I read somewhere that “The best kit, is the one you have with you.” We can have our homes prepared to the max, but if we aren’t home when disaster strikes, it does us little good.
If I had my way, any disaster would take place while my family and I are comfortably at home. But we can’t schedule storms or earthquakes, the reality is I personally commute to work 20 miles from home and spend eight or more hours a day in my office there. My wife spends all day at her job 30 miles from home in another direction. The likelihood of at least one of us being stranded away from home in an emergency is very good. So let’s play a game of “Let’s Pretend.” If you were stranded even 20 miles from home during a disaster, would you have what you need with you to get by? And oh by the way, all the stores are closed and the ATMs won’t work because the power is out.
If you ask most people, “What would you do if you were in another city during an emergency?” Most people would say, “I’d get home as soon as possible.” Have you considered that you just might not be able to get home? Trees, power poles, power lines, building debris, massive traffic jam with everybody else trying to do the same thing, busted bridges, and roads flooded are all realistic reasons why your best option may be to sit it out for a few hours. If the emergency is an earthquake, make sure you’re out of the tsunami zone and sit tight. If you have your kit with you, you’re good.
So what’s in a kit? Everyone’s kit will look different depending on your specific needs. We all have the same four basic needs: (1) food, (2) water, (3) shelter, and (4) security. (Maslow’s hierarchy of need notwithstanding.) Good, strong walking shoes are a must, if you take some kind of maintenance medication, then you should have your meds with you, at least three or four days worth. It’s called a “Get Home Bag”. Yours will look different than mine, but water, food and shelter are the basics. How about some extra clothes? And the shoes you wear to work are probably not the ones you want to wear to walk any distance. Consider a small water filter, like a LifeStraw or Survival Spring. Both are available at about $20.00. Just do an internet search to find one.
And a plan. Talk it over with your family. “If I get stranded at work, here’s what I’m going to do…” Then lay out the plan to reunite your family. This isn’t done out of fear, it’s done with a “just in case” mindset. Having a plan is every bit as important as having a well-equipped backpack.
Get a bag, get started and just imagine what you’d do if you were stranded some distance from home. As always send your questions or comments to email@example.com. Previous columns are on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is the Postmaster in Bandon, Oregon, and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us.”