20 June 2009

Emergency Readiness Supplies - Part 1

CC (a.k.a. Carolina Cannonball of The Crescat fame) had asked my about emergency preparedness on Thursday, and I provided a couple of links to emergency readiness websites in my last post on this subject.

This post will be about emergency readiness supplies that one can keep handy for nearly any emergency.

This is not a definitive, must-do list. I will be using what I have done at our home as an example, so that means that some of this may apply to you and your needs, and some of it may be completely irrelevant to what your needs are. Think of this, then, as an idea starter for creating your own personalized emergency readiness kit(s). I will be referring to the supplies and kits as ERS (emergency readiness supply) and ERK (emergency readiness kit) for ease of typing (and, don't forget, I'm prior service Marine Corps, so I am obligated to work in the occasional acronym).

1. My ERS Categories
I have four main categories for the ERSs that I maintain for our household:
  • Grab-and-go
  • Vehicle
  • Evacuation
  • Shelter in place
The grab-and-go kits are nothing more than one backpack for each person in the home. I keep them in the bedroom closet for each of us so that we can literally grab the backpack and go if we need to. If I awoke to a burning house, I would immediately grab that backpack and start our fire escape plan. In fact, our fire escape plan is our emergency get-up-and-go plan.

The vehicle kits are just emergency kits for the car and truck. You may already have one, but if you don't, you will probably decide to make one after you get stranded in the middle of nowhere because your vehicle sputtered out.

The evacuation kit is a large storage container filled with supplies that we would need in the event that we had to evacuate our home. If you live in a hurricane prone area, you may already have one of these. It is compact enough to be easily carried to a vehicle and stowed in the trunk or truck bed, and it will get us through at least three days with no outside assistance.

The shelter in place kit is really just stored supplies that we would need in case we were stuck in a situation where we were not able to leave our home. Do you have a pantry with extra stores of canned food? If so, then you have the makings of a shelter in place kit.

Finally, don't be overwhelmed by the number of items that you will see below. These items were purchased over an extended period of time, so it wasn't necessary for me to spend a large amount of money at once. If you have the luxury of time on your side, then you should be able to put together something very similar over the course of six months to a year.


2. The Grab-And-Go ERK

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and your house was on fire? This may be the most likely emergency that any of us can face, and far too many are not prepared to respond to it.

In our home, we have a fire escape plan, and we have drilled on it over and over (under stress, my eight-year-old will not remember some plan that I recited to her, but she will most likely recall and execute the fire escape plan that we have run through many times). Make a plan of how to get out of your house if there is a fire, and practice running though it with your family. It can be a fun drill, and the more you do the dry-runs, the more likely that it is to instinctively kick-in if the need arises to actually execute the plan.

Also, keep in mind that a fire escape plan is simply a get-out-of-the-house-as-quickly-as-possible-and-go-to-a-pre-arranged-meeting-place plan. If you need to get out quickly, the fire escape plan is what you would execute.

For our household, our plan includes reaching for our grab-and-go kits. These ERKs are backpacks with a few necessary things that we may need in the short-term. The contents are:
  • Change of clothing (shirt, pants, underwear, socks) in a sealed bag
  • Footwear (sneakers or hiking shoes) in a sealed bag
  • Cold weather jacket, hat, and gloves
  • Rain suit (the pre-packaged kind that you can buy in the camping section that is the size of a short paperback book)
  • Poncho (pre-packaged in camping section)
  • Emergency blanket (silver foil looking kind found in camping section)
  • Work gloves
  • First aid kit
  • Radio
  • Walkie-talkie
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries (for radio, walkie-talkie, and flashlight)
  • Lightstick
  • Whistle
  • Maps
  • Compass
  • Strike anywhere matches (in sealed matchbox)
  • Wax fire starter sticks
  • Notepad
  • Pens
  • Energy bars
  • 3600 calorie emergency rations
  • Water boxes (like fruit boxes, except they contain drinking water)
  • Flask of whiskey (adults only)
  • Single serve instant coffee
  • Chewing gum
  • Collapsible cup
  • Enamel camp cup
  • Hobo tool (spoon, knife, fork, can opener)
  • Folding knife (adults only)
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Facial tissue
  • Toilet paper
  • Feminine hygiene items (adults only)
  • 13 gallon garbage bags
  • 1 gallon ziploc bags
  • 1 quart ziploc bags
  • Liquid soap
  • Foot powder
  • Toy figures (kids only)
  • St. Jude holy card
  • Rosary
When I first put these together, I collected a couple of old gym-style duffel bags that were in the house to serve as the grab-and-go bags. Then I picked-up items a few at a time, starting with the emergency ponchos, emergency blankets, lightsticks, folding knives, holy cards, and Rosaries. I had matches, flashlights, batteries, and an extra old radio in the house already. The toy figures were older items that my daughter chose to put in the bag. Eventually I managed to acquire all of the other items (it took about two months), and I upgraded the old bags to backpacks when I saw some backpacks on clearance at Wal-Mart.

