Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Capt. Dennis. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.
In 2009, I lost my job as a sea-captain and after a year of watching company after company tying up their fleets, I knew it was time for a career change. Entering college at 57 years old was not exactly what I had in mind for my golden years, however, that was about the only option left. I figured if I could get a degree on top of my master’s license, then maybe, I could get back on top before I was ready to retire.
After graduating college last year, my life took another unforeseen change as my family situation placed me as primary caregiver for my home bound elderly mother. Her care became my job, so looking for some avenue to have a social life, I signed up to volunteer with Senior Corps’ Retired Seniors Volunteer Program. The first thing I was asked to do was attend a training class with the local Homeland Preparedness Medical Reserve Corp. During that training, I was taught to think about preparedness for disasters. I came away from the class with the knowledge that I was in the dark when it came to being prepared for a disaster.
Living here on the southeast Gulf Coast of Texas, I have experienced numerous hurricanes. As a sea-captain, I have been involved with the evacuation of offshore platforms. I have experienced firsthand smaller hurricanes and the havoc they can cause. The tidal surge, winds, and tornadoes that accompany them can be very destructive. Lowland flooding, downed power lines, and trees will take the most time to recover from. But it is way of life in this area and something every person living here should be prepared for.
However, I was not trained to deal with the enormity of a large, wide spread natural disaster like the floods that came through here the year before, or what damage a cat 5 hurricane might do. I was lost when it came to understanding all the many different types of disasters that are all around me, all the time. We can prep for a hurricane, but most other events happen so suddenly, if we are not prepared ahead of time, we could be like the people of New Orleans after Katrina or the Galveston area after Ike.
My training while working in the offshore mineral and oil industry and around the local chemical docks taught me safety measures with regards to the dangers involved. The local port dock’s chemical tankers transporting numerous volatile cargoes. That, along with the plants that produce and use them, are another of the local disaster scenarios that one must always consider. These are things we discussed at the Homeland Preparedness class. That class also introduced me to the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
A man-made or natural disaster is not all a prepper should be prepared for. A car accident right in front you miles from nowhere or a hunting accident or even someone dropping down having a heart attack. As a prepper, these are all emergencies that could be part of the world when the SHTF. That is what I have learned and have become energized about from my CERT preparedness and training classes.
But something else that is great about CERT training, it is a FREE government training program that got me on my way to being better prepared to finding the answers to many of the questions I was beginning to have. A FEMA program that is in every community around the country. FEMA also offers many free online courses as well. Almost any disaster I can think of is covered as well as more advanced courses. Several of the courses are a requirement before entering the CERT class, but they not difficult and they will prepare you for what is to come.
The classroom training covers a lot of materials and each cert member receives their own Emergency Response Bag filled with all the equipment needed to respond to an emergency or disaster. As a CERT member, you are a volunteer responder, there to assist the professional first responders. At the end of the classroom training there is a practice drill so each team member will get a feel for working as part of a team, as well as assessing a disaster consisting of varying degrees of injured people.
Since completion of the CERT training, I have been actively researching to become further informed and prepared. I have spent countless hours reading articles and watching videos on when the SHTF. I am amazed that there are as many ways to prepare as there are people out there sharing their knowledge about it. But the bottom-line I have drawn from all my training from the Merchant Marines to CERT to having been through flooding and hurricanes is that I must look at what are the possible scenarios that will occur where I am now and prepare for those events.
Experience from Ike taught me that electricity could be out for as much as two weeks or more. The National Guard were here within three days and rations then became available. From that, I learned that a minimum of three to five days supply of water and nonperishable foods on hand is essential. My hot water heater has a twenty gallon tank that I drain every spring to make sure the water is clean, just in case. It uses natural gas as does my stove. City water supply is gravity feed from a tower and if it were to run dry, there is the hot water heater. And I have a portable generator that will run the refrigerator and a couple of fans. I buy and store enough gasoline early in hurricane season to supply the generator for several days.
Of course, there are many other forms of disasters which could be much more devastating like a nuke or plant explosion or EMP. These are events that I must trust that my faith, commonsense, and willpower will be there to help me to prevail. Those are my primary resources, which I expect will give me the resolve to deal with such an incident as one of those. Having taken the CERT training educated me enough to think more clearly about prepping and protecting my love ones.