What You Need to Successfully Shelter-in-Place

What You Need to Successfully Shelter-in-Place
Posted on June 25th, 2021

Sheltering in place can refer to a safety maneuver used in several different disaster situations. It can vary depending on the 'place' you need to shelter in and the disaster you need to shelter from and is standard procedure in cases of chemical, radiological or biological attacks/disasters. Here is a useful resource for more information on other Shelter-in-Place [SIP] situations: https://www.emergency.cdc.gov/shelterinplace.asp

I will only be considering what supplies you would need to safely shelter at home in a situation where outside movement is restricted, such as we are experiencing now - i.e. stay-at-home situations. This means I will not be talking about barricades and what would be necessary if you had to lock yourself in to prevent entry from the outside.

What you need: One of the most important things needed aside from the obvious food supply is a reliable source of information. This could be a radio (actually the preferred means) or TV. The government and government-authorized bodies will often use radio alerts to keep the public informed. This has been the standard for years although now, with the advent of widespread use of TV and WiFi-enabled mobile devices, emergency text alerts can be received via TV broadcast and on your mobile phone.

Another basic necessity is water. The recommendation is to have 1 gallon of water per person per day which translates to 21 gallons per person for a 3 week stash. That's a lot of water. A viable alternative is to have some water on hand (like say a 3-day supply) and then a reliable means of treating water to make it potable. This why I recommend having water filters, water treatment tablets and water filtration straws.

A power source. This could be anything from a mini generator to solar panel strips to emergency batteries. Just be careful of rechargeable options. These can be very useful, but you would have to ensure they are regularly charged up and not out of juice when you really need them. Needless to say, with all our gadgets we would want to have something that will allow us to charge up our phones, radios and lights in case the power goes out while we shelter in place. The TSS online store has some nice options

Food. In my previous post Survival 101.2, I listed 4 good options for securing your food supply in cases of emergency, including a means to prepare food even when your gas supply is cut off or you otherwise can't use a traditional stove. To SIP at home, you really have the opportunity to go crazy here, but please. Restrain yourself. Yes, you can get gourmet meals and ingredients for 3-course dining stored away for this type of emergency, but don't go overboard. I suggest stashing a good mix of shelf-stable canned foods, MREs and nutrition bars. Dried and Freeze-dried meals are excellenet as they are space-saving and easily reconstituted with just a little water, or heat. This allows for some flexibility and variety. After all, you're aiming for a 3-week supply.

Another item I always advocate you have in disaster prep kits - Honey. It is excellent as it serves as both food and medicine, shouldn't take up much space or weigh too much, and doesn't spoil. Natural, raw honey is best if you don't have babies or toddlers to worry about [for safety resons, never feed raw honey to babies]; but any honey is beter than none.

If you are from the right background, many ethnic foods are perfect for SIP. West Africans can store garri - a cassava product - for years and have food to last for months. It is ideal as it is easy to store, very shelf-stable, inexpensive, and can be eaten in at least 3 different preparations (with cold water, with hot water, without water). If you're familiar with cuisine from a Latin/Spanish background, you can appreciate a filling survival food made with just a little corn or wheat flour and water. Heated to make a tortilla that can then be filled with some of your canned foods, smeared with honey or eaten plain.

Tools are also important to have handy as you may need to shut down power, gas or water to your home depending on why you are shut-in. Fortunately, this has not been the case with the current pandemic, but these preparations are to help you beyond this present situation. Apart from these tools, you also want basic kitchen tools like a manual can opener, scissors, a fire starter/lighter, simple cutlery (preferably 2-in-1), and a multi-tool like a swiss army knife.

Your emergency kit sits at home anyway, so of course you should have your bug-out-bag [B.o.b] or go-bag available as part of your stay-at-home resources. It won't be kitted out for 3-weeks of supplies, but it will have your basics, including toiletries for your personal hygiene needs and thus serve as a good back up if you really can't go anywhere for 3 weeks. You will find some nice 72-hour disaster prep go-bags on our TSS website. Like this 2-person 3-day emergency prep kit.

Keep a small notebook or simple list with emergency contacts so everyone in the house has access to this. Who to contact in case you are incapacitated, your local police precinct and your primary care physician are some of the contacts that should be on the list. Include important documents in your SIP stash like IDs and photocopies of IDs. It doesn't hurt to have a digital copy of all these in a usb stored away as well.

Lastly, don't underestimate the need for entertainment. As we can see from the present surge in Netflix and on demand TV, people need to have distractions to turn to when they are confined in any way. Think of simple things like games that require just paper and a pencil, or even less. Try not to focus on competitive games, rather lean more toward collaborative games (think more like Pandemic than Monopoly). A little of both, but you don't want games that would lead to people getting on each other's nerves. Puzzles (crosswords or jigsaws) are an excellent choice. Then there's the old staple - cards. A deck or 2 of cards can go a long way. A simple rubik's cube can also offer hours of entertainment for some. Feel free to think outside the box.

Check supplies every 6 months. Switch out anything getting close to expiration. It might be a good idea to plan this check for the same time you are checking your fire and smoke alarm batteries during the DST changes.

Summary list

  • Radio
  • Back-up power source
  • 3-week food supply
  • 3-week supply of water
  • Tools
  • Emergency Kit
  • Entertainment
  • Emergency contacts/important documents

Here is another useful resource for if you would like to use a different setup for your stay-at-home prep https://waterandhealth.org/dr-ralph/

I hope the suggestions here really help you to get prepared and maybe even you've found useful tips you can use now. It got rather lengthy, but it's all good information. Feel free to leave your comments below. I will add links to other resources as I find them in the coming days and weeks.

Till the next blog post: Stay ready, be prepared. For life.

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