Do you wonder if you can actually ever be prepared for a natural disaster or emergency situation? I know there are many ways that would help me get through the devastation of disasters, would lighten the burden even a little bit, and not only for me, but my kids. Anything to ease the burden that they might feel in an emergency situation is so worth being prepared. I will go over some highlights that may be important to you, as I know they are important to me.
With natural disasters going on around the world, you never know when you might be struck with a devastation that you never thought would happen to you, or maybe you just hoped it never would. Either way, wishing or hoping it doesn’t happen to you is unrealistic and sets you back in being prepared. Watching and reading the news, seeing the devastation around not only the United States, but around the world is just heart wrenching to me.
Recently, there was an out of control fire at Camp Williams that spread into the nearby town of Herriman, Utah. It has been deemed as the “Machine Gun Fire” because it was started by a machine gun at a practice range for soldiers of Camp Williams on the hillside of the mountains. It ignited brush and the fire quickly spread and became out of control, I’m sure the high winds did not help with that outcome, as they were roughly 50 mph; so you can see that it not only became a massive fire, but a dangerous one up and over the ridge to many homes in Herriman. While we have friends and family in Herriman, and that just makes it all the more intense when you care about your loved ones safety and the safety of their homes – regardless of knowing someone in such an emergency, my heart goes out to anyone that has been afflicted by such devastating circumstances.
When I was an elementary school student, we had an assembly with a visit from a fire fighter. I know that many, if not all schools do this for all the students. I think that it can be a great eye opener, as well as a great educational tool for kids who need to understand that fire is not to play with, but also the tools, like an escape plan so we can get out of a house or building. For me however, that assembly really struck a chord with me in that it gave me an anxiety that I deal with to this day. Of course fires in the nature of the “Machine Gun Fire” or even just a house fire itself brings on anxieties whether you had the fear planted in your mind from early on in your childhood. But, I get literally nauseated from these events that take place, as well as anxiety symptoms such as tightening of the chest and feeling as if I cannot breathe. This is how I was feeling during the events of the fire through the night over the massive fire in Herriman. When I was a child, after that educational fire assembly, one of the many things I did was check the outlets nightly and unplug them because of possible fires being started there. I do not unplug the outlets anymore, but I still have anxieties over things such as this. It just truly scared me, and again, to this day I still deal with those extra anxieties, but if I turn those anxieties into something productive like becoming prepared, I overall feel better.
This is the thing that has helped me the most, doing what I can to be prepared, and while right now if we were affected by some sort of natural disaster where we needed to evacuate, I do not feel completely prepared – but I have at least taken some steps and that is better than nothing. I do have some ideas up my sleeve that will help not only my fears and anxieties, but it may help you as well if you are in need of some guidance to getting prepared for a disaster in your home or area. It really helps you get into action of what you would do in such a situation, if you had time to get some items out of your home, what would you take, and how, and what would be the easiest way to get it into your car and get out of harms way?
Right now, we have at least a 72-hour kit for the size of our family nestled inside of a red backpack and a container of first aid supplies. The 72-hour kit was not a pre-made one, of which you can get, but this one I did to what I felt our family would need the most. You can usually get the backpacks at an emergency preparedness store, however, I got mine inexpensive at Walmart in the camping isle. I picked red because red is generally an “alert” color. Something that is a neutral color, you may not find as quickly even if you have it stored in a specific spot for your emergency supplies. We do have a 50 gallon water container, that sadly sits empty, but I would really like to get a crate of some sort for it to sit on. I hear that if you put it directly on say the concrete of your garage, the water will eventually absorb the taste of the concrete into your water. So, a crate apparently helps alleviate that problem. If you do store water, you should make sure to have water purification tablets on hand, and a siphon to get the water out of your large container. One of the many items that is currently in our 72-hour backpack are Mayday emergency water pouches, these have a 5-year shelf life. A number one item that people want out of their homes are their photos. I do not see lugging album after album into your car to be something that would be feasible if you were in a hurry. Something that I have done over a period of time is get an account online for one of my back-ups to our pictures, such as Shutterfly. The other thing that I would like to do is put all of our memorable pictures, as well as pictures of our household inventory on a memory card; and then put that memory card in what we would call our “Red File”. Which, I am going to be doing here in the very near future.
What is a “Red File” and what do you need? What you need is a Red folder of some kind, if you do a folder, my suggestion would be a plastic one that can hold not only your important documents, but those memory cards and anything else that is not massive to put into this folder or a binder that indicates that it is your families Red File. But it would be one more peace of mind to have a grab-and-go file for evacuation purposes and also for other emergencies such as fire, flood, etc. Documents that have been suggested to me through a ward (church) project to copy for your “Red File” would be:
Family and friend phone numbers
Family birth certificates
Adoption, custody, and foster care records
Social Security cards
List of bank accounts – bank name, account number, routing numbers, and pin numbers
List of credit cards – including contact information
Pink slips for all family autos – include information with license plate # and VIN #
Automobile insurance policy and agent contact information
Home insurance or Renters Insurance Policy
Home purchase records including deeds, and mortgage records
Copies of health and life insurance policies
Professional certificates, diplomas, certificates or honor
Will and Testaments, trust documents, etc.
