Do you know when the best time is to plan for an emergency or a crisis?
When you’re not in the middle of one, that’s when.
Would you be ready if the police knocked on your door and said “you have 5 minutes to gather your things and evacuate“? And by ready, I mean your emergency plan and supplies are already in place and all you have to do is swoop them up and get in your car? And not just in place but in place and able to sustain you and your family for at least 72 hours?
If your answer was “no” or “not really” please make this a top priority. Emergency preparedness is only effective if it’s prepared. And if you think it could never happen to you, maybe you’re right – maybe it won’t. But I’ve met too many folks that it did happen to and they all felt the same way – a little preparation could have gone a long way.
Here are plans and things you should have ready when you NEED to be ready.
A Plan - This may seem obvious but you need to have a plan. What do we do if there’s a tornado? Which room do we go to if there is no basement? What do we do if we’re not together? How do we get in touch if there’s no power or cell coverage? You can’t possibly think of every single scenario, but you can cover the ones common to your area. Then you need to take it to the next step and practice it. Remember fire and tornado drills when you were in school? There’s a reason they did that. So when the time came, the amount of panic and chaos would be reduced and everyone would be safe.
Emergency Food Kit - You can either build these yourself or order them from companies online. I have an acquaintance who runs a company called GoPicnic and they have a great assortment of RTE meals that taste great. Perfect for many instances but especially your “go bag”. Essentially, you need enough food and water for every member of your house to use for a minimum of 72 hours if you’re evacuating or 2 weeks if you are home-bound. The Red Cross recommends this - Water—one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home) and Food—non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home). You should also make sure you have a can opener for the cans. If you have a pet, you’ll need to remember them as well.
Clothing - Pack a duffel bag that has clothing for each member of the family. Make sure you swap the clothes out at season change. This ensures that you’re not wearing shorts when it’s snowing AND that Junior isn’t stuck with 2T pants when he’s really a 5. Again, you should have enough in there for at least 3-5 days.
Money - Don’t assume that ATM’s will be available. What if there’s a citywide power outage or they’ve been
drained of all their cash? Have at least $200 in cash and I’d even recommend a prepaid card loaded with a few hundred dollars just in case the only thing you CAN grab is your emergency kit. This will get you to the next town that hopefully does have power.
A First Aid Kit - Again, you can buy a ready to go First Aid on-line kit but if you’re building your own, these are the recommended items for a family of four. You should also make sure that you haveany necessary medications for family members.
Flashlight, radio and batteries - We are so dependant on our connected lives that many of us wouldn’t know how to function should all of that be gone. Go to the store. Buy a battery operated radio and put it in your waterproof container that holds everything else. Throw in a set of walkie-talkies, too. While you’re at it, get a couple of those nifty solar-powered phone chargers.
Distractions – If your car is like mine, you probably have books, markers and other toys thrown on the ground, but go ahead and fill a duffel bag full of things to distract the kids. Go to the dollar store and pick up some new things to put in there as well. Believe me – this is going to be one time that you will want them occupied.
Tools and Materials for Emergency Repairs: You don’t need to be ready for a full-scale remodeling project but you do need some basics. What if a tree branch falls and breaks a window? In the middle of summer it’s an annoyance, in the middle of a winter outage it’s a giant icy hole to the outside world that will drop the temperature of your home below freezing in a matter of hours. Some heavy-duty plastic sheeting and duct tape might not have the insulation value of a triple-pane window but it will keep hot air from drafting right out into your yard.
You don’t have to build your kit all at once. Each time you go to the grocery store of big box store, pick up a few things and add them to your waterproof container. Put the container somewhere in your house where you can quickly get to it when needed. If you are forced to evacuate your home, believe me you’re not going to have a lot of time to get out.
Remember a small amount of planning now yields a lot of comfort later. The last thing you want to deal with during an emergency is not being prepared.