September is National Preparedness Month and in honor of that I want to discuss something a bit different from the norm. As the Household Manager safety is one of the departments I oversee. 😉
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Many people hear terms like ‘bug out bag’, ‘go bag’, or ‘get out of dodge bag’ and immediately give that side smile and begin thinking “Oh, you’re one of those people…”. That’s when I smile back politely and think “Yeah, I’m one of those people…the prepared type.“.
Let me ask you some questions.
Do you have insurance? Yes? So you are prepared if you are in an automobile accident, if your home was broken into, or if you have a medical emergency. Right?
Do you keep some medicine or band-aids on hand? Yes? So you are prepared if you get a headache, or if someone gets a cut. Right?
Do you have a protection plan for your mobile phone, or large appliances? Yes? So you are prepared if these items no longer worked and you have a backup solution. Right?
You are already a prepared type of person. Creating a family emergency kit is just one more level of being prepared. Hopefully, you will never need it. Just as I hope you never need the other assurances mentioned above. However, not having an emergency kit when you need it would be the worst case scenario. Being prepared can allow you a certain level of peace in a panic situation.
I have been thinking back to when we first started keeping our family emergency kits and it really surprises me how long it has been since we packed that first bag. I can remember our oldest son was an infant when my husband began proposing the idea of us becoming better prepared as a family for emergency situations. Oh gosh, I remember thinking “Yeah…we should really have a few fire extinguishers in the house”… We all have to start somewhere.
As my hubs started to dive right in to researching water supplies, home protection, and meals ready to eat. I was standing there holding an infant pondering things like formula, diapers and a screaming baby. I was thinking why would I possibly invest in a ‘survival bag’ that is supposed to keep my family alive for 72 hours in a hypothetical emergency situation. Then I looked into my arms. How could I not?
This isn’t for a doomsday prediction sort of situation. This is for survival during an emergency situation. I imagine that somewhere around you recently there have been floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, evacuation, power outages, or any other type of emergency situation. Not long ago we had a mandatory evacuation occur in our town at around 3:00 am, neighborhoods were closed off and evacuations were required immediately. That was a very unexpected moment when I was so glad we were prepared.
If at this very moment, sirens went off near your home or an officer came to your door saying you needed to evacuate, would you be ready to walk out of the door immediately? Or would you begin to panic thinking of everything you needed to gather together in order for your family to be away from your home for an indeterminable amount of time?
Family Emergency Kit
My opinion is that most children can carry a small pack of some sort. Even if it only has 3-4 small items in it. I do suggest that everyone’s pack carry their own bare necessity survival essentials, in case anyone were to get separated.
Something very important to remember is that having SOMETHING prepared is better than NOTHING. Don’t worry about having fancy or expensive gear. Most of these things below you probably already have around the house. Many of the items can be added or upgraded as the opportunity arises for you.
The Golden Rule: Two is One, and One is None.
*Remember this rule throughout most of your packing. You should always have more than one option for each essential survival items. Many items can double for other uses too.
This list is for a 72 hour emergency survival period.
- Bag – There are many opinions on which bag is best. If this is your first emergency kit put together, here is my opinion. Use what bag you have. You can do your research and upgrade later. Remember that this bag will be what holds your emergency kit together, so eventually getting a quality and durable bag is best. Make sure a bag is comfortable to each member of the family for their wearing needs. If you are expecting, or have a new infant, I can’t stress enough how having a designated wrap/carrier for baby will take a lot of stress off of everyone. Your hands will be free and the closeness in what will be a high stress situation will help soothe baby. For older babies/toddlers, you may want to consider a combination child carrier backpack. (You can always buy used and resell when your child is passed this age).
WATER & FOOD
- Water – You need 1 gallon per person/per day. That is the recommendation based on 2 quarts for drinking and 2 quarts for food preparation and sanitation. We have water bladder’s and I highly recommend them for water-to-go. They even have kid sizes that carry nearly 2 quarts also. It makes carrying (and drinking) water much easier, but you can certainly use whatever is on hand. Such as, canteen’s or water bottles.
- Bring alternative ways to purify water – Filter tablets and filter straws are great ideas. Even bringing along a bottle with a medicine dropper of household chlorine bleach can be used in sticky circumstances. *Remember the golden rule above? Always have alternative routes, especially with water.
- Food – You need a minimum of three days of food per person. Some good examples are MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat), Protein and Granola bars. The simplest is to pack food that doesn’t perish quickly and requires little to no extra effort to eat.
- Cooking Tin & Silverware – If you are just putting your bag together go ahead and throw a spoon in there and a small pot you rarely use. You could even buy from the dollar store. As you upgrade, you may want to consider a set (spork & pot) that you can carabine to the outside of your bag. *The small pot could also be used to purify water by boiling over a fire.
