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Surviving a Natural Disaster

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Oct 1st, 2014
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Scenario “Surviving a Natural Disaster”: A friend of yours has learned about your passion for prepping. He is new to prepping but want to get started. He isn’t sure what scenarios to prep for. Rather then start with a financial collapse, world war 3 or other scenarios that might turn him away you decide it’s best to discuss Natural disasters as they are far more likely to happen and are easy to convince someone to prepare for. How will you survive each possible disaster?



In the recent years, natural disasters have frequently dominated the headlines. Many of us are lucky and have not been caught in one. While we see on the TV the upheaval in someone’s life we should stop and reflect on how we can plan and survive such an incident. Knowing ahead of time what to do is important. When natural calamities strike, there is little warning, but the extent of damage in its aftermath is unprecedented.

Here are some of the more common and destructive natural disasters


Surviving a Flood

A flood is an overflow of some body of water that submerges land. It is usually due to the volume of water within a body of water, such as a river or lake, exceeding the total capacity of it’s surroundings. As a result some of the water flows or sits outside of the normal boundaries of the water. It can also occur in rivers, when the strength of the river is so high it flows right out of the river channel , usually at corners or meanders. In rare occasions it can happen when a dam or levy gives way.

Survive: If you have sufficient warning to where a safe evacuation is possible do so. Take into account any traffic jams or other road blocks that could in fact put you in more risk then staying put. If you are in a solid building when the water begins to rise, then stay in it. Your aim is to move to as high a point as possible. You will be at lesser risk than trying to evacuate on foot. Turn off gas and electricity, and prepare for emergency food supplies; warm clothing; medicines; and drinking water in sealed containers. Learn the easiest route to high ground – not necessarily the highway route. Keep out of valley bottoms where there would be deadly debris deposited during the times of heavy rains.

A great tip passed down for generations, Keep a hatchet in your attic. As the water rises you might have to chop your way on to your roof from the attic.


Surviving a Tsunami

A tsunami is a series of waves created when a body of water, such as an ocean, is rapidly displaced. Earthquakes, mass movements above or below water, volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions, landslides, large meteorite impacts comet impacts and testing with nuclear weapons at sea all have the potential to generate a tsunami. A tsunami is not the same thing as a tidal wave, which will generally have a far less damaging effect than a Tsunami. Keep in mind there are two directions to a Tsunami hitting land fall. The water first goes inward and then recedes pulling debris out to see. In the Tsunami on march 11 2011 near japan a 9.0 magnitude earthquake created a 133 foot high wave. After it hit land it pulled the debris out to sea and even created whirlpools that pulled nearby ships into it.

Survive: Be alert when at the beach, and stay updated with weather reports. If you can see a Tsunami building up, then you’re likely in the wrong place. Evacuate immediately, away from the shore, and aim for nearest high ground. If land massed like mountains aren’t available, cement based buildings are best. Many houses are made out of wood and are easily destroyed or swept away. Have your bug out bag ready and get out of dodge as quickly as possible.


 

Surviving a Volcanic eruption

A volcanic eruption is the point in which a volcano is active and releases lava and poisonous gasses in to the air. They range from daily small eruptions to extremely infrequent supervolcano eruptions (where the volcano expels at least 1,000 cubic kilometers of material.) Some eruptions form pyroclastic flows, which are high-temperature clouds of ash and steam that can travel down mountainsides at speeds exceeding that of an airliner. Gas Balls – a ball of red hot gas and dust –  may roll down the side of a volcano at a speed of more than 160kmph – are inescapable phenomenon. One of the most notable eruptions in human history is Vesuvius near the roman City of Pompeii in 79 AD, where the eruption ended up covering the entire city with ash preserving both the artifacts from the time and the people in volcanic Ash.

Survive: As with an approaching Tsunami, evacuate. Find a hard hat helmet (of the kind worn by building workers or a military helmet) and gain distance from the source of the eruption. While lava is the most dreaded element of a volcanic eruption, lava flows are least hazardous due to their dense slow-moving mass. Move cautiously as volcanic missiles – composed of pebbles, rocks, and bombs of hot lava – could do much damage.
The only chance of survival from an approaching gas ball is to either find an underground shelter, or submerge under water and hold your breath for the half-minute or so it takes to pass.


 

Surviving a Tornado

Tornadoes are violent, rotating columns of air which can blow at speeds between 50 and 300 mph, and possibly higher. The center of a tornado acts like a giant vacuum and sucks debris up into the whirling winds. Tornadoes can occur one at a time, or can occur in large tornado outbreaks along squall lines or in other large areas of thunderstorm development. Waterspouts are tornadoes occurring over water in light rain conditions. In most major storms tornadoes are can be seen as they form. You will see two different cloud movements going in opposite directions. When they collide they create rotation around a center point. This rotation becomes a funnel cloud which will be characterized as a little tail hanging down from it. As well many people report the sounds of an approaching tornado as sounding like a freight train.

