Are You Prepared for Disaster?

November 16th, 2012

Are You Prepared for Disaster?

My heart and sympathies go out to all those effected by Super Storm Sandy. I have been reading article after article of loss and the tragic events that have unfolded, and feel helpless as I sit here across the other side of the country.

One thing it has done is make me look at my own family and see if we are ready for a disaster. I have realized that we are not ready at all. Just thinking of a plan and actually having one are two different things. If something were to happen today, my family would be in trouble.

Being in California, we have earthquakes, fires, and mudslides. Fires you get some advance notice, and you may have time to evacuate. With earthquakes, they happen and before you realize what is going on, and then they are usually over. I have been very fortunate to always have been out of town when a big earthquake has hit our area. My children were not born at the time of the last big one we had.

Now being a father, I have things I think about like, what if something happens and I am not home. It is some anxiety that I know comes with being a parent.

My wife and I started discussing disasters a few months ago, and how we were not ready. I have been wanting to put a kit together that would be of assistance for our family. I had no idea how or what to put in there, or where to find the items once I realized what I would need.

Before I started any research, I took the approach of going camping with the family for a week. What would I need to take? I figured that would be a good base line, and then if I researched things a bit, it would fine tune my selections.

Disaster Preparation

Here is what I was thinking before I started my investigation on what to get. Duffle bags to carry all the items. With the size of my family I was estimating at least 3 duffle bags, each with a different selection of items:

  1. Clothes
  2. First aid kits, thermal blankets camping knife folding shovel, camping axe
  3. Water, food and water proof matches
  4. That was truly the extent of what I thought I would need and my wife agreed. We figured that we would buy a few items every time we made a trip to the store so we would not get saddled with a giant bill all at once. It would give us the opportunity to look for the best deals.

    For the clothes I was thinking of basic items, and even hitting the Goodwill for a couple of outfits for each of the kids. That is one that you have to watch out for and make sure you update on a regular basis due to the fact that they just do not stop growing. Buying them at the Goodwill, and stuffing them in a bag is not a costly endeavor, and they would only be used in an emergency situation. If they outgrow the clothes before they are needed, then I can just give them right back to the Goodwill.

    First aid items, I was thinking of Walgreens and CVS to make the selections. Bandages, ace wraps, instant ice packs, heat packs, hydrogen peroxide, tape, cotton balls, gauze, Band-aids, a decent pair of scissors, tweezers (for splinters), toothpaste, extra tooth brushes, and soap.

    I figured I would go to Big 5, or Dicks for the camping knife, camping axe, portable shovel, waterproof matches and the thermal blankets. While I was in Big 5, I found a thermal shower bag, and I thought why not. It stores 5 gallons of water, and heats up in the sun. Showers will be important if we are stranded.

    I was at Home Depot recently, and saw a tarp on sale for $5.99 (6 feet x 8 feet, I figured that could not hurt to add to the collection, and could be used as a make shift cover). I also picked up some bungee cords to secure the tarp and 50-feet of rope. Not sure why, but I felt like it would come in handy.

    I was also not sure about the water or the food part, which I know is going to be critical. So I had to research those and find the best recommended items. Also the duffle bags to store things in, I still need to look that up. I do not necessarily want super cheap, but need something affordable. I am thinking or something similar. It would be cool if I could find some that had reflector tape on there, or just maybe buy reflector tape and tape them all up.

    I went to the FEMA website, and found this

    • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
    • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
    • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • First aid kit
    • Whistle to signal for help
    • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
    • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
    • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
    • Manual can opener for food
    • Local maps
    • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

    I will admit there are a few items on this list that I did not think about and I will now add to the list, like all of them. The water is going to be hard for me. That would mean I need to store 24 gallons of water for a minimum of a recommended 3 days. The maps are a great idea.

    The last item on the list is something that IOGEAR currently makes. The GMP6600P mobile power station has 2 USB ports to charge mobile devices such as cell phones or tablets. The battery will hold a charge for 6 months, so that is one I am going to add into my bag.

    On the Red Cross kit site - Almost all the same items listed above are listed here with a couple of exceptions

    • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
    • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
    • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
    • Family and emergency contact information
    • Extra cash
    • Multipurpose tool

    The combination of the FEMA and Red Cross list should more than complete your emergency disaster kit. I just tend to do things to the extreme, so my additions to this list are:

    • Extra Clothes (2-3 days per person)
    • Camping axe
    • Camping knife
    • Collapsible shovel
    • Portable shower
    • Tarp
    • 50 feet of rope
    • Bungee cords
    • Compact mirror (used to signal for help)

    The stores I will be using are:

    • My local grocery store for the canned non perishable food items and water.
    • Big 5, Sports Authority, and Dicks Sporting goods
    • Home Depot, Lowes
    • Target
    • Wal-mart
    • Walgreens
    • CVS
    • Goodwill

    These are all stores I am in or visit regularly so it will not have to go out of my way to build this kit. I hope to have my kits built sooner rather than later.

    Did I miss anything? Have you built a kit? Do you have one in your car, your work? What have you done to prepare for a disaster, please let me know so we can share and swap ideas. You may have a very important one that I missed, and I would like all the help I can get. If we work together, it could save someone down the road.

About the Author

Jonathan Hawkes

Jonathan Hawkes

Movieholic, and Sci-fi uber geek. I have a passion for technology, and love when sci-fi meets the real world. Technology is our future.