Be Prepared

During the surprise March snowstorm, many experienced the perils of not being prepared for extended periods of hardship. Here are some hints from Umpqua Survival to help you be ready for the unexpected.

Story by Jennifer Grafiada Photos by Thomas Boyd

At the dawn of the new millennium, the world was bracing for the Y2K effect that was expected to wreak global havoc on computer systems. And then a funny thing happened. Nothing.

Well, not entirely nothing. Out of all the panic that turned out to be just another change of years rose Umpqua Survival, whose founders identified a potential business opportunity that has borne fruit, regardless of the ballyhooed Y2K non-event.

It turns out people just like to be prepared, whether it’s for a hike, a camping trip, a simple drive in the mountains or the Cascadia earthquake. Whether you’re planning a trip or activity that takes you to the edge of civilization, or just want to be prepared in the event something happens sometime, having certain items on hand and at the ready seems always a good idea.

Umpqua Survival manager Carlos Ortegon keeps a “just-in-case” list of essential items and shares it here in his own words:

Not that long ago, being prepared was part of everyday life. People stockpiled an entire month of groceries, raised livestock and didn’t necessarily need electricity to maintain their way of life. Today, many people don’t have a 24-hour supply of food in their home. I try to encourage people to start by preparing for small-scale emergencies (your car breaks down or you lose power for an extended period) and then work up to more drastic scenarios.

If you are just starting out preparing for an emergency situation, here is what I recommend:


Water. Try to store at least one gallon per day, per person, for a month or longer. You should also have various ways to purify water, such as purification tablets, liquid and bottles.

Fire. Have at least three ways to make fire. And, be realistic in your abilities. If you have never made a fire, don’t think that a flint and steel is going to work for you. Think instead about matches, strikers, fuel and tinder.


Shelter. If you’re venturing out into the wilderness, good preparation includes considering shelter such as a tarp or tent to keep out rain and snow. You also need proper clothing for the season and environment. You may want to keep extra hiking boots, long pants and a heavy jacket in your vehicle.

Tools. I recommend having a good quality fixed-blade knife as well as a multi-tool, ax or machete. If possible, also get a bow saw. Carrying a good pocket knife at all times can come in very handy too.

Light. Have a reliable flashlight, headlamp or lantern.

Food. Having a three-day supply of food for each person in your home should be a minimum goal, with a month’s (or more) supply being optimum.

You can find all the above items, as well as expert advice at Umpqua Survival, 2896 N.E. Diamond Lake Blvd., Roseburg; or online at