Six Mistakes That Could Make
Your 72-Hour Kit Worthless!
Imagine you’re sitting down to dinner. You hear someone pounding on your front door. You open it and see a police officer. He says, “There’s been a disaster. You have five minutes to evacuate your home.”
What would you grab?
Scenarios like this happen often – a wildfire, train derailment, hazmat spill, or dam failure can trigger an evacuation order that gives residents only minutes to act. And yes, it could happen to you; take a moment right now to think about what you would take.
Would you take your photo album? Your computer? Your gold and silver bullion?
Remember the clock is ticking. You need to take your most important items. You need to be able to function for a few days and perhaps even several months. In the worst case, you might not have a home to come back to.
None of us do our best thinking under stress. That’s why it’s crucial to create a plan now – before an emergency happens. Having a “Go List” of items to grab, along with an individual 72-Hour kit for everyone in your home, is essential to a successful evacuation.
Your evacuation kit needs a three-day supply of food, water, and clothing. But have you included these six things that could make the difference in your ability to successfully cope with calamity?
Mistake #1 – No Money. Not having any cash in your emergency kit is a huge mistake. When disaster strikes, electricity is often wiped out. Without electricity, that handy ATM down the street won’t work and the corner grocery store can’t process your credit card.
Cash – at least $100 per person – in small bills and rolls of quarters is essential to your survival. After all, you don’t want to be selling a granola bar because you need an aspirin. Also, carrying small bills will allow you to pay $2 for that aspirin instead of $20.
Mistake #2 – No Documents. In an emergency, you’ll automatically grab your wallet with your driver’s license and credit cards inside. However, having the following documents in a recloseable plastic bag already packed will give you peace of mind after the immediacy of the situation is over:
Contact List. You probably keep the name of your insurance agent, your sister who lives across the country, and other important people in your phone or on your computer. If you can’t access your electronic devices you may not be able to contact anyone.
Having a hard-copy contact list is imperative – especially if at the time of the disaster some of your family members are separated from each other. Being able to call a specified contact person reassures everyone.
Emergency Meeting Places. You’re not with your family all the time, which is why it’s good to have two meet-up places. One location should be near your home. The other could be a few miles away. Keep the address and a map of each location in your 72-hour kit. Again, in a time of stress you might not be able to remember whether you’re meeting at Rock Park or Central Park. So have it written down. Even better, have a dry run so everyone will remember the meet-up spot and how to get there.
Insurance Card. Obviously if you’re hurt, you’ll need medical attention. Having your insurance card handy will help you get through the paperwork quickly.
Medical information. A list of your medical conditions, allergies, and prescriptions is also invaluable if you need medical assistance. Even if you’ve packed your medications, take a list as well.
Insurance policies. During a disaster, you might not be able to contact your insurance agent. Having copies of your home and auto policies will ease your mind. You won’t wonder if your smashed car or flooded basement is covered.
Other Documents. FEMA recommends you have copies of your Birth Certificate, Social Security Card/Green Card, Passport, and Living Will in your 72-Hour kit. These documents are not as vital as the above papers, but they could come in handy.
Mistake #3 – No Medications. You don’t want to evacuate only to discover you left your insulin in the fridge or your heart pills on the counter. You won’t be able to call your pharmacy. If possible, have at least a week’s worth of your current medications packed. By refilling your prescriptions a few days early each month, you can stock up on extra pills. (Most insurance companies allow you to refill a prescription two to three days early.) Just be sure to rotate these pills every year.
Included with medications are special supplies, like a glucose meter. If you can’t get an extra piece of equipment, at least put it on your Go List.
Mistake #4 – No Glasses. Stress may prevent you from even being able to see your glasses on the counter! If you have an extra pair in your 72-hour kit, you’ll always know where a pair of glasses are. Getting a second pair of glasses is generally very cheap – or even free. Just order them the next time you get new glasses and put the second pair in your 72-hour kit. Cheap drugstore reading glasses are a good option also.
The same advice goes for contact lenses. Keep a set (along with a case and cleaning solution) in your 72-hour kit and you won’t waste precious time finding them.
Mistake #5 – No Collapsible Water Jug. Having water is so essential to life that all communities have emergency water plans. These plans, however, don’t include containers. You need to have a personal emergency water plan, and that includes bringing your own jug.
A collapsible water container makes your life easier. You can keep the collapsible container filled with water – ready to go. After you drink the water, it collapses so you can easily carry it until you reach more water.
Mistake #6 – No VIP (very important personal) Items. These are the items that answer the question: “If only I’d taken five seconds and grabbed…” Having one or two special items can make the difference between coping and having a nervous breakdown. A stuffed animal or blanket will calm a baby. Older children and teens also need comfort items. Ask them what they would grab if they had to leave home in only five minutes. You may be surprised that they would rather have the quilt grandma gave them than their x-box. “VIP items” can also include essential toiletries, so check the contents of your medicine cabinet and your bathroom closet for items you’d hate to be without, and put some duplicates in a zip-lock bag. For starts, grab a roll of toilet paper, some hand sanitizer, and a couple of those little bottles of shampoo they give away in hotel rooms; then add your favorite pain relievers, allergy pills, vitamins and so on.
You can’t control if, or when, a disaster happens. You can control how prepared you are.
These little things you do now can make a huge difference in the future when that unexpected knock comes on your front door.