It's 3:30 in the morning here, and I got a rather rude wake up call. When I went to bed, I knew there were storms moving into our area, but all the warnings were just for severe thunderstorms...no big deal. At least, that's what they were until about 20 minutes ago...when the tornado warnings went off.
We have 2 weather radios in the house. One sits in our kitchen, which we can hear from the living room and dining room, and the other is in my bedroom, which we can hear from all 3 bedrooms as well as the bathroom. Great thing to have, btw...I recommend that EVERYONE have at least one in their home. Of course, here in Alabama, tornados are almost inevitable...it's just the terrain, I suppose, but we get some REALLY nasty tornados on a regular basis.
Anyway...so here I sit, watching the weather on TV in the living room. We have a total of 4 adults living here (2 roomies and me plus hubby, though he's only home on weekends). You would think that means that we can take pretty good care of ourselves, right? Well, we can, but we ALSO have a total of 6 dogs, 4 cats, and of course, our chickens. So for us, being pro-active in storm prep is a requirement. Animals can be rather unpredictable during extreme situations. Add to that the fact that 2 of us (me and Trac) are disabled, and yes, we pay VERY close attention to these things.
Of course, that got me thinking...how many of you are actually READY for the worst Mother Nature can toss at you? When I did animal rescue, I was very pro-active on encouraging people to have not just a plan in place, but an actual emergency kit put together. If you only had moments to react (like in a tornado situation), would you be able to find what you HAVE TO HAVE and get to a safe place in time?
What should be considered a necessity, anyway? Personal photos? No. Objects with special meaning? No, not those, either. Insurance documents? YES. Medications? YES. When time is of the essence, you MUST prioritize the things you can readily reach, and have them ready to access at a moments notice. That's the reason for this post, folks. I'm going to walk you through setting up a "storm" box.
First off, you need to purchase 2 sturdy storage containers, at least one of which has a locking lid (handles latch down so that the lid won't blow off) that 1 person can carry on their own. If it's too bulky or heavy, and you happen to be alone when you need it, you'd be stuck. For the first one, you need a container roughly 12" long x 10" wide x 4" deep (shoebox size). That will give you plenty of room for IMPORTANT papers (like copies of identification, insurance papers, etc), medications (for your family AND/OR your pet), and other small things. The second box will be one that will contain some larger items...your paper box, plus a change of clothing for EACH family member, a small amount of food for each pet (I'm talking enough for about 2 days, that's all), and other things you MUST have within the first 48 hours after an emergency. Your second box shouldn't exceed the following dimensions...24" long x 15" wide x 15" deep.
Here is a specific list of what you need for each box.
1) Important family papers such as insurance policies, copies of your drivers license and social security cards, bank account records (including a checkbook)
2) A copy of a first aid manual (hey...you NEVER know)
3) A small first aid kit
4) Prescription medications, a spare pair of glasses for those who wear them (good place to keep an old pair when you get a new set), a pack of matches, at least 2 candles, and a few pages of paper and a pen
5) If you can manage it, at LEAST $100 cash for emergencies.
6) A small folding map of your area.
1) At least one change of clothing for EACH family member, appropriate for the weather (if summer, shorts...if winter, warm)
2) 48 hour supply of pet food
3) 72 hour supply of infant formula and diapers
4) Feminine supplies and other personal hygiene products
5) A small bottle of plain, old-fashioned bleach and an eye-dropper. Bleach can be used to sanitize drinking water...16 drops to one gallon of water. It's also excellent for disinfecting...9 parts water to 1 part bleach.
6) Cell phone charger. Being able to remain in contact in an emergency is a lifesaver!!
7) A battery-operated or hand-crank radio, preferably a weather radio. Check the batteries AT LEAST every 3 months to make sure they are strong. Also keep spare batteries.
8) A package of small-size garbage can bags. You'll need them for personal garbage and personal sanitation.
9) A wrench or set of pliers to turn off utilities.
10) OPTIONAL: A 3 day supply of canned foods (vienna sausages, canned spaghetti, etc), and a hand can opener. This adds alot of weight, but if you are cut off, you will welcome it tremendously!!
11) OPTIONAL: Water, at least 1 gallon per person per, day for 3 days. Again, it's extra weight, but it can save your lives!!
12) OPTIONAL: A couple of warm blankets, enough to cover everyone.
I know it sounds like alot folks, but this kind of box can really mean the difference between life and death. Keep it in a place that is easy to get to when time is limited.
As for the things like medications, water, food, etc...things that can expire need to be rotated, at least once every 2 months. Yes, even bottled water can expire. Simply remove those packages, replace them with fresh, and use them up over the next month. That way, you ALWAYS stay prepared.
I hope this list helps. If ANYONE needs additional information, such as how to handle pets or where to find a weather radio, PLEASE...send me an EMAIL or leave a comment on here. I will find the info for you. Each of you means the world to me, and I want you ALL to be safe!!!