Archives : 2012 : September

Emergency Preparedness: There’s an App for that!

September 26th, 2012

In addition to stocking up on the basic emergency preparedness kit supplies, have you ever considered using your mobile device as a survival tool during an emergency? Since most Americans today have some type of mobile phone or tablet computer, and about 50% of mobile phone users have a smartphone, it is not surprising that applications (apps) and text message programs are now available to aid the public in the event of an emergency. Below are a few of these technological tools that are free to download and easy to use.

Shelter

The American Red Cross has developed several apps that are extremely useful in the event of an emergency. If you find that you are in desperate need of shelter following a natural disaster other catastrophic event, use the Shelter Finder App to help you locate a shelter nearest to you. You can simply zoom in on a map of your area and it will tell you the name and location of nearby shelters as well as information like capacity, current population, and the agency in charge of the shelter. The shelter locations are updated every 30 minutes with current populations updated twice daily, usually at noon and midnight.

First Aid

If you find yourself in a situation where you or a family member requires immediate medical attention, the First Aid App could be a life-saver. This app provides step-by-step instructions and even videos addressing the most common first aid emergencies like asthma attacks, burns, or head injuries, and can be viewed in either a learning mode or an emergency mode. The app is integrated with 911 so you can call for assistance at any time by simply touching “call 911” when you are in emergency mode. This is a stand-alone app which means that once the content is loaded to your phone, you can access this information even if you do not have reception or an internet connection. This app also includes safety tips to help you prepare for any type of emergency like hurricanes and earthquakes, and has interactive quizzes to help increase your knowledge of first aid and emergency preparedness.

Hurricanes

Since it is currently hurricane season, it is crucial to mention the newly released Hurricane App which offers many useful features. This app provides NOAA weather alerts for hurricanes (as well as tropical storms, tornadoes, and floods), locations of Red Cross shelters, and even “I’m safe” messaging that, with one touch of a button, allows users to notify family and friends that they are safe via social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail. To help you before, during, and after a hurricane you can view emergency preparedness steps and checklists. Another potentially life-saving feature is the ability to turn your phone into a flashlight, strobe light, or loud alarm. Like the First Aid App, the Hurricane App has preloaded content to provide you with critical action steps even if you lose reception or internet connection.

Text Message Program

For those individuals who do not own a smartphone or tablet, or those who only wish to receive text messages, FEMA created a text message program where you can receive monthly emergency preparedness tips. You can also find shelters near you by texting “SHELTER” and your zip code, or you can locate nearby Disaster Recovery Centers by texting “DRC” and your zip code.

In this day and age, mobile devices are used for so many purposes that it is only fitting that they can now serve a life-saving role in an emergency. When planning for emergencies, review the articles about emergency preparedness kits and emergency water storage, and be sure to include either the emergency apps or text message programs in your preparations if at all possible.

 

Emergency Water Storage: A Necessary Part of Emergency Preparedness

September 19th, 2012

The type of everyday conveniences that we take for granted, such as readily available water and food, may not be available during and after a natural disaster or other catastrophic event. Consequently, organizations like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stress the importance of emergency water storage. Obviously, humans must drink water to survive but water is also necessary for simple tasks like cooking, cleaning, bathing, brushing teeth, and washing hands. All of these activities require clean, contaminant-free water and therefore emergency water storage should be considered an essential part of preparing for emergencies.

How much water should you store?

Both FEMA and CDC recommend storing at least one gallon per person per day. This amount accounts for drinking water as well as water for activities like cooking and cleaning. People normally drink about two quarts of water per day but this amount can increase depending on certain factors. If you live in a very warm climate or your family includes a sick individual or pregnant woman, consider storing extra water. The CDC recommends that you should plan to store a minimum of at least a three-day supply of water per person but it is best to store a two-week supply for your family. Remember to store extra for your pets as well!

How do you prepare the water?

According to FEMA and CDC, commercially bottled water is best for emergency water storage. Purchasing a two-week supply of bottled water for an entire family can be costly though and will create a lot of waste. To avoid added expense and waste, you can prepare your own emergency supply of water as well. Follow the instructions below to prepare your water supply.

Use only food-grade water storage containers or if necessary, two-liter plastic soft drink bottles. Other types of containers such as milk or juice cartons contain proteins and sugars that are very difficult to remove and can cause microorganisms (mold, bacteria, etc.) to grow in the water. Be sure to wash the containers with water and dish soap. Then add a solution of one quart of water and one teaspoon of unscented liquid household chlorine bleach to the container, tighten the lid, and shake to coat all surfaces. Allow the solution to set for 30 seconds, empty the container, and air-dry or rinse with safe drinking water. Fill the container with tap or other safe drinking water. If you are using well water or purified water that does not contain chlorine, add two drops of bleach for every gallon of water. Be sure to seal the container tightly and write the date on it. Store the water in a cool, dark place, away from any hazardous chemicals. This water can be stored for up to six months.

What can you do if you use your entire water supply?

If you have used all of your stored water and are still in an emergency situation, you may need to get water from a natural source, such as a lake, river, or pond. You can remove harmful microorganisms by boiling the water for one minute or by adding 16 drops of bleach (1/8 teaspoon) for every one gallon of water. These methods are fairly effective at removing microorganisms but do not remove other contaminants such as fertilizers or heavy metals. If you would like to remove these contaminants as well, the CDC suggests using a portable water filter with a pore size that is small enough to remove bacteria, parasites, and, if at all possible, viruses.

