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Essential Home and Vehicle Emergency Kit and Family Preparedness Information

By Denis Korn

Franklin quote

This post -Essential Home and Vehicle Emergency Kit and Family Preparedness Information – is one of the most important posts I have presented.  I am posting it again in light of the recent devastating floods in Houston and surrounding areas.  The timeliness of this information can not be over stated!  The uncertainty of the times requires appropriate preparation and answering the questions contained in this article.  It is a valuable companion to another important post Essential Checklist for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning – Including Vehicle Preparedness – Latest Update

I feel it is very important to also include one of my Foundational Articles titled Is your entire family prepared for emergencies at all times?  It appears at the end of this post. 

You are highly encouraged to share this post and its vital information with family, friends, business associates, church and temple congregations and other members of any organizations to which you belong.  May this post help you in your serious preparedness planning.  Celebrate Peace of Mind!

Here are the crucial questions to answer when assembling your emergency kit/grab-and-go/bug-out bag – which is essential if you must leave your home or business quickly.

  • If an evacuation has been declared, a severe weather event is imminent or a significant disaster has occurred, how will I know?
  • If I have to evacuate, will I be in a cozy government evacuation center with food, water, blankets and a bed, or will I be on my own in the elements, a crude shelter or a friend’s/relatives house?
  • Am I clear on the circumstances and scenarios that may arise that will require me to evacuate versus the circumstances that would compel me to stay put and hunker down?
  • If specific government, church, community and friend’s sheltering options are not available, where do I go? How far? How do I get there?
  • What conditions can I expect to encounter – best scenario – worst scenario?
  • What are the weather conditions I am likely to encounter? What is the season?
  • Will I be alone, or are others depending on me? Family – children – elderly – pets?
  • Am I dependent on others? Who? Why? Do I expect the government to take care of me?
  • What kind of support is likely to be available?
  • How long should I prepare for?
  • What if there is nothing left when I return?
  • Are my essentials, heirlooms, personal treasures, irreplaceable photographs, documents and financial assets secure if I leave with only my grab-and-go bag?
  • Do I have a reliable communication plan to contact family, friends and business associates at a moment’s notice?
  • What is the potential severity of the emergency I might experience?
  • Will I have transportation, or will I be on foot?
  • Do I have enough money on hand to pay for possible shelter, food or supplies if I am suddenly evacuated and away from home or business?
  • Am I truly prepared for the unexpected, a procrastinator or am I in denial?

To have a truly adequate emergency kit/grab-and-go/bug-out bag the above questions must be answered. Your personal preparedness bag contents will vary depending on numerous factors such as time, number of persons, locations involved, mobility, support available, season, comfort level desired and the degree of peace of mind you want.

Here is a list of the basic essentials for every kit. Each category will have multiple options depending on how you answer the above crucial questions. Cheap, inadequate and poorly made provisions don’t belong in a quality kit. Prepare your kit as if you and your family’s life and comfort depended on it – because it does!

  1. Water – bottled/filters/purifiers/tablets/containers
  2. Food – ready-to-eat/bars/trail mix/freeze dried/shelf stable/food preparation equipment
  3. Medical – quality medical kit with instructions/prescriptions/glasses/essential medications/sunscreen/dental medic/foot care/safety pins/dust mask/gas mask
  4. Special Needs – food/medical/children/elderly/disabled/pets
  5. Tools – multi-tool/knife/wire/cable ties/duct tape/rope/paracord/gloves/small axe/repair tools/super glue/aluminum foil/ /manual can opener (often on multi-tool)/bungee cords/foldable or wire saw
  6. Communication – radio/hand crank – solar – battery/two-way radios/cell phone
  7. Fire – fire starter/lighter/matches/tinder/flint starter/magnifying glass
  8. Signaling & Orienting – whistle/signal mirror/compass/maps/GPS device
  9. Lighting – Hand crank – solar – battery/headlamp/flashlight/lantern/candles/lightsticks
  10. Power & Energy – batteries – regular and rechargeable/power-pack for batteries & cell phone recharged by solar and/or hand crank/solar and/or hand crank that charges devices directly
  11. Shelter – tarp/tent – tube or larger/plastic sheeting/insect protection
  12. Emergency Blankets/sleeping bags – emergency or larger or bivy sack
  13. Personal Hygiene/sanitary supplies/disinfectant
  14. Plastic Bags/ties
  15. Personal Security – weapon & ammo if appropriate/pepper spray/bear repellant/mace or other options
  16. Appropriate Clothing and Footwear – protection from the elements/apparel for warmth/heat packs – hand and body warmers
  17. Identification and Essential Documents – Bible/compact survival handbook/personal ID/insurance and other key documents/entertainment
  18. Spare Keys
  19. Phone Numbers and Addresses – friends, relatives, and emergency organizations/agencies
  20. Instructions on meeting and/or communicating with family and/or friends during or after an emergency
  21. Cash/credit cards
  22. Pen/markers/paper
  23. Configured Compact Emergency Kit with Essential Items
  24. Carrying Device – carry bag/backpack/suitcase/sturdy container/Food & Supply Brick™/duffel Bag (very durable and if you anticipate carrying your bag any distance shoulder straps should be available with your carry bag or duffel)

