Tuesday, June 5, 2012

First Aid Kit

Do you have your 3-day disaster kit ready in case of emergency? Do you know where it is? =) Is there enough for each member of your family?

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.
There are other things you could pack, too, but there's only so much you can carry. I hope this gets you started on at least a basic kit. This is all a process, not an event. You aren't going to complete everything in one day. Get things together as you can, and whatever you have gathered is better than if you gathered nothing!

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.

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