Survive: Get out of harm’s way. Find a cave, or take shelter in the most solid structure available – reinforced concrete or steel-framed if possible, but preferably a storm cellar. Firmly close all doors and windows on the side facing the tornado and open those on the opposite side. If you have nowhere else to go, get in a bathtub.

If you are in a car, and your route will collide will an incoming Tornado, find a depression in the ground like a ditch. Get out of the car lay down face first and cover you head and neck with your arms. DO NOT try to use a freeway overpass you will be sucked out by the vacuum.


Surviving an Earthquake

An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth’s crust that creates seismic waves. Earthquakes are recorded with a seismometer, also known as a seismograph. The magnitude of an earthquake is conventionally reported on the Richter scale, with magnitude 3 or lower earthquakes being mostly imperceptible and magnitude 7 causing serious damage over large areas. Intensity of shaking is measured on the modified Mercalli scale. Keep in mind a size 6 is 10 times larger then a size 5. At the Earth’s surface, earthquakes manifest themselves by shaking and sometimes displacement of the ground.

Survive: If you are indoors when an earthquake strikes, stay there. Turn off all electrical and kitchen equipment. Find a lower floor or a cellar for best chance at survival. Get beneath a table or other piece of substantial furniture that’ll give both protection and air-space. Never get into an elevator or lift.
If outdoors, then lie flat on the ground, unless you’re on a sloping hillside where erosion and landslides are possible.


 

Surviving a Hurricane

Hurricanes, tropical cyclones, and typhoons are different names for the same phenomenon: a cyclonic storm system that forms over the oceans. It is caused by evaporated water that comes off of the ocean and becomes a storm. The Coriolis Effect causes the storms to spin, and a hurricane is declared when this spinning mass of storms attains a wind speed greater than 74 mph. Hurricane is used for these phenomena in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans, tropical cyclone in the Indian, and typhoon in the western Pacific.

Survive: If you are in a solid building, stay wherever you are and keep high ground. Store drinking water. Shut off power supplies. Have a battery-operated radio to keep in touch with rescue services.
If outdoors, find a cave, or even a small ditch. Lie prone and wait for the entire hurricane body to pass.


Surviving a Wild Fire

California has been the most notorious for wild fires. At the time of this article California has been battling a severe drought. As a result the local trees and plant life has been drying out making it far easier for a wild fire to start. Wild Fires are most commonly caused by mankind. A cigarette thrown to the side of the road and unwatched camp fire are the most common. However there are times when even lightning can spark a wild fire. The biggest challenges to a wild fire are the intense heat wave that come with it.

Survive: Evacuate! In a car, drive with your windows up, vents covered, and headlights on. Don’t drive through heavy smoke. If you have to stop you will want to do so safely away from trees or brush that might fall or act as fuel. Shut off the engine, but leave your headlights on. Get on the floor of the car and cover yourself with a blank, cost or anything to shield yourself from the heat. Air currents may rock the car, stay inside and don’t run. Gas in metal containers or gas tank rarely explode. Wait for the main fire to pass.

At Home, It is not safe to try and ride out a wild fire in your house. A combination of heat and smoke will certainly fill the house and make it a death trap. This mixed with the fact that the house acts as fuel means there is a high likely hood of it catching fire too. In preparation cut back trees and vegetation that are close to your house to would allow the fire to spread to your house. This way the radiant heat won’t be as bad and as quick to catch your house on fire too. I have heard of some people turning on garden hoses and sprinkler putting them on the roof to try and protect their belongings when they leave. I don’t believe there is enough water flow for this to work but if you were able to cover the house with persistent water then the house wouldn’t catch fire.

In the open, You will want to find an area that doesn’t have a lot of trees or fuel for the fire. In a mountain area the back side of the mountain is safer. Keep in mind that like canyons some landscapes can cause air to push the fire in a specific direction and help it move faster. Near a road or anywhere with little fuel around you will want to find a ditch or depression of some sort, clear any fuel from around it and lie down in it. Cover yourself with anything that can protect your from the heat while you wait for the fire to pass.


Surviving a Mud Slides or land slides

Land and mudslides are mass of debris, rocks, or earth that slide down sloped ground. The most common causes are earthquake, heavy rain, clear cutting or mining. Landslides cause 25-50 deaths a year and happen in all 50 states.

Survive: Getting out of the way is your number on goal. If that can’t happen curl up into a tight ball and protect your head and neck. If you are in a home move to the highest ground inside the building. Get a hard hat or helmet or some sort. Unfortunately there isn’t much one can do when they happen. but there is a lot they can do before hard to avoid them or be aware of them. Check out this guide on surviving a landslide here.


Surviving a Blizzard

Blizzards are one of the simplest natural disasters to survive. The key is to have the resources you need with you to wait until it stops and ideally melts some. In a blizzard the wind tends to blow around 35 MPH with less then 1/4 mile of visibility for more then 3 hours. Snowdrifts can pile up around the outside of houses or cars that make it impossible to move, open or get out afterward. In some of the worst blizzards in US history snowdrifts reached 20 ft high.

