Gas: inspect for leaky pipes - by smell only! If you smell gas, do not use candles, matches,
or other open flames! Do not operate electrical switches or appliances. Shut off main valve
at the meter, open all windows and doors so that the gas can escape. Leave house and report
leak to authorities.
Electricity: If damage to your electrical system is suspected (frayed wires, sparks or the
smell of hot insulation), turn off system at main fuse box.
Do not switch on the gas or electricity again until someone from the power company has first
checked your home.
Water: If water leaks are suspected, shut off water at the main valve.
Emergency Water Supply
Although science has indicated we can survive on one pint of water a day, 2 quarts is a more
realistic minimum and 2 gallons is the ideal. Based on the ideal it would be impossible to
properly store a years supply of water in an apartment, or even a city home, therefore we
suggest you concentrate on providing an absolute minimum water supply of one week (5-15 gallons)
per person. A more appropriate amount would be a 30 day supply (20-60 gallons per person).
You can store water best in clean 5, 22, or 55 gallon food-grade plastic containers with air
tight lids. Be sure to use only food-grade containers! This type of container is made from
polycarbonate, polyester or polyethylene. High density polyethylene buckets will have HDPE
stamped on them, or a recycle symbol with a "2" in the middle. These can be purchased from
various sources on-line or you might try your local restaurant supply store. Soda, syrup or
juice concentrate barrels are very economical. Get barrels that have been used only once,
which are safe to store drinking water if filled and sealed properly.
Your water can be prepared for storage by adding either tablespoon of household bleach or
tincture of iodine to each 5 gallons of stored water. In tropical or lush semi-tropical areas,
it is better to use the iodine as chlorine has not proven as effective. Even after adding the
iodine or bleach, we remind you that all consumable water (including that used for brushing
your teeth) should be run through a good water purifier. Our research indicates that treated
and purified water stored up to 7 years, remained free of fungus and visible bacterial growth.
Never rely on a bathtub full of water or a swimming pool as your primary source of water in
an emergency. Although these are two popular assumptions, relying on either could be a disaster
in itself. Heres why: In many events of a tornado or earthquake, the water mains have been
ruptured and the water has been contaminated. Therefore, opening a faucet forces this
contamination into your domestic system and will ruin the 40 to 50 gallons of good clean water
that was previously available. Instead of immediately running the tub full of water, turn off
the water at the meter and turn it back on only after you are assured that the mains are secure.
Just as with water mains, swimming pools are prone to rupture. In either scenario, the water
would need to be purified as well, to be a safe, consumable source.
Remember that typhoid fever, dysentery, and infectious hepatitis are diseases often associated
with unsafe water. Dont take a chance! Under serious disaster conditions usually NO water can
be presumed safe and all drinking and cooking water should be purified.
In extreme situations when safely stored water is unavailable, water drained from the hot water
tank, melted ice cubes, water from the toilet flush tank (not the bowl), canned fruit and
vegetable juices, and liquid from other canned foods can be the only option. If you must use
toilet tank water, it must be purified! Never use chemically "blue" water.
Drinking Unfiltered and Untreated Water
The micro organisms found in some contaminated water can cause, among other symptoms, fever,
stomach cramps and the dreaded Montezumas which you definitely want to avoid in the wilderness
or other remote region. The most basic rule is to avoid stagnant water and never drink from small
ponds or pot holes. If you are completely unable to filter the water from a natural source, here
are some useful facts to keep in mind:
Spring water is naturally filtered by soil but soil is often contaminated by the human population, so the more isolated water is from humans the lower the risk of microbial contamination.
The higher the elevation, the fewer animals and humans; thereby the less contamination.
The larger the body of water and the faster the flow, the better.
Keep the season in mind: Melting snow is usually safe. If the snow is not fresh, scrape off the top layer and melt the underlying snow.
In areas with greater pollution, heavy rain and snowmelts can wash contaminants into the water.
Spring brings more animals out of hibernation and increases water run-offs, thereby increasing the chance of contamination.
Avoiding Lightning Strikes
Lightning is deadlier than any other weather-related phenomenon, including tornadoes, floods,
and hurricanes. In the U.S. alone, lightning kills between 150 and 300 people each year. A bolt
can strike you directly or strike you after hitting another object first. It can even shock you
through the ground. We often underestimate the deadly potential of 100 million volts at about
40,000 amps with temperatures up to 27,760C (about five times hotter than the surface of the
sun) but carefully reading and following the advice in this article might save your life or at
least help you avoid the unpleasant smell of burning flesh (yours).
To estimate your distance from a lightning storm, count the number of seconds which elapse
between a flash of lightning and its thunder and divide this number by five.
This will tell you how many miles away the storm is. If subsequent flash-to-bang intervals
decrease, you'll know the storm is moving toward you.
