Build an Emergency Kit!

Home and Emergency Car kits.

Do you have one? Probably not. Most women don’t. I didn’t have either for years. As a matter of fact, though I was a single mom and entirely responsible for the safety of my children, it wasn’t until I was caught in a true life emergency that I even thought to have one. One winter night, one catastrophic ice storm, one house with no electricity, no firewood, no candles, limited resources and a car in the driveway with less than ¼ tank of gas and a hard lesson was learned.

Why wasn’t I more prepared? My only possible response is that I felt I was too busy to think about it. Even if there is some validity to the fact that I have a busy schedule, I have to admit that standing in a dark home on a cold winter night and realizing how unprepared I was to keep my children safe was a much more painful experience than it would have been to take three hours out of a busy day to secure a plan of action for a potential disaster.

My son shows off his choices for our Auto Safety Kit. (Battery Operated Lantern and Jumper Cables)

Though we made it through that event with everyone intact, I never wanted to feel that helpless again. In an effort to be more prepared for a similar situation, I went to the store and looked at “Emergency Home and Car Kits”. There were so many to choose from. Some looked goofy, some looked complicated – most of it looked intimidating. After all, I had no idea what some of the items in the kits even did. Water Purifying tabs? Sanitation supplies? Hemostatic Agents? None of it seemed very sexy if you ask me. But, then again, standing helpless in my home during a storm wasn’t very cool either. So, I began to ask questions. Lots and Lots of questions. The result? A very well stocked, completely effective home and car kit. How did we do it?

After acquainting myself with the basics, I rounded up the kids and had them help me shop and build our kits. For them, it was an incredible lesson in responsibility and preparation. In the years that have passed, we have added – or removed – a few things. We have easily maintained our home through wind storms, snow storms, power outages, first aid needs and small emergencies. It was simple – and I want to share it with you. I have been blogging about Spring Break Auto safety this week so I am going to focus on building an AUTO safety kit. We can tackle home safety later! So, let’s begin: First, understand that you will need items from three separate categories

• Sustaining and First Aid Items
• Mechanical Items
•Security and “extra” Items

Step One: Get a Piece of Paper and write down any person that the kit needs to cover. Make a column for each person. In my case, the kit needed sustaining items for myself, my children and ( at the time I made it), our dog. Write down any specific needs that anyone on that paper has. (medicines, baby formula, contact lense solution, etc) This will keep you from overlooking something that will be critical.

Step Two: Buy a container for essentials. Make sure it is going to be small enough to fit in your vehicle without interfering with daily activities. If it gets in the way, it may get removed “just for a minute” and then never get replaced.

Ok, time to pack it up!

A) First: Things You Need to LIVE: Sustainment & First Aid

• Water: I find it easier to buy a case of water bottles and leave it in the back of my SUV. If taking that option, however, be sure to place SOME water in the pack itself – in the event of a “grab and go.”

• Food: Beef Jerky, High Calorie Protein bars.

• First Aid Kit: Buying a standard kit is fine, but make sure you know what everything is used for. Actually open it up and go through it. Two items that are typically not found in garden variety first aids kits are “Quick Clot” and Tourniquets. It is worth buying them separately and adding them. The first aid kit also needs to include any specific items that someone may need. For example, if someone has asthma, keep an extra inhaler in the first aid kit. For severe allergies, an an extra Epi-Pen is essential as well.

B) Next Up, Mechanical Items!

I am certainly no mechanic and I keep a AAA membership for a reason! Regardless, it makes sense to have some basic mechanical knowledge and carry some items that can be used in the event of a car problem. Keep in mind that we are talking about items in the kit here. It goes without saying that every vehicle should be equipped with items to change a flat tire –including an inflated Spare!

• triangle reflectors and flares
• phillips and flathead screw drivers
• fuses
• jumper cables
• gloves
• rags
• funnel
• collapsible Shovel (winter kit)
• sand Bag (winter kit)

C) Finally, Security & The ‘Extras”

• whistle
• batteries
• small handheld radio
• matches and lighters
• emergency candles
• specialized medications
• glow sticks
• toilet paper
• antiseptic wipes
• Emergency ‘Help” sign
• contact lens solution, other personalized items.
• rain jacket
• hand/foot warmers (winter item)
• sunscreen (summer item)

Now, before you laugh at the thought of carrying all of these items in your vehicle, remember that the key here is – personalize. These are items from my kit. You may want more, or less, in yours. This, however, I guarantee: If someone jumped in my “girlie” FJ Cruiser, they wouldn’t have a clue that the black and red plastic box in the back actually held an emergency kit. You can pull this off with out looking like you anticipating the end of the world.

A Few Last Minute Thoughts:

Build – Don’t Buy!

While it seems like it would be easier to buy a kit, you will be much better off personalizing your own. By taking the time to hand pick each item, you will have a greater recollection of what is in there and a better understanding of what each item is for.

Rotate and Update!

Food items, prescriptions, medication and other time sensitive items need to be checked and rotated on a semi -annual basis. The turn of the season is a great time to do this.  I will take a look at my kits at the beginning of Spring and Fall. This is a perfect time to rotate season specific items and replace things that may have been used or “stolen” from the kit throughout the season. (The latter speaking specifically of my children’s desire to raid the kit for batteries!)

Finally…

I say in nearly every blog, the last place that you want to be when you decide you need some assistance is in the middle of an urgent situation. By then, it’s too late. The thought of needing items in a vehicle crisis is not far fetched. What about the hundreds of people stranded on an Illinois Highway this past winter during a storm, or the nearly 50 who were stuck on a blazing highway last summer after it had been shut down unexpectedly? Things happen. The Wrong Woman™ won’t find herself at risk due to lack of preparation!

Comments

  1. Norma JOyner says:

    I just found this site and think it’s great. I’m a mother of two and my husband and I have been on and off about being prepared. But this gives me a way to start slowly.

    Thanks also for your great insite on the conceal and carry outfits. I was just talking to my husband about this yesterday. I told him it’s hard to look cute and conceal. But you just proved me very wrong.

    • Hi Norma! Glad to have you on board! I think you were right – it IS hard to look cute! Possible…but hard 🙂 Hopefully that short series will help!

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