- Fire – Waterproof matches, lighter, fire strikers, and kindling. Keep all of this in a waterproof bag or box. Have multiple ways to start a fire and multiple kindling options. Kindling can be wood shavings, dryer lint, sawdust, etc.
- Clothing – Pack a complete set of clothing for each person. As the seasons change, I recommend going through your pack every 3-6 months, update clothing as needed. Extra pairs of socks and undergarments may be a good idea also. Put your clothing in a zip lock bag. This will keep it dry from the elements and the bag can be useful for other needs as well.
- Work Gloves – Protect yourself. No use in getting a splinter or cut to have to deal with.
- Bandana – Many uses. Most practical is that it can be used to cover your mouth and nose to protect breathing in certain situations.
- Sewing Kit – You can pick these up in most dollar spots. For the obvious mending of buttons and clothes, but a sewing kit can be very handy in many instances.
- First Aid – Gauze, alcohol wipes, bandages, ointment, adhesive tape, aspirin, anti-diarrhea, tweezers, gloves, foil blanket, oral thermometer, etc.
- Bug Spray
- Hand Sanitizer – *In rough situations, can be used as a fire starter also.
- Prescriptions – Be sure to keep an updated supply of any family prescriptions in your bag.
- Flashlight – Flashlight, LED head lamp, glow sticks, etc.
- Radio – A hand crank would be best, but battery-powered is just fine to start with.
- Utility Knife
- Fishing Kit – You can usually find these in a fairly small kit. You can also create your own using a small compartment box.
- Paracord – Has so many uses.
- Carabiners – Have some extra hanging on the outside of your pack. Like paracord they have many uses.
- Duct Tape
- Compact Shovel
- Survival Knife – This can follow the path of the bag. Everyone has a different opinion on the best knife to carry. My opinion is that it be of good size, fixed blade and work for many different situations.
- Pen & Pencil
- Cash – Small bills in a zip lock bag. If you are able to get to a hotel or other shelter, this may come in handy for supplies or any other needs. Electricity may be out or your local bank branch down.
- Identity Papers & Insurance Copies
- Maps – It is very common in an emergency situation that cell towers are jammed. GPS may not work. You may want to consider less traveled road ways during an evacuation. Always have maps of at least your immediate local area, but consider an atlas or surrounding state maps. *Can also lead you to water
- Water Proof Tarp: Possibly a coil of rope as well. Can be made into a quick pup tent shelter. Just a tarp itself will have many uses.
- Whistle – Everyone’s pack in your family should have a security whistle. You could even go over call signals, each person has their own signal. Set a specific distress signal.
- Solar Charger – If electricity is out, but you are still able to use mobile devices you will want a solar charger. Even if you are in a shelter there most likely will not be outlets for all. *You can also combine this item with your radio & flashlight using a product like this.
- Wet Wipes – This is a survival tool I carry daily. 😉
- Toilet paper – I’m a bit iffy on this one. However, I feel for some it should be included on the list. I think wet wipes covers this area. If you are in a provided shelter, they will have you covered on this, and if you are in the woods…well nature will have you covered on this. But to each their own.
- Pocket Mirror – For hygiene, but in a pinch can be used for signaling or even fire starting.
- Oral – Toothbrushes and paste
- Optical – Contacts and/or glasses
- Body – Soap
- Formula – You can either stock a sealed can (powder only), or they have single packets that are pre-measured. I always kept a weeks worth of the packets in my pack. If breastfeeding, be sure to bring any items you may need as well. Such as, pads or soothing cream.
- Diapers – Cloth or Disposable make sure you are prepared for at least 3 days to a week. Diaper rash cream and baby powder.
- Medical – Infant/Children’s medication (Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc.), teething tablets or gel, and some single powder packets of pedialyte.
- Activity/Comfort Item – Another debatable item in the preparedness community. However, I fall on the side of take them. If there is room and the items are small, then the comfort and help to your child in a scary situation outweighs all arguments. A stuffed animal, small baby toy, matchbox cars, small doll, bag of legos, small notepad and a few crayons, or even just a deck of cards are a few ideas.
Here are the advantages preparedness can bring to a family.
- Survival skill knowledge for all, especially children. Presented in a non-threatening way. Just a simple here is what our needs are and here is how to achieve them.
- Faster evacuation. Knowing you can be first ready and first out.
- Not stuck in a shelter with nothing, waiting on others to guarantee your survival. To be honest, knowing that in some situations you could continue on past most people and reach a more comfortable temporary situation. (hotel, family or friends home)
- Providing some level of comfort and calm in what may be a very unsure and scary situation.
- An outdoor family activity. Take your packs and go on a day hike or even camping. Learn to use what you have.
What are your thoughts on preparing a family emergency kit? Are there some items you think I missed that you keep in your kit?