Minidoka County Sheriff’s Office
When a disaster
strikes, family disaster preparedness is the foundation for a strong
community. Prepared citizens and community leaders help reduce loss and
suffering. This is especially true when normal services are lost for an
extended period of time. In the last few years, we have seen our
vulnerability to flooding, windstorms, snow storms and other natural
occurrences. There is also a very real threat of an earth
When disruptions of this scale occur, our emergency response agencies are
working at full capacity. In this environment, neighbors helping neighbors
is the single most important asset we have. A concerned and caring neighbor
prevents small problems from developing into a life-threatening situation.
What can you do? You can help those who are less prepared to meet basic,
life-sustaining needs with:
- Heat and light
- Hygiene and waste disposal
The guidelines that follow provide information that will help you and your
neighbors safely meet these basic needs, using materials that are likely to
be on hand.
Thank you for your efforts to enhance the safety and welfare of our
This manual provides tools to help neighbors help each other meet basic
life-sustaining needs. It is a guide only, and does not substitute for
common sense. Your response to a disaster, and the use of this guide, is
founded on these principles:
- The strength of a community is prepared individuals.
- Each family’s situation and resources are
- Each family’s privacy and dignity are
These principles are vital, because disasters are also a psychological
shock. In general, most people bond together as a community to help each
other get through a crisis. Over time, however, you may see (and experience
yourself), a wide range of emotional responses, including:
- loss of appetite
- sleep disturbances
- family problems
These are real, expected, and usually temporary responses. Talking about
shared experiences and feelings is a natural way to work through these
stages. The important thing is to remain non-judgmental and leave any
counseling to trained professionals.
For emergency only….911
Local disaster information or requests for emergency disaster
assistance…(208)434-4320. If you have an emergency, and can not get through to
911, use this number.
During a disaster you may not be able to get through to Sheriffs’ office
I. Keeping Warm
_____ 1. Insulate one room in the house for a “shelter within the house”
- pitch a tent in this room
- tent alternative: Use your dining room table (extra leaves in). Place a
mattress underneath it, and drape blankets, rugs, ets., down the sides.
Leave a gap near the bottom for fresh air.
- Extra blankets, rugs, curtains, mattresses, clothes or newspapers for
insulation (doorways, floors, walls, windows).
- Sleeping bags for sleeping.
_____ 2. Safety precautions: Bring the following to this room:
- Battery-operated smoke alarm (if available).
- Any fire extinguishers
- A disaster supply kit (72-hour kit) in case of evacuation.
- Battery-operated radio to tune in on emergency broadcasts.
_____ 3. Insulate your body
- Wear loose clothes, in layers
- Keep clothes clean & dry
- Wear a hat/cap indoors & outdoors
_____ 4. Other heat sources
WARNING: DO NOT use Coleman fuel stoves or
Charcoal briquettes indoors!
WARNING: Place all open flame emergency heaters in
front of a window or door opened at least
one inch for ventilation.
WARNING: Place all open flame emergency heaters on a
- The following must be attended to at all
TURNED OFF before sleeping.
- Propane camp stoves
- Canned heat (sterno, etc)
- “buddy burners” – wax-filled cardboard in a can
- burners on a gas stove.
- The following may be left on while sleeping
if properly used/installed.
- Kerosene heaters
- Wood stove
_____ 1. Use candles, flashlights and lanterns
_____ 2. Put the light source in front of a mirror to increase illumination.
III. Minimizing Frozen Plumbing
_____ 1. Turn on faucets and collect any water, open cupboard doors
_____ 2. Open any other drain valves and collect water.
_____ 3. Turn off and drain the hot water tank through the drain valve at
the bottom of the tank. (It has a connection for a hose, and this
water should be saved). Turn off the water heater when you are
going to drain it. If left on and empty, it will burn up the
heating system in the tank.
_____ 5. Pour car windshield washer anti-freeze in the sinks and stool to
protect the gooseneck traps and prevent odor from entering the
_____ 6 Washing machine: Pour a quart of car windshield washer anti-
freeze in washing machine and set the button to pump it out just
a second. This gets it through the tubes and pump underneath.
_____ 7. Move stored water to the warmest room as possible. If not
practical, make sure containers have enough room for
expansion if the water freezes.
If electric or gas utilities fail, don’t try to heat the entire house. It is
easier to heat one room, and it is easier to heat a room if you are bundled
up warmly. A winter emergency is not a time to expect that you can walk
around the house barefoot and in shorts. Wear loose layers of clothes. Keep
dry. Wet clothing loses its ability to insulate, and can suck heat right out
of you (wool is an exception). Stay out of the wind as much as possible.
