It’s been about five years since I have climbed aboard a commercial airliner. A few weeks ago, accompanied by my 16 year old grandson, we packed some bags and flew to the Philippine Islands to help with a Medical/Dental missions outreach in some rural areas of the main island.
I have gotten accustomed to carrying a “ready kit” with me everywhere I go. If I happen to leave my kit behind, I have the same kind of nervous feeling I get when I forget to buckle my seat belt. So when I was planning my airplane ride, I had to choose what to bring along and what to do without. Because of TSA and some pretty stringent (and always changing) restrictions on what you can and can’t bring along.
So the question arises, “How can I stay within the rules and still maintain some semblance of preparedness?” I’m a guy who is never far from his pocketknife, but those are forbidden both in your pants pocket and in your carry-on. So the first thing I had to remember was to pack my knife into my check-through luggage, along with a Leatherman multi-tool and some flashlight batteries.
For emergency snack food, I bought a carton of trail mix from Costco, tossed in a box of Ritz crackers and two small jars of crunchy peanut butter. I had a small flashlight in my carry-on. I also had my shaving kit in my carry-on. I received a “suggestion” at my first encounter with TSA that my toothpaste tube was too big. For some random reason I also received a rather thorough pat-down. Leaving no stone un-turned, as the saying goes.
Everything went well until I tried to clear customs in San Francisco as I was re-entering the U.S. A zealous TSA agent confiscated one of my jars of crunchy Jif. She mentioned something about a possible menace. She missed the other jar. She is, after all, only human.
I did learn another lesson. My own personal preps are in great shape. But while I was away I received a frantic text from my wife that we had had a very intense wind storm that knocked out the power. “Where’s our stuff?” Fortunately I was at our hotel when the text came through and I directed her to lanterns at the top of the stairs and some other equipment in our shop. The weakness in my plan was that I have everything I need to survive, but I’m the only one who knows where all the stuff is located. Camp stove, auxiliary battery unit (to power the heater fan), and extra propane canisters. Problem easily corrected once I arrived home. Repositioning some items and giving my spouse a tour of the storage closet and shop solved the problem.
I have always advocated having all your “stuff” in one handy location, but my “kit” has grown beyond what my closet can contain. So now there are some items stored in other places. The lesson learned here is “communicate”. Let everyone in on where the “stuff” is located. That way when there is an emergency, you don’t have to be the only one running around gathering your gear and the entire family gets to practice their teamwork. It’s one thing to be prepared, and it’s another thing for each member of your household to access your gear.
As always send your comments and questions to email@example.com. Previous columns can be found 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”.