Are you at least minimally prepared if a calamity strikes?
By Jon Aldrich
We plan and prepare for retirement, vacations, parties, sending kids to college and for dinner. But how many of us are prepared for a major disruptive event such as a natural disaster (flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, wildfire) or a man-made event such as a toxic chemical spill, terrorist attack or a major disruption to the power grid from a solar flare or Russian hacker?
The Red Cross has been communicating it’s Red Cross Ready program for several years now, but I am not really sure how many people actually pay attention to it. AARP also has resources about preparing for emergencies and having a Go Bag also known as a “Bug-Out-Bag” (BOB) packed and ready to go. But how many of us really have resources that are ready to go in a moment’s notice should a major calamity befall us, and we have to leave immediately? Would you be able to take care of yourself for 72 hours if help is not able to arrive or you cannot get somewhere to get help? The 72 hours time-frame comes from disaster relief organizations such as the Red Cross and may be the amount of time it could take for help to arrive in a disaster. True, a disaster may be a low probability event, but the odds may be higher than you realize, and if something does occur and you are not even a little bit prepared it could make a dire situation even worse.
The purpose of all this is not to instill fear and panic (that is the financial news media’s job), but to stress the importance of planning for a disruptive event and that it is not all that difficult, to at least have the minimal resources around and be ready to go in a minute’s notice should something major occur.
I also came across a fantastic resource on the Red Cross Website called Disaster Preparedness For Seniors by Seniors. I highly recommend taking a look at this pamphlet which was put together by a group of seniors near Rochester, New York with the help of the local Red Cross Chapter. It came about because of their experience with a large ice storm that hit the region. It is laid out in an easy to read format with lots of checklists that help you prepare for myriad of disasters that could strike. For those that get only the print copies of my blogs, please contact us and we will send you the hard copy version of this excellent resource.
What are the Essentials to have Ready in a “Go” Bag?
These are only the basics to get started, you may want to incorporate much more after reading some of the links above. First, start with a light and portable backpack or duffel bag you can easily carry with you. Even a small suitcase with rollers would work. I would avoid a plastic garbage bag to carry your things in. This will be a bag that is packed and ready to go on your way out of the door. In a true emergency, you do not want to be spending time searching for medicine or packing your bag at that time. It should be ready to fling over your back and go. Each member of the family should have their own bag, and don’t forget about your pets.
Water & Food – Definitely a few bottles of bottled water. Granola or high energy bars are a staple also. These items would have to be changed out about every 6 months to keep them fresh, unless you get the real long-lasting snack bars the can stay fresh for years. You may also consider water purification tablets or a LifeStraw to purify water on the fly.
First-Aid Kit – Have a portable First-Aid kit in your bag.
Electronics – Have an extra phone charger, a couple of small flashlights (you know, those small Focus flashlights we have in our conference room would work).
Medications – Have at least 3 days of your prescriptions in the bag. If you are diabetic, maybe a few more days of insulin, if needed.
Essential Documents – Have a waterproof baggie with copies of birth certificates, driver’s license, Social Security and Medicare information. You should also consider having Power of Attorney forms, marriage license, bank routing numbers and ATM card, proof of your address and insurance cards if this information is not already on your person. It is also a good idea to have these documents in a fire-proof safe at home.
Cash & Coins – Have several hundred dollars of small bills and a roll or two of quarters for vending machines.
Clothing & Blankets – have a couple days of clothing available that you can put on in layers. A Mylar blanket is perfect, since it can be folded up into a very small size to fit into your bag.
Toiletries - Have travel size versions of some of the things you need. Make sure to pack some toilet paper and some disinfectant wipes. Make sure you have plenty of contact lenses available and extra glasses.
Tools – Multi-Purpose tools are a great idea, especially if it has a can opener on it.
Alternatively, if all this is much more work than you want to dive into, an easy way to pull this all together is to buy a pre-made “GO” Bag. You can find some pretty decent ones at several places online, but one that caught my eye was this one (see image below) and it was under $100. I found other ones with much less included for as low as $39.
I am not saying you should take all this “prepping” to an extreme and construct that bunker underneath your property. But it is not a bad idea for all of us to at least have some level of preparedness in case disaster strikes. I highly recommend taking a look at the links to the Red Cross information above. Even if there is no way you could get around or leave home due to medical conditions, you should always make sure you have plenty of the items above anyway, in case you must “hunker down” at home to ride out a disaster.
Let’s take this a step further. How many of you even have a basic Winter Survival kit in your car? If you live in the Midwest or other area where winter can be nasty, it is important to at least have some of the following items in your car in the winter:
So, I ask you to consider taking a little time in the near future and try to make some efforts at planning for a disaster, no matter how remote you may think the chances are. Even just having a few of these items ready could make things easier for you and your family if things get really bad. Hopefully, you will never have to use your “Go” bag, but it would be there, ready to go, in case that day ever arrives.