Clean clothes keep you warm better than dirty clothes. Make sure your head,
hands, and feet are protected. Wear a warm cap inside & outside the house.
Newspapers can be emergency insulation. Wrap them around legs, arms, torso,
tape over windows/ceilings, on the floor. Blankets, cloth, curtains,
plastic, newspapers, and mattresses can be used to insulate windows, doors,
walls, and floors. DO NOT seal the room so that no fresh air can get in. You
must have ventilation.
Emergency heaters include propane, kerosene, candles, wood, “canned heat”,
buddy burners, and the burners of your gas stove (if the gas is on but the
electricity is off). Place all open-flame heaters in front of a ventilation
opening (this keeps exhaust fumes from spreading through the room). A window
or door MUST be open at least 1” to provide sufficient fresh air. Position
the heater so that it won’t be knocked over.
Propane camp stoves may be used indoors, but DO NOT use liquid Coleman fuel
stoves inside the house. DO NOT leave a propane camp stove, or the burners
on a natural gas stove, burning while you sleep. Kerosene used according to
the manufacturer’s directions, can be safely used while sleeping. DO NOT
leave candles burning while you are asleep. They may get knocked over in the
night and cause a fire. DO NOT use charcoal briquettes inside for cooking or
keeping warm—doing this has killed people. DO NOT use wood unless you have a
fireplace or properly installed wood stove. If you need a campfire, build it
in a safe place outside. The flame of 1 candle can keep you from freezing to
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by the improper use of open
flame heating include headache, lethargy, blurry vision, room feels
“stuffy”. If symptoms occur, get fresh air into the room immediately or move
everybody out fast. Pregnant women and unborn babies are particularly at
risk. These symptoms are cumulative and returning to a carbon monoxide
environment could cause the symptoms to come on much quicker and more
severe. If you think you have carbon monoxide poisoning contact Emergency
Services or get to the hospital.
At night, use extra sleeping insulation such as blankets, newspapers,
sleeping bags, rugs, curtains, layered clothing, and have everyone sleep
together. Wear a cap to bed. If you have no heat, pitch a tent in the middle
of a room, and gather the family inside. If you don’t have a tent, improvise
one from sheets, blankets, newspapers and furniture. DO NOT use open flame
heating inside a tent. The best place for babies is their mother’s bodies,
either in the arms or using one of the many ways of carrying a baby and
still having your hands free. Drink a lot of water, and eat frequent meals
with lots of
carbohydrates. If you have heat, and your neighbor doesn’t, invite them to
shelter with you. Work with your community to ensure that nobody is left out
in the cold.
MAKE A BUDDY BURNER
Materials needed: Plain corrugated cardboard (no bright in printing, no wax
or plastic coating), flat tuna/pet food cans, or flat pineapple cans and
lids, #10 can (the large institutional size), candle wax or paraffin. Tools:
punch-type can opener, tin snips.
- Cut the cardboard in strips whose width is the height of the can—across
the corrugations, so the holes show. Roll the strips until the cardboard
roll fits snugly into the can.
- Melt the wax. Use a double boiler, because if the wax gets too hot, it
can burst into flame. You can improve a double boiler by putting water in a
large pan, and then setting a smaller pan into the water. Each tuna can will
take about 4 ounces of wax.
- When the wax is melted, slowly pour it into the buddy burner so that it
runs down into the holes and saturates the corrugated cardboard and fills
the can to the rim. You can put a small piece of cardboard sticking up or a
candle wick in the middle to help start it, but this isn’t required. Let it
cool and harden. To light it, set it on a brick or concrete block. Put a
lighted match in the middle of the can or light the wick. The flame will
spread across the top of the can.
If using indoors, place in front of a door or window open at least 1 inch.
Set the burner on a brick or concrete block. It produces a lot of heat and
the flame can be 6 to 8 inches high. This doesn’t mean it is unsafe, it does
mean you can’t play around with it or treat it casually or without thinking
about what you are doing. BE CAREFUL. Pay attention to details and use
common sense whenever handling open flame. DON’T set it on the floor, as
someone may kick it over. DON’T let the kids play with it (toasting
marshmallows is OK).