Living Will documents
A household inventory in digital photos, put them on a memory card, CD, or DVD.
Non-documented essentials would include:
Family photos, not only on your memory card, CD, or DVD, but actual photos of your family, including pets – group and individual photos. You will need these if you get separated from one another during an emergency. Keep them in a plastic bag to preserve them from the elements of weather.
In a plastic bag, perhaps stapled to the inside of your “Red File” include a house key, mail key, safe deposit box key, office key, etc.
A great website for additional information on what would be suggestions for your emergency Red File is www.iwillprepare.com.
Something else I always think about is what would be important for the kids to take if we were in an evacuation setting. Both my kids have blankets and a stuffed animal that they are fond of. It would probably be the only thing they would be able to take.
I also think about a suggestion I heard, I think from a family member at one time about doing emergency bags for each child especially if you had to leave in the middle of the night. What could you put in these bags for them, or even one for yourself? An extra pair of socks, a pair of shoes, an outfit – jeans, a shirt, underwear, jacket, and flashlight would be an example. Putting it near their bed or by a window if they needed to leave through their window. For along time now I have thought that every night it would just be comforting for me to put a diaper bag of some sort near our bed or front door. Just with some miscellaneous items that would help our little family get out quickly, and not have to scramble for the items needed if we could not get to a store, such as diapers, wet wipes, change of clothes for the kids, anti-bacterial cleaner, and so on.
If there is an emergency that affects your area, generally the phone lines will be down, or your cell phone is not going to be much use as the lines are pretty jammed within your own area. It is a good idea to have a plan set that everyone in your family knows about regarding a person or person(s) that you can call out-of-state as a touch base person for family and/or friends. This will ultimately help you if you are separated from your families and other loved ones who are wondering how you are doing and if you are okay.
I also think about what if you are not at home and are unable to get to your emergency preparedness supplies to take with you? Is there someone nearby, a family member or friend who would be willing to store a back-up pack that you put together for you and your family in their home?
What are some other ways to prepare for disasters? Another project that I am doing with my church soon is a hygiene kit, this would benefit you if your sewer lines are broken – you should never flush the toilet as this could cause back-up problems or allow sewage to contaminate the ground water. This kit is portable, so it can go along with you if you need it. Here is what is needed:
Toilet Seat (plastic)
At least 2 Toilet Paper Rolls
16 Plastic Bags
1 Bottle of Hand Sanitizer
3 Digester/Deodorizer Packets
Other items to consider:
Bath Wipes, Moist Towelettes, Soap
Comb, Brush, Hair Accessories, Q-Tips, Tissue Pack
Deodorant, Lotion, Make-Up
Razor, Shaving Cream
Many of the above items could also be added to your 72-hour emergency kit. One of my favorite places to get emergency essentials at an inexpensive price is at Shelf Reliance. If you are concerned about the environment with say toilet paper, Shelf Reliance has what is called Bio-wipe toilet paper, it is 100% biodegradable paper. The other thing they have, if you are not knowing what kind of bucket to get for your hygiene kit, Shelf Reliance has a bucket and bucket seat cover as well. Our 72-hour kit was purchased from Shelf Reliance, one that was not pre-done, but one that I put together and bought my own red backpack for all the emergency gear that would fit the needs of our family the best.
The other thing that I love about Shelf Reliance is their food storage. Having gone to their warehouse before, they have samples of their food storage and it is rather tasty. I have come across so many that are just so bland and while you may be in an emergency and not really caring what the food tastes like, it does give the added bonus, especially if you are going to be eating your food storage items for a lengthy period of time. I also love that they have food storage recipes, rotation planner, emergency kit planner, etc.
Is one of your concerns that you may not have any room for food storage? That would be a problem we face in the condo we live in. I know of people putting their food storage in their master bedroom closets, and I think that is fabulous, if that works for them. But we literally have no room. A suggestion might be for you to store your food storage elsewhere, such as your parent’s house as it could be the “base” to where you will be heading to with other family or friends.
I know that many are concerned about the cost of being prepared, because it can get expensive, but no one said you have to do it all at once. Starting somewhere and a little at a time is better than nothing. It is so much better to be prepared for your family and for yourself. It is better to have some sort of peace of mind that you have these items than potentially losing them all. And it is better to have emergency items needed, such as a 72-hour kit that provides for your family if you are unable to get to a shelter, or to food in a timely manner. Many of these items are very inexpensive, and is one of the first places I started our preparation for the event of any kind of emergency.