Ready or not – it may happen. What exactly ”it” is?…I’m not sure.
Way back in 2004, September was declared National Preparedness Month. The preparedness initiative is especially intended to encourage residents of high-risk regions to be prepared for whatever natural disaster may occur in their area – earthquake, tornado, hurricane. But the call for preparedness reaches far beyond forces of nature – catastrophic events, such as The Blackout of 2003, September 11th and Hurricane Sandy, have required everyone to redefine the word “disaster”. Truth is – in today’s world, everyone everywhere should be prepared for the unexpected.
Whether your home is located on a fault line or in the middle of nowhere, it’s important to have some level of preparedness. That’s what preparedness month is all about: Taking time to make sure you equip yourself with a plan – just in case. No need to build a bomb shelter or plan for an apocalypse. Just take some time to tuck away a few emergency essentials for yourself, your family and your piece of mind.
Basic Stash, including cash
Think of it as emergency swag – pack it up now and forget about it until you need it. If the day ever comes, you will be ready. Trust me – you will thank yourself a million times over for making the effort.
Assembling a disaster stash sounds like a big deal and a big job, but it’s so not. It’s as simple as three containers. Plan for seven days of water and food for each family member, including pets.
1) Water ~ one gallon per person per day, change the supply every six months
2) Food ~ non-perishables. Check-out places like readystore.com for ideas, including MRE’s (meals ready to eat) with a shelf-life of more than three years.
3) Supplies ~ waterproof flash light, waterproof matches, small tool kit, phone chargers, batteries, etc.
~ Head lamp: Enables you to keep hands free to complete tasks
~ Cash: OMG, yes! Why? Power outages render credit cards and ATMs useless. BTW make it small bills – not many places will be able to provide change for large bills.
~ Radio: Battery or hand-crank. Without a phone, TV or internet, it’s your window to the world.
~ Personal documentation: Copies of personal documentation – birth certificates, insurance policies, proof of address, along with a list of emergency numbers and contacts, pertinent medical info, medication lists, etc. Keep these all in a Ziploc bag inside the basics kit.
~ First-aid kit: Most useful if fully stocked…
Remember, once you pack your stash, don’t touch it – with the exception of replacing expired items. This will ensure you are always fully stocked.
Beyond Band-aids: Putting the “aid” in a First Aid Kit
Bottom-line: Make sure you have one. For a complete list of recommended contents, refer to the list provided by The American Red Cross. Better yet, buy one already assembled. Don’t forget to include hand sanitizer and instant cold packs. You’re not a candy striper? Take the guesswork out of treating injuries by throwing in a first aid manual.
Super Important Note: Include seven days worth of your personal medications, as well as necessary medical equipment, like a glucometer or blood pressure monitor if required for a family member. Ask your healthcare provider for assistance in acquiring additional meds to keep in your kit. Think insulin, blood pressure meds, seizure meds and asthma inhalers….
Here’s why: Pharmacies are not permitted to ‘stockpile’ medications, so they only have a certain amount of certain medication in stock on any given day. During a state of emergency, people are usually caught unprepared, then they rush to the pharmacist to request refills on prescription medications. As a result, pharmacies run out of things quickly, and depending on the circumstances, they may not be able to restock what you need for days. Keeping an emergency supply of your meds with your first-aid kit is genius life-saving planning.
Leave the cannoli, take your pet!
Don’t forget Fido. ALWAYS take your pet if you are evacuated. Also, plan ahead for the kitty and for the pooch.
2) Back-up plan – someone who is capable and willing to retrieve and keep your pet for you, in the event disaster strikes while you are not at home. Not all shelters accept pets. Think about your options now and have a plan in place.
3) Pet food and pet meds need to be included in your supplies
For more animal preparedness tips check out the ASPCA website for preparedness.
Cover Your Bases
Emergency home stash? Check! Now, what if you aren’t home when the chaos hits the fan? Keeping a small kit at work and in the car is smart planning that would put MacGyver to shame.
Work and car kits should both include: Small waterproof flashlight, small radio, batteries and a small first-aid kit. There are additional unconventional items it wouldn’t hurt to add…
Shoes: Comfortable walking shoes. You may need to walk a long way to safety thru God knows what…
Dust Mask: To filer out dust and debris.
Change of clothes
Water and energy bars
Shovel, ice scraper and kitty litter or sand – for traction on ice
Disaster? Yes, there’s an app for that.
The American Red Cross and FEMA both have free apps that provide a wealth of information, such as what to do before, during and after a disaster. The American Red Cross has different apps for different disasters – including earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes. The FEMA app has one-stop app-ing, with a drop down menu containing info about common natural disasters, as well as volcanoes, landslides and terrorism.
Seriously, this is simple stuff. Take an afternoon to make a list and go to Costco, Home Depot or wherever. Don’t wait for the weather advisory followed by a rush on AA batteries and jugs of water. Better to have your emergency swag in place and not need it, than to need emergency swag and not have it. No one plans on disasters happening, they just happen. So, prepare ye self, for they are wicked.