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Prepared Dads: A Basic Emergency Kit Is Not Enough

35394895_19812dc398_m Submitted by Danny Grubb, Seattle, WA

We owe it to our families to be prepared in case of emergencies.  In the Pacific Northwest people worry about Volcanic Eruptions and Earthquakes.  In Florida people worry about Hurricanes and Floods.  In the Northeast people worry about Snow Storms.  Every place has risks associated with living there.  Your family's Home Emergency kit should be customized to fit your region's specific risks.

When it comes to Emergency Kits we're really talking about two different types.  One for your home and one for each vehicle your family travels in.  Good basic checklists can be found at the links below.

The Home Kit

The Vehicle Kit


Basic Kits Don't Cut It

These above links refer to basic Emergency Kits and should be modified to fit your specific needs.  Here are some examples of things to consider:

  • If you live in a colder climate or in a location where it temperatures change drastically between daytime and nighttime, you will want to make sure that you have extra fire-starting equipment, clothing, and blankets. 

  • If you live in a climate which can be wet (such as the pacific northwest) make sure you have rain gear and extra clothing.

  • If you live in a dry or hot climate, double the recommended 1gal/day of emergency water supply.

  • If you live in a place which is likely to flood, flotation devices or inflatable watercraft will be important.

Scrutinize Every Detail Now

When you prepare your emergency kit, each item on the checklist must be carefully scrutinized.  Ask yourselves these questions for each item:

  1. Do I need this item at all?
  2. Do I need 2x or 3x as much of this item as is recommended?

  3. Is this item sufficient for the types of emergencies I am planning for?

The second level of scrutinizing comes when you try to plan for each of your family members.  Here are two questions to ask yourself for each family member:

  1. What basic needs does this family member have which is not covered by the Kit?

  2. If we have to evacuate, what will this family member need to travel?

Moving The Emergency Kit

Great, you've got your Emergency Kit finished, every item has been carefully scrutinized and each family member will have everything they need.  If evacuation is necessary, how will you evacuate your Emergency Kit along with your family?

This is a tough problem.  By definition an Emergency Kit covers only the basic essentials and should not be pared down.  However, in case of an evacuation your immediate safety may be more pressing than your survival over the next three days.  Try to contain your emergency kit in two  plastic containers which will fit easily into your car (or your inflatable raft).  Additionally, all electronic and clothing items in the Kit should be packed in watertight bags or containers.

Some other things you can do to cut down on the size and weight of your emergency kit are:

  1. Put important documents on a disk or thumb drive.

  2. Choose lighter and smaller items whenever possible (ex: Having two flashlights which run on 2-AAs rather than one flashlight running on 4-Ds.)

  3. Pack efficiently.  Challenge yourself to pack the Emergency Kit into smaller containers every year.

Revisit Your Family's Emergency Kit Annually

Every year as part of your spring cleaning routine - every Family should have one - go through every item in your Kit.  Do the following:

  1. Replace all the Water.
  2. Replace all the Food.

  3. Replace all the Batteries.

  4. Place your important documents on another backup disk and place it in the Kit with the old one (Even Media can go bad and another backup won't hurt).

  5. Test every piece of electronic equipment in your Kit to make sure it works.

  6. Wash the clothes and blankets.

  7. Change the clothes to fit your family's new sizes and shapes. That's right, our children grow up while we grow out.

  8. Attempt to place all items into smaller containers.

This is an extremely important subject.  If you feel that I've left something out or that something I've said doesn't make sense, please comment below.  At the very least ask yourself this:

Where is your Family's Emergency Kit?

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