Preparedness: "In case of crisis"

This article was originally written in Norwegian.

Some reflections after a chance encounter in the mountains and personal recommendations on (urban) crises and preparedness. 

After a recent moonlight hike, I met a guy at a mountain cabin. I'll call him Ola. Ola is in his early 40s, has a good education, a secure job as a researcher, lives in a big city, loves nature and is otherwise completely normal. He had something on his mind that he wanted to tell me about. Ola brought a (Norwegian) book with him with the title "In case of doomsday". 

He told me that the content deals with different crisis situations and how to prepare for them. I told Ola that I offer consulting in emergency preparedness and crisis management and he shared the following views: There have been many crises recently, everything from Covid to war and floods and Ola felt unprepared. Anecdotally, we talked about the run on toilet paper. He believed that people are now waking up more and must take crisis preparedness more into their own hands rather than leave this to the municipality and the government. In the following conversation, he raised these topics:

  • Norway is not self-sufficient in regards to food, most things have to be imported.
  • What if there is a power outage, then he loses water and heat?
  • He is going to get a battery-powered DAB radio.
  • A refrigerator keeps cold for several days.
  • Hiking food and hiking equipment are also well suited for preparedness purposes.
  • Getting enough heat can present challenges if you live in an apartment and it is not equipped with a wood stove.

We touched on topics such as the Discovery Channel's "Doomsday Preppers " and he thought that a bunker under the apartment would have been great, but that it is probably not that realistic to achieve. It isn't strange for me to understand that Ola gets a little carried away when you enter such a large area as preparedness.

The book that Ola read - and this is not a purchase recommendation, as well as other sources that will form a basis for preparedness and survival are mainly based on the Directorate for Community Safety and Emergency Preparedness - DSB's recommendations / example of emergency storage. I will quickly recount it in a shortened version:

  • 9 liters of water per person
  • 2 packages of crackers, 1 oatmeal
  • 3 cans of canned food and 3 cans of toppings
  • dried fruit, nuts, chocolate
  • medicines
  • wood, gas or kerosene stove for heating
  • gas cooker
  • candles, flashlight, kerosene lamp and matches / lighter
  • warm clothes, blanket, sleeping bag
  • first aid kit
  • battery operated DAB radio
  • batteries, charged battery bank and mobile charger for the car
  • wet wipes, disinfectants, toilet paper, sanitary products
  • some cash
  • extra fuel and wood/gas/kerosene/red spirit for heating
  • iodine tablets for those under 40 years, pregnant women, breastfeeding and children. 

As we can see, the list is based on a number of assumptions, something we always have to do when we talk about preparedness. Based on the possibilities this list gives us, we must proceed from the following assumptions and premises of the scenario (MY thoughts):

  • duration of the event maximum 3-7 days
  • the home is intact and livable
  • people are neither at their workplace nor in the cabin / car / with others.
  • One-way communication (notification) is possible via DAB or the mobile network.
  • Everything is happening peacefully.
  • or that the authorities during that time frame have organized a publicly supplied aid apparatus.

A new campaign via in October / November 2023 also encourages "practice", which is summarized in simple events that deal with the failure of only one of the following with a duration of 3-7 days :

  • heat
  • payments
  • information
  • water.

Nice measure, if you ask me, to get the fully digital person on track to think about "what if I lose mobile Internet access for more than a couple of hours?", "what if there is no water in the tap?" etc. Conditions that have been the norm throughout human history and which still apply to 70% of the world's population. But can we call this preparedness?  
Moreover, how realistic do you think, dear reader, is that such events will affect one of the world's most modern societies?

Of course, it is difficult for the government to really strengthen personal preparedness, as well as create (and even impose?) a concrete list that people are willing to follow, partly with very limited funds for some, partly on the basis of cases that will never happen. And what good does it do if you have acquired some things, but your neighbor has not. Or if you can't use the tool, the apartment has balanced ventilation, open flames are prohibited, or you've simply never tested your equipment in complex scenarios?

Instead of going on a rant about everything that is bad in this world, I rather present an alternative here:

The first step is to create an overview of realistic crises you wish to be able to deal with. For this you must first know which crises can happen. A storm with blackout or an EMP, supply shortage or financial collapse, all these require different focus.

However, all scenarios are based on a foundation of equipment AND skills , some of which we will look at in more detail now with specific comments and recommendations:


Expect 3 liters of water per day per person in a temperate climate (source). If we include cooking here, this amounts to a minimum per person! Hygiene is not included. Just for one week, this amounts to 21 liters per person. If you live in an apartment, storage can present challenges. If you do not use store-bought water but a water container, you need a routine for rotating the water or disinfection with tablets to avoid bacterial growth. 

