As we are days away from Hurricane Florence pummeling us with rain and wind here in the Charlotte area, I thought it was a great time to talk about emergency preparedness.
I’ve always been a big fan of being prepared. There is a sense of security and comfort knowing there’s one less thing we have to stress about during those high-octane moments in our lives. There are many, many articles and websites you can utilize to help your family get to that comfort level called preparedness. I will have resource links at the end of the article.
The unfortunate part of an emergency preparedness list is that it can’t apply to every person and every family. It’ll take some extra work on your part to customize the list to suit your family’s needs. As an example, we currently have one toddler, 2 kittens, and 1 cat (plus my husband and myself). So a total of 6 entities that I must prepare for.
Due to having “babies” (2 kittens and a toddler) our list changes frequently and is usually not upkept well. Bad on my part, but I find it frustrating to have to remember to change out the size of diapers in my little girl’s bag every couple months. Ugh! So I just don’t do it. I do a quick update about a week out for big storms, and I am always checking the weather for storms. Mind you, I am not checking to see if something will happen, I just love the weather and some days am planning to be out and about. Weather patterns is just something I’ve always enjoyed tracking.
Things we always have on hand, however, are simple things in case of power loss for one day (ish, it can be stretched), such as canned foods and water. Of course when planning a simple power loss, the list gets very stretchy on what we keep on-hand. We do not live in an area where natural disasters occur often (if at all) so I’ve been really loose on keeping up the to-go bags.
As a general rule of thumb, a 72-hour kit should be ready to walk out the door at a moments notice. I do try to keep our first aid kit packed with unexpired items so it can be grabbed on the way out the door. I also keep our legal documents all together in a carry binder (it’s an accordion one) alongside some of my irreplaceable original artwork and a handful of mementos.
So What About Your List?
Our list is fairly simple, and your’s should be, too. Break down the list into individual members of your family, pets included. The only pets that are an exception to this are fish (in my opinion anyway) as I feel they are not a “grab and go” pet. Also include large animals if you have any, such as horses, pigs, cows, etc., in your list.
Your 72-hour bag should be updated every 6 months (or sooner, depending upon your climate). If you have roughly 6 months of snow-free weather, the beginning of that season should be cooler clothing so you don’t overheat and the snowy season would have warm clothing. It makes sense, but sometimes a reminder is necessary!
I found this great [eafl id=”1021″ name=”72-Hour Kit Bag” text=”72-Hour Kit, Ready to go bag”] for $70! I would gladly buy one of these over creating my own. I don’t have to go find a backpack that will fit all my stuff in it.There are plenty of reasons, that’s just the best one for me. I don’t have a whole lot of time, but I will spend the same amount of money finding and buying the individual items.
Prepare a bag for each family member, or combine into larger bags to include children (that can’t carry their own bag) and pets. Each human family member should have (at the very least):
- At least one change of clothes
- A few snacks, high in protein such as trail mix
- Extra change of underwear and socks, especially if you are dealing with rain/wet conditions
- Sturdy pair of shoes (again, this could be the extra if you are dealing with rain/wet conditions)
- Rain gear AND umbrellas (if you don’t own rain coats, a coat that you would wear in the snow or heavy jackets will work, although temporarily)
- Thermal underwear if you live in a climate with frequent snow
- Travel games (such as checkers or connect-4) or a book, to keep you busy while everything is offline
Special needs for humans (including children):
- Baby formula/powdered milk (if you breastfeed then you could bring a battery-operated pump with extra batteries)
- Toys for older children (things that don’t need batteries, sorry!)
- Diapers (the number will vary based on age and need, my daughter at 20 months can go through up to 5 diapers a day, so I just multiply that by the number of days I expect we’ll be out, plus one)
- Don’t forget the wipes for those soiled diapers! Ew!
- Prescription medication, be sure to refill before a storm in case of low supply
- Extra glasses or contact lenses and solution
- Denture needs
Prepare a small bag, or include in your own bag, animal family members needs:
- Gallon-size baggie of dry food, or break it down into sandwich baggies to portion control
- Blanket to wrap your animal up in, for warmth AND comfort. A towel can also be used.
- This is especially important for cats as it also helps you hold them in case you are forced to.
- Kennels or carriers for your pets to ensure their safety.
- REMEMBER: Your pet WILL try to RUN! It is pure instinct for all animals to flee before a storm. They know it’s coming! Your pet will be on edge and it is up to you to help keep your pet as calm as you can.
- Toys for pets
- Pre-plan routes for larger animals so you know a primary and secondary route and where your destination will be. Be sure the trailer to haul these animals and the vehicle pulling are in good condition to make the trip. You don’t want to get stuck!
- Locate pet-friendly hotels you can stay at, or family/friends. Most shelters do not allow animals, so you will need to find your own shelter.
Your first aid kit is a very essential part of your 72-hour kit. I will not go over every individual item because it is very extensive. You’ll be able to find plenty in the resources below for this. When you update your bags every 6-months, it is important to note the expiration dates on things in your first aid kit. Some items will need to be replaced every few years. A simple way to keep track would be to make a chart with the name and expiration date, then stash it on the very top of your first aid kit so you can just check it quickly. This will help you inventory what you have on hand, as well.
Food Storage and Water
Keeping food for 3 days per person can be a large amount of food depending on your family size. A simple way to do this (and more compact) is MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat). Each family will be different in this aspect so I won’t list off anything. I would have to make a super-duper long list just to cover the basics! Ha!
As for water, we keep at least one 24-pack of water bottles on hand so there is more portion control when consuming. We also have a 5-gallon jug for whatever we may need it for, whether it be drinking or washing. We have a water cooler in our home (yes, just like the one in your doctor’s office!) and it stays full. If we lose power we just remove it from the cooler and use it as needed.
Evacuation & Separation
An evacuation order is issued: What if you’re at work and your spouse is at home? Or you’re both at work and the kids are at school AND your pets are at home?!? Whew! I try not to think about that if I don’t have to, but I have a plan for every scenario I can think of. If we are separated, we have a meeting point in case we cannot contact each other. One person is designated to pick up the kids/pets then meet at that location.
If someone doesn’t show up for a designated number of hours once an evacuation has been issued, the person at the meeting location should head out if the location is not outside the evacuation zone. However, if you can choose a point that is in another state it is best. The less steps your family must follow, the better chance of the plan being followed.
Speaking of the Plan
Print a copy of the steps for each family member’s vehicle and bag. That way everyone has a copy of what’s going on no matter what happens.
- Identification, including animals, with up to date information in their own bag, plus photos of the family together)
- Animal identification can be photos (with you included to prove ownership)
- When I say photos, I mean printed photos. Please don’t assume your phone or camera will be working by the time you need them to. Plenty of places offer next-to-nothing printing, please do it.
- A copy of the evacuation plan
- A copy of the contents of their bag (helps a ton, trust me on this)
I’m sure I’ve missed a TON of information. But hey, that’s why I’ve included links to my favorite go-to emergency preparedness websites below. 🙂
Resources to Visit
Emergency Essentials (beprepared.com) – by far my favorite and I feel is the best (they’ve been around for a while!)
Build A Kit – Ready.gov
[eafl id=”1021″ name=”72-Hour Kit Bag” text=”72-Hour Kit, Ready to go bag”] from Amazon
Survival: What to Pack in a 72-hour Kit – ASecureLife.com
Starting Your 72-Hour Kits + How To Store Them – PrepardenessMama.com