Friday, August 26, 2011

72 Hr Kit - Evacuation Grab Bag

It seems like there has been one disaster after the other lately: wildfires, an earthquake in virginia and now a hurricane along the East Coast.

As I was following the coverage of Hurricane Irene, Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered more than 270,000 people to evacuate their homes before the storm was to came.

270,000 people!

That is a lot of people to tell to just up and move. I wonder how many of them are prepared for such an event? Do they have somewhere to go? Some way to keep in contact with their families? Or a plan to take their valuable things with them?

These are all very important things to think about. Fortunately they have a couple of days to prepare, but what would happen if you were only given a few hours, or less?



One thing that could dramatically lower your stress level is if every member of your family had an evacuation kit they could each grab in case of an emergency. That way you wouldn't be running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to find everything that was running through your head and worrying about what you might be forgetting.

This is called a grab bag. It is actually a smaller part of your disasters supply kit. But it is the part that can be "grabbed" quickly in case of evacuation.

It doesn't have to be a bag. It could be a large, covered trash container, a five-gallon bucket, or a suitcase on wheels. I think it makes more sense for it to be a camping backpack. They have more space, are made for carrying long distances and have waterproof fabric or layers that could be useful if you had to be outdoors.

Some basic supplies that should be included in your grab bag are:

  • ID tags on the bags-containing emergency contact information and numbers, medical info, current medications and reasons why they are being used and any allergies, especially to antibiotics. (For example: I am allergic to penicillin which is an antibiotic so in case someone found me unconscious and I had an infection, they would know that I would need a different kind of antibiotic) 
  • Copies of important documents- will, deed, marriage license, birth certificate, health insurance ect
  • Extra keys to your house and cars
  • Change of warm clothes, sturdy shoes, rain gear and a warm hat like a beanie
  • Food- ready to eat or requiring minimal preparation and water 
  • Manual can opener and other cooking supplies (I've heard at shelters that sometimes they will hand out canned food that don't have the pop-top lids or utensils and plates. So you want to make sure that you can make use of what you are given.
  • Water- 1 gallon per person per day (this gets kind of heavy, I put in probably a gallon and 1/2 and then pack our cars with extra.) Water purification tablets are lightweight and a good thing to have but you aren't guaranteed to have water accessible.

  • First Aid Kit and manual- I went to an healthy woman event put on by a local hospital and at one of the display booths they were handing out these nifty little first aid kits that are the perfect size for our grab bags and car kits. I even keep one in my diaper bag. 
  • Prescription medications
  • Personal hygiene items- ie. toilet paper, feminine supplies, hand sanitizer or soap, toothbrush/paste
  • Tools- Flashlight, batteries, pocket knife,  heavy work gloves, dusk mask, whistle, map of the area, battery operated radio (obviously some of these don't need to be in everyone's bag but definately if they are old enough to operate or use them, they should have them. This would be a good reason to teach your kids how to read a map and also for you to have a designated meeting place that they will know where to go to.)
  • Permanent marker, paper, duct tape and current photos of family members and pets for re-identification purposes
  • Disposable camera
  • Sleeping Bag or blanket
  • Money- cash in small denominations and quarters for phone calls (if you can find a pay phone anymore)
  • Extra prescription eye glasses, contacts, hearing aids or other personal items
  • Special needs items-  for children, seniors, disabled people or pets
In addition to your grab bags, you should make a 'grab list'. These are all the things you would want to take with you if you had time and room to bring them with you. What are the things you would want to have with you if you were never able to come back? 

For me that would be my scrapbooks, family histories and genealogy, family keepsakes and jewelry, ect. These are also the first things I would grab out of my house if it was on fire after I made sure my family was safe.

One last thing. 

The last thing you would want to worry about was having to stop in a huge line of other unprepared people filling up their cars on their way out of town. Always keep your car's gas take half full. 

I am horrible at this, but I have a new goal to be better.

I would love to hear of any ideas you may have or of items I have missed that would be a great addition to my grab bags. 


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