(Photo cover courtesy of NASA – Maria over Puerto Rico)
Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico and left a wake of destruction on September 20th. We are now over 3 weeks since the storm hit and the island is still 85% without power and upwards of 40% without clean water, according to the LA Times. There are even reports of Puerto Ricans consuming water from a hazardous-waste site. Needless to say Puerto Ricans are in a desperate situation. There are even some reports now saying that some areas of Puerto Rico will be out of power and water for months. So what can we learn from this situation?
1. Always Prepare for the Worst
Both FEMA and the CDC recommend at least a 72 hour kit. There are a number of reasons that a 72 hour kit is recommended including statistical data that if you survive the first 72 hours of a disaster, your likelyhood of surviving the disaster exponentially increases. Also within 72 hours typically some sense of normalcy returns to damaged infrastructure (water, power, roads, etc…). In the case of Puerto Rico however, normalcy won’t return for months. This is one of the reasons why you should prepare for the worst. Instead of only having 72 hours of preps I recommend at least 2 weeks or more.
2. Learn How to Distill Water
As mentioned earlier, people are actually getting water from a hazardous-waste site for drinking and bathing. I can’t tell you how bad that is… this water is contaminated with heavy metals along with other nasties. If you absolutely have to get water from a contaminated water source like this, I recommend learning how to distill water – it’s a pretty simple process. One of my favorite outdoorsman/bushcrafters – Kenneth Kramm, has a video guide on making one.
Caveat here – check your local laws to make sure making a still is legal and any restrictions you may need to take (after all, these things are used to make moonshine). Anyways if you’re thinking about a “survival straw” or “water filter” – those are great for biological contaminates like giardia and cryptosporidium – commonly found in freshwater streams and lakes, they will NOT work on heavy metals or chemical agents. Water purification tablets in the same vein will also NOT work. Boiling water will help remove some of the contaminates, however distilling water is the safest option. Of course this is only if you are in such a desperate situation to begin with – storing water and devising a rain water collection system would be highly recommended, before actively using hazardous-waste water.
3. Don’t Rely on Help From Others
What I mean by this is, do readily accept and receive help from others, but don’t rely on them to fully support you and wait around for help. A prime example is heavily relying on the government to jump in and solve all of your problems. You’ll need to be resourceful in times of disasters and be prepared to jump in to help others, but waiting around for help is not an option. Start devising a plan well in advance of an impending natural disaster. Have a plan and think about – what will happen if the disaster lasts – 3 days, or 1 week, or 2 weeks, or even a couple of months. What are your contingency plans. I wrote about the two is one and one is none rule – and this concepts applies exceptionally well to natural disaster planning.
Remember these rules and they may come in handy one day. You never know… with all these natural disasters occurring – from earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, and floods, we are in an unprecedented era of natural disasters. Remember the boy scout motto – “Be Prepared”
Thanks to you,