Natural disasters are devastating for everyone. Wild fires can destroy homes, jobs, and lives. Most of the time it leads to a blind panic over lives, valuables and essentials. Things such as preparation kits can be very helpful during this time. Most of the time you can pack them and forget about them until they are needed. Please keep in mind this is a guideline for 1 kit per person. Personally based on my 2 person family, I am preparing 3 kits. 1 for me, 1 for my spouse, and 1 for our beloved pets.
Okay, let’s take this one step at a time. Keep a level head. This is a fairly simple kit to prepare. For weight purposes, I would suggest one kit per family member. This just makes it lighter to carry and also helped with conservation and portioning of the supplies. Please keep in mind this is just a guide line to use. Your kits can change based on personal and family needs. Also, these kits are for more than just wild fires. They can be used for most emergency evacuation situations.
With most evacuation you want at least two routes to evacuate and get to a safe meeting place. It is best to have these marked on a map. One map per kit just in case you get separated. It is good to make sure you and your family have a meeting place and if children are involved a “safe word”. This is a word to give to emergency services to say “this stranger is safe”. Sometimes families have 2 safe words. One says “This stranger is safe” and the other says “Your family is safe and I will take you to them”.
Let’s start with the basics in your kit. We all have those canned goods in the back of our cabinet that we keep for the “uh-oh” situations. A very important thing to keep in your emergency kit is three days worth of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person. Canned goods do have expiration dates however they do take a while to get to that date. Generally you want this food to have at least some nutritional value to them. My kits are being formed as I write this article and the packs will change with each family member. For water, you can get cheap gallon jugs of water from your local big box store.
Okay, so now that we won’t be weak from lack of nutrition or dehydration. Let’s talk about the other big elephant in the room. Many people don’t think about this. Prescriptions, specialty medications, and eyewear. We all generally have a place in our home to store our medications, spare glasses, and other things needed for our health. If possible, ask for an extra refill so you can pack it away. However, if your doctor does not allow this or your medications have expiration dates, keep all of these things close together and keep a travel bag big enough for all of them near by. If you or a loved one has any sort of conditions, this could be a big life or death thing you can’t afford to forget.
VERY IMPORTANT! In your emergency kit, fill a ziplock bag with the credentials and such you may need. This bag is a good place to store back up bank and credit cards, cash, extra car keys, and traveler checks. In a second bag pack copies of you vital records and identification. This second bag should include a copy of your birth certificate, social security card, passport, drivers license, and any other important documents. These will come in handy for insurance policies, missing persons, and much more. This are very important.
No one wants to stink. Showers most likely will not be available when your in the middle of an evacuation. However, hygiene stuff and a spare change of clothes. For my family of two I have packed the following:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Body wash
- 3 or more changes of underwear
- Sweatpants (one pair for each of us)
- Gym shorts (one pair for each of us)
- 2 shirts (two for each of us)
- Socks ( four pairs for each of us)
- 2 pairs of shoes (two for each of us in case one pair breaks)
When you start to panic people tend to be less cautious. In your emergency kit you should also have a basic first aide kit. You can purchase a kit or create your own based on your needs. Most important is bandages, antibiotic cream, and ibuprofen. Store brought kits do tend to be cheaper in the long run and have much more than you would usually need in them. My first aide kits include emergency blankets and other things typically found in a vehicle emergency kit such as flares, caution triangles, tow rope, and more.
Don’t lose communication. Keep a flashlight with batteries in your kit. Along with a battery powered radio. If you are able to locate the flashlights that are shaken for power, those are not as bright but are still effective. Extra batteries are a must. Please check the storage recommendations on the packaging to ensure you don’t have corrosive batteries or other chances of contamination. These will be very important in keeping you up to date with local authorities.
Don’t forget our animal family! Make sure you have a small go bag packed for your the pets. This to should include at least 3 days of food, 3 gallons of water per pet, leash, vet papers, tags, and possibly a comfort item such as a favorite toy or blanket.
If time allows, you can grab other valuable things such as jewelry. Family photos are irreplaceable most of the time. If you have time, grab what you can. Personal computer information and hard drives or disks are another thing to grab if you have time. Along with chargers for your cell phone and other devices. Personally, I have taken to scanning all family photos to a usb drive with the intention of having copies of them in my emergency kit. A usb drive is how I have copies of all personal paperwork, documentation copies, and family photos. However, technology is not always available. I am still keeping paper copies of the most important paperwork in my emergency kit.
Sources: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/get-set/emergency-supply-kit/ , my mother, grandmother, and great aunt