Emergency prepping is on my mind more than normal lately. So many big things going on in our world today! Multiple devastating hurricanes, raging wildfires, earthquakes, and shootings. I truly believe that the world is mostly a good place and that people are mostly good. I also believe the media has a huge bias and only makes money from creating fear and panic. So if we spend any time on news sources and social media we can be led to believe that the ‘boogeyman’ is behind every bush.
Still, there are legitimate reasons that everyone should have an easy to grab pack or bag of some kind with your most important papers and survival needs.
Small Emergency Prepping
Is that a misnomer? Is there really such a thing as a small emergency? What I’m talking about here are those unexpected quick runs to the emergency room because your kid needs stitches or you’re going to sit with a sick friend. The weather gets bad while you’re at work and you’ll have to stay in the city overnight. Perhaps your electricity goes out and it’s going to be a few hours before it comes back on. Maybe the tornado siren is alerting you to take cover. What do you take with you?
What to pack in your ‘everyday’ emergency pack:
- Fresh water. Humans can only go short amounts of time without water. Of course if you’re heading to the emergency room you’ll have access, but what if you’re stuck in the basement for a tornado warning for a couple of hours. You never know when a short-term emergency will turn into a long-term one!
- Basic toiletries. A toothbrush and toothpaste, a washcloth.
- Important paperwork. This can be actual paper hard-copies or files stored on a USB drive.
- Medical records—good quality copies of your insurance cards, list of current medications, recent surgeries, vaccination record
- Insurance records—your policy numbers and agent’s numbers
- Proof of Identity—good quality photocopies of your driver’s license or state ID, proof of your current address (if not correct on your IDs). Should you be evacuated from your home, you may need proof of your address to re-enter your neighborhood. This is an attempt to keep looting of these neighborhoods at a minimum.
- Change of clothing. Make sure to change this out seasonally. You don’t want to be caught in the middle of winter with lightweight summer clothing as your only option.
- For the kids. You’ll want a few additional items in your kids’ bags.
- If your child is small make sure their favorite comfort item is included. This is especially important in an emergency! I used to work in a children’s emergency room—a ‘lovey’ is vital to giving young ones a sense of familiarity in what can be a very scary environment.
- If you have kids, you know how quickly they get bored! Pack something age appropriate, but small and lightweight. Crayons and paper, cars, hand-held video-games.
- Include small snacks; energy bars, nuts, individual bags of favorite snacks, etc. Concentrate on including snacks that include protein and fats—not just carbohydrates. They will keep you feeling full for longer periods of time without an energy crash. Snacks outdate—make sure to change these out frequently. I tend to carry small bags of nuts for protein and fats and small bags of dehydrated fruits or veggies (these weigh almost nothing!).
- Pen or pencil and paper. This is something I always have on hand. You may need to jot something down in a hurry.
There are 2 schools of thought about the bag itself and where to keep it. Many people have multiple bags and keep them in different places—one in the trunk of the car, one in the closet by the front door, one in the basement. I am a minimalist. I have one small backpack. Because it’s small and lightweight, I put it in the car everyday as I leave for work, just in case I get stuck there. This bag is multi-purpose for me as I also throw in things I need at work each day. This works best for me. It forces me to remember to trade items out seasonally. I feel free to eat what I have for snacks when necessary, which also keeps my food stock fresh. It’s your personal choice.
One caveat on choosing your bag: from Rich Beresford at around the cabin. Get the smallest bag you can find that will hold what you need. If your bag is over-sized you will tend to want to put more stuff in it to fill it up. It will become heavy and unwieldy to carry!
Emergency Prepping for a Larger Crisis
A few more things to add for something larger; anytime you’ll need to actually leave home for an undetermined amount of time. Evacuation for hurricane, wild-fire, air-borne toxins, volcanic eruption, earthquake, . . . . zombie apocalypse?
I have a second small bag ready to go, kept in a closet near the front door.
- Water filter (You can’t carry endless supplies of water!) Rich from around the cabin highly recommends Sawyer Water Filters
- Small pocket knife
- Lighter or Firestarter (that you have practiced with and actually know how to use!)
- small polar-fleece blanket
- Extra clothing:
- a couple of pairs of socks
- warm pants and shirt
- hat (summer, winter) 90% of your body heat exits through your head in cold weather. In hot, you need protection from the sun.
- gloves (preferably work gloves—they can double as hand-warming gloves)
- Paracord (or rope of some type)
- A small tarp (can be used to cover yourself or turned into a tent for shelter)
- Gauze, tape, aspirin and a small supply of prescription meds
Emergency Prepping Your Mind
Emergency prepping your mind? Now you’re thinking perhaps I’ve lost mine! One word well, one hyphenated word! Skill-sets. Everything that we do as homesteaders is adding to our skill-set. Surviving in an emergency situation long-term will require that you know how to do stuff! Can you recognize edible plants in the wild? You will be hard pressed to find food if you don’t already know how. Can you grow your own food? Can you hunt and fish? Can you cook the food when you find it? Do you know how to find and make a shelter—humans will succumb very quickly in bad weather. Do you know basic first aid? Do you know how to find a water source?
In the end, emergency prepping is not about the end of the world. We’re more like the boyscouts. It’s not about constant fear and anxiety. It’s about the calm assurance that if something happens, you are ready to do what is necessary and you have the proper tools, items, and mindset to do so.
What do you include in your emergency preparations?