If you have a bathtub and advance notice, you can fill it to have a supply of water.

If you purchase a water filter, you can make use of water sources that are otherwise not of drinking water quality: the hot water heater, cistern in the toilet, water collected in the bathtub, rainwater and water from streams. 
If you have to evacuate (or you are going to travel), you cannot take all the water with you, but you can still filter it.


Calorie intake largely depends on activity level, age and gender. There are calculators for this. To get a rough idea, assume: 

  • 1000kcal for a 5-year-old child, 
  • 2200kcal for an adult woman with very light work (somewhat active, little freezing) to 
  • over 3300kcal for an adult man in physical work (working, helping neighbours, carrying things upstairs, freezing). 

But the calorie intake is not the only thing that determines whether you get nutrition. Everyone understands that it is of little help to buy only a few kilos of cooking oil or sugar, which both have a lot of energy in them. 

The body needs a somewhat correct composition of carbohydrates, fats and proteins (as well as vitamins and minerals) . Instead of only buying canned goods, get more of the foods you already eat and rotate them. That way, the food doesn't expire, and you even save money than making small purchases all the time.

As Ola correctly said in the introductory part of this article, freeze-dried food (although expensive) is an excellent opportunity to store food with approximately the correct composition of nutrients for a long time. Again, you have the advantage of being able to easily carry it with you if you were to travel or have to evacuate.


A number of medicines need the right temperature for storage . Some need to be refrigerated, many can be stored at room temperature. Do you have a plan if the power goes out and the fridge or the ventilation system in the building fails? 
Many medications are no longer prescribed in large quantities due to the risk of abuse. Be aware of this if you want to set up a bigger stockpile.

In a crisis scenario, we have to reckon with an increased number of injuries and illnesses:
People do more physical labor, which most people are no longer used to, lack skills such as using an axe, knife, tools, the use of much more open flames, people move around searching for (exchangeable) resources. 
It is good that you have taken a first aid course and have a medicine cabinet and first aid kit ready. Perhaps you have even acquired a defibrillator.

If, on the other hand, you do not have access to a GP, emergency room or emergency dispatch (112 / 911), are you then able to handle MORE than bandaging a gaping wound or placing an unconscious person in a stable side position, possibly starting cardiopulmonary resuscitation? All these cases need immediate medical care.

Acute diseases will also occur on a larger scale: Poor hygiene due to lack of or unclean water, contamination with sewage and unhygienic waste management leads to infections. The same applies to injuries that have not been cleaned and treated with antibiotics. Different / unfamiliar type of food, stress and unboiled water lead to diarrhoea. In general , the risk of fever and infections therefore increase.

People with a cardiovascular diseases and respiratory problems as well as their relatives should increase their level of knowledge about the emergency treatment of heart attacks and COPD worsening / asthma attacks. Diabetics are also more prone to hypoglycaemia (severely low blood sugar) due to less food intake, increased activity levels, freezing or infections.

In such cases (as well as many others) you should have a conversation with your GP where you present the situation.


Most houses and apartments are primarily heated electrically in Norway. Either directly (panel oven) or via a heat pump. In the event of a power failure, it will become cold. Small generators do not have enough capacity to operate panel ovens or heat pumps for heat production.

Ola's plan for warmth in his apartment was to sit under the blanket in a sleeping bag with the hat pulled way down. The body saves enough energy by lying well isolated, but after day 2 or 3 at the latest (72 long hours of staring at the ceiling under the covers) the vast majority of people will get out, find out what has happened, try to get in touch with their loved ones, exchange things they lack, etc.

Few apartments in urban areas have a wood-burning stove. A gas stove is an alternative, but my own experience shows that - since it draws oxygen from the room - the air will quickly become thin with a burning headaches as a result. Experience has also shown that people then try to light fires inside buildings. I don't need to explain how this will end.

Kerosene lamps such as the Aladdin type spread both light and heat. If you follow the instructions for use, these are very reliable and easy to use. Acquire spare parts.

If you live in your own house with good solar conditions, you can invest in renewable energy in the form of a solar collector that can store the heat energy in a large water tank. The entire installation can be made so that it also works without mains power.


The topic is categorically omitted from the public preparedness debate. It is not legal, period. A topic that is completely ignored by the government (Norway) where there are an estimated 29 firearms per 100 inhabitants. In 2018 this amounted to 1.5 million guns (source). Fortunately, few crimes are committed with registered firearms. But that can change quickly if you have resources that others desperately need. Such as food for hungry children.

