When I first began writing this column I hoped to simply raise awareness that we really ought to be buying extra flashlight batteries, stocking our shelves and making plans to survive anything that would threaten our definition of "normal". With earthquakes all over the world, tornado season approaching in our nation’s midsection and underwater volcanoes off the Oregon coast, now would be a great time to consider checking your supplies. Every time I hear of a disaster, I sense an uptick in the urgency meter. People die when they’re unprepared!

Two years ago a storm known as a derecho developed in Ohio and moved eastward. A derecho is defined as a widespread, long-lived, straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms. In this case electrical power was disrupted for a week or more in at least eleven states. The destruction was followed up by temperatures in the 106+ range. People died of heat exhaustion and millions of lives were disrupted.

One observer made the following observations: "On the first day, all the hardware stores were stripped of generators by 9:00 AM and by noon, almost all of the gas canisters at most stores were sold out, leaving people to form lines at gas stations in the squelching heat. By 4:00 PM the grocery stores were stripped of food, water and other essentials, such as ice. Within a day, everything was gone." He went on to say that, "Water is so much more important than most realize, I highly recommend people stock up on storable water and water filters. A portable burner is a must. You will need some sort of power to heat your food, especially since most food, even storable food requires water and is best eaten when heated."

With the summer camping season coming on, most of us have a camp stove or a charcoal grill on which to cook. (Please don’t light your charcoal grill indoors!) So check out your camping gear and make sure you have a supply of fuel on hand for your stove that will get you through a couple of weeks of cooking. The next item I suggest you purchase is a water filter. Not the kind that screws onto your kitchen faucet, but one that works independently of your plumbing. Mine is a British Berkefeld, (Big Berkey) you can check them out online. And the next item (I would say last but there’s always something else) I recommend is a NOAA weather radio. Most emergency radios have the NOAA weather channel which gives up-to-date weather information and storm warnings. Being prepared for an emergency doesn’t just happen, it does take some effort and planning, but doesn’t need to break the bank. What time is it? Time to start preparing!

As always you may send questions and comments to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com. Also check out previous columns on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is the Postmaster in Bandon, Oregon, and the author of "Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us".