Being prepared for emergencies is always a good idea. But what should you put into your emergency kit, you know, just in case you need to be evacuated? Our family was evacuated in 2007 for the San Diego Crest fires. We were so not ready for the reverse 911 call that told us that we had to be evacuated immediately and of course, we had the mindset that we would never have to be asked to leave our home. I had my 2 year old, 2 dogs, and 2 cats to think about while my husband ran around the house like a chicken with his head cut off trying to figure out what we should bring with us. Not a pretty sight. He basically grabbed clothes off hangers and started throwing everything into laundry baskets – toys, clothes, food for us, toiletries, food for the animals – everything was fair game.
The general rule is – you have 10 minutes from that call to evacuate so running around for 10 minutes gathering everything you need just isn’t going to work.
You should switch out your supplies every six months – perhaps during the time changes. Rotate out food that might go stale and make sure the clothing is size and season appropriate.
Five years later, we now have two kids and two pets to think of. We are much more prepared now for an evacuation. We have enough food to last us over a week – everything is packed into duffel bags that sit in the closet by the front door. Now, it’s going to be hard to get me, never mind little kids to eat the sawdust type bars that are known as emergency rations. So, I figured that we would be eating foods that we enjoy and I also managed to throw in some everyday luxuries that we’re used to so in the event of an evacuation, we would still be fairly comfortable.
Nearly all the different emergency kits that I’ve looked at on different websites, they teach you to pack enough toiletries, food, etc for each person. They’re right. However, you will be stressed out and not having what you are used to using will add to the stress. And because we’re all about adding little luxuries to your every day life, I’ve found ways to help you incorporate luxury into your emergency kit.
Here is my list for our family of four. Remember, you should have enough water to last 3 days. The general rule is 1 gallon per person per day. (Whenever I go grocery shopping, I pick up a case of water and set it aside in the garage – it’s an easy way of building your water supply) Also, I think that a good rule of thumb if you have to have a backpack for your children is to have them carry no more than 10% of their body weight. (i.e. – I know my 3 year old can carry a 3 pound backpack)
- 1 tootbrush for each person
- 1 tube of toothpaste that you all like – for kids, you may want to consider a child’s toothpaste
- Dental floss
- 1 washcloth for each person (dark colors dry the fastest in the sun, if you are evacuated to an outside area)
- 1 small bottle of Listerine or your favorite mouthwash
- Feminine hygiene products
- Soap – You can either get travel sized bottles of your favorite soap, decant one of your larger bottles into travel sized containers, or what I love is the Philosophy line where it’s a shampoo, conditioner, and body wash all in one.
- Contact solution
- New contact lens cases
- Spare glasses
- Comb and hairbrush
- Chapstick or your favorite lip balm
- Nail clippers
- Hand sanitizer – I love the lavender scented hand sanitizer from L’Occitane – pricey, but hey, it smells great!
- Baby wipes
- Toilet paper
- Skincare – I love samples – whenever I go shopping for new skincare supplies, they always throw in samples of the same line that I’m using. This is where my samples go – into my emergency kit.
- Prescription drugs
- Underwear for 3 days
- Socks (3 pairs)
- Pants (1 pair – you really can wear them for 3 days! And besides, you won’t have that much space)
- Shirt (2 shirts)
- Sweatshirt (1)
- Jacket (1)
- Shoes (1 pair of closed toed shoes)
First Aid Kit – I have an American Red Cross first aid kit that has just about everything in there and then I also bought one of these for each person – Personal Emergency Preparedness Kits also made by the American Red Cross. It comes with a rain poncho, hand warmers (2), light stick (1), N95 particulate face mask (1), a pair of vinyl exam gloves, whistle, mini first aid kit with antiseptic wipes, and a nylon backpack.
Food – Ok, let’s face it, who really wants to gnaw on a sawdust bar that claims to contain 2400 calories? You can get some decently delicious food that are already prepared for you and your only job is to heat it up or you can eat it cold.
We bought plenty of boxes of Hormel Compleats, Bear Creek soups in a bag (you just need 4 bottles of water) to make 8 cups of hot soup, granola bars, dried fruits, hot chocolate, candy, gatorade, Nutella, peanut butter, milk in aseptic containers, dried milk, cereals, tuna in foil packaging, gum, crackers, chocolate, instant rice, fruit cups, ramen, goldfish crackers, graham crackers, Chef Boyardee Mac n Cheese, canned vegetables, and cookies. The items that need water to cook, I am setting aside bottles of water needed to cook those items so that I’m not scrambling for water to cook. Because my son loves rice, I can always boil the rice in a bag before I make the soup. Sure, in ideal situations, I wouldn’t do that because the water would be a bit starchy, but it’ll do in an emergency.
Kids – I have two little ones, so in their kit, I packed little toys (toy cars, trains, and figurines), crayons, markers, glue stick, googly eyes (you’d be surprised at how many different funny things you can make with some googly eyes, a pen, a gluestick, and some paper) pen, pencils, eraser, sharpener, a pad of paper, and a coloring book.
Animals – don’t forget your 4 legged fur babies! Make sure that each animal has their own crate to travel in, a water bowl, a food dish, vaccination records, a collar with your information on their tag, a leash, and a towel to sleep on. Chances are, if you’re evacuated, your vet most likely is as well – we found that out the hard way when we were evacuated.
- 1-2 queen flat bed sheets
- Flashlights (one for each person) – the LED ones last a long time and are brighter than the traditional ones
- A recent family photo in case you get separated
- Portable propane stove
- Pot and pan
- Dish soap and sponge
- Paper plates and utensils
- Manual can opener
- Heavy work gloves
- Unscented liquid household bleach and an eyedropper for water purification
- Duct tape
- Utility knife
- 5 gallon bucket and plastic bags (portable toilet!)
- Hand powered radio
- Cash in small bills (a minimum of $20 for each person)
- Disposable camera
- Emergency fire starter
- Blankets if space permits – Whenever I get new blankets, I place my old ones in the emergency area
Important Documents – I still need to do this, but gather up all your important documents and make copies of everything – health insurance, identification cards, passports, vaccination records, mortgage, birth certificates, wills, deeds, vehicle titles, social security cards, important phone numbers, prescriptions, bank accounts, credit card information, anything you can think of and stick the copies into your bag.
Make sure that you know where to meet up with everybody if you’re not all together when an emergency happens. Make sure you have a disaster plan in place that everyone in the family understands.
Finally, make a list of the top 10 items you really would like to bring with you and where they’re located so you’re not pulling your hair out at the last minute. i.e.: family photo on living room wall, computer hard drive with photos in office on desk, child’s baby blankets in hallway closet, etc…
I’m sure this isn’t the most complete kit, but it’s a good start. I would love to hear any details you have about preparing for disasters!
While on the topic still, I still need to get CPR and First Aid certified – if you’re in the San Diego area, I highly recommend you get in touch with LockHart Training if you’re interested!