Like many of you, I have been watching the news of the massive flooding in Iowa and Indiana with concern. While the human and economic repercussions of this latest natural disaster are only now starting to become evident ($3Billion in crop losses alone), this is just the latest in a string of disasters which have been occurring and let’s face it – will continue to occur all around the world.
This week there are also massive fires raging in California, last week it was a 7+ magnatude earthquake in Japan which collapsed a mountain, the week before that it was torrential rains in China which caused massive flooding and infrastructure damage, the week before that an estimated 60,000 people were killed in an earthquake in China, and fires were raging in Florida. Shall I go on?
If I were to make a list of every disaster that has occurred, oh…even if just back to Hurricane Katrina or the Tsunami in 2004, the list of losses and deaths would be simply staggering. This got me thinking…
I took a look at several sites including the Red Cross, FEMA, , and NOAA, and what I found was very helpful information for people who might have to evacuate or live for a few days without basic infrastructure services, and it made me wonder: would I be ready in the event of an emergency evacuation? What are the few items I would absolutely not leave behind, assuming I ever had to evacuate?
This is the Ready America site’s list of things that should be included:
Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit:
- 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
- Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
- Local maps
Additional Items to Consider Adding to an Emergency Supply Kit:
- Prescription medications and glasses
- Infant formula and diapers
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
- Cash or traveler’s checks and change
- Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from www.ready.gov
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
- Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
- Fire Extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
The Red Cross list is twice as long.
My issue is this: many of these type kits assume you can load a car full of stuff, or at least a family of pack mules. What if all you could leave with was what you could actually carry on your own? Things that would fit in a backpack?
Assuming that you had just enough advance warning to take a moment and gather a few things together and GO, what would you take? Let’s also assume that the chances of you returning and finding everything you own destroyed were very good; What comes? What stays? How can technology help?
When asking myself the same questions, I realized that much of what I most care about is able to be stored as data: pictures, documents, information, a whole lot of family stuff. Much of it is on my two laptops and my various hard drives, and now much of it is backed up to Sugar Sync. So the first things I would grab would likely be my MacBook Air (because it’s smaller and I have all my email on it) and a hard drive. Next? A mobile phone and charger. I’d also grab my purse, which (sometimes) has money but always has debit and credit cards; I’d take the jewelry I always wear…and then what? Maybe a bottle of water and I am out the door…hopefully wearing a good pair of walking shoes (though not very likely).
Everything else – clothing, electronics, bric-a-brac, the house itself, even if they have wonderful memories or payment plans still attached – they are just “stuff”…right? Even if it might be depressing or horrendous to contemplate, life would still go on without them.
It’s a terrible thing to even imagine – much less talk openly about, but the chances of something happening aren’t really all that slim. So what about you? What would you grab? What have you done to make sure that in the event of a disaster, you’re at least somewhat ready to walk away from everything?