I was impressed with what I heard about Japan's level of preparation for natural disaster. Not just on a national scale, but on an individual level too. I realized that worry was a pretty useless reaction to watching countries crumble - politically and literally. Useless... unless I can turn the worry into motivation to prepare for possible disaster, even while I hope it doesn't ever come. So, I filled in that last goal on the list: make a disaster preparation kit.
I found help from a few websites:
the well organized and visually appealing 72 hours website, which outlines what you can do to prepare in each important category.
|bucket and a bag: easy to store, grab and go|
Lastly, Amazon.com was the easiest place to shop for such a wide array of things and saved me from running all around town to dozens of different stores. Most of what I bought did not require paying for shipping either.
I have decided to organize my kit in this way:
All my food stuff is in a 5 gallon bucket with a tight fighting lid and a handle. Not only will this prevent pests and water from damaging my supplies, but it makes it easy to carry and a sturdy bucket has its own uses. Home Depot sells these bright orange buckets and lids for under $4. It is recommended that you keep enough food and water for 3 days.
This is what I learned about food and water supplies:
- One gallon per person, per day, is considered good preparation, but 16 ounces per person per day is the absolute minimum.
- The water from your water heater can be used in an emergency.
- Store low-sodium food, so as not to make your thirsty when you are low on water.
- Things that last nearly forever in storage: instant coffee, tea, bouillon cubes, honey, rice and pasta.
- Look at the expiration date on dried and canned food and be sure to choose things that will last for more than a year.
- Choose foods that you eat normally. Not only will this be more comforting, but it will also make it easier to rotate out your emergency food every year or two with fresh supply, without allowing it to go to waste.
I keep a "mobile kitchen" in an old wine box that I use for camping. I have tidied the box and am now storing it with the disaster kit. It includes a cooking pot, butane stove with extra fuel, candles and matches in a mason jar with lid.
The remaining supplies will fit into a duffel bag with water sensitive items, like documents and the radio, in a dry bag. The duffel bag includes:
- Red Cross self-powered radio with flashlight and cell phone charger with a spare charging cord for my cell phone and a list of important phone numbers (the list should include an out-of-state emergency contact!). I love this thing - it has the option to recharge by the solar panel on the top or the hand crank on the side.
- Photocopies of our passports, children's birth certificates, and other important documents. It is also recommended that you keep some cash, in small bills, with your emergency supplies, as well as recent photos of each family member in case someone is missing.
- A lanyard with emergency whistle and extra house key. For children, this can also include a laminated card with their name and emergency contact information.
- A comprehensive first aid kit and face masks for poor air quality or illness.
- Plastic sheeting, duct tape, rope, folding knife, work gloves, and multi-purpose tool
- Gear for bad weather such as a warm sweater, thick socks, rain poncho. Also, a wool or micro-fleece blanket or packs of emergency blankets are important.
- Hygiene safety items such as hand sanitizer, Dr. Bronners soap, toilet paper in a ziplock bag, water filter or water sanitizing drops.
- Don't forget flashlights and extra batteries!
I have also made a very small version of the full kit, to keep in my car. I realized while putting it together that it will likely come in handy many times for much more routine "emergencies" like playground scratches, forgotten sunscreen, and depleted diaper supplies!
Lastly, I just bought two safety items for my house: a little wrench to keep next to the gas meter in the case that I need to turn off the gas at its source, and a new fire extinguisher.
If this feels overwhelming to you - take a step back. You have many of these things around your house already and many of us have a little extra cash from a tax return. Lastly, if you would rather not build your own disaster kit from scratch, you can always buy a pack from the Red Cross. They have unbeatable value on kits ranging in price from $10 to $70 and you can add your items as necessary.
An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure!