Friday, September 02, 2005

Backpack Your Way Through a Disaster

I don't live in a hurricane-prone area. I'm smarter than that. My house sits directly on top of a major earthquake fault. I take my natural disasters without a warning system. I prefer the earth rocking as opposed to Hurricane Calgon taking me away. Californians are used to living with the occasional movement of terra firma, but deep in our subconscious we are always waiting for THE BIG ONE. While listening to the coverage of the horrible devastation and the frightening lawlessness going on in the South, I felt a gnawing sense of dread creep over me.

I'm not ready. There isn't an earthquake preparation item in my entire house. Well, wait, there is the backpack I bought at Safeway two months ago. It has a first aid kit and water for one. 'Kay. Oh yeah, I have a great big spotlight thingy.....but no batteries. I have a wonderful C. Crane radio that gets perfect reception....if there's power. I'm an ER nurse. There is no excuse for this.

So how do you start getting prepared? You can go to the store and stock up, but it might take awhile to get everything you need. Instant gratification is appropriate, at least to get started. I wanted a pre-packed pack. A google search for "MRE" (meals-ready-to-eat) resulted in my discovering, an online emergency supply service.

The best products I saw were backpacks pre-packed with everything, including complete MREs and water for three days. MREs are complete meals (entree, side dish, dessert) with a shelf life of, like, forever (translation: five years). Two of the two-person kits provide total sustenance and emergency supplies (light, blankets, first aid, toiletries) for a family of four in two easily carried backpacks. Need to evacuate quickly? Just grab the backpacks and run. Water servings were available in individual packets and reasonably priced. Ever wondered what you would do when the plumbing went out? Portable toilets for $17.00 and packs of sanitizer for decontamination.

The backpack idea is a good one. Have pets? Put a small bag of their food in a backpack with an extra leash for a dog, or one of those new disposable cat boxes for the family felines. Be sure you have a cat carrier. Don't forget water;put a few bottles in there. How about a clothing backpack? Perhaps a set of sweats, underwear, socks for each family member? A list of phone numbers and addresses? How about the little ones - perhaps a backpack with special toys or stuffed animals. Don't forget the deodorant and toothbrush if you're packing your own.

Do you take meds? Try to keep a two week supply in your emergency pack. Don't forget Tylenol, Advil, Benadryl, Sudafed...the usual medications. Pack small packages of these with your backpack.

Consider a smaller version of the above in your car trunk, especially if you drive long distances or live in areas of harsh weather.

(I'm not going to address whether a firearm should be included in these emergency preparations. Just ask yourself that great, eternal, philosophical question: what would Ted Nugent do?)

A disaster can hit anytime, anywhere. It can take days before emergency aid can reach the affected area in a disaster. You can't depend on the local authorities or resources. Make sure your family is covered with the necessities for at least three days, whether you can shelter in place or whether you have to evacuate.

I'm relieved to say that two of the two-person backpacks are enroute to my house at this very moment, along with extra water packets. I'll breathe easier when they get here and less anxious knowing I'm prepared. Now all I need to pick up are some batteries.....


At 9/03/2005 05:03:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Found you via Rick's blog. This advice is excellent!


At 9/03/2005 09:37:00 PM, Blogger Kim said...

Thanks for checking out the blog! Rick's site is great.


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