“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ― Virginia Woolf

September is Emergency Preparedness Month.

Written By Jennifer Duty

I know I am late to the game with this blog post, but September has been a full month.

We have always had go bags in the car. I grew up having water, blankets, band-aids, tools, snacks in the car. So when I started driving they were in my car, and when we became a family it was even more important to be ready.

After Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, I began getting emergency supplies for the house. Starting with water, emergency first aid kit, canned foods, extra blankets.

All that became important not just in an emergency, but when times get tough too. Having extra food when you don’t have an extra paycheck is nice.

As our paycheck has grown, so has the ability to afford an escape pod. I thought to have a travel trailer meant no more hotels and cheaper vacations. I thought it meant I could have my own food and my own bed. Silly me. I did not realize it meant having a roof over my head for three-plus months while basic services were being restored to our house after the 2015 wildfires in Lake County. While our house survived we could not move back in because there was no water or power, so, our little trailer became our home.

All this is great, but I just realized I had not updated my emergency supplies in years. This is very important. Everything must be kept up to date or it will be useless when you need it most.

When I finally got my diagnoses of an autoimmune disease I had to change everything. How I ate and how I lived. The house got a major clean out. No flour, no gluten, no nuts, no sugar, no beans, no rice, no canned milk, and almost all canned soup was off limits. That left the pantry pretty empty.

I didn’t think much of it. I was trying to get well. Now I am doing better and I realized that I have no backup foods If the power goes, all my food is in the refrigerator or the freezer. My pantry has very few food items. Nothing to make a meal. Nothing of real nutrition. This is a major problem for someone like me. I depend on food to keep healthy. I also take some meds and a lot of supplements. These keep me healthy, too.

Currently, I have no backup food supplies, as I write this blog post I realized it is as much for me as it is for you.

Let’s start with something easy like the "go bag" for your car. We literally had actual bags until recently upgraded to a large, watertight bucket.

Everyone needs their own "go bag".

Each person should pack the bag that way they know what is in their bag in case of an emergency.

We keep our "go bags" in our cars since we spend a lot of time in our vehicles it just makes sense. Sometimes you can’t get back to your home or you need to help someone else. I like to be ready.

Remember, “Eat what you store & store what you eat”

Here is a list of items we keep on our car. 

  • Water.- I keep a couple of flats in back. We use them when traveling so they are always refreshed. 
  • First aid kit.- I have two. A small one with hypoallergenic band-aids at the ready and a large one with more intense supplies. I also have a chart with basic first aid care information.
  • Jumper cables or a battery jumper.-We have both. We have personally never needed either one, but we have needed them both to help three different people who were stranded. Something so simple can change a person's day.
  • Baby wipes.-But I don’t have any babies? I use them for everything. Quick clean-ups after a snack on the road. Cleaning up the van after a smoothie spill. Keeping clean is important in an emergency. I buy the big pack. I also have the stronger cleaning wipes.
  • Auto Club Card.- I have been so thankful we have had our AAA card on two occasions. California is a big state. Things can happen. We have the card with the big tow miles. I have never regretted it. One tow from the middle of nowhere and you are done. Forget any repairs. Everyone in the family should have their own tow card.
  • The go bag/bucket.- For years we carried backpacks for everyone. Which is good if you have to leave your car behind. I decided recently to combine Stacy’s and my "go bag" into a watertight bucket. We will see how this goes. I figured we are always together. If not, one or the other will have extra supplies.
Here’s what is in our go bucket, for two:
  • Toilet paper
  • Feminine products. They work for band-aids, too if it is really bad.
  • Hypoallergenic band-aids
  • Gauze and tape
  • Heavy duty masks, for dust and debris.
  • Baby wipes
  • Homeopathic remedies 
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Small size Dr. Bronner’s everything soap
  • A whistle 
  • Hydrogen peroxide 
  • Emergency blanket. You know the one that looks like tin foil.
  • Beef Jerky, turkey jerky
  • Can opener 
  • Canned tuna
  • Sardines 
  • Freeze dried apples
  • Freeze dried bananas 
  • Baby food. I eat the baby when on road trips. It usually has only a couple of ingredients and I can get organic. I like the berry banana.
  • Silverware 
  • Honey
  • Pacific Flake
  • Canned olives
  • Whipped Peanut Butter for Stacy
Also in the back of the van is down blankets and down jackets for both of us. Handy when it starts snowing in Truckee or the fog rolls in while in Eureka and you have just come from the desert.
  • Hat and beanie
  • I carry Simple Green. Sometimes gas stations do not have window washing supplies. Our van has a big window. 
  • Paper towels
  • Flashlight

Let's not forget preparing for the pets, it's as important as preparing for your children in most families these days.

    I think that is about it. You don’t have to do all of this, but this is how we roll. We have never been without.

    The house, well that deserves its own blog post.

    If you are planning on sheltering in place, WHICH I DO NOT RECOMMEND IF THERE IS AN EVACUATION NOTICE, it never goes well. Get out!

    Shelter in place works on some occasions or when people are evacuating to you.

    The house follows the same rules as the car or "go bag", just on a larger scale. Store the foods you eat. Use them. Rotate them. Make sure you have items that will survive without power. Make sure you can cook without power. Water. Water. A gallon per person, per day. More for cooking and cleaning. Decide how many days you want to prepare for. Three days? Seven days? How many people?

    RedCross.org. Look up emergency preparedness. The site can help with all these questions.

    You might want to get a generator or a whole house generator.

    Can you survive without heat, cooling, basic power?

    If you plan to shelter in place these are things you will have to think about.

    The escape pod. Everyone in my family has one. The home on wheels. The safety net I never thought of. My sister-in-law keeps their trailer ready at all times. It is truly a house on wheels. Clothes, food everything. My brother has a generator and solar panels.

    Here is Stacy working while evacuated several years ago.

    I am working on getting my escape pod stocked up and running.

    We are missing a few things. I do keep the water tanks full and the sewer empty. We have a solar panel. I am working on getting the kitchen fully stocked and getting the food supply together.

    We always keep our vehicles serviced and we never let the fuel go below half a tank. In an emergency, there will probably be no power, which means no fuel. We can go pretty far on half a tank. We prefer to evacuate than shelter in place. We get out when it is just an advisory notice. If you wait too long traffic will be an issue. Please factor that in when making plans.

    Make sure you have everyone’s phone number written down. If your cell phone goes dead, how will you contact anyone?

    Make sure you have an evacuation plan.

    Where will you meet? Who can you contact for a place to stay? 

    Do you have emergency cash set aside?

    No power means no credit cards.

    I know it can seem overwhelming, but planning ahead means never planning to fail.

    In an overwhelmingly stressful situation, it will bring peace if you already know what to do.

    Plan right and stay safe. 

    From your local sea salt harvestry.

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