A self-defence course is a good start to becoming more aware of your own safety and gain a defensive attitude, as well as assessing dangers and measures to deal with violence. The quality of such courses varies greatly.

How many people will you provide for besides yourself?  Would you share your resources with neighbors, acquaintances, hungry children passing by, as well as friends and family who would rather go on a nice holiday while you spent your hard-earned money on an emergency supplies?

Are these people a resource for you and the local community and should be protected? If the questions start to get tough, I wonder: Are we just playing preparedness, or does setting up a preparedness storage mean that others who do not have it will pay with their lives for not having followed the recommendations of DSB or others?

A google search for "hurricane Katrina shooting looters " yields many hits on hair-raising stories in otherwise peaceful neighborhoods already in the first day (night) after the hurricane. I would argue that hungry, drunk, scared or in need of help Norwegians will not behave very differently from an average person from the USA . This article in the Los Angeles Times entitled "Looters and the lessons of Katrina" (2010) written by an author with in-depth knowledge of human behavior in the aftermath of major disasters (Rebecca Solnit) provides a sobering picture.

So what do you do with this knowledge?  Are you going to keep your stockpile and your thinking a secret from everyone else in the hope that no one will come knocking on your door, or should you rather try to build a community in your neighborhood that strengthens the preparedness of those around you?


A topic that has for too little focus, unfortunately also in the public recommendations. People take access to free information such as wireless communication with each other for granted in today's society. But this particular part is very vulnerable to damage, failure and sabotage. I personally remembers well how the emergency network (TETRA) collapsed and failed completely on the day of the terrorist attack on 22 July 2011 during my work in the ambulance service in Oslo. The work of the professional rescue service was weakened this way and would not have been able to withstand an even greater emergency. 

EMERGENCY ALERT ON MOBILE: The mobile network is vulnerable, yet the national alert service is cellphone-based. In order to receive the notification, the mobile phone must be switched on, compatible (software up to date) and connected to a 4G or 5G network.

Norway has - as one of few countries - implemented a DAB digital radio service to replace the FM network. If you listen to older radios, it is mostly silent in Norway, except for some local radio stations that continue to broadcast on FM. 

The public recommendation is that you should be able to get important information on DAB radio channel NRK P1 .

DAB, as it is digital, needs a processor (computer chip) to be able to make digital radio waves audible. This uses a lot of power. Most battery-powered DAB radios have a poor battery life, and the same applies to the DAB car radio. Having not only a battery powered DAB radio, but also a rechargeable one and equipment to charge it repeatedly is essential for this communication channel to work. See the next section on electricity. Rechargeable batteries discharge over time and need a routine for regular maintenance charging so that they will function in an emergency situation.

FM RADIOs: Most mobile phones have this built in and many homes still have them. FM = frequency modulated (receives on 76-108MHz) receives channels from Sweden (depending on where you live) and other countries. Radiosets often also receive AM (amplitude modulated) broadcast on frequency bands for both shortwave, mediumwave and longwave (SW, MF and LW) from broadcasting stations throughout Europe (and the world). With a simple wire antenna adapted to the frequency band, reception can be significantly improved. If you are travelling, this could be an additional aid. The radios are compact and use little power. Most are either rechargeable or use regular batteries.

SIRENS: There are around 1,250 sirens (so-called typhoons) throughout Norway, but do you know the warning signals? These are:

  • Important message - search information: Repeatedly 10 seconds sound, 10 seconds pause, 10 sec sound ....
  • Aircraft alarm - "danger of attack, seek cover": For one minute: 1 sec sound, 1 sec pause, 1 sec sound,...
  • Danger is over: 30 sec continuous sound. 
    You can listen to them here.

NRRL / Radio amateurs: I would like to emphasize that many radio amateurs have robust equipment and knowledge to communicate far across national borders under all kinds of conditions. They are also part of the voluntary rescue service. They provide invaluable help to both individuals and authorities in many countries to communicate out of and into crisis regions. With a good radio receiver and the right antenna setup, you will be able to listen to them.

Satellite telephone: This type of equipment is acquired by public institutions and municipalities as part of their crisis preparedness. The equipment is expensive and requires a subscription which is out of the budget for many. The satellites are vulnerable to technical failure (solar storm, EMP) as well as sabotage (jamming and denied service to an area).


As mentioned, houses are heated with electricity in Norway. But virtually all other devices today depend on electricity, such as light, water pressure in many places, cooking, washing, Internet for work, communication and entertainment.

