Spokane County Sheriff's Crime & Safety Tips

Spokane County Sheriffs Crime Prevention Tips

Guest writer, Vern Page, has helped out the Sheriff’s Office and SCOPE in the past with his expertise. Here is an article he wrote that everybody should read and take to heart…

Spokane has had a lot of experience with natural disasters. The majority of people in Spokane have gone through the earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, fire, wind and ice storms with some preparation. Unfortunately, there is only a small percentage of people who are ready and could withstand these severe conditions. Most people think that others will be there to help if need be - they feel they can call a friend, or believe they have money in their account to handle such an emergency but have done little in the way toward being prepared when a disaster strikes. There are several essential things I would like to encourage people to have on hand. My name is Vern Page, and I have worked with military survival, currently work with SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) out at Fairchild AFB and have been teaching Emergency Preparedness personally for over 40 years.

I believe that all residences, whether an apartment, home or institution where a number of people are staying, should have some basic items on hand. When we lose power, experience extreme cold/heat, have difficulty traveling, and gas stations and stores are closed, we need to have these items to get us through until services can be restored. People really need to be prepared in the areas of food, water, energy, lighting, being able to cook and having the basic home products that would be of value during those times. My recommendation is to have enough of these items for three months.

Now, some people might think that is way too much, but no, it isn’t. You can buy a 20 pound sack of rice for $10 that translates to a large number of meals for you and your family. A 25 pound container of instant oatmeal is inexpensive, doesn’t take much energy to cook and is filled with protein and carbs. It can be bought in a five gallon bucket for around $25 and it doesn’t take up a lot of space to store. You can buy macaroni and pasta in a 25 pound box, put it in a container, that can make a numerous amount of meals. Instant pancake mix is easy to prepare and it can last for several weeks. You can also purchase 72 Hour five gallon buckets that have prepackaged foods already in them from several places.

In the class I teach, we encourage people to use the bucket system. The buckets are able to stack three on top of three and be stored in a closet or basement where they do not take up much space. This would cover about three months of food. I also recommend that you have six cans of freeze dried foods. They have a long shelf life and would supplement the basic foods already stored. Also, having pre-packaged foods that are easy to open will eliminate the need for food prepping when you are in this type of high stress situation. I recommend up to a month’s worth of foods like canned soups, cereals, chili, macaroni & cheese, peanut butter and jelly. These are food items that you can live off of for a couple of weeks. You can stock these items away in your home or apartment and they don’t take up much shelf space.

So, now you have prepared for the disaster with food, but now you need to think of your food as energy. You have to put energy into the food so that your body can get the energy out. Most people don’t think about not having electricity, so how would you cook your food? You need to have a heat source. There are things that can be used that are specifically designed for indoors. For instance, there are some smaller propane tanks that will stop running if they get low or if they are tipped over as a protection factor. Propane tanks can be used with a camp stove using either propane or white gas. Also, when considering a heat source, plan on having some cut wood available to use for a wood stove or using a barbeque grill to cook your food. Make sure that you are prepared to use it by keeping your tanks full and by having extra tanks available.

If you know that a storm is coming, water is essential. I recommend four 5-gallon containers of water with spigots. You can find stackable containers that can be stored two on top of two and place them in a closet or under the house where they will not freeze. I also recommend that you fill the bathtub to help get through the first couple of days. In an extreme situation, water from your water heater can be used as your secondary backup.

Water is also crucial for sanitation purposes because disease usually follows disaster. It is a major part of crises when water sources are not flowing. If you live near an extra water source like a stream or a pond, having bleach can be helpful in disinfecting bathrooms and kitchens. All you need to disinfect your water is eight drops of bleach per gallon of water.

Another area to be aware of is lighting for the evening/night hours. If the electricity is out, you will need to have an alternative form of light for these hours. Battery operated lanterns, flashlights, headlamps and candles in glass containers are good choices. Remember to stock yourself with plenty of batteries to power these devices. In the past, C & D batteries were one of the first items to disappear in Spokane.

The next area to be aware of are ways to keep warm. Think about ways to camp out in your house, ways that will make it fun for the kids. Choose a room in your home and pull mattresses from the beds. Have everyone in the same room so they can all be sleeping close to keep each other warm. Block off that room to seal in the heat. Stocking caps to cover your heads are important since a person can lose a lot of heat through the top of their head. Long johns and insulated undergarments should be made with blends of nylon and wool. They will keep you nice and comfortable. Use blankets such as down comforters or anything with air space. When not in use, comforters can be stored in vacuum sealed bags to take up less space in storage.

I have talked about food, water, heat and lighting. Now I want to discuss, communication. Every household should have a form of communication. Two-way radios can be found at most sports and outlet stores. At a minimum you want radios that have a two mile range as well as being able to access multiple channels so that you can locate other people in your vicinity.

To be able to listen to emergency channels, you want to have a minimum of four bands (different wavelengths) plus a weather channel. Consider buying a radio that you have to crank, use batteries with, or one with the ability to use solar energy. The Voyager 4 radio is recommended by a number of emergency preparedness organizations. It is a KA 500 that can be used with batteries and solar energy.

A concern that everyone needs to be aware of in times of disaster is the possibility of intruders. Getting to know your neighbors and planning for these types of possibilities is an excellent way to ensure that you and your neighbors feels safer during difficult times. Plans can include what forms of communication to use to let your neighbors know if there is an emergency situation such as an intruder or if you have an accident in your home. If an intruder enters your home or your apartment, you can blast him with a marine air horn. The sound of an air horn blast is very painful - the intruder can’t wait to get out of your home and everyone can hear the signal down the block. If anyone in your neighborhood hears three quick blasts from an air horn (which is the international signal for emergency), they can respond immediately to your need for help and jump into action.

One last thing that I would like to add when preparing for times of disaster, try to store a little extra for neighbors who might have trouble getting things they might need.

Most events end within ten days, but by preparing yourselves with enough food, water, lighting and other necessities, you and your family should be able to survive comfortably without the regular accommodations for an extended amount of time.

If you want to learn more about Vern Page, please go to his website at SpokaneHomePrep.com.

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE CAN BE DIRECTED TO DEPUTY David Morris OF THE CRIME PREVENTION UNIT OF THE SPOKANE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: DWMorris@SpokaneSheriff.org

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