Emergency Packs for Grabbing

Updated: Mar 19, 2020

*Updated March 18, 2020 when we actually experienced a 5.7 magnitude earthquake*

We live in an area that is "due" for an earthquake. They've been saying this since I was in 4th grade when I learned about earthquake safety at school and ended up going home and duct taping all of our kitchen cabinets shut, much to my parents amusement and I'm sure, chagrin.

But with climate change and many places experiencing drastic weather conditions, whether it is flooding or fires or earthquakes, it doesn't hurt to be prepared for an emergency to "grab it and go" in case you have the need to evacuate your home. With the recent Covid19 coronavirus, complete planning would also entail the scenario if you would need to quarantine yourself (known as social distancing in the US) and shelter in place, and I'm still working through what that would include, but for now I can only think of lots of drinking water and food (and surprisingly enough, toilet paper). Any comments you have below would be helpful!

You may want to consider having shoes near your bed, in case there is glass and debris from broken windows during a quake. We have a no-shoes rule in the home and so all of our shoes are in a closet near the garage, however we have slippers that we keep near the bed. Mentally think about which shoes you'd take with you if you needed to leave quickly. Something that stays on, so no flip flops, and covers your foot should suffice.

I found inexpensive hiking backpacks for me and my husband, and a smaller version for my older son. There are several items I have duplicates of where we each have our own, while other items I divided up between me and my husband to carry, assuming we'll be together. As for items for our younger son, who is still a toddler and too young to carry his own pack, his supplies are with my backpack so we don't have to remember what of his items are where or with whom.

What we have in our emergency packs can easily double as most people's camping backpacks. We're not adventurous enough to do more than car camping with our kids yet, but maybe someday we'll use them for that. Here is what I've prepared for the fam for emergency packs in case we need to leave our home:

Items in all three backpacks

  1. Identification - more details below

  2. Cash

  3. Dry socks (several pairs) - always have dry socks

  4. Undies (several pairs) - always have clean undies

  5. Base Layers (1 set, top and bottom) - we live in a desert that gets frigid cold, even in the summer, at night.

  6. 2 days of spare clothes for adults, 4 for children (think spills, blowouts...)

  7. Extra Ziplock gallon bags / plastic bags - you never know when you'll need to "waterproof" something and to keep things organized (think clothes with blowouts!)

  8. Water bottle - collapsible and one with built-in filter

  9. Face masks - several N95 and standard kinds

  10. Fleece blankets - for warmth but also cushion

  11. Emergency space mylar blankets - incredibly light weight, folds to nothing

  12. Hand-operated radio/flashlight - not battery powered so you don't need to continually replace them while it's in the closet.

  13. Gloves (work / gardening) to protect hands should you need them.

  14. Portable chair - light weight, foldable

  15. Camping utensils (spork-like tool)

  16. Toiletry bag with toothbrushes, toothpaste, contacts, contact solution, etc

Items in my emergency backpack:

1. Identification in ziplock baggies: In both adult packs we have:

  • IDs

  • Copies of birth certificates / our marriage certificate

  • Copies of SSN cards

  • Cash

2. Comprehensive first aid kit

3. Tarp

4. Burner / Heater / Cook top

5. Snacks for toddler - pouches that last in storage

6. Extra clothes for toddler - this is difficult because this often needs to be updated so that sizing is relevant.

7. Diaper kit - sizing needs to stay relevant so I actually have a pack that I often throw into purses if I don't want to take the entire diaper bag.

8. Medicine Kit - our younger son isn't old enough for certain medicines and need his own like Infant Motrin etc.

9. Feminine hygiene products

10. Electronic chargers for cell phones, tablets, laptops, hot spots...etc.

In a separate bag that I'm responsible for:

1. Diapers

2. Baby wipes

3. Food / snacks for our toddler son which included, aseptic pouches, formula

4. Girl Scout Cookies - because we just got our annual stash

Items in my husband's emergency backpack:

1. Identification in ziplock baggies: In both adult packs we have:

  • IDs

  • Copies of birth certificates / marriage certificate

  • Copies of SSN cards

  • Cash

2. Tent

3. Painter suit - to allow him to get into spaces where we don't want him to get "dirty"

4. Nylon rope

5. Mini shovel

6. Hammock

Items in my son's emergency backpack:

  • Note in ziplock baggie (so it's "waterproof") that identifies who he is and how to get a hold of his parents should we get separated.

  • Cash - in smaller bills

  • Headlamp

  • Snacks

  • Baggie of bandaids and basic first aid care

One thing that is also helpful is a handful of carabiners. Because you can be hands-free and "carry" more items on your back that way.

Besides letting everyone in your household know about these packs and what's in them, it's also important to have an emergency plan that everyone is also aware of. Be generic (we will meet at home) so that you don't have to remember different plans for different situations, but also work through specific scenarios with the kiddos so that they have examples to work off of in their minds (mom or dad or fill-in-the-blank will come get you to meet the family at home).

One of these days, when the kids are older and we're going through the house to thin out our junk, I'm sure the kids will remark how mom is a nutso. And while that may be so, I'm a well-prepared nutso. 😉

*Additional update March 18, 2020*

Having been through an earthquake this morning (and over 40 aftershocks throughout the day) a lot of what-ifs run through your mind. Immediately, I had about 8 texting threads with different groups of friends and here are some critical things to consider/do:

During the quake:

Standard safety protocol is to Drop, Cover, and Hold On.

We were all still in bed and confused and did not practice any of the above. But drop to the floor on your hands and knees so that you don't have an uncontrolled fall, cover your head - the most important part of your body, and if you are under a table or "shelter" to hold on to the table leg so that you move with it and can take advantage of being under it.

Do not run outside. Unless you live next to a large field or golf course...or something similar.

The idea is that during an earthquake, buildings don't fall straight down and can crash a little sideways as it's coming down. You don't want to be in the way of that. It's safer to stay inside.

After the quake:

Check your home for damage.

1. Cracks: inspect each room for cracks

2. Doors: try each door, some may not close

3. Utility leaks: when in doubt turn off gas, water and electricity at the meter

4. Call your handyman if you need further assistance checking your home. We spoke with ours via phone since we're practicing social distancing and are all at home.

We moved our car out of the garage...facing outward for a quick getaway :). This is in the event we lose power and the safety release isn't working or the slim chance that enough damage is done to the garage door such that it won't open.

While we did not feel the need to do this, if you think that municipal water may be compromised later down the timeline, fill up your tub. You can use this to help flush the toilet so you have working toilets while the utilities are fixing broken lines.

#emergencypreparedness #emergency #emergencypacks #childwellness #prepared

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