To use for cooking: Cut out the end of the #10 can. Use the tin snips to cut
a 3” high and 4” wide “door” on one side of the can at the open end. Leave
the top of the door uncut. Bend this flap of metal up so the door is “open”.
Take the punch-type can opener, and make 3 or 4 holes on the other side of
the can at the top (this is your chimney). Light the tuna can, place the #10
can over the Buddy Burner, and cook on top of the can. This “can stove” can
be adapted to fuels like twigs, charcoal or charcoal briquettes, but these
SHOULD NOT be used indoors. Charcoal briquettes should never be used indoors
under any circumstances. The fumes can kill you.
To regulate the flame, use the can lid as a damper. Place it over all of the
flame to extinguish the fire, or cover it partially to regulate the amount
of flame. You can also use a piece of aluminum foil (several thicknesses
folded), that is larger than the tuna can. Handle the damper with a pot
holder, or a pair of pliers, or punch a couple of holes in the edges of the
lid and use some wire to make a handle. To refill the buddy burner, place
small amounts of wax on the cardboard while the burner is operating. As long
as it has wax, it will burn.
Baking: Using tuna cans as little pans,
anything you would bake in a regular oven can be baked on top of the #10 can
stove. Simply place another #10 can over your baking pan and its an oven!
Emergency heat: Don’t put the #10 can over the
buddy burner, as it makes more smoke with the #10 can than without. Light
the buddy burner, let it warm up a room. As soon as the room is warm,
extinguish the buddy burner.
Emergency lighting can be candles, flashlights, and lanterns. Putting a
light in front of a mirror increases the illumination. If using candles,
kerosene, or propane lanterns, take appropriate fire safety precautions. DO
NOT go to sleep with an open flame light burning. Store fuels like propane
and kerosene safely outside of the house or apartment.
You can get power for lights and radios from a car battery. People familiar
with electricity can rig emergency lights from car batteries, brake lights,
wire and fuse boxes from cars or junkyards. It is also possible to build an
improvised generator using an automobile alternator and a lawnmower engine.
If these activities are organized as a community, people with skills will be
able to help others learn how to do these things. This kind of utilization
will cause a car battery to deteriorate faster, but in an emergency,
sometimes such trade-offs have to be made.
_____ 1. Keeping eating utensils and work surfaces clean
WARNING: DO NOT add any product with ammonia to a bleach solution.
- If water is scarce, scrub dishes with brushes, or clean sand or newspaper
to remove food particles & grease, and then wash in hot
- Use unscented household bleach for disinfecting solutions.
- For dishes and hard, non-porous surfaces, use
liquid bleach in 1 gallon of water. Soak small items for 5
minutes. Surfaces such as floors or counters should be wet
liberally and kept wet for 2 minutes.
- For general disinfecting (floors,
counters, etc.), use ¾ cup
liquid bleach in 1 gallon of water. Soak small items for 5
minutes. Surfaces such as floors or counters should be wet
liberally and kept wet for 2 minutes.
_____ 2. Personal hygiene
- Wash hands regularly, especially after using
the toilet. The general
Disinfecting bleach solution is a good hand rinse.
- Bathing: Using a bucket or tote instead of
the tub. For warm
Water, put the water in a black plastic bucket or black-painted pop
Bottles. Set these in the sun for two hours. When you’re done bathing, save
any dirty or soapy water to pour in the toilet for flushing.
- Cornmeal or cornstarch can be used as
dry shampoos. Sprinkle
liberally in the hair, and then brush vigorously.
- Use only boiled or purified water for
brushing your teeth or
Cleaning contact lenses.
- Use rubber or plastic tubs or buckets and a
To wash clothes without electricity. Put water, detergent, and
Clothes in the buckets. Cut a hole in the lid for the plunger handle (the
agitator). Soak the clothes. Insert the plunger handle through the lid, put
the lid on the bucket and agitate.
- Use a tub of clear water to rinse the
clothes. Some clothes may
Require hand scrubbing.
- Use the wringer of a mop bucket to remove
water. If you don’t
Have a mop bucket, wring clothes by hand.
- Air dry by hanging on clothes lines or
hangers. In winter, you can
Air dry outside, but you may have to crack ice to remove it from the
clothes. (wear gloves when hanging clothes in winter).
_____ 1. Separate trash and throw less stuff away.
- Keep disposable diapers in a separate bag.
- Keep toxic materials such as spray cans
_____ 2. Reuse bottles and cans.
_____ 3. Compost wet trash EXCEPT meats and fats. Put shredded
paper materials over wet trash and add dirt on top of the
_____ 4. DO NOT burn trash unless approved by local officials.
_____ 1. If the sewer works but there is no water, use water that has
been used for washing to flush toilets.