Seek shelter the moment you know a lightning storm is coming your way. Do not wait. Lightening
is very unpredictable and each strike can occur many miles from the previous one.
The best shelter is inside any substantial enclosed building away from doors, windows,
electronic devices, bathroom fixtures and fireplaces all of which can conduct lightning
inside the structure. The second-best shelter option is a parked, hard-top vehicle with the
doors and windows closed. Keep your hands in your lap at all times. Anything you touch (radio,
door knob, steering wheel etc.) can conduct lightning inside the vehicle. Convertibles,
fiberglass vehicles, mountain bikes, ATV's, motorcycles, open-decked boats, canoes, sea kayaks,
gazeboes, and small sheds offer no protection whatsoever and should be avoided.
Finding Shelter from Lightning
When camping, hiking, hunting or in a rural remote area, shelter options are limited at best. The first thing you should do is abandon your aluminum or steel framed tent and discard metal framed backpacks, fishing poles, rifles, shotguns, shovels, walking sticks, and other projecting items which might act as a lightning rod. Resist the temptation to wait out a storm lying in your sleeping bag. Dozens of campers have been killed this way. Depending on the terrain:
In open areas lacking any apparent shelter, find a low spot like a ditch or ravine. Any depression will help as long as it is dry.
In forested areas, avoid tall trees and seek cover in a low, brushy area.
If you're caught on a hilltop or ridge, descend as far as possible, avoiding caves, overhangs, and rocky outcrops.
Avoid any and all bodies of water including lakes, wet beaches, streams, rivers, riverbanks, and wet boggy areas.
Avoid hills, ridges, or clearings with tall isolated trees.
Prepare to be Struck by Lightning
You have an 80% chance of surviving a lightning strike, and the following tips will only improve
your odds. If you have any insulating material such as a sleeping pad, a coil of rope of even extra
clothing, youll want to stand on it. Then put your feet together and squat down, balancing on the
balls of your feet. Put your hands on your knees, keeping your head lowered and your mouth open.
Your open mouth will provide an exit for the lightning if you are stricken. Otherwise, the
lightning will make its own exit and it will be painful.
Never lie down, or stand with your feet apart. Lightning dissipating along the surface
of the ground and always seeks the path of least resistance. Standing with your legs apart allows
it to come up and go back down the other side. Lying down allows it to come up and penetrate more
of your organs including vital organs.
Never huddle in a group since lightning tends to jump between people in a group and nearby
objects. Stay at least 15 feet from any other person or objects such as fences, gates, poles,
signs, telephone poles, power lines, underground pipes, trees, building exteriors, large rock
outcrops, vehicles, and other large metal objects.
Many victims are not killed by a direct hit; but by ground shock as lightning from a nearby
strike dissipated along the ground or through tree roots under them. If you hear crackling or
zinging sounds, or your hair stands on end - act quickly, as a lightning strike may be imminent.
Caught in a Blizzard
Whiteouts can cause some serious hazards since navigation becomes extremely difficult in driving
snow, and the wind, freezing temperatures and moisture create ideal conditions for frostbite
and/or hypothermia. The following list contains does and donts for avoiding disaster in a blizzard.
Don't hike through the storm; you are likely to make some serious navigation errors, reducing the chance of being found by a rescue team. Instead, focus on staying dry and warm where you are.
If you have a tent, pitch it. If not, seek shelter under a tree or rock overhang. Huddle behind a ridge (known as the lee) or anything that will block the wind.
Once sheltered from the wind, build a fire if at all possible.
Put on all of the clothing you have with you, making sure your head and neck are well-covered.
Sit on your pack, tree branches or anything that gets you up off the snow.
Eat and drink to produce heat and improve circulation. If you have food and water, do arm circles or move your legs to keep you warm.
When the storm passes, walk in all four directions making tracks that form arrows pointing to
your location. Fill the tracks with branches or leaves to improve visibility.
Build a Snow Shelter
Tents are clearly more convenient when moving camp daily, but as an emergency shelter or warm, winter base camp, a snow shelter rules. Follow these steps to construct one.
The foundation: In deep snow, digging a cave is bet. Search the lee side of boulders and fallen trees for a snowdrift at least 6 or 7 feet deep. In shallow snow, building a traditional quinzhee (a burrow dug in piled snow) is the only choice. Do this by piling snow into a mound at least 6 feet high and 7 feet in diameter; let it settle for at least one hour.
Weather and time permitting, sink a dozen foot-long sticks (or several trekking pole sections) into the top and sides of your drift or mound. These will help determine where to stop burrowing to maintain an ideal 1-foot-thick roof.
Dig a 3x3 foot horizontal entrance, beginning as close to ground level as possible. One foot into the mound, begin an upward angle. (Keeping the door lower than the living quarters traps warm air inside). Pile excavated snow on top of the mound.
