Disaster Prep

We finally heard from our friends in Japan.  They fired up the generator long enough to send out email with pix, but didn’t expect to do it again.  One, because they have to focus on survival.  Two, because they were nearly out of fuel; last week they’d waited in line at the gas station for five hours, only to discover that there was no gas available.

The earthquake made a mess of everything, but their entire family survived.  Fortunately, our friends live on a hill, so their house wasn’t flooded/carried away by the tsunami.  Many in their city weren’t so fortunate.

Now everyone is trying to stay warm  – quite a challenge with snow covering everything.  I’m not going to go on about Japan – the situation has just got me to thinking about what my family would do in an emergency.  A few years ago my older kids made emergency kits for a scouting merit, but the younger kids never did that activity (nor did the adults).  I’ve talked about a family kit, and have some of the supplies, but never actually put them all together in one location where we could access them easily in an emergency.

Water  is the reason I’ve never pulled everything together before now.  The recommendation is always at least one gallon per person for a minimum of three days.  I think about that and ask, “Where would I possibly keep twenty-one gallons of water?”  Then, since I don’t have a water supply (very basic to survival), I sigh and don’t do anything.

Now I look at Japan’s situation and think that I probably ought to figure out a place to store water and a whole lot of other things.  In the past week, I’ve pulled out our lists and have been doing the shopping needed so that we can assemble/update our disaster-preparedness kits.  The list of things for our disaster prep kits, based on space available and what various agencies recommend:

  • emergency radio (this isn’t the one I have, but it’s close – nice to be able to charge the cell phone with it)
  • flashlight (separate from the radio – we have a few hand-crank flashlights, plus a few headlamps+extra batteries)
  • first aid kit
  • toilet paper
  • hand sanitizer
  • seat (Ours has no cartoon characters, and is left over from potty-training days when I carried it in the diaper bag.  This looks more comfortable for adults, but not particularly portable.)
  • unscented baby wipes (better than washcloths when water is limited)
  • blanket
  • emergency blanket (those foil things that take up very little space and can double as a rain-collector)
  • toiletries – comb, toothbrush & toothpaste, soap, etc.
  • walking shoes – not in our packs; hopefully we’d have time to grab shoes
  • complete change of clothes (undies, socks, sweats)
  • clothes for cold weather (long underwear, wool socks, gloves, hat, wool sweater, wool pants, warm windbreaker)
  • clothes for hot weather (lightweight pants, lightweight cotton shirt, cap for shade, sunscreen)
  • compass
  • signal mirror
  • whistle
  • dust masks
  • work gloves
  • water purification tablets
  • bottled water
  • food (zone & trio bars – I’ll add some dried fruit, and am considering something like these meals)
  • mess kit (everyone has their own little plate, small pans, and silverware)
  • fire starting supplies
  • multi-tool
  • camping shovel & saw
  • large plastic garbage bag
  • tarp
  • Emergency Financial First Aid Kit
  • one-month supply prescription medicines
  • Frio – for keeping refrigerated meds cold; note that the product is only rated for 60-72 degrees F, so this technically might not work

The toilet paper and all our clothes are vacuum sealed (separate pouches).  First, to keep them dry.  Second, because they take up significantly less space that way.

My meds are always in one location (the kitchen pantry), and over time I’ve managed to get an extra month’s worth of most of my prescriptions, but I need to change how I handle this.  In a real emergency, I suspect we might not have time to run to the kitchen and grab all those bottles.

Instead of storing them in the kitchen, I’ll be keeping them in my emergency kit.  Every month when I get home from the pharmacy, I’ll put my new meds in my emergency kit; then I’ll take the previous month’s meds and fill my pill boxes.  I don’t have any extra prednisone, and that’s the thing that could make the most dramatic difference if I were to run out, so I’ve added that to my list of things to discuss with my doctor.  I need to either get off the pred, or have some in my emergency kit.

Here’s hoping that you, too, have an emergency/disaster prep kit, and that it’s never needed.