_____ 2. Chemical toilets (porta-potties, RV toilets) may provide a
a temporary solution. Emptying is uncertain, depending on
_____ 3. Emergency indoor toilet.
- Put a toilet seat on a rigid plastic bucket
- Put sawdust, dry leaves and dirt in the bottom of bucket
- After each use, add more of this material so waste is covered
- If toilet paper is not available, use newspaper or phone book paper
- When full, dispose of waste in one of two ways:
- Dig a hoe in the ground about six feet deep and 2 or 3 feet across. Empty
into the hole, and cover completely with dirt. Cover the hole with a board
weighted down with bricks or rocks. When this has been filled to within 2
feet of the surface, fill it the rest of the way with dirt. Disposal holes
must be a least 8 yards away from a source of water such as a well, pond, or
- Empty into a compost heap, and cover completely with natural materials.
(This compost should be aged for at least one year before using, and it must
be monitored to ensure that it heats up properly so the disease pathogens
- After emptying bucket, rinse with the bleach
The primary problem with an outdoor pit latrines are flies/mosquitoes,
odors, and the spread of disease, none of which are minor nuisances. Manage
these by: 1) covering the pit with a slab of concrete or plywood; this slab
must fit tightly to the pit walls so that there are no gaps or holes between
the latrine cover and the edges of the pit. 2) installing a capped and
screened vent pipe that rises at least 18 inches above the roof of the
latrine. 3) using a tight fitting seat cover inside the latrine. Paint the
vent pipe black and place on the sunny side of the latrine. This heats the
air inside the pipe, causing it to rise and draw air out of the pit,
If toilet paper is not available, many common papers can substitute, such as
newspaper or phone book paper. Some cultures use water for cleansing.
HYGIENE, TRASH, HUMAN WASTE
This is the first line of defense against the spread of disease and despair.
If electricity is not available, household duties require the assistance of
everyone. Persons with special needs (such as families with young children
or elderly) may need the help of neighbors. Attacking messes when they are
“small” keeps them from becoming big problems. If water is scarce, scrub
pots and dishes with brushes (or clean sand, or newspaper) to remove food
particles and grease, and then wash in hot soapy water.
Use ordinary unscented chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite, 5.2% in water
solution, such as Clorox) to make sanitizing and disinfecting cleaning
solutions. To make a sanitizing solution: for hard , non-porous surfaces,
use 1 tablespoon liquid bleach in 1 gallon of water, wet and then air dry,
don’t rinse. For porous surfaces (like a wood cutting board), use 3
tablespoons bleach per gallon, wet liberally, rinse and wipe dry. To make a
disinfecting solution: Use ¾ cup bleach in 1 gallon of water, small items
can be soaked, surfaces such as floors or counters should be wet liberally
and kept wet for 2 minutes. 1 tablespoon of powdered detergent may be added,
but do not add anything that contains ammonia, as it reacts badly with
chlorine. Rinse after disinfecting. For toilets, pour 1 cup bleach into the
bowl, brush, let stand for 10 minutes. Change the solutions frequently when
doing heavy cleaning.
Use rubber or plastic tubs or buckets and a household plunger to wash
clothes without electricity. Put water, detergent, and clothes in the
buckets. Cut a hole in the lid for the plunger handle (the agitator). Soak
the clothes. Insert the plunger handle through the lid, put the lid on the
bucket, and agitate by raising plunger up and down. You can use the sink,
but if water is scarce, don’t allow the wash water to run down the drain (if
the sewer is not working, the drain may be clogged). Use a tub of clear
water to rinse the clothes. Some clothes may require hand scrubbing. Air dry
by hanging on clothes lines or hangers. In winter, you can air dry outside,
but you may have to crack ice to remove it from the clothes (wear gloves
when hanging clothes in winter). Hand wringing clothes is laborious work,
you’ll want extra hands to help; use the wringer of a commercial mop bucket
to remove excess water from your laundry.
When water is scarce, use a bucket or tote instead of the tub for bathing.
If you use a sink, don’t let the water escape down the drain, you’ll need it
for flushing the toilet. Put the tote in the bathtub and stand inside it.
