Thursday, March 20, 2014

Emergency Kits

 I fell into a rabbit hole on Pinterest the other day with survival pins and found pin after pin and blog after blog about survival a disaster.  I had no idea how many survivalist thinking people there are out there, but honestly it makes a TON of sense.  It never crossed my mind that I might need an emergency kit in the event that I couldn't get home right away for whatever reason.  Once I saw these posts, I started thinking about all the places I go, such as Nacogdoches.  What if I had a flat tire or broke down and all the shops were closed and I couldn't get home until at least the next day?  Would I be comfortable at a hotel without a change of clothes or toothbrush?  Probably not.  I wouldn't ask someone to come and get me when the auto shop will open soon and I wouldn't want to buy some clothes and toiletries for a few hours.  If I had them already in my pack, I am good to go!

Also, living in Houston, I started to think of the different disasters that could happen at any time.  Somethings are less likely than others, but Houston  is the 4th largest city in America.  If an attack were going to happen, we would be very high on the list.  Think about it, which industry is the biggest in Houston?  Oil and Gas!  Do you think terrorist would want to cut off our resources and cripple the industry?  Not only attacks, but also natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wild fires, power plant failures, gas leaks, wide spread disease (think swine flu), etc can happen around us.  Oh, and who can forget about zombies and aliens! :)

A 72-Hour emergency kit that is kept in your house or your car will help you in the event that you can't get home or perhaps that you have to stay at a shelter/hotel for a few days.  If you are evacuated and do not have much time to pack, you might forget something (like toothpaste or underwear), but if you already have it packed, you can be semi-comfortable for a few days.  Each person in your family should have their own items in their own packs because you never know if you will be separated or say that you are at home and your significant other is at work-if you have all of the food, he won't have anything to eat (or substitute first aid or water, etc)

So, what to put in your emergency kit?  Every person/family is different.  It is just me, so my pack is different than if I had children or a husband, but there are universal things that can go in everyone's kits.  BTW, I have googled and pinned a lot of this stuff on Pinterest, from a ton of different sources, I didn't come up with this on my own and I am no expert!

All of my stuff is in individual ziplock type bags for a few reasons: 
  1. If it rains your stuff won't get wet/ruined
  2. It is easier for you to pull out the 'category' and check for expired items or new sizes for clothes instead of pulling out a million different pieces
  3. For clothes, you can separate the dirty clothes from the clean clothes in the ziplocks after use
  4. Stuff like lotions and soaps can spill or leak-you don't want stuff to ruin other items
  5. For food items it is easier to keep each day separate for rationing.  If the kids eat all of their fruit snacks in one day, that wouldn't be good
  6. They can serve as trash bags when you are done with them

What type of bag:
  • A sturdy backpack-if you have to run away on foot, you don't want to carry stuff in your hands. Plus, if you have kids, you might be holding their hands or pulling a wagon with them in it, you don't want to have to worry about carrying bags too.  Just strap the backpack on your back and go.  Mine is just an old school backpack that I used during college.
  • A sling purse-I have a purse that I carry when I travel that slings around my body, so I won't have to worry about it slipping off my shoulder. 
What to add-Clothes

  • 1 set of clothes-I added a running top and running/yoga type pants.  The material is wicking so you don't have to worry about cotton clothes getting super sweaty and weighing you down.  If you don't want to worry about changing the clothes out every season, bring a long sleeve shirt and pants-you can always cut them off if you get too hot.  Plus, pants are always better if you are walking through debris.
  • 2 underwear-obvious reasons.  You could probably get away with 1 pair, but it's up to you.
  • 2 sets of socks-In case one gets wet, you have another to change into.
  • 1 Hat-I don't wear hats, but I figured I might want one in case it rains or is super sunny.  Plus, it hides dirty hair! :) In this picture you will see a light clipped to my hat, so that I can wear it if it get dark and I don't want to carry a flashlight.
  • 1 pair of 'work' gloves-In case you have to help in the clean up process, plus if it's cold,it will keep you warm.
  • Tennis shoes-I don't own hiking boots and I am not about to buy some just for this pack.  Old tennis shoes with a good sole will do just fine.  They won't fit in the backpack, so they are tied to the side of it.
  • Flip flops-I heart flippy floppies!  Depending where you are, you may want to wear sandles/flip flops while showering-you do not want someones foot fungus! 
  • Jacket-I have a rain slicking jacket with fleece lining that I am going to use too.  I will just add it to my trunk to have all of the time.  It is getting warmer (yay for summer!), but you never know when you will need it.
What to Add-Hygiene

