Survival secrets every family must know about
I don’t think most people in our country realize just how fragile the social order actually is, and how quickly disaster, chaos, and panic can disrupt it. While I don’t want to be a doomsayer in any sense of the word, I am a realist. And in this day and age, I strongly feel it’s imperative that you’re aware of certain steps you can take that will allow both you and your family to survive a catastrophe—whether it’s a power outage, natural disaster, or a terrorist attack.
I hope that the survival secrets I share with you here will just be interesting tidbits that you can discuss at leisure with your friends and neighbors and that you’ll never have to put to use. But, it’s always best to be prepared.
Clean Drinking Water Is a Must-Have
One of your greatest needs in times of disaster is drinking water. Humans can go for a month without food, but only a couple days without water. If you live in a city (as opposed to having your own well and water storage system), the availability of clean drinking water is particularly problematic. As power systems fail and pumping and pressure systems no longer work, municipal water systems quickly become useless. In some cases, you could have the additional concern of the water being highly contaminated. So, if you have any warning of an impending crisis, one of the first things you should do is store large amounts of drinking water.
Most people think that going out to a store and buying large quantities of bottled water is their best—or only—option, but that’s not the case. In times of an impending crisis, you certainly don’t want to be on the street fighting for bottled water, or waiting in line for days for a delivery at the local Wal-Mart. A better idea is to keep several boxes of new, clean, white trash bags on hand. Place opened bags in your empty dresser drawers, cardboard boxes, and other empty containers (anything that will help support the bag once you fill it with water). Then, take each container to the bathtub and fill the bag with water from the tap while you still have electricity and water pressure. (Just be sure you don’t fill the bag so full that you won’t be able to lift the supporting container out of the tub.) Using this method, it’s easy to store several hundred gallons in a relatively short period of time.
My Favorite Non-Perishable Food
Even though you can survive for a month without food, it is a good idea to have some non-perishable food readily available. Any non-perishable food will do (such as canned soups and vegetables), but the one I recommend above all others is sardines.
Sardines are not only non-perishable—they are also a healthy “meal in a can.” They are a good source of omega-3 oils, vitamin D, and calcium. By now, everyone is aware of the benefits to the heart and circulatory system associated with omega-3 oil consumption. In addition to their high nutritional value, sardines’ compact size also makes them a great backpacking or survival food. (In fact, the lid can be a very effective makeshift cutting tool. You can also use the empty tin as a cup, a plate, or even as a surface for cooking a quick scrambled egg.)
Sardines don’t enjoy the popularity of other canned fish such as tuna, so they are reasonably priced. It’s still not unusual to find two tins for less than $1 in some places. Surprisingly, the least-expensive brands are often the tastiest. In fact, I intentionally avoid the gourmet, skinless, boneless sardines. Not only are they less nutritious, they are less flavorful as well. You can purchase sardines in vegetable oil, olive oil, mustard sauce, tomato sauce, or hot sauce, or even buy them smoked. I like the mustard and hot-sauce varieties best, but they’re all good to me. Experiment and find your own favorite, and then add some tins to your emergency kit.
An Emergency Radio Is Essential
Another basic piece of equipment (along with flashlights and rechargeable batteries) that I consider vital in any disaster or emergency situation is a radio. When the televisions and computers go off, most people lose their link to the outside world.
Keeping abreast of what efforts are underway to restore power and order is not only comforting, it’s a big part of being able to adapt and survive. My favorite radios are those that have built-in hand-crank generators so you’re not relying on outside electricity or using up your batteries. Some also have built-in solar panels for recharging. With many, you not only receive the standard AM and FM radio stations, you can also receive the audio portion from local television channels 2 through 13, short-wave radio, and national weather alerts.
My favorite radio is the Eton FR300. It is hand-crank–powered, and has all the features I mentioned above except the short-wave reception. It does, however, include a built-in LED flashlight and an additional feature not found on most emergency radios, one that I particularly like, and which has been found to be very helpful in recent emergencies: a built-in cell phone charger that includes an assortment of charging adapters.
The retail price of this particular radio is around $70, but you can often find it for closer to $50. You should be able to find one at any electronics store or online.
I don’t want to be a radio critic, which certainly isn’t my field, but I do want you to know that while I think these radios are good for emergencies, they’re probably not ones you’ll want to use on a day-to-day basis. The FM reception leaves a lot to be desired, and tuning in a particular station takes a little finesse—especially if you’ve gotten used to the digital tuning found in most car radios. For the price, however, I still think they are an excellent tool to have around in an emergency.
Natural Treatments for Wounds or Injuries
Wounds or injuries turn nasty quickly in a toxic environment. And if they are not treated promptly, any infection that may exist could spread into the bloodstream, which can kill the victim. During a widespread disaster it may be difficult to receive prompt medical treatment. Fortunately, there is a simple step you can take now to protect yourself and your family: make sure you have a first-aid kit stocked and ready. In addition to typical first-aid items, such as bandages and scissors, I recommend adding these natural products that can help disinfect and heal wounds.
Honey is undoubtedly one of nature’s most miraculous dressings for open wounds, ulcers, and burns. It has been used successfully to treat all types of wounds, including burns, amputations, bed sores, leg ulcers, surgical wounds, gunshot and trauma-induced wounds, including those to the skull and abdomen, cuts, abrasions, and puncture wounds.
Best of all, honey is easy to use. For deeper wounds and abscesses, honey is generally used to fill the cavity after it has been cleaned. On smaller wounds and on larger ones that have been filled with honey, a top dressing is applied. This is done using approximately 1 ounce of honey on a 4-inch square dressing pad. The pad is then applied directly to the wound. A second, dry dressing is placed on top of the first dressing and secured with adhesive tape.
