Are We Ready to Talk About Emergency Preparedness?

Emergency preparedness can seem daunting. But it’s also important.

I learned a lot about my emergency preparedness (and lack thereof) a few weeks ago during and following the derecho. And I feel like now is a perfect time to talk about it while it’s still fresh on our minds.

Are We Ready to Talk About Emergency Preparedness?

For several months I’d been thinking about going through our family’s 72-hour kits and revamping them. I couldn’t remember if we had one for our 17 month old. I figured the other kids’ were probably full of too-small clothes and possibly expired food.

While we were huddled in a corner of the basement riding out the unexpected and terrifying storm, we found out just how outdated our kits were.

Our two oldest kids (ages nine and seven) remembered that we had put stuffed animals in the kits and they wanted them for comfort. The kids also mentioned being cold, so we pulled out some warm clothes. Luckily, they weren’t too small, just a little snug. No one was interested in the lunch we hastily picked up off the table and took downstairs with us as the storm sirens went off, but the trail mix and apple sauce pouches from our kits were definitely a big hit! Luckily those items have a long shelf life.

Let me share a few things I learned about emergency preparedness that day, and in the days following.

First, here’s what I did right:

  1. We have 72-hour kits (that weren’t too outdated). These mostly provided comfort during the storm when my kids were terrified, but I also took comfort knowing that we had a few supplies on hand, and in easily transportable bags, should we need to vacate our house. And we were glad we had the flashlights when the power went out and we were in the dark basement!
  2. We have a supply of nonperishable foods that could sustain a relatively healthy diet for a few weeks. We have grains, nuts, canned meat, canned fruits and vegetables, seasonings (mostly salt), water, and a sufficient supply of chocolate. We also have a supply of non-food needs like toilet paper, toothpaste, soap, etc. Should a situation arise that we can’t get to a grocery store (or stores can’t get supplies or food….like toilet paper….or fresh meat…), we can survive for a while with what we have stored.
  3. We have cash in our 72-hour kits. The day after the storm we went in search of a few essentials–propane, ice, and tarps. We found a gas station near our house that had propane tanks and ice, but they didn’t have power and were only accepting cash. We don’t use cash very often and usually don’t keep much on hand. I was glad we had a stash of small bills available.

And here are a few things I wish we had:

  1. An emergency radio would have been nice. We didn’t have power and our cell service was really spotty for a couple days. A radio would have been nice to help us know what was going on in the surrounding area and how widespread the storm damage was.
  2. Batteries. We had a couple of really good flashlights that we didn’t have the right size batteries for. We don’t use a lot of ‘D’ or ‘C’ cell batteries, so I don’t buy them very often. I’ve learned that I need to either keep fresh batteries in stock or buy different flashlights that only use ‘AA’ batteries.
  3. Gas. We have 3 empty gas cans in the garage. I’ve thought about filling them, but I didn’t see the need as we have an electric lawnmower and no need for gas other than our two cars. I figured the gas would go bad before we ever used it. Now I’ve come up with a plan to fill the cans at least every six months and then dump the gas into one of our cars and fill the cans fresh. It will be worth that little effort to make sure we have gas in case of another emergency.
  4. Phone numbers. Internet was down and cell service was unreliable. It was difficult to find contact information for our insurance agent. We also had to dig out the old phone book and remember how to use it to find contractors and tree removal services in the days following the storm.

Overall, I felt good about our preparations.

We had enough basic supplies to keep everyone safe and content. I know, though, that other emergency situations could arise that would require a different set of skills and resources. Hopefully, we’ll be prepared for it when it comes!

If you want more information on emergency preparedness you can find great resources at ready.gov, and redcross.org.

What kind of emergency preparedness supplies do you have? Is there anything you wish you had during or after the storm?

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Kristin is an Iowa transplant from Utah. Five years ago, she and her husband wondered what Iowa had to offer them, and they’re glad they decided to find out. Going on 12 years of marriage, and a proud mom of five, she devotes herself to motherhood and homemaking. A wildland firefighter turned stay-at-home mom, she spends her days fighting off imaginary pirates, building space-ship prototypes out of Legos, and belting out show tunes with her tiny ensemble.