How to create your own personal emergency kit

With the end in sight for this worldwide coronavirus pandemic, it is time to start thinking about restocking your personal emergency kit or create one if you do not already have one.

“But I am in the middle of a really good game on my Springbok mobile app”

“You can play with your friends when your chores are done.”

I know.  I know. Nobody wants to start thinking about the next disaster right after just getting out of a disaster, but from personal experience … if you don’t do it now, it is going to become “Out of sight.  Out of mind.”

Even the US government was a victim of this. After the H1N1 virus outbreak, President Obama did not restock the US national’s emergency medical reservers and neither did President Trump. 

States and local communities failed to do this as well. Even I was a victim of this. I created my family’s personal emergency kit after Hurricane Katrina. But when Hurricane Sandy came along and I used some of the supplies in the kit, I did not restock my family’s kit afterward.

So now I am going to go through my family’s kit.  I am going to look at what I included, and if I still consider it needed.  I am also going to look at what is not in the kit that should be in the kit.

Your will

Make sure your will is up to date.  Are the choices of who is going to take care of your kids if something were to happen to you still appropriate?  Are your kids now adults? Do you now have kids? Do you have elderly parents that you need to make sure somebody will help take responsibility for?

Family Emergency Plan

  1. Do you have two ways out of your house in case of a fire?  
  2. Do your smoke detectors work?  
  3. Do you have spare batteries for the smoke detectors?  
  4. Do you have carbon monoxide detectors?  
  5. Do you have spare batteries for the carbon monoxide detectors?
  6. Have you practiced with your kids how to exit the house in case of a fire by crawling on the ground to avoid smoke and to feel a door and door handle with the back of your hand before opening the door?
  7. Do you have a designated meeting spot outside of your house where family members know to meet?
  8. If you have to evacuate your city, do you have a designated place to go?  Do those people know to expect you?
  9. Do you have emergency contacts for school pickups?  Do your children know who those people are?
  10. If your kids have a cell phone, do you have in their cell phone emergency numbers for family members?  If they have an email contact list, do they have emails of emergency family members stored in them? If they are too young to have a cell phone, do they have a personal address book with those emails and phone numbers written down?
  11. Do you have an emergency code word?  “Your parents are in trouble and they told me to pick you up.”  “What is the code word?” If the person can’t give the code word, you don’t go with them.
  12. Do you have a help code word?  Something you can slip into a conversation, but the other person understands you are asking for help.  The code word can some as simple as asparagus, “Daddy, can I have asparagus for dinner?” It sounds innocent, but Dad knows that you do not eat asparagus and that is your emergency help word.

Family Emergency Kit – nonconsumable items

I am not going to go through my family emergency kit to see what is included, what is still needed, what needs to be replaced, and what needs to be restocked.  Some of these items might not apply to the area where you live, so add or delete items as you feel is appropriate.

Some of these items it is good enough to at least own them and know where they are, even if you end up regularly using them during the regular year.  For example, high-quality reusable plastic plates, bowls, and cups.

  1. 5-Gallon paint bucket sealing warerproof with lid, bright green with a white handle.  Keep. The bright green color makes sure that we don’t mix it up with regular paint buckets. 👍
  2. 2.5-gallon zip lock bags with easy open and close to store items inside the bucket. 👍
  3. Very rough washcloths for washing dishes.     Need to change to flannel baby wipes, so they can also be used as a “reusable toilet paper” in an emergency.  I really hope things never get to that point.
  4. Pocket packs of tissues, one for each member of the family. 👍
  5. Nail brush.  👍
  6. Clothesline rope.  👍
  7. Travel sewing kit. 👍
  8. Mercury thermometer (does not need batteries).  👍
  9. Small notebook, one for each member of the family. 👍  Never go wrong with paper.
  10. Two thick emergency candles that will not break when bouncing around in the kit.  👍
  11. Small crowbar. 👍
  12. Car windshield breaker and seatbelt cutter.  I usually keep this one in the car, but I do own one.  👍
  13. Small ax for cutting small branches and small trees.  👍
  14. Emergency rain ponchos, one for each member of the family.  👍
  15. Fishing hooks and fishing lines.  Attach to a stick and you have a fishing pole.  But the hooks are sharp, so they can be used for other purposes if you don’t live in an area where fish swim.  👍
  16. Firestarters. 👍
  17. Strike anywhere matches.  They come in a blue box, and they are not the matches you buy in a regular grocery store.  Those matches you have to strike on the side of the box. I think that stores like Walmart or camping supply stores sell them.  👍
  18. Fire steel flit and fire striker.  👍
  19. Lanyard glowstick flashlight, one for each member of the family. 👍
  20. Hairbrush 👍
  21. Comb 👍
  22. Compass with a ruler attached to the compass for measuring maps. 👍
  23. Paper map of our local area.  👍
  24. Paper 50 mile radius map of the local area.  👍
  25. Paper country wide highway map.  👍
  26. Playing cards.  Poker anyone? 👍
  27. Uno card game (or other travel game) for the kids.  👍
  28. Whistles for each member of the family. 👍
  29. Tweezers 
  30. Outdoor woodsman knife
  31. Swiss army knife
  32. Screwdriver 8 in 1
  33. Reusable face masks, one for each member of the family
  34. Reusable water bottles for each member of the family.
  35. Reusable metal or plastic plates and bowls for each member of the family.

