September is National Emergency Preparedness Month.  It seems every day there is something going on in this country that requires being prepared:  flooding, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards, ice storms, on and on. Being well prepared for these sorts of events is something that should be on our mind year round, but September is a great time to focus on it and get refreshed on organizing a plan and the supplies to go with it.

When a disaster of any size strikes, we need to take care of ourselves and our families, and get through the crisis. The best way to ensure success in that is to do some thoughtful planning, and make sure we have supplies for when we need them. When planning for emergencies, you need to consider the different things that could go wrong — power outages, heat loss/cooling loss, lack of fresh water, impacts to shelter, interruption to communication (internet, cell service, phones), and health concerns or injuries, to name a few.

So, this month, I’m going to share a few posts about Emergency Preparedness, and how you can think about helping yourself and your family in the event of an emergency.

Today’s post it just about Emergency Kits… how to think about what different kinds of situations will arise, and how that translates into what kind of kit you might need. Later this week, I’ll share with you the details of MY Emergency Kit, how I built it, how I store it, and how I maintain it.

First, what is an Emergency Kit? When I think about Emergency Kits, for the home, there are different levels we can build to prepare, based on what risks might exist inherently in our area, and how certain we feel about the future, in general.

  1. “Shelter-in-place” kit – short term (up to three days or 72 hours), assuming no power in the home. (Hurricane, blizzards, ice storms, etc.)

  2. “Shelter-in-place” kit for longer term, three days to one week, assuming no power in the home.  (Hurricane, blizzards, ice storms, earthquake, potentially other dangers like bio