These are questions I had to think about when I attended two Emergency Preparedness fairs in this last year. I've worked hard on food storage, and I'm doing okay there, though it isn't complete, but there are a lot of other things to think about. A disaster could be a tornado (such as hit in Chattanooga a few months ago) or a flood (which we had in low areas of East Tennessee in the last few months), or maybe a hurricane or earthquake, if you live in areas prone to those things. It could be a forest fire like the one that raged behind my friend's California home in 2007:
The last post I did on this, in May, had very long lists of things that could be helpful. Most of the time, 3 days is the most we have to be away, but sometimes, it will be more. Still, if we are prepared with a 72-hour "bug-out" bag for each family member, we'll be in better shape than most people evacuating. So what should be in it? This is the light version.
I suggest starting with a backpack the size each family member can carry. Mom and Dad may have to carry extras for little ones, but you can figure that part out on your own.
- Towels, blankets and sleeping bags (there are some very compact sizes of things that will work just fine for the blankets and sleeping bags, thanks to the space program)
- Battery powered radio - and batteries for it! You want one with the NOAA stations which broadcast updates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. redcrossstore.org has a good one for about $35
- Sanitary supplies - I suggest wet ones or baby wipes. Toilet paper and female needs should be included, too.
- Paperwork - photocopies, not originals, of passports, insurance papers and legal papers, including in-case-of legal papers
- Extra cash - about $150-200, but don't have it all in twenties! Have a lot of small bills and at least $5 in change. People aren't going to give change in an emergency! Leave this cash in your kit at all times, in a hidden pocket or maybe in a box of bandaids.
- Water - you're going to need a gallon per person per day, and you can't carry that. Have at least one 20 oz. bottle in your backpack, but have a 24-pack of bottles you can grab if you have to evacuate in your car, and maybe a water-filtration system if you are lucky enough to be where there is water that could be cleaned that way.
- First-aid kit - check the red cross store again, or other preparedness centers. Don't forget any medications you have to take every day. For safety, keep at least a week's supply and change it every year. Don't forget contact lenses!
- Clothing - this could be old clothes you planned to donate, but be sure there are extra socks and comfortable shoes. Foot injuries are the most common injuries in disasters!
- Food - Non-perishable items and lightweight, things that can be eaten without cooking, i.e., energy bars, pop-top canned foods, high-nutrition drinks in boxes. Check your local dollar store for inexpensive snacks and things that would provide energy and nutrition, both. Don't forget the family pet!
- Maps of your area - that smartphone will run out of energy, or the system could be unavailable!
- Clorox wipes - great for disinfecting surfaces
- Necessities such as flashlights (and I suggest the small wind-up flashlights - a few seconds of turning gets you an hour of light! about $5) matches, one of those all-purpose Winchester or Leatherman tools with knives, saws, pliers, etc. that pull out, sunscreen, extra car and house keys, travel cell phone charger - car and wall, if possible.
In case you don't have to evacuate, but there are other issues, find out where your gas, electric and water shut-offs are to the house. Have the proper tools available for getting those shut off. It could save your life and/or your house.