You will probably be surprised at how much you already have in your house that you can use to put together a grab-and-go kit. When it is started, then it simply becomes a case of spending an extra few dollars on a new item or two each time you are buying food or household items.

One other thing that I have in my pack is an important documents folder. This has account numbers, insurance information, birth certificates, etc. It also has a small stash of cash. If you need to go quickly, you may not have access to this information later (especially if you are getting out due to a fire), so it is a good idea to get this information put together in advance so that you don't need to cut through a bunch of red tape later. Also, the cash can come in handy if you need to pay for something and you are not able to use (or don't have) credit or debit cards.

Some people may roll their eyes at the whiskey, but unless the pack is for an alcoholic, I'd put it (or something similar) in the kit. You may want a little nip once a high stress situation has been dealt with, and if nothing else, it is a great item to use if you ever would need to barter.

And on that note, if you're a smoker, keep a pack in there and rotate them out occasionally. Besides the fact that you will probably want a cigarette during or after a stressful situation, they, too, are excellent barter items.


3. The Vehicle ERK

I have a kit in each of our vehicles for emergency situations. Most of the items are in a backpack (which is in the trunk or truck box), but other items that are too bulky are placed separately in the trunk or truck box. This kit contains:
  • 3 Rain suits (the pre-packaged kind that you can buy in the camping section that is the size of a short paperback book)
  • 3 Ponchos (pre-packaged in camping section)
  • 3 Emergency blankets (silver foil looking kind found in camping section)
  • 3 Caps
  • Work gloves
  • First aid kit
  • Radio
  • Walkie-talkie
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries (for radio, walkie-talkie, and flashlight)
  • Road flares
  • 3 Lightsticks
  • 3 Whistles
  • Maps
  • Compass
  • Strike anywhere matches (in sealed matchbox)
  • Wax fire starter sticks
  • Notepad
  • Pens
  • 3600 calorie emergency rations
  • Water boxes (like fruit boxes, except they contain drinking water)
  • Folding knife
  • Handy wipes
  • Facial tissue
  • Toilet paper
  • Feminine hygiene items (adults only)
  • 13 gallon garbage bags
  • 1 gallon ziploc bags
  • 1 quart ziploc bags
  • Liquid soap
  • Toy figures
  • Shovel
  • Fix-a-flat
  • Spool of wire (to secure damaged parts, wire-up muffler, etc.)
  • Rope
  • Hatchet
  • Tarp
  • Blankets
I put this kit together just like I did the grab-and-go kits; a little bit I already had, and the remainder was purchased slowly over a period of time.

An interesting note on this kit is that the spool of wire was not part of the kit initially. One day, however, one of the bolts on my muffler clamp came off, and my muffler dropped and started dragging along the pavement. When I pulled over and saw the problem, I opened the trunk and grabbed my pack to get something to temporarily tie the muffler up with. I didn't have the rope yet, and even if I did, I would have been concerned with using something that may melt to the hot muffler or catch fire. I ended-up using the wire from some headphones I had with me to tie-up the muffler. The spool of wire was added to the kit later that same day.


This topic (and kit descriptions) will be continued in my next post. I hope that it is helpful, and that it inspires you to start being finding ways to be prepared for an emergency. Remember, it is better to be prepared and not need something than to need something and not be prepared.

USMC 9971 OUT

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

holy cards and rosarys? - you left out emergency baptizin water and a dashboard jesus - your a crazy christian rightwing terrorist

Carolina Cannonball said...

Dig that compliment! Maybe one day I'll earn the dubious honor after us "right wing terrorists" save your sorry ass from the caliphate army.

USMC 9971 said...

Anon:

I have plenty of water, and I can use that to baptise in an absolute emergency.

Jesus is in our hearts. If Jesus is on the dashboard, then you probably weren't wearing your seatbelt.

Crazy? Check.

Christian? Check.

Right wing? I prefer conservative, but Check.

Terrorist? Ooooh, sorry. You must not have gotten the memo that we don't use that term anymore. Freedom fighter or legitimate member of the resistance are the new preferred terms. Be sure to pick-up your copy of the Obama NewSpeak Lexicon so you may avoid a similar faux pas in the future.

Carolina Cannonball said...

"Jesus is in our hearts. If Jesus is on the dashboard, then you probably weren't wearing your seatbelt."

oooo the mental imagery!

USMC 9971 said...

Thanks, CC. I was going for something along the lines of the old drivers ed movies meet the catechism.