Use a camp shower, sprinkler bucket, or cups of water, or a wash cloth and a
basin of water. Wash your hands regularly, especially after using the
toilet; many diseases are passed hand to mouth. If water is scarce, pour a
chlorine bleach disinfecting solution over your hands (mix this in a jug,
and have it ready for use). Cornmeal or cornstarch can be used as dry
shampoos (sprinkle liberally in the hair, and then brush vigorously). Use
only boiled or otherwise purified water for brushing your teeth or cleaning
contact lenses. If you usually shave, continue to do so unless a scarcity of
water or lack of razor blades make this impossible. On sunny days, you can
have hot water for washing by painting food grade plastic buckets, with
lids, black, filling them with water, and putting them is the sun. This can
also be a source of free heat; put several into the sun and bring them into
a room to help keep it warm. You can also paint 2 liter pop bottles black to
obtain smaller amounts of hot water.
Maintaining normal routines is important. Don’t skip your daily bath! It
boosts morale and prevents disease. Be proactive in your community to ensure
If normal services are interrupted, trash is a serious urban health danger.
If you don’t take care of it, the mice and flies will, and you won’t like
that. The primary rue is: Be careful what you throw away and how you throw
it away. “What ya do with what ya got” is a traditional saying that bears
remembering. People can respond creatively to disruptions of normal supplies
and services. When you begin to think of your trash as less of a disposal
problem and more of a useful resource, you are getting to the point.
Start by throwing away less stuff. Bottles and cans have other uses once
they have been emptied; food and shredded paper can be composted. If stores
are closed, you’ll find uses for cans. Sort what you throw away; a big
problem with recycling is the practice of mixing different kinds of trash.
Don’t mix wet and dry trash, you will create a stinky mess that will be
attractive to flies and mice. Keep toxic items such as spray paint cans
separate. Don’t put disposable diapers in with other trash. Separate it, bag
it, and cover it with a tarp so it can’t get wet.
Compost the wet trash. Mix shredded dry materials (such as newspapers,
leaves or sawdust), wet and green trash (lawn clippings, kitchen/garden
scraps) with dirt. No meats or fats should be added to this mixture. Keep
this compost heap covered with dry material, and slightly damp. If it starts
to stink, you probably need to add more dry material or dirt. As the compost
rots, it generates heat. You can capture some of this heat as hot water by
running a garden hose through the compost heap.
Do not put disposable diapers into the compost heap or bury them in the
ground. If trash collection is disrupted switch to cloth diapers. Disposable
diapers can not be burned. If disposable diapers are buried they will not
decompose. If disposable diapers are all you have place them in garbage bags
and into a container that mice and flies can not get into. Feminine pads
should be buried or burned.
If disruptions of trash collection are prolonged, you may be tempted to
organize the burning of trash, but this should be done in conjunction with
public authorities such as fire or police departments. Be pro-active in
organizing your neighborhood to take care of trash. Don’t wait for the flies
and mice to start working on it.
DISPOSAL OF HUMAN WASTES
The breakdown of a city’s sewage system is an immediate threat of the spread
of disease. Improper disposal of human wastes causes epidemic diseases that
kill people. Immediate
intervention is required. Do not use public spaces such as parks or lawns
for human waste disposal on the surface of the ground. Do not bury human
waste in snow. If the sewer
works, but the water does not, use water that has been used for washing to
flush the toilets.
Your health and wellness in disaster situations depends a lot on your
community’s ability to properly meet the challenges of public health such as
hygiene, trash, and sewage disposal.
SAFETY NOTES: Emergency cooking will involve an open flame. You must have
proper ventilation, a window or door open 1 inch will provide sufficient
fresh air if the open flame cooking device is placed in front of (or close
to) the opening. This keeps exhaust fumes from spreading through the room.
DO NOT leave a propane camp stove, or the burners on a natural gas stove
burning while you sleep. DO NOT use charcoal briquettes inside for
cooking—doing this has killed people. DO NOT use wood inside a house for
cooking unless you have a fireplace or properly installed wood stove. If you
need a campfire, build it in a safe place outside. Symptoms of carbon
monoxide poisoning include headache, lethargy, blurry vision, room feels
“stuffy’, ringing in the ears. If symptoms occur, get fresh air into the
room immediately or move everybody out fast. Pregnant women and unborn
babies are particularly at risk. Seek medical attention! A box of baking
soda is a good emergency fire extinguisher; sugar is not.