Changing the dressing once daily is usually all that is required. If the wound initially produces a large amount of exudate, then more frequent changes may be necessary. Once the wound has no more exudate, the honey dressing may only need to be changed once every five days to a week.
Honey is inexpensive and readily available. The gauze dressing pads will probably cost you more than the honey. (Keep in mind that some of the best and least expensive dressing pads are panty liners and sanitary napkins. Many brands now have adhesive backing, which makes them even more convenient.)
Instead of the heated, filtered varieties found in your grocery store, try the local, raw, unheated products generally found at health food stores, country fairs, fruit markets, et cetera. There are hundreds of different types, and just as many wonderful flavors to savor.
Papaya pulp contains the proteolytic enzymes papain and chymopapain, and has been used for centuries to remove warts and other skin imperfections. Apparently the pulp has components that exhibit antimicrobial activity.
Doctors in the pediatric burn center at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Banjul, Gambia, Africa use pulp from the papaya fruit as a burn dressing. The pulp of the papaya is mashed and applied directly to burns. The children tolerate it well, and it has proven to be very effective at sloughing off dead tissue, preventing infections, and providing a clean wound for later skin grafts, if necessary. The pulp has also been applied to infected wounds with successful results. Papaya tablets are available in health food stores.
Stop Bleeding Fast
Hundreds of injuries result in rapid blood loss that can be life-threatening. Estimates are that each year about 60,000 people bleed to death in this country, and tens of thousands more lose enough blood to require a transfusion. Even bleeding from less-serious cuts, nosebleeds, and abrasions can be difficult to stop at times. Compression wraps, ice, and elevating a wound can help, but not always.
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and antioxidant properties. I once got a letter from a chef who wrote that he loved to cook with turmeric, and had come to admire its ability to stop bleeding. He said that putting turmeric powder directly on cuts causes blood to clot almost instantly. You can find turmeric in grocery stores. A more reliable (but more expensive) alternative is a turmeric supplement concentrated and standardized for curcumin, such as Turmeric Power by Nature’s Herbs. It can be found in health food stores. Start with two or three capsules per day, and adjust the amount as needed.
Legally Stockpile Antibiotics
Antibiotics can be a literal life-saver. I’d love to tell you natural remedies are just as effective, but that’s not always the case. Without antibiotics, certain biological agents are deadly. Take anthrax, for example. There are no tested “cures” for this biological microbe other than antibiotics.
Unfortunately, in times of crisis, antibiotics could be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. That’s why I want you to be aware that you can get them without a prescription at “feed” or “farm and ranch” stores and from Internet veterinary and pet supply sources, such as VetMedDirect. Note: The vendors are not allowed to give you any information about these products for human use.
Veterinary and agricultural antibiotics are pharmaceutical grade and produced under the same standards as those for human use (and often at the exact same facility). Terramycin-343, a variety of the antibiotic tetracycline, was almost impossible to find immediately after 9/11. However, tetracycline can be purchased as oxytetracycline HCl from farm and ranch and feed supply stores. The dosage for an ill 100-pound person is half a teaspoon of Terramycin-343, mixed with a little water, twice a day for ten days. You can adjust the dosage upward or downward depending on the person’s weight.
Self-diagnosis and self-treatment are dangerous and certainly not the recommended or preferred course of action, and it’s best to follow the guidance and advice of your doctor. However, under certain circumstances, I wouldn’t hesitate to use animal antibiotics on myself or on my family. In a situation where the outcome without antibiotic treatment is fatal, I feel the risk involved with self-treatment is justifiable.
Be Prepared for Radiation Contamination
While most nuclear power plants are probably safe, the effects of accidental radiation leakage can often be felt hundreds of miles from the site. Children are especially susceptible to radiation since they are still growing and their cells are rapidly dividing. Cell DNA and other structures are most vulnerable to radiation damage. With the proliferation of nuclear power plants around the world, I would suggest that anyone living within 300 miles of a nuclear plant keep a bottle of supplemental iodine on hand.
Radioactive iodine is one of the particles most commonly absorbed from fallout. It is rapidly and easily absorbed and stored in the thyroid. If your thyroid is receiving and has stored adequate amounts of iodine, there will be far less chance that additional amounts of radioactive iodine will be absorbed. In the event of a fallout, immediately administer iodine drops to family members. During the first few days, when fallout is the greatest, give ten drops three times a day for adults, half that for children, and three drops a day for infants. After that, only one or two drops a day would be necessary.
Note: Never ingest antiseptic or topical iodine. Iosol is the only form of iodine I recommend for internal usage. You can often find Iosol by TPCS Distributors in larger health food stores.
Summary of Items to Include in Your Home Emergency Kit:
- Several boxes of new, clean, white trash bags and chlorine bleach (a quart in an unbreakable container) for purifying and storing drinking water
- A stash of non-perishable food such as sardines and nutritional bars
- A hand-cranked emergency radio (such as the Eton FR300) along with flashlights and rechargeable batteries, which can be used in the event of phone and/or power outages
- A standard first aid kit, with bandages, scissors, antiseptic wipes, et cetera, plus honey (two or three pounds in unbreakable containers) and/or papaya pulp for disinfecting and treating wounds
- Turmeric to stop bleeding fast
- Iosol (ingestible iodine), which can be administered in the event of a nuclear event
- PVC pipe and fuzzy material, which can be used for safe, natural pain relief
- A week’s worth of any essential medications or supplements readily available