If time permits, take irreplaceable items such as heirlooms, heirloom jewelry, photographs, military/marriage/birth/deed records, computers, tablets, and personal contact information and documents not included in your grab-and-go device.

Water
An obvious necessity for everyone. Know what water sources are available to you during an emergency, or in the outdoors. Plan accordingly and don’t hold back preparing for this essential category.

Determine whether or not you want to purify water for viruses.  Not all water filters are designed for this purpose – look for water purifiers that specifically state that they will kill viruses.

Food
Numerous options are available. This category must be accessed carefully and the quality and quantity of foods chosen should be appropriate to the anticipated length of time of the emergency or outing, and severity of circumstances you anticipate might occur.  For shorter term scenarios foods in most situations should be nutritious and ready-to-eat; however you might want to consider some foods requiring only the addition of cold or hot water.  If you do need hot water you must plan for the appropriate means and equipment to heat your water.  Options listed have a longer shelf life and are suitably packaged for kits or backpacks.

Medical
When your health and survival during a medical emergency is at stake, you don’t want to rely on cheap or inadequate medical supplies. This is an important category to thoughtfully evaluate. Don’t forget medications or products needed for those with special medical conditions.  If your pre-assembled kit doesn’t include one, make sure you get a good book on medical emergencies.

Shelter/warmth
Protection from the elements and insects is essential, especially in a harsh climate.

Tools
Numerous unforeseen situations or just routine conditions occur during an emergency or during an outdoor adventure. Be prepared and secure with the proper quality tool.

Communication/Signaling
It is important to keep informed during an emergency with friends, family, and appropriate governmental agencies and emergency organizations. When in an outdoor environment, unsettled weather considerations necessitate weather alert radios. Avoid a sense of isolation during serious emergencies.  If you get lost or are separated from your group signaling can be crucial.  Since electronic items are included in this category, you may want to consider a small solar power device.

Lighting
This is an essential category to address when anticipating any situation where you may be in darkness. Not only for a sense of security and comfort, but to be able to see clearly and act accordingly if emergencies occur in the dark.

Personal protection
For some this may not be an essential basic category.  Each individual must decide the extent to which they will or will not provide protection for themselves and their families from physical harm by others or wild animals.

This article provides a very basic list of suggested items we believe are essential for emergency preparedness and outdoor recreation; especially if space, weight, and mobility are important.  For an expanded list of suggestions read our article: Essential Checklist for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning Including Vehicle Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness Items for Automobiles – Trucks – Vans – RV’s

These items are especially important for long trips, family outings, new younger drivers, inclement weather, remote areas and at night.

AS A FATHER OF 3 DAUGHTERS AND 8 GRANDCHILDREN, I  HIGHLY ENCOURAGE FATHERS AND MOTHERS TO ENSURE YOUR CHILDREN ARE SECURE AND PREPARED – ESPECIALLY IN WINTER AND INCLEMENT WEATHER – WHEN THEY ARE DRIVING!