  • Tampons/Pads-You never know when an emergency will happen
  • Hair ties and bobby pins
  • Brush (you will see a brush/mirror combo that folds together.  The mirror can also be used if you are stranded and need to attract attention)
  • Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Wet wipes-you might not get to take a shower, wipes work wonders!
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tissues (also could double as toilet paper)
  • Toiler Paper-either smoosh it down or take out the inside roll to save space-put in it's own separate ziplock
What to Add-Food
Each day is separated by a ziplock baggie.  The food is meant to contain you over 72 hours, not make you stuffed!  Don't put items that you have to heat up or cook with water since you don't know if a heat source will be available.  Items like ramen, oatmeal, soups or hot chocolate are examples of stuff you shouldn't pack since they need to be heated or cooked.  Also, stay away from items like mint and beef jerky because the flavors absorb and everything will taste like beefy mint! Gross.  And obviously chocolate too since it melts easily. Boo!

I bought tuna packages, Kind Bars and fruit pouches. I know those fruit pouches are for kids, but I figured it was a good snack and added some calories for me.  Also, you will see energy Gu and Beans.  I use them for running all of the time and I figured that if I have been traveling, or I am really tired, they will give me a boost-hey, they worked during my  marathon, I am sure they will work in an emergency situation.  Not pictured:  fruit snacks, oreos, nuts, crackers.

What to Add-Water
  • I have read you need to add 1 gallon of water per day per person to your bag.  Yikes, that is a lot of water!  I am going to have about 3 water bottles plus a nalgene bottles and iodine tablets.  
  • If you are allergic to iodine (if you have a shell fish allergy, then you probably are allergic to iodine), they sell water filters to carry with you that can filter out just about anything, even pond scum and gross stuff like that).
What to Add-Misc
  • Poncho-obvious reasons
  • Whistle-In case you are separated from your family, you can use it to find each other.  Maybe teach your kids a special 'code'?  I don't have kids, but I still plan on having one in case someone is trying to harm me or I need additional help.
  • Compass-The whistle I bought at Wal-Mart ($4) comes with a compass.  I am attaching the whistle/compass to a lanyard for around my neck.
  • Money-I always have a debit card and rarely cash, but when the power is down, cash will get you places.  Small bills (people may not be able to break larger bills) only and about $100 each person. I know that is a lot, but a hotel each night is about $100 plus other things.  I put my money in a ziplock baggie in case it gets wet and then put the ziplock in a travel soap dish.  I only have a few dollars in there right now, but plan on adding more each month to be about $100.
  • Emegency #'s and at least $1 in change-If your phone dies or doesn't work, can you remember peoples #'s?  I put an index card with people's #'s that I would call in an emergency, or if someone found me and needed to call someone, they would have the #'s to call.  I don't have a laminator so I put clear plastic tape on it to make it sturdy.  $1 in change is in case you find a pay phone and need to make a call.
  • Emergency papers-You are supposed to have things like your social security card, birth certificate, passport, mortgage, insurance, etc on you during an emergency, but I wouldn't want to lose the originals.  I keep those locked up and I don't want to carry them around with me.  I might scan them on to an USB stick.  IDK yet.  I wouldn't want to lose that either.  Perhaps have all of those things together and you can grab them as you walk out the door?
  • Plastic Bags-either grocery type bags or ziplocks for trash or something else you might need it for
  • First Aid Kit-Band-aids (buy kids band-aids in case you run across a crying kid who is hurt or if one of yours is hurt-Dora or Spiderman always puts a smile on a face), hydrogen peroxcide, gauze, tweezers, tylenols/pain meds, upset stomach meds, gloves, mask, etc.  I bought a ready made first aid kit.
  • Small Blanket-I sleep better with a blanket and this one was only $2.99 at Academy
  • Pictures-If you are separated from your family you can hold up a picture to see if someone has seen them.  I think this is especially important for families with children.  I would keep one 'nice' family photo and one 'regular' family photo.  I know that I look a whole lot different with makeup and clean/styled hair then I would if I were muddy and sweaty running for my life after 3 days.
  • Pen/Notepad/Post-its-In case you want to write a note telling someone where you went or to label something.
  • Matches/Lighter-Just in case you need to start a fire.  I put mine in a ziplock to keep it waterproof and then a travel soap container.
  • Sharpie-pens can't be seen from a distance as well as a black sharpie and they are more permanent
  • Sunscreen-obvious reasons
  • Flashlight-obvious reasons, especially with who knows what kind of debris that might be laying around that you can't see at night.
  • Local Map-If you can't travel down a road, a map would come in handy.  Streets look different after storms and street signs might not be where they are supposed to be.
  • Pocket Knife/Utility Knife-You never know what you will need to cut or open-plus a lot of them have a can opener attached and that would be one less thing you will have to carry.

