County Preparedness Training

Good Basic Information and Gear

As I mentioned last week, yesterday I went to the local middle school for a "Survivor Day" citizen preparedness class.  I was amazed by the turnout.  I estimate that at least 350 were there.  From what the fire chief said at the beginning, this was the largest of the seven sessions put on around the area Saturday.  When they asked how many were from our county, only about a third of the hands went up. 

Topics covered included: water and food storage and preparation from the health department; home security from the sheriff's office; basic first aid from the fire department; basic fire and generator safety from the fire department; and basic "get a kit - make a plan - stay informed" from a neighboring county's emergency manager.  People asked good questions and really were hungry for information.  It was good, basic information, perfect for an introduction to prepping for the masses.  One helpful tip I learned dealt with how to determine if your freezer was without power for two long.  My idea has always been to freeze a half-filled water bottle and turn it upside down... if the ice ends up on the bottom, you know it melted and your meat might be bad.  The simpler idea heard at the class was to fill a bottle and freeze it, then put a penny on top of the ice.  If it ends up at the bottom, you know everything thawed.

Each attendee got two items at the end.  The first was folder with lots of great information in it:
  • A DVD from the Red Cross and FEMA, "Getting Ready For Disaster, One Family's Experience"
  • Emergency Contact Card
  • Ready Virginia brochure
  • "Food & Water in an Emergency" booklet
  • Salvation Army magnetized planning checklist and flip chart
  • Nuclear Emergency Planning Information Calendar from the nearest nuclear power plant
  • A handy list of different foods and whether or not they can be kept or discarded if they thaw or get warm
  • A state hurricane evacuation guide
  • Some Red Cross checklists
  • A list of suggested non-perishable foods for storage
  • Basic first aid tips
  • Personal information update list
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission Safety Alert on Portable Generator Hazards
  • A 40-page Citizens' Emergency Preparedness Guide full of county-specific information
The other thing was a pretty nice beginner's emergency kit. It came in a decent quality red backpack with a reflective stripe on in.  Inside was:
  • 2 pair of work gloves
  • 3 light sticks
  • 2 space blankets
  • 2 N95 masks
  • whistle
  • small roll of duct tape
  • 9x12 plastic drop cloth
  • 2 ponchos
  • collapsible plastic water jug
  • flashlight w/ batteries
  • pocket radio w/ batteries
  • first aid kit
It's all cheap gear, but it's a good start for someone who has no preps at all.  I spent three hours at the class and think it was time well spent, seeing what the general public is being told.  I really expected a scripted, FEMA-centric, "we're from the government and here to help" presentation.  I was pleasantly surprised that it was locally oriented and based on the abilities and expectations of a rural population.

As it started, we were all reminded of how many disasters have hit our small, rural county over the past year: winter storms, brush fires, tornadoes, hurricane, earthquake, flooding and even a plane crash.  It's been a crazy year.


  1. Sounds like what you get when you go through CERT training. I wish that my community had something similar.

  2. I think CERT is this x 10. This was a very basic intro. However, they did promote CERT and VFD for those who want to do more.

    Contact your local emergency manager and see if they plan on doing something like this. Get your friends to do it as well. If they get enough interest, it might encourage them to do it.

    I'm putting together an intro class that I will want to present at local churches and civic groups. That might be an idea for your area as well.


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