Dig shelves or seats to make the space functional. Remove several of the 1 long sticks for ventilation. Use your hands to create a smooth, domed ceiling so that melting water runs down the walls instead of dripping on you. Lay an emergency blanket as the floor. Use your pack to block any snow from blowing in. Keep your shovel inside in case you need to dig out.
Mark the entrance so that you can easily find it when coming or going.
When Good Bears Go Bad
Bears are like Green Berets - they dont want to run into you any more than you want to run into
them. Bears normally leave an area once theyve sensed a human. Aggression by bears towards humans
is exceptionally rare. But because bears have only about six months to build up fat reserves for
their long winter hibernation, food is their prime directive. Humans should take precautions to
ensure they are never associated with food (this includes staying upwind of carcasses found on
trails). Follow these tips to keep the distance between yourself and a bear:
Cook and store all food away from your campsite.
Hang food from a tree if possible. If not, store your food in airtight or specially designed bear-proof containers.
Don't store food in a vehicle, unless you want your vehicle torn to ribbons.
If camping with pets, your pets food will also attract bears.
Keep a clean camp: wash your dishes immediately after using.
Avoid preparing highly scented foods like bacon and smoked fish.
Keep food smells off your clothing.
Burn garbage completely in a hot fire and pack out the remains. Food and garbage are equally attractive to a bear so treat them with equal care. Burying garbage is a waste of time. Bears have keen noses and those paws make great shovels.
If a bear approaches while you are fishing, stop fishing! No catch is worth a bear attack. If you have a fish on your line, try to keep it from splashing. If that's not possible, cut your line! If a bear learns it can obtain fish just by approaching fishermen, it will begin to seek out fishermen.
Close Encounters: Believe it or not, bears do not roam around looking for humans so they can
maul us. Bears are only dangerous to humans if they perceive we are threatening their food, cubs,
or their personal space. These are their primary interests. Once the perceived threat is gone, they
will gladly move on.
If camping with your dog, keep it on a leash and under control. A roaming dog might be perceived as a threat to a bear or its cubs.
If you stumble across a bear suddenly while hiking, walk away slowly. Do not climb a tree. Do not turn and run. A bear will always chase a fleeing animal and bears have been clocked at running up to 35 mph so abandon the notion that you can outrun it.
If you see a bear from a distance while hiking, identify yourself in a calm manner: make your presence known by making noise or waving your arms.
If the bear comes closer, begins to move aggressively side to side, stomp its feet, emit threatening "woofs," gnash its teeth, or lays its ears back and raises its hackles, then raise your voice and be more aggressive. Bang pots and pans. Use noisemakers. Bears often make bluff charges sometimes to within 10 feet of their adversary, without making contact.
Never imitate bear sounds or make a high-pitched squeal.
If a bear comes into your campsite, wait (in a vehicle or building if possible) for the bear to leave the area.
Cubs: Always steer clear of an adult with a cub. Bears will aggressively protect their young.
Brown bears: If a brown bear actually touches you, fall to the ground and play dead. Lie flat on your stomach, or curl up in a ball with your hands behind your neck. Typically a brown bear will break off its attack once it feels the threat has been eliminated. Remain motionless for as long as possible. If you move, a brown bear may return and renew its attack and you must again play dead.
Black bears: If you are attacked by a black bear, fight back vigorously.
Shooting a Bear in Self Defense: If you have to shoot a bear, you will need a .300-Magnum rifle or
a 12-gauge shotgun with rifled slugs. Handguns will not do the job. Even a heavy handgun such as a
.44-Magnum may be inadequate, particularly in untrained hands.
When Wild Cats Attack
The following advice applies to all types of wild cats: Cougars, Mountain Lions, Panthers,
and Leopards. Your best bet is to avoid large wild cats by doing the following:
Hike in a group rather than alone. Avoid running and looking like prey.
Keep children close to you, preferably in view and ahead of you.
Never approach cougar kittens. Leave the area immediately.
Follow the rules regarding pets in the park. Don't take your pets on the trails or in the backcountry and never leave your pet unattended at the campground.
If you encounter a wild cat:
Don't run! Stand still and face the lion with your companions.
Immediately pick up and hold small children.
Stand upright, hold up and wave your arms/treking poles, or open your jacket to make yourself appear as large as possible.
Make a noisy commotion if the animal moves toward you, and yell "Cougar!" instead of "Help!" since it has a harsher sound to scare the predator and lets other around you know precisely what is happening.
Back away slowly while facing the animal.
If attacked, fight back aggressively. The cat will hone in on your head or neck; use your arms as a shield.
If it retreats, do not relax. Cougars are persistent predators, and might continue to stalk you.
Report all sightings at the nearest ranger station. If none are available, notify the police.