Make an Emergency Preparedness Kit

September 13th, 2012

Currently, the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal regions are in the midst of peak hurricane season which extends from mid-August to late October. If you live in a community affected by hurricanes, you will likely be left without electricity, water, gas, and other services. Furthermore, relief workers may not be able to reach you and your family for days following the disaster. In a disaster situation such as this, an emergency preparedness kit may be necessary for survival. These kits consist of basic necessities to help you survive for at least three days if aid is not available. The list of basic emergency kit supplies provided below is based on suggestions by the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) and American Red Cross.

The emergency preparedness kit should include:

Water

Store at least a minimum of a three-day supply of no less than one gallon per person per day. The stored water should be replaced every 6 months. An alternative to storing water is to stockpile a water filter that will produce drinkable water from any source, including a lake or pond. The advantage of using a water filter instead of storing water is that it eliminates the extra space that is required for water bottle/container storage, and reduces excess waste production.

Food

Store enough non-perishable food to last at least three days. Dried fruit and crackers can be stored for six months, and canned foods can be used until the expiration date on the can. Be sure to remember to include a manual can opener in the kit! Some products can be stored indefinitely, such as white rice, dry pasta, powdered milk (in nitrogen-packed cans), wheat, dried corn, soybeans, and instant coffee or tea. Remember that many of these items will need to be cooked or reconstituted with water so you will need to have plenty of clean water available. Try to store all of the food items in a cool dry place in water-proof containers to keep foods dry and away from pests.

Other Essential Items:

  • Flashlight
  • Hand crank radio or battery-powered radio
  • NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit: See the Anatomy of a First Aid Kit provided by the American Red Cross
  • Medications
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • N95 dust mask for filtering contaminated air
  • Moist towelettes and garbage bags for sanitation
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with charger, inverter, or solar charger
  • Emergency blanket
  • Duct tape and plastic sheeting to create a shelter
  • Copies of personal documents (birth certificates, passports, important medical information, insurance policies, etc.)
  • Extra cash

Store all supplies in one or two containers that are easy to carry, like an unused trashcan or plastic bin, and make sure that all family members know the location of the supplies. Keep the emergency preparedness kit in an easily accessible location so that it can be found quickly. To ensure that items such as food and medications do not expire, place the older items in the kit so that they are most visible and check the kit supplies every six months.

Being unprepared for a disaster can have serious consequences. Put together an emergency preparedness kit and have peace of mind in knowing that you are ready for any type of emergency situation.

Be sure to read next week’s blog for more detailed information about emergency water storage.

 

Survey Says Preppers Rely on Berkey Water Filters

September 5th, 2012

We recently conducted a survey to determine the main reason our customers purchase Berkey water filters. Overwhelmingly, our customers responded that they prefer to purchase the Berkey filter as a part of emergency preparedness stockpiling. So why are Berkey filters so popular among emergency preppers?

Amazing Filtering Capability

The Black Berkey Elements have a unique structure that enables them to effectively remove many different kinds of contaminants from the water. Not only do these water filters remove contaminants like heavy metals but they can also remove viruses and bacteria, like E. coli. This means that in an emergency situation where clean water is not available, a person would be able to use the Berkey to filter water from any source, like a stream, pond, or lake, and make it drinkable. No chlorine bleach or boiling is necessary. Considering that the human body can only survive between 8 to 14 days without water, it only makes sense that a prepper would buy this water filter.

Easy to Assemble and Use

Assembly simply requires: 1) priming the elements, which saturates them with water, and 2) installing the elements and spigot by hand-tightening the components only. No tools are necessary. To use the unit, simply add water to the upper chamber and allow the water to filter through the elements. Since no electricity is necessary for the unit to function, the Berkey water filter is perfect for emergency situations.

Incredibly Long Lifespan

Each Black Berkey Element can last for approximately 3,000 gallons. Therefore, a unit that holds two elements can filter 6,000 gallons before requiring replacement. If a family of four is filtering four gallons of water per day using a two-element unit, they will not need to replace the elements for about four years! Over time, contaminants will clog the micro-pores of the element’s outer layer, causing the filtration rate to slow. When this occurs, the elements can be cleaned with a 3M ScotchBrite® pad. Preppers appreciate the long lifespan of the Berkey filters because they are assured a clean drinking water supply, even if the emergency situation were to last for several years.

No Expiration Date

The Black Berkey elements do not have an expiration date which means they can be stored indefinitely. This feature allows preppers to stockpile supplies now even though an emergency may not occur for many years.

Additional Benefit:  Dual Purpose

Survey results indicate that many preppers are now choosing to use their Berkey filters to purify their drinking water on a daily basis until an emergency situation occurs. The elements remove contaminants including chlorine from tap water which significantly improves the quality as well as the taste of the water. Using the Berkey filter for daily use in addition to emergency preparedness helps many individuals justify the initial cost of the Berkey filter.

There are so many reasons why preppers choose Berkey filters when planning for emergencies. No one knows when a natural disaster or other catastrophe will occur. Purchase a Berkey water filter and be prepared for any emergency.

 

National Preparedness Month

September 3rd, 2012

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), September is National Preparedness Month. Berkey Filters takes this topic very seriously and will be featuring blog articles related to emergency preparedness throughout the entire month.