Emergency Preparedness Kit
I don’t talk about it very often, but when I was growing up we lost our home to an earthquake, and then again years later to fire. I kept getting prompts at my work (I am a nurse) to make emergency preparedness kits and would X out of the prompt and internally roll my eyes. It felt so unnecessary. Only until our electricity went out recently and I was home alone with the baby and couldn’t see ANYTHING did I finally think “ I need an emergency kit!” I have since done some research and have put together the most cost-effective list of essential items to have in your kit. We have our stored in a clear bin right now, but it’s probably a better idea to keep these items in a backpack.
1. All important documents and CASH: Originals of social security cards, birth certificates, and any other important original documents. This also makes it easier to find them when you need them! You can also make copies and have them in a second location (like your desk, etc.). Make a list of important phone numbers written out in case your phone dies or you don’t have it. When the power goes out regionally (it happened when I lived in San Diego), no one can use credit/debit cards. It’s important to have a decent amount of cash ($200 if possible) available in case you need the real stuff.
2. LIGHTS. I got a combination of sale votive candles at Target and had purchased these battery operated votives on Amazon. Those are really nice for when the electricity goes out, but a flashlight/lantern is best for any situation where you may need to leave the home. I got a combination of both. I think most brands are fine and there isn’t a big need to buy something particular. (I also like to use the battery operated votives for our outdoor movie nights).
3. Medications/First Aid: If you take important medications (for blood pressure or epilepsy, for example) it’s a great idea to have at least a week’s worth in your kit. Otherwise, bottles of Tylenol and Advil are convenient to have, along with a few bandaids and gauze.
4. Batteries: make sure you have batteries for whatever light options you packed.
5. Water Source: Some websites recommend bottled water (which is fine to pack a few bottles), but they are heavy. I found the Life Straw on Amazon (and the Life Straw water bottle, below), which allow you to drink dirty water and it filters out “99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, and 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites without chemicals, iodine or batteries.” It allows you to drink contaminated tap water or water from natural water bodies without becoming sick.
6. Phone Batteries: I found the Popcharger at a shop. They are 5 hours of battery life (one time use) that plug right into your phone. In emergencies, you usually want to contact family and access the internet for updates, both of which require battery.
7. Food. This one is tricky because most bars expire within a year, so you will want to note the expiration date and replace periodically. I have a vivid memory of having vienna sausages and fruit snacks in my emergency kit at school in first grade, but I have upgraded for some Clif Bars. Pack some pouches of fish and/or the pull-tab cans of chicken. Little packs of nuts and beef jerky are also good to grab and go. Be sure to have a bottle of formula if you have a baby (and an extra pack of diapers).
8. Don’t forget the little friends!!! Make sure you have enough baby food, diapers, and pet food for at least 3 days.
I don’t blame you if it takes awhile to get around to making an emergency kit, I also hate spending money on something that I don’t ‘for sure need’. However, I do highly recommend it! It will be invaluable to you if you ever need to use it.
IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to have an emergency preparedness plan with your family. Designate a meeting place if everyone gets separated (both in the neighborhood and in the city. Appoint an out-of-town friend of family member to be the command leader in a natural disaster (everyone should check in with that person). Make sure the kids know how to call 911 and your address. Act out an exit plan if there is a fire in the house (walk through where the exists are in your house). Act out what you will do if there in an earthquake (DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON, stay in bed if you are there, don’t go outside until shaking stops). You can find more info at www.ready.gov.
Hopefully you won’t ever need to use the kit, but you will feel so much better knowing you are prepared!! Please let me know if you have any other recommendations, I’m always working on our kit.