- Wood stoves, fireplaces, Dutch ovens,
charcoal briquettes, gas grills, camp stoves. Use bricks to make a stand for
a pot or to hold a grill in an open fireplace. Dutch ovens can be cooked in
fires outside in the yard or in the fireplace. Charcoal briquettes can be
used with cast iron skillets, Dutch ovens, and other pots and pans, but such
cooking must be done outside. Small 1 to 3 burner propane camp stoves can be
used indoors (with adequate ventilation), liquid Coleman/white gas fuel
stoves and gas grills must be used outdoors. Most kerosene heaters get hot
enough on top to cook food.
- Baking on top of a camp stove. (1) Place a
cast iron skillet or cookie sheet on top of the burner(s). (2) Put something
on top of this to raise the cooking pan up and allow air to circulate
underneath. This could be a low cake pan, or empty tuna cans, or the trivet
from your gas range. (3) Put the food to be baked in a covered pan on top of
the “risers”. (4) Make a tent from several layers of foil over the cake pan,
so that air can circulate beneath it, and put a small vent hole in the top
of the aluminum foil. Large cans or pot lids also work. Keep an eye on the
food as it is baking. You may have to flip biscuits so that they brown on
- Chafing Dish cooking. Chafing dishes
come in many different sizes and use small cans of jelled fuel for heat,
some use candles or denatured alcohol burners. A fondue pot is a
type of chafing dish. The small stand supporting the chafing dish can be
used with a skillet or omelet pan, or a pot for soup or stew. It takes up to
a half hour to warm a can of food with a candle. Buddy burners can also be
used with chafing dishes. Buddy burners and candles can be used with chafing
- Solar cookers. Solar cookers are made
with cardboard boxes, aluminum foil, duct tape, and glass. Such ovens can
get to 350 degrees, hot enough to bake meats and casseroles. A solar cooker
works by reflecting light onto a dark pot through a clear transparent cover
such as glass or an oven baking bag, and insulating the pot so that the heat
does not radiate out but rather cooks the food. Crock-pot recipes will
generally work in a solar cooker. Work with materials you have at hand to
create an insulated container with a clear top the sun can be reflected
- Non-electric crock pot. Use a box or
bucket big enough to pack 4 inches of insulating material on all sides, top
and bottom. Line the inside with aluminum foil, and put insulating material
on the bottom (such as newspapers, cloth, sawdust, hay). Bring the food to a
boil, cover the pot (3-6 quarts) and put it in the container. Pack the top
and the spaces between the pot and the sides of the box or bucket with
insulating material, and put the lid on. Good for up to 4 hours cooking.
- Remember: Food cooks faster covered pots. Be
thrifty with scarce fuels, combine methods such as using a camp stove to
bring beans to a boil, and then the non-electric crock pot to finish the
FOOD SAFETY IN A DISASTER
Cold foods must be kept cold (below 45 degrees F.) to prevent spoilage. If
the power goes off, open your refrigerator and freezer as little as
possible. Wrap them in blankets or newspapers, or stack bags of clothes or
mattresses against the walls and on the tops. Shield them from direct
sunlight, and don’t heat the rooms they are in. Eat the items in the
refrigerator first, the same day the power goes off. If you are frugal in
opening the freezer the food inside will stay below 45 degrees for 3-5 days.
Be careful about storing prepared foods without refrigeration. If it is cold
winter, put food in an insulated box (such as an ice chest) in an unheated
room or porch. Pack it with snow or ice. Put a thermometer in the room and
check it several times a day to make sure it is staying below 45 degrees.
Protect the cold box from sunlight. When cooking, estimate food portions
carefully, as you may not be able to refrigerate the leftovers. Spoiled
foods may not have an offensive odor, so while the presence of a bad odor is
a sure indicator of spoilage, its absence may not be an assurance of safety.
Don’t take chances with food safety! If in doubt, throw it out.
Creamed foods, soft cheeses (cream cheese, spreads, cottage cheese), gravy,
mayonnaise, salad dressings, pork, and poultry spoil quickly. Dispose of
them if the refrigerator has been without power for 12 hours. Seafood,
chopped meat, and poultry sandwich fillings are not safe after 4 hours
without refrigeration. Hard cheeses will be fine at room temperature for
several days. To preserve for longer periods: Dip the cheese into a salt
solution (salty enough that an egg floats) and place on a rack to dry
overnight. On the 2nd day, rub with salt and leave on the rack. Do this
again a 3rd day. By this time a rind should be developing. If it feels dry
and smooth, continue to the waxing; if not, rub with salt and let dry
another day. Waxing: Apply 3 or 4 coats of wax (either with a brush, or by
dipping into melted wax, melt the wax in a double boiler, which is a pot of
a smaller pot inside), let the wax dry between each coat. Wrap with cheese
cloth, and continue the process of drip drying until several layers later
the cheese is completely covered with a smooth wax exterior. It will
continue to age inside, but remain good. If you do find mold on hard cheese,
simply scrape or cut of off and use the rest of the cheese.