  • Spare tire
  • Jack with tire iron and supporting tools
  • Device to break window and cut seat belts from the inside in an emergency
  • Tire inflation device – portable power and/or aerosol can inflator/other tire repair materials
  • JB Weld®/super adhesive
  • Jumper cables
  • Portable power unit for jump starting and backup power
  • Tow cables/rope
  • Chains/cables/bungee cords for tightening
  • Crowbar
  • Reflectors/flares
  • Hidden spare key
  • Extra oil
  • Extra gas/funnel if appropriate
  • Siphon hose
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Extra fan belts/bulbs/hoses/additives/sealers/hard to get parts/repair kit
  • Window scraper
  • Important phone numbers/documents/insurance information
  • GPS device if appropriate
  • Empty gas can
  • Material to gain traction if stuck in snow or ice – cat liter/sand/wood shavings/old rug

Additional critical items from the Essential Checklist to carry in your vehicle:

  • Tarps
  • Blankets/emergency sleeping bag
  • First Aid kit
  • Baby supplies
  • Food and water/water purification/containers if appropriate
  • Maps
  • Pen/magic marker/paper
  • Personal documents and photo ID/registration/insurance
  • Gloves
  • Duct tape
  • Rope/wire
  • Repair tools
  • Plastic bags large and small
  • Cell phone/smart phone/charger
  • Emergency radio/hand crank radio
  • Emergency lighting
  • Rope/wire/bungees
  • Small solar/12 volt power packs for small electronics
  • Cash/credit card
  • Extra clothing in harsh and/or wet weather/hat
  • Hand/body warmers
  • Rain gear/rubber boots/poncho
  • Knife/multi-tool
  • Whistle
  • Toilet paper
  • Towels
  • Shovel
  • Small fire extinguisher
  • Matches/fire starter
  • Extra batteries
  • Personal protection devices or items as appropriate/pepper spray                                                                                                                                      
  • Refer to the Essential Checklist for other items relevant to your vehicles specific needs.

 

Is your entire family prepared for emergencies at all times?

Recent events have brought us catastrophic circumstances that have had devastating and lasting effects on thousands of people around the world.  I pray that you take this advice seriously.   Recent conversations have also motivated me to consider this important article as a Foundational Article.

I am reminded of a presentation I made some years back to a large gathering of preparedness professionals.  This convention consisted of folks who came from all over the country and of course this meant that they would be gone from their families for a few days.  Bear in mind that at my presentation there were a couple hundred people whose responsibilities included preparedness planning and education for very large companies, organizations, and governmental agencies.

At the beginning of my talk I asked the group how many felt completely confident that in their absence their families were prepared to deal with unforeseen emergencies or disasters – especially significant ones.  Only a few raised their hands!  Since most of these participants were the head of their households, what does it tell you about fulfilling one’s responsibility to protect and keep the family secure in difficult times?

Fortunately over the years the professional emergency management community has become more dedicated to personally embodying what they are responsible for in government and business.  What about the average household?

It appears that most head of households have some notion that their presence is security enough for the family during an emergency.  This is a dangerous assumption.  The sensible attitude is to ensure that all family members – adults – the elderly – teenagers – and young children, know:

  • What to do
  • How to respond
  • Where to go – or not go
  • Who to contact
  • Where the information and supplies are located
  • How to use and operated essential equipment
  • How to access drinking water
  • How to prepare any food reserves
  • How to communicate with family and emergency personnel
  • How to keep warm in freezing conditions
  • How to have the proper attitude
  • How to pray

Instructions should be in writing and the entire family should participate in drills and practices.  Family members – immediate and extended – should know their part during an emergency under all scenarios and given any combination of family members physically present – or absent.

  • Do your children, spouse and other family members know what to do and how to act if a serious emergency occurs and they are not at home?
  • How will your communicate with them or those in their keeping?
  • What if they are at school – what plans does the school have to communicate with parents or guardians?
  • What will the school provide for students?
  • What if they are at work – what plans does the business or organization have to communicate with other family members?
  • What will the business provide for their employees?
  • Does the business or organization have their own contingency plans?
  • Do you have contingency plans for communication and provisioning for your spouse – adult children – younger children when they are away from home at camp, business trip, etc.?
  • What if an emergency occurs while a family member is in their vehicle and in transit?
  • Is your family secure, knowledgeable and responsible?

Between Learn To Prepare and numerous internet websites, there is an abundance of valuable information for the whole family.  Study this information as if your life and your families’ life depended on it – in a significant emergency it does!

 So I ask all of you reading this post:  In your absence is you family adequately educated and prepared to properly respond and survive during a serious emergency situation?  I encourage you to have all family members read the Foundational Articles on the right column of this blog.

dilbertDisasterPlan

 

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