Workplaces, office buildings, elevators, ventilation and locking as well as alarm systems are also dependent on electricity. The same applies to farms with, for example, milking robots and refrigeration systems. Very few civilian installations have capacity for reserve power for many days.

The mobile network is spread via base stations which are supplied with emergency power in the event of a power failure. The reserve power capacity is limited. Eventually, mobile internet and the mobile network in general will disappear.

Gas stations use electric pumps that depend on the power grid. All civilian emergency services, for their part, depend on refueling from petrol stations.

I probably don't even need to mention electric car charging stations. Of course, they need a functioning power grid with good capacity.

Powerbanks can charge both mobile phones and other USB-equipped devices. But do you have a solution to charge the power bank itself? There are different options on the market, the most common being small solar panels.

Publicly subsidized solar systems installed on rooftops feed electricity into the grid. These systems automatically disconnected in the event of a power failure and are unsuitable for emergency energy purposes. There are, of course, systems that are designed to store the electricity and use it themselves (so-called island operation), but there are very few of them in Norway due to the higher cost. 
Smaller systems with only 1-2 small panels are often found on cabins without public electricity. These are affordable, store the energy in a battery using a regulator, and are well suited to operate LED lights and charge mobile phones.

A power generator can supply important devices. If you buy one, remember that the capacity is never equal to what it is supposed to operate: All equipment with a motor and compressor (such as refrigerators, freezers, water pumps, etc.) has a so-called starting current. It CAN be up to 3-5 times as much as the stated Watt figure on the appliance. A small refrigerator with only a stated 400W therefore needs an generator that can supply 1600W in order to start the fridge. The same applies if you want to operate such machines with an inverter using direct current sources such as solar panels and battery banks.


Some questions to reflect on:

Have you thought about how you will get home to your emergency supplies and of course to your family if you commute to work, either by car, public transport or by plane? 
Can you navigate without the help of Google Maps or other digital solutions
Do you have the same resources available in your car if you are unable to travel?

What if the apartment or house you live in has to be evacuated, has burned down or has to be abandoned because it is in an unsafe area, or is now contaminated? 
Do you have all your important documents secured? 
Where and how do you store valuables and physical money that the authorities recommended you keep at home?

Some people make a bag, in English popularly called "BOB" (Bug Out Bag), which is packed ready with the most important things to get out of an apartment that does not provide heat, food or water. Although it may be a good idea to have warm clothes, some cash and important documents ready in case you have to leave your house quickly, for example in the event of a fire or evacuation, have you considered:

  • How long will you live out of your bag? 
  • What if it is dangerous to go outside
  • The authorities have imposed a curfew?

Although you may be a hiker and plan on hunting and surviving in the woods, how driven are you in this lifestyle? What about during the winter? 
Don't plan on becoming a refugee , that's what you call a person who has to leave everything behind, with only a backpack, or the clothes on his body, on the run!


Special cases include events that most people are never affected by but may have heard about, such as radioactivity or chemical accidents. Handling is often complex and requires specialist knowledge. 
In a separate article, I offer an assessment tool that can help you make the decision whether to leave an area or stay put.

All disasters, crises and accidents start with a chaos phase where it is difficult to make decisions based on a lack of information and knowledge. Maybe the information is wrong?

Remember that it is normal to feel overwhelmed and paralyzed in such scenarios. We know from experience that the worst thing you can do is do nothing.

As you can see, acquired equipment and knowledge as well as your mindset and attitudes go hand in hand. 

Unfortunately, it is more appealing to buy something, pack it in a box or backpack and forget about it, instead of testing and using it. DO NOT be this person!

My consulting services are aimed at you as a private person, family, or company / enterprise and consist of the following:

  • We make an overview of situations you want to protect yourself from or crises you need to be prepared for.
  • We look at available resources, your living situation and working life (this includes also home office, travel and commuting or farming), how much money you have available for the purpose, how much time you can spend, your general health and other factors.
  • We then create a personal plan that applies to both procurement and training to test and evaluate whether this works and to be able to react more quickly in a crisis situation.
  • We reassess the need after a while and then adapt.

You secure yourself against expensive wrong purchases, plans that will fail or a general wrong focus. 
Of course you can do this on your own like Ola in the story. I encourage everyone to make up their own minds. If, on the other hand, you have no background in emergency preparedness, for example from the military, it will in most cases be worthwhile to accept help.



As always: The article is to be considered a personal opinion with no guarantee of completeness or correctness. I will always make sure to use the best possible sources. The use of the recommendations is the responsibility of the reader. Read the disclaimer here and use common sense. Thanks.



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