If the water system has been disrupted, assume the water is impure unless
announced otherwise. If you have a well and your property has been flooded
your well may be contaminated. Many life-threatening diseases and parasites
can be spread by impure water. Do not take chances with water; always boil
or otherwise purify any water suspected of impurities. Here are some places
to look for water:
Your household plumbing. (1) close the main shutoff valve. If the gas and
electricity are still on ,turn off the hot water heater. (2) open the
faucets, one by one, collecting any water that comes out. Do this until all
the faucets in the house have been opened and their water drained. (3) open
the drain valve on your main water line. If there is no valve, disconnect a
water pipe at the lowest point in your system, and drain the water. To tap
the water heater, close the cold water inlet pipe (on top of the heater).
Open a hot water tap and let the water run until it stops. Attach a hose to
the drain cock in the base of the heater, open the valve and drain into a
container. Waterbed water is not safe to drink due to the toxic anti-algae
treatments, but it is a great source for water for flushing toilets.
During rain storms water can be collected off the roof of your house. When
it rains let the water run down your gutters for 10 or 15 minutes the begin
collecting the runoff in clean buckets. If the roof is in bad repair, cover
it with tarps or plastic. Rainwater is very pure, but if the roof or gutters
are in bad condition or dirty, purify the water before drinking.
Streams, rivers, lakes. All surface water must be purified before drinking.
Just because animals and birds may drink it doesn’t make it safe for humans.
Water-borne diseases and parasites age grave threats from such water, even
if it looks sparking clean and pure. Fresh, clean, just-fallen snow can be
melted and used without further purification. Older snow must be purified.
To collect water from a river dig a hole at least 3 feet deep below the
level of the water, about 12 feet from the river’s edge. You may need to
shore up the sides of this hole to keep it from collapsing. Water will seep
into this hole from the river, and will be relatively clean water, but it
must be purified before using.
EMERGENCY PURIFICATION OF WATER
Water to be purified by these methods should be as clear as possible. If the
water is cloudy or dirty because of suspended solids, let it sit in buckets
for a day or so to allow the solid materials to settle to the bottom. Siphon
clear water from the center and middle of the bucket, leaving the solids and
the water just above them in the bottom. Put this water through several
layers of coffee filters or clean cloth. Then treat it by one of these
methods. Make purified water taste better by adding a bit of lemon juice or
a powdered drink mix; also, pouring back and forth between two clean
Boil for 10 minutes. “Boiled” means a rolling boil, not simmering. At higher
altitudes, increase the boiling time to 15 minutes. To improve the taste,
add a pinch of salt to each quart of boiled water and pour it back and forth
between two containers. To treat with chlorine use plain old-fashioned
chlorine bleach. The label says “sodium hypochlorite at 5.25%”, Clorox
bleach is the strength, don’t use scented or colored bleach. Add 16 drops to
each gallon of water. Mix thoroughly and let it stand for 30 minutes. It
should have a slight chlorine odor. If it doesn’t, repeat the procedure. If
you are using water purification tablets; follow the directions of the
label. Bleach kills micro-organisms, if there are chemical pollutants in the
water, they will remain. To distill water, put 3 tuna cans on the bottom of
a large pot and place a smaller pot on top of the tuna cans. Put unpurified
water in the larger pot (make sure the smaller pot does not float off of the
tuna cans). Turn the lid upside down and place it on the large pot. Bring
the pot to a boil. The vapor will condense on the under side of the
upside-down lid and flow down the lid to drip into the smaller pot. To
hasten the process, you can put a bit of cool water in the lid, but make
sure the cool water can not drip through the lid into the water below.
SURVIVING THE STRESS OF A DISASTER
Normal life has a strong hold on us; it is what we are familiar with and
understand. But this “normality” can change suddenly, radically, and
painfully, bringing death, destruction, and dislocation with little or no
warning. Prolonged and extensive disasters are a difficult challenge to the
safety, security, health and wellness of our families and community. We may
expect help to arrive almost immediately; this may not happen, circumstances
can prevent it from happening.
