Mastering disaster preparedness
A few tips for greening your disaster kit; prep for hurricanes and other catastrophes.
Wed, Sep 03 2008 at 12:02 PM
Hurricane season is upon us. To supplement the full government-approved checklist, here, following are some earth-friendly tips for greening your disaster kit.
Storm runoff from farms and sewage treatment plants can contaminate tap water, assuming the water is still running. When you set aside the recommended one gallon of water per person per day before the storm, try to store it in Bisphenol-A-free (see canned food, below) and phthalate-free containers, ideally glass or stainless steel. Studies done by the Natural Resources Defense Council have shown that phthalates leach into water stored in certain plastic bottles over time. Common plastic milk or gallon water jugs will do in a pinch, as they're made from #2 high density polyethylene, a safe and easily-recycled plastic.
If the water is running but public health officials have issued contamination advisories, it's best to filter or at least boil your drinking water. If you don't have an existing ceramic or UV filtration system installed in your house (ordinary Brita and Pur filters won't remove bacteria and microbes), the EPA recommends boiling your water for at least one minute and letting it cool before drinking, which kills most disease-causing organisms.
How to boil water without power? You'll need to be prepared. Keep a butane camping stove in your kit, or lay in a solar stove.
Your stash of non-perishable food should also be stored in non-toxic containers. Almost all food cans in the United States are lined with Bisphenol-A (BPA), the same hormone-disrupting chemical used in polycarbonate water bottles. We discussed BPA and canned food in a previous post, and you can also read the Environmental Working Group’s extensive findings on BPA here. But since this is an emergency, at least make sure your canned foods are as new as possible, so BPA won't have had as much time to leach into them, and store them away from heat.
If the power goes out, you'll need batteries on hand for flashlights, cell phones, radios and cameras to document the adventure for your blog. Rather than buy disposable batteries, invest in rechargeable Nickel-Metal Hydride or Lithium-ion batteries. Better yet, get a solar battery charger. Hand crank flashlights and radios, available along with solar versions and LED lighlts from Freeplay, are powered by good old-fashioned elbow grease and will give the kids something to do when they're complaining about the lack of television.
Story by Rachel Brown. This article originally appeared in Plenty in September 2008. The story was added to MNN.com in August 2009.
Copyright Environ Press 2008