and flashlight with extra batteries • A First-Aid kit • Candles and matches • Sanitation supplies, including iodine tablets and bleach to disinfect water • Potassium iodide to protect against radiation poisoning • Toilet articles and special needs items for infants, older adults or disabled family members • Extra sets of car keys and eyeglasses • If you have a car, try to keep at least 1/2 tank of gas in it at all times. • Cash and traveler’s checks – cash is most important in case ATMs are shut off • Important family documents in a waterproof container • Chemical and hazardous materials disasters can send tiny microscopic debris into the air so think about creating a barrier between yourself and any contamination. Consider having something for every family member that covers the mouth and nose. This could be several layers of a cotton T-shirt or an inexpensive filter mask from the hardware store – it is important that the material fit the face snugly so the air you breathe comes through the mask, not around it. • Duct tape and heavyweight garbage bags or plastic sheeting that can be used to seal windows and doors against potential contamination outside.
After watching the terrible earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, look at your home to see if you have a 72 hour preparedness kit. Some call it a "bug out" kit, others and emergency kit. The following website will assist you in being prepared for any emergency: