As I write this, Hurricane Sandy is pummeling the East Coast. Friends or mine as well as strangers all across social media are reporting power outages, downed trees, and even an entire facade of a building collapsed in New York City. Here in the Midwest, we don't feel the threat of hurricanes like our coastal brothers and sisters do. But we certainly have our fair share of horrific weather. It's times like this, when you AREN'T in the center of the storm, that making sure your emergency supply kit is stocked and ready to go should be a top priority.
I first discovered the necessity of am emergency kit when I moved to California. Over dinner one night, friends recalled the big quake of 1996 and what they didn't have that they now carried around in their cars, kept under their beds, and in various places across the city in case another earthquake happened. It was already freaked out at the concept of moving to a state where the ground shook at random times, now I needed an earthquake kit too? Yikes! But I did as I was instructed, and put together a small kit that stayed in my car and in my apartment.
A year later when I moved to New York City, I hauled my earthquake kit with me. I knew that I didn't need an "earthquake kit" in New York City, but this was post-2011 and I had learned that you never knew what life was going to throw at you. I was never more thankful that I kept that kit stocked when, in August of 2003, Manhattan lost power. The entire island. Along with most of the state of New York, and five other states on the Northeast part of the country. You can read about it HERE. I lived in a 9th floor apartment, with an electric stove and microwave. The only thing to eat was whatever dry food I had in the house (and in my kit), along with anything I could salvage from the fridge. We didn't have power for two days. Which, in the grand scheme of things, isn't horrible. Except when the power goes out in a large apartment building, so does the ability to run water or flush the toilet. Thankfully, we had five cases of bottled water so we could shower (damn it was cold) and take care of the necessities.
Once I moved back to Naperville and had children, my emergency kit grew. I now needed to make sure that I had supplies for my children as well as myself. As long as my children were on formula, there was a clean bottle and a spare container along with a case of bottled water in my basement pantry. Then came a large supply of baby food - at least a weeks worth. As the kids have gotten older, I've rotated their favorite foods and healthy snacks in to our pantry downstairs. I've got about a weeks worth of food if we need it, along with several cases of water. The trick to keeping a food supply is that it needs to be part of your everyday eating habits. It can't just be random things that you put in a spot in your basement and then only pull out and look at when the power goes out. Five years could go by and who knows what kind of state it will be in. What's in my pantry are all food that we use. I splurged for a one time extra stock up, and that's the quantity that I keep. As the kids grow out of things or their tastes change, leftovers are donated to a local food pantry before they expire and are replaced with a new item. The same with bottled water. If the case of water in your basement is more than a year old, replace it. It probably tastes nasty.
Here's a list of other things that I have in the area designated for my emergency supplies:
- Batteries of all sizes (especially C and D)
- Dozens of flashlights, in all different shapes and sizes (they are cheap at places like Big Lots)
- Protein bars / granola bars
- Cups of fruit & applesauce
- Canned vegetables
- Paper goods (towels, napkins, toilet paper)
- Bottled water, Gatorade, vitamin water
- A tool kit - including screw drivers, Allen wrenches, hammer, tape, cable ties, rope and a small handsaw
- Hand sanitizer
- Baby wipes
- Vitamins and any daily medications
- First aid kit
- Plastic bags
- A non-digital phone with long cord that can plug in to my house outlet
- Cash in small bills
- Copies of all of my important documents are in one folder
I also purchased a Black & Decker "Storm Station". It's got radio and television stations that you can tune in, two plugs that either can be used to charge my cell phone, a detachable flashlight, and a large built in light. There have been several times when the power has gone off and I've had to use this - it's well worth the money! It is always plugged in, so when it's needed there is a full charge. The exact unit that I have is no longer made (I purchased it in 2005). You can still find them for sale on eBay HERE, and I found a similar product that Stanley has HERE.
Take a few minutes to make sure that you and your family have all of the necessary supplies to go for a few days without power or water. Hopefully, you will never need it.
**I am not receiving any compensation from Black & Decker for recommending their product. In my experience, this item has been handy to have and has always worked great for my family.
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