When I was a child, I grew up in an area that experienced seasonal tornadoes and flash floods. As an adult I have moved to a coastal region that experiences hurricanes and flash floods. Once, on vacation, I was right smack in the middle of an earthquake and didn’t have a clue as to what I should do.
All of this has taught me that disaster preparedness is very important. With climate change causing freak weather patterns all over the world, now, more than ever, every family should have a plan, be informed and be prepared. My feeling of fear and helplessness halfway across the country all by myself in an earthquake and clueless is something I don’t want to repeat or have my children go through.
When we hunkered down and survived one of the worst hurricanes in Texas history, we emerged from our home the next day to absolute devastation all around us. In the middle of a hot Texas summer there was no electricity and no gasoline to get the heck out of town to a place that had hotel vacancies and hot, running water.
We knew the hurricane was coming. We had stocked up on supplies to last a few days. What we weren’t prepared for was a two week stretch with no electricity, running water, gasoline, phone service or access to a well-stocked grocery store. We were lucky that our local grocer opened up shop anyway. The system was that ten shoppers could enter at a time and fill one cart per family with dry goods for a ten minute shopping session. Check out was cash only with clerks who were armed with solar powered calculators. We were able to pick up a few more things that saw us through what would have otherwise become an unbearable fourteen days.
Hurricane season is officially over for this year. We were prepared for the worst. My family had worked together to create several emergency kits. We had a “luxury” kit for our home. Each vehicle had a mobile emergency kit. I discovered what our kits should contain by doing a little research on the FEMA’s website, the Red Cross website and our local city and county websites. Here is my supply list:
- A gallon of water per person per day
- Canned or freeze-dried foods
- Manual can opener
- Hand crank flashlights
- Hand crank radio
- Assortment of extra batteries for any battery operated flashlights
- First aid kit
- Personal hygiene items
- Waterproof tarp
- Waterproof bag containing emergency contact information, family contact information, medical information, list of any medications, insurance information, emergency cash stash
- Area maps
- Simple tool kit
- Books, magazines, cards, dice, paper, pen and pencils
- Food and water
- Hygiene products
- Waterproof bag containing medical records and photos to identify pet
- Leash, harness, blanket and carrier
My family decided we should stock for a one week period after our last experience. Most experts advise to be prepared for three days but we learned first- hand Mother Nature works by her own schedule. If we have one weeks’ worth of emergency supplies, combined with what we have on hand at home, we should be able to manage comfortable for two weeks if we have to.
Now, you don’t just pack these things away and forget about them. They need to be stored properly in containers that are easy to carry and stow in the trunk of the car if you have to evacuate. It also needs to be easily accessible if you need to leave quickly or for when you refresh supplies. I tape a piece of paper to the outside of my bins with the first expiration date that will need to be restocked.
My kids make fun of me and tell their friends, “Mom is a prepper.” I hope they continue to laugh and never have to go through what we went through a few years ago. I prefer that our emergency kits never have to broken into and used. Regardless, when I hear crazy weather reports it does give me peace of mind knowing we have pretty much all of our basic needs covered should the need arise.