Grab and Go Items
These items are stuff you can't necessarily pack easily ahead of time since you need them for everyday use.  Have a list made up that is with your bags that you can quickly grab and go.
  • Medication
  • Pet food/treats/leash/cat carrier
  • Kids favorite item (like blanket or stuffed animal that they take everywhere)
  • Important papers

Kids and Baby Emergency Packs
This blog has a good list for kids and babies . It's just me and a handsome 26 lb cat to worry about, so I don't have to make a kids kit, but having nephews around me, I researched it.  Don't make their packs too heavy, kids are slow and tire easily on a good day, much less carrying a heavy backpack!  In addition to clothes and toiletries from above, you  might consider:
  • Coloring book and map pencils/colored pencils-no crayons in Texas because they will melt! Don't forget a small sharpener if you bring colored pencils.
  • 1-2 small toys without batteries-Can you imagine having to lug around extra batteries, plus anything that makes noise will get old REALLY fast.
  • Diapers/Pull ups-kids have accidents, especially when they are stressed or freaked out, even kids that have been potty trained for awhile.  And having to stop every 5 minutes for each kid to go to the bathroom will not be fun, especially if you are having to get out of the area quickly or stuck in a traffic jam.  We all know  that kids have to go to the bathroom at different times, they never seem to have to go all together when they are away from home.  Maybe even buy some cloth diapers just in case.
  • Card game-or perhaps a word search book to keep their minds off of what is happening
  • Important information-parent contact info (address and phone #), additional family member contact info, where you are going in an emergency, allergy information, note about a reward for safe arrival back to parents.
  • Light Stick/Glow Stick-if it is dark and your kids wonder away, wouldn't it be a lot easier to find them if they had a glow necklace or bracelet?
  • Money-About $20 in 1's and 5's is good for a child (not a toddler).  Maybe some coins attached to a phone # card in case they get separated and can find a pay phone that works.
  • Current Family Picture-I mentioned it earlier, but it is especially important in kids packs.
  • Food-if other kids are as picky as my adorable nephews, it might be hard to find stuff they will like.  Don't put food in their packs that they won't eat or can't open by themselves.  If they get separated from you and can't wait or open the food, what is the point of them lugging it all around?
  • Flashlight-wouldn't you feel safer/more in control with your own personal flashlight?

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