Family emergency kit – consumable items or items that can expire

The following items should be checked once a year.  In my opinion, the US government should make voting day a national holiday, and also make it emergency readiness day.  On that day, everybody should go through their emergency kits and figure out what needs to be restocked.

For those of us who have them, admit it, you have sometimes one into the kit to get something when you ran out of it even though it was not an emergency.  I know that I am not the only person in the world who has done that.

  1. Pens, one for each member of the family.  Pens can dry out, so they need to be checked each year. 
  2. Bandages of different sizes and types. Glue on the bandages can be dried out, so they need to be replaced each year.  
  3. Toothbrushes, one for each member of the family.
  4. Antibiotic cream, expiration date
  5. Pain medicine, expiration date
  6. Cold or allergy medicine, expiration date
  7. One week supply of any required medicines for any family members, expiration date
  8. Package of wet tushie wipes, one for each member of the family, can dry out
  9. Alcohol disinfectant,  evaporates
  10. 99.9% disposable cleaning wipes.
  11. Cleaning wipes that can be used on the skin.
  12. N95 masks, expiration date.

Food and water

Assume 1 liter per day per family member for water.

  • Level 1 – 3 days of food and water for each member of the family.  In the US, in a local emergency, it usually takes 3 days for supplies to get from one side of the country to the other side of the country.  So even though “help is coming”, assume that you will be on your own for the first three days after a local emergency.
  • Level 2 – 1 week of food and water for each member of the family.  1 liter per day per family member of water.
  • Level 3 – 2 weeks of food and water for each member of the family.  This is enough time for emergency supplies to get to the US from other countries.  This is also the max that most people can realistically expect to have on hand while living in an apartment.

If people live in the country or if a bunch of families decides to form a community emergency storage, some people may decide to go to 1 month, 3 months, or even 6 months.  But even in this current emergency, when it was worldwide and traveled very fast, most basic necessities for the consumer, stores were able to get within 2 weeks.

Other Items

These items are bulkier, so they may not be stored in the emergency kit, but are still useful to have on hand.

  1. Hand crank radio.  Police may use radio frequencies that can be heard over a regular radio for discussion about the disaster while reserving the higher quality radio communications for true police emergencies.
  2. Very large battery pack that can recharge phones and other items.
  3. Flashlights.
  4. Battery operated lanterns.
  5. 1 family member has a waterproof, rugged cell phone.
  6. 1 family member has a phone with a large battery storage.

Some people might even create a “bug out bag”.  A bug out bag is a bag that somebody can grab quickly that contains a change of clothes for each member of the family.  This is usually kept in the car or someplace that is not inside the home.

Although from my own personal experience, the “bug out bag” supplies were more useful for when somebody got their clothes dirty to a point where they really did need to change their clothes.  But that happened when my kids were having a grand old time at the park or lake or any other fun activity dirty activities while my kids were being kids.

Summary

Creating these emergency plans and emergency kits does not mean that we are living in fear.  It just means that we are taking responsibility for ourselves and our family. No two families are going to have exactly the same emergency kit or emergency plan, because each of us has different priorities and different needs and live in different areas with different emergency risks.

Keep safe and keep healthy.  This too shall pass.

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