3 KINDS OF REACTIONS TO A DISASTER
- During and after a disaster, people may develop personality changes
relating to trauma-related stress. They may experience anxiety attacks, have
trouble sleeping and eating, feel on edge and brittle, be easily disturbed
or upset, become over-protective of loved ones, experience emotional
episodes (including crying), and suffer despair and a sense of hopelessness.
They may feel so powerless to affect their situation that they are almost
incapable of helping themselves. They may become angry and resentful, unable
to make decisions, easily irritated, unable to focus on work, lacking the
energy even for basic daily activities. They may be sad, depressed, and
unwilling to confront the situation that brought about the disaster.
- During and after a disaster, people may experience strong feelings
of solidarity and bonding with their neighbors and others who have
suffered the same situation. They may become very cooperative, generous,
compassionate, helpful, and warm-hearted. People often demonstrate the
ability to learn new skills very fast, and exhibit a lot of ingenuity
and creativity in working around obstacles and managing chaotic
situations. Humans are known for sacrificing themselves to save others,
sometimes for members of their family, but also for complete strangers.
We can work hard and smart when the need is there. Instead of giving
into despair, we can become pro-active. People are very adaptable, even
when changes are coming very fast and the stress is very grave.
- During and after a disaster, some people take advantage of the
suffering, distress, weakness, or problems of others. They profiteer on
scarce goods, refuse to cooperate on necessary neighborhood projects,
hinder rescue and repair efforts, and/or turn violent and criminal. Some
disasters have been followed by violence and looting, and theft
generally increases. Goods donated by humanitarian organizations may end
up in the marketplaces at inflated prices. People can be rude, arrogant,
intensified by the stress of a major traumatic event.
SPECIAL NEEDS OF CHILDREN:
Children are greatly affected by disasters; they will need extra realistic
reassurances, but don’t promise what you can not deliver. Expect them to be
afraid—4 common fears are death, darkness, animals, and abandonment.
Refusing to discuss such fears with children will only intensify their
concerns; encourage them to talk about their feelings or otherwise express
them through activities such as play acting or painting. Their feelings
won’t go away if adults refuse to talk about them, if repressed, eventually
they will come out, usually in a negative way. Pretending that problems
don’t exist only makes them worse. Physical reactions like nightmares,
vomiting, headaches, or emotional reactions like refusing to eat, getting
upset easily, feeling guilty or neglected, are very common reactions to
severe stress. Kids may regress to earlier behaviors like bed wetting or
wanting a special toy. When you talk with your children, listen to how they
say what they say. Watch them at play - - with other children, and with
their toys. Repeat information and reassurances many times; answer their
questions as much as you can. Hold your child, provide comfort (touching is
very important for children during stress). Spend extra time with them
before going to bed. Don’t hesitate to seek help from friends, family,
schools, religious organizations, or support groups. Local Disaster Services
will also be obtaining stress counseling for disaster victims, including
children. Caution: the stress reactions of your kids will be a source of
stress for you. Don’t take your stress out on your kids.
WHEN A DISASTER HAPPENS:
Take care of first things first. Immediate threats are the obvious and
threatening: fire, freezing cold, medical emergencies, severe weather,
industrial/chemical/pipeline explosions. Medically fragile people, the
elderly, and families with young children are
especially vulnerable in disasters. Check on your neighbors! It may be
necessary to set up heated shelters in homes or public buildings during
winter emergencies, or for people to stay with neighbors. Be realistic in
your expectations. Things won’t get back to normal instantly. It will take
time for the situation to recover and the burden may be on each community to
rescue itself. Encourage dialogue about what has happened. People’s emotions
may be roller-coastering; it will help (a lot) to be able to talk about the
event and how it has impacted their lives, for better or for worse.
Encourage dialogue (organize opportunities for this to happen). But
remember, rumors abound in disaster situations and should be judged with
skepticism until proven true. Beware of spreading false information that
creates public anxiety.
It helps to be pro-active and hopeful. If there are things that need to be
done to help put things back to normal, then do them. Try not to be swamped
by details. Keep your eyes on the big picture and what has to happen in
order to ensure the health, safety, security, and wellness of your family
and neighborhood. Be open to creative solutions to shortages, failed public
services, or problems in the marketplace. You will not be able to get
through this safely and securely all by yourself: you need your community,
and your community will need you.
Have a battery operated radio available to obtain up to date information on
the disaster and the location of emergency shelters and drinking water.