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Leon's View

Ten items to help you gear up for San Andreas type disasters and emergencies

Ten items to help you gear up for San Andreas type disasters and emergencies

The “San Andreas” movie, out recently, would encourage me to move! But what if that isn’t an option ? And suppose the movie was a wake-up call to start preparing. But you live in an apartment with limited storage space – what are some of the things needed to get started being prepared?

by Leon Pantenburg

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One reason I love the wild, open spaces of the west is that I was once an apartment dweller in downtown Washington D.C. But even in the late 80s, I had a backpack full of survival gear, ready to go. Basically, all I did was put all my backpacking stuff together and buy some freeze dried food.

When Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast in 2012, I read about unprepared victims and about  loaves of bread that cost seven dollars and ten dollar boxes of matches. A big concern, apparently, was charging cell phones.

A single candle may provide enough lighting in some power outage situations. Check out thrift stores and garage sales for good deals. (Pantenburg photo)

A single candle may provide enough lighting in some power outage situations. Check out thrift stores and garage sales for good deals. (Pantenburg photos)

Suppose you live in an apartment in an area with the potential for natural disasters. You don’t have a lot of storage room, but want to start gathering a few supplies to get you by for a few days when the power goes out.

Here are some suggestions:

Five gallon plastic bucket with lid: This will serve as a storage container, a water bucket, or an emergency toilet. In the case where the toilet still flushes, the bucket can be used to haul water to fill the tank. You can store many of your survival tools in the bucket it until they are needed.

Spare batteries, extra toilet paper and paper towels: No brainer.

Water containers: If the power goes out, you’ll need to store some water ASAP. I have been using the collapsible Platypus water containers for years, and I find them to be reliable, durable and compact. Get some of the collapsible five-gallon plastic containers. Figure on a minimum of a gallon of drinking water per person per day.

Backpacking stove: A lightweight backpacking stove will give you a burner to cook food on, boil water, and to some extent, heat with. Any stove that relies on a flame will produce carbon monoxide, so make sure the cooking area is adequately ventilated. Also, make sure there is a fuel supply easily available. The propane canisters may be hard to come by, whereas denatured alcohol may be easily found. Check out your local hardware, home improvement and backpacking stores for potential fuel sources.

Dehydrated food: Put in a three-day supply for each person. The shelf  life on some of  these foods is 10 to 15 years, so you don’t need to worry about spoilage. Get the kind where all you need to do is add water, and that don’t have long simmering times.

Crank cell phone charger: I bought a simple crank charger for about $15. It will re-charge my cell phone and laptop, so communications can continue.

Crank flashlight: Batteries wear out, so get a source of light that can be re-charged. Solar charged lighting tools  might be an option in some areas.

Candles and lamps: Interior lighting might be a major problem, especially during the winter months when it starts to get dark about 5:30 p.m. Hit up the thrift stores and buy whatever candles they have. Kerosene or oil lamps are another option. Check out hardware stores for the small oil candles that burn for days.

The Berkey Sport Bottle fit in well with the rest of my survival gear.

A water filter sport bottle works well in wilderness and urban survival settings.

Water filter: During a power blackout, your water quality might be suspect, so some sort of water purification method should be considered. I’ve used Polar Pure for years.

Boiling water is probably the safest way to purify it. Once the water is brought to boiling (212 degrees) everything that boiling can kill is dead. Boiling water for extended periods of time doesn’t make it hotter or cleaner.

Sleeping bag: A night, a warm sleeping bag will allow you to sleep comfortably.  Extra blankets are always a good idea.

Duct tape and visqueen: These are multi-purpose items. Duct tape is used for everything, and the large sheets of plastic visqueen will allow you to cover a broken window, partition off a room, rig an emergency shelter etc.

As a long-time prepper, this selection of gear seems woefully Spartan to me. But this collection is much better than nothing, and it will get you started. Use the suggestions as a basis to – hopefully – get moving  toward being  fully prepared for any emergency.

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Leon's View

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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