Survive: Find a place to take shelter, don’t venture out until it dies down or stops. Focus on staying warm and Hydrated. These means have plenty of fuel on hand for fires. See the article on Heating The House Without Electricity or Gas for more ideas to stay warm during a blizzard. You will want to have food on hand so the need to go out in the weather is low. If you don’t have sufficient water on hand heat up some snow, but do not eat it or you will drop your core temperature. In a pinch you can fill a canteen with snow and use body heat to melt it.


Surviving an Avalanche

Avalanches happen next to mountains they happen when either the weight of the accumulated snow is either no longer able to support the weight or is disturbed by vibrations causing the mass of snow to crash down. This danger is especially high for skiers and mountain climbers. When someone is caught in one they are usually buried alive by snow.

Survive: Here is a good illustrated guide on how to survive an avalanche. One of the best tricks I have heard when trying to dig yourself out is to spit. The Spit will always head towards the ground due to gravity. so you will want to go the opposite way of the spit.


 

Preparing for Natural Disasters

What took place in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, or the Boxing Day Tsunami, might make you want to stop and ask: if there was a natural disaster in my home, would I know what to do?

From basic survival gear, to making sure you and your family are comfortable, there is plenty you can do in advance. Here’s a handful of easy things to do the next time you go to the Wal-Mart or Target or even the supermarket.

Only 12 percent of Americans have taken adequate steps to prepare for crises. Are you one of them?

 

Start with the basics:

  • Store in a cool dry place plenty of bottled or stored water, batteries, flashlights, and a hand crank radio.
  • Candles, waterproof matches, a can opener, a Multi-tool, are also helpful.
  • First aid kit, aspirin, disinfectant and other first aid items.
  • Basic camping gear sleeping bags and blankets, water filters, long term storage foods are also helpful. (If using your basement, get them off the floor and onto shelves).
  • If you have small children, simple games and toys will keep them busy as opposed to frightened. Formula or baby food if applicable.
  • Depending upon the prescription drugs you take, a few days to a weeks worth.
  • Pet food if applicable.
  • Porkl & Beans are a popular classic for hurricane survival. They taste fine, even when cold.
  • Peanut butter is the essential survival food, that doesn’t go bad easily and goes with a lot of things.

 

Here are the Essential tenets

* Evacuation
If it becomes necessary to leave your home, there may be little advance notice. Determine ahead of time what to bring, where to go and how to get there. Create a backup plan in case your primary route or destination becomes unworkable. Then, practice: Make sure everyone in the family knows the location of rendezvous sites. Keep at least a half-tank of gas in your car­ or else you may have to scavenge gas, and keep weather-resistant clothing and sturdy shoes handy. When it’s time to go grab your bug out bag and get going don’t wait until it’s too late.

* Health
When assembling a disaster kit (see foldout checklist), include both general medical items (bandages, antiseptic, etc.) and up-to-date supplies of prescription medications. Also, keep baby formula available and personal hygiene items such as sanitary napkins and toilet paper in waterproof containers.

* Documents
Keep copies of important paperwork in three places: your grab-and-go bag, a safe-deposit box and with a friend or family member in a different location. Include identification cards, insurance documents, marriage certificates, property deeds, prescriptions and pictures of family members to show to first responders in case anyone gets lost.

* Communication
Keep a card with an updated list of family contact info in your wallet at all times. (Don’t rely exclusively on a cellphone’s contact list; you may not be able to recharge the phone.) Make sure every family member carries the number of a point person at least 50 miles away in case local telecommunications fails. This creates a hub-and-spoke system: If family members can’t talk to each other, they can coordinate through the third party. Consider A portable CB or FM transmitter. They can be essential when trying to radio for help if trapped inside of debris.

* Technology
If you have tax records or other personal information stored on your computer, keep regular backups in an out-of-town location or archive to an Internet service such as dropbox.com. Consider maintaining a landline and corded phone to supplement cordless, cellular or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephones, which all rely on the electrical grid. (Telephone landlines carry their own current.) Keep a battery- or crank-powered NOAA radio on hand for weather information and news updates—these can become lifesavers if you lose access to television and Internet sources of information during a disaster.

* Risk Assessment
Are you in a Danger Zone? Natural threats vary by region, but no area is immune from all disasters. Hazard maps available on FEMA’s Web site break down the frequency of several types of disasters on a state and local level. Take such information into account in your planning. If you live in a flood or earthquake zone, insure your property accordingly.


Conclusion

The moment a disaster strikes thinking is out the window. It’s only after the initial shock of the disaster goes away that you can begin thinking. In some cases these disasters need the proper action immediately for the best chance of survival. Consider taking these ideas discussed here, put them on a group of flash cards and clip them to your bug out bag. Then Begin training yourself to memorize how to handle each disaster. Under stress you will do what you trained yourself to do, only worse. Begin drills with your family to make sure they know what to do in case of that disaster. Most importantly keep clam and carry on.

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