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Dave Robinson

One of the more popular summer activities in our area is always camping. We live in the middle of one of the most beautiful outdoor recreation areas in the world. Living on the Oregon Coast means it is always only a short drive to an amazing camping location. Whether you need full hookups for your home on wheels or simply a flat spot to pitch your tent, coastal Oregon has the camping venue to meet your need. I’m sure you can find the same, no matter where you live.

While I have always loved to go camping, not everyone is in love with a back-to-nature weekend. “Why would you want to pretend you’re homeless?” “We have a nice house, why go live in a tent with no shower, no toilet and rough it?” It is a lot of extra work, and when you get home, you have to clean up your stuff and put it away while you’re feeling grimy, tired and a little weird from eating too much junk food! On the “plus” side, you have just made a host of amazing memories with your kids!

But with all this being true, a family camping trip is a great way to test your disaster preparedness skills. How organized are you? I don’t think I have ever gone camping when I didn’t forget something I needed. A few years back I took my grandson up in the Siskiyou National Forest for a three-day trip. When we arrived at the Forest Service campground we set up the tent, arranged our ice chest full of food and it was then I discovered I had forgotten the Coleman stove. I took stock of my situation and decided to go it without the stove. It was too far to go back home and retrieve the thing, it was also too far to go to town and buy another one. Besides I looked at my menu and decided I could cook everything on my list over an open campfire. So we did. It wasn’t as handy as the stove would have been, but other than blackening some of my cooking utensils, we made do with no serious consequences.

Maybe a camping trip would be a good shake-down cruise for your disaster preps. Make a list, check off the items and spend a weekend in the wild. You will invariably learn what you should have brought along. You will even learn what you could have left behind. If the power grid fails, or a major earthquake strikes, your camping gear will be your key to maintaining some kind of normalcy. If you have it arranged in a general location, you’ll be able to lay your hands on what you need quickly. Maybe even in the dark. Your lantern, your cook stove, and other gear will get you through while your neighbors are still trying to hunt up their flashlight. While we’re on the topic of your neighbors; once your home is stabilized following a disaster, make sure your neighbors are ok. It’s possible they are completely unprepared and are sitting in the dark hoping the lights come back on soon. You have just become an asset, not a liability.

If you’ve ever gone camping and forgotten something important, I’d like to hear about it. As always, your comments and questions may be sent to Previous columns may be found on my blog at

Dave Robinson is a retired postmaster, and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us” available on, Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers.

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