This is, primarily, a travel blog. However, I do occasionally like to delve into slightly different topics that I think are interesting or useful to know. We all love traveling for leisure, adventure, and fun…but what happens if we find ourselves suddenly in a situation where we need to travel unexpectedly? I’m talking about emergency situations, here.
Recent events here in my country have gotten me thinking about disaster preparedness. For instance, when hurricane Irma was headed for Florida, people had to pack up and head out of town as quickly as they could. Here in California, our recent, awful wildfires in the North of the state saw people having to evacuate, at times with only a moment’s notice. Not to mention the people of the Caribbean who are still recovering from the devastating hurricanes that ripped through the region recently.
So what happens when you have to evacuate your home in a hurry? Well, you need somewhere to go, of course. Yes, you’re traveling. While most of us usually pack all our essentials for a trip, I’ve started to think it’s a good idea to have emergency essentials packed as well. I am, by no means, a prepper. That being said, I’ve started to think more about what would happen if I needed to leave quickly due to a wildfire, earthquake, or other such scenario. Really, it’s a good idea for everybody to have some supplies and a good plan in place for such an eventuality because no matter where you live in the world, this kind of thing can definitely happen to you.
So, today we’re going to talk about prepping. It’s not the first time we’ve talked about it on this blog. I had a guest post a while back on this very subject, and I thought it was great information that you should definitely read, but I wanted to revisit the subject for those of you who, like myself, haven’t really given this subject much thought until now.
What should you prepare?
I’m going to start off here with the caveat that I am no expert on the subject. There are so many groups and blogs and lists out there dedicated to this kind of information, so if you’re really interested in being thorough, make sure to look into it a little more. FEMA has some great information on their Ready.gov website, so check that out!
There are a lot of lists out there that give you tips on the kinds of things you should pack. But, it really depends on you and what your situation is. What kinds of disasters do you think might happen in your area? Me? I’m concerned with wildfires and earthquakes mostly. Your concerns may very well be different though!
- Make copies of your important documents (passport, birth certificate, social security card, marriage license, insurance policies, that sort of thing…) and give them to somebody you trust offsite (like your mom, a good friend, etc.) or put them in a safety deposit box. That way, if your house burns down, you’ll have those copies with the information you need to start getting them replaced.
- Speaking of important documents, not a bad idea to keep them in one of those waterproof, fire-proof safes. Just in case. That way, they are all in one place that you can (hopefully) grab on your way out the door, or that will at the very least provide some protection should something happen while you’re out.
The Grab and Go Bag, also Known as a “Bugout Bag”…
- Pack a bag of things you think you might need for a few days in case you need to leave in a hurry. The Northern California wildfires saw many people running out their doors with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a backpack with a change of clothes (I’m going with t-shirt, sweatshirt, and sweatpants…no need to worry about fashion in an emergency), some fresh underwear, a change of socks, a small blanket, medicines you might need to take, and a little bit of nonperishable food like protein bars and water with you as a bare minimum. I think it’s a good idea to have some copies of those important documents in the bag as well, just in case. If you have pets or babies, don’t forget to pack their essentials as well (dog/cat food, leash, collapsible water bowl, etc…or for children…diapers, baby formula, bottle, etc. are some things you might want to pack).
- If you want your bag to be more robust, you might want to consider adding things like a flashlight with extra batteries, a multi-tool or Swiss army knife, a first aid kit, etc.
- If you really want to get into it, you might consider a more robust bag. Google “bug out bag list’ and you’ll get about a million hits where people have put together detailed lists. A lot of these lists seem really…hardcore…to me, but they do have a lot of good information on them if you’re interested in preparing for any eventuality, and I do mean ANY eventuality.
- Have a plan on where you’ll go. My basic plan is to go stay with relatives if there’s an issue in my town. They live about an hour North so if there’s a fire or earthquake destruction here, they will probably be fine there. If that doesn’t work out because, say, the roads are blocked for some reason such as road destruction or downed power lines after a major earthquake, I plan on getting a room at a local motel or asking a local friend to put me up for a few days. For that reason, I really only need the basic change of clothes, a little food and water, and important documents. But it’s highly individual and your plan should suit your specific concerns. If you’re in, say, Florida, you will want to consider hurricanes like the recent hurricane Irma where basically the whole state was trying to evacuate at once and got stuck in that awful traffic.
Preparing for “Bugging In”
There’s something also known as “bugging in”, which basically means things went wrong in your area, but it’s better to stay at home. I’m not talking about building a bunker or anything, but it’s probably a good idea to have some sort of plan in place in case something happens. This could be a situation like an extended power outage, an earthquake that was bad but your home wasn’t destroyed, major flooding in your area but your home isn’t in immediate danger, etc. Your needs here will be different. You don’t need to leave your home. You’ll already have all your clothes, blankets, etc. but you’ll probably want to have some nonperishable food and water, etc. at the ready just in case. Here’s what I recommend:
- Some water (the more the better, but at least a few gallons to get you through up to 72 hours). In case the water is out for a bit.
- Some non-perishable food that doesn’t require cooking, like protein bars, canned beans, nuts, etc. Also pet food or baby food if you have a pet or a baby. Again, make sure it’s enough to get you and your family through at least 72 hours. That’s the amount of time most disaster preparedness sites recommend as a minimum.
- A flashlight with batteries, because…let’s face it. The power may likely be out in this kind of scenario.
- Make sure you’re stocked up on toilet paper. Otherwise, you won’t be happy. Toilet paper = happy.
Those are the basics. Again as with “bugging out”, there are people out there who have some very detailed ideas on what you might need for “bugging in’. You’re welcome to get as detailed and hardcore about it as you want to get.
Not a bad idea to prepare your car for emergencies as well. Chances are, you might be out somewhere when a disaster strikes. Buying (or building) a car emergency kit is always a good idea. Consider this scenario: You’re on a road trip and you’re passing through a remote area of the country when your car breaks down. It’s dark out, and cold. You don’t have cell phone reception, so you basically just have to wait until somebody passes by. Since it’s remote, however, you’re not sure how long that will be. A car emergency kit can be a big help in a situation like this. They usually include things like tools/items to help repair your car if possible, a blanket in case it’s cold, and a little bit of food and water in case you’re out there for a while. If weather is a concern in your area, you may want to think about including things like an ice scraper, snow chains, etc. Check out this article on items you should include in your car emergency kit.
Anyway, I don’t mean to get all doom and gloom on everybody, but with the natural disasters we’ve been having all over the place lately…hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fires, etc., as well as the fact that sometimes things just happen…it’s always a good idea to be prepared. You may never need it, but if you do need it, you’ll be so happy you thought about these things ahead of time.
What are your thoughts on the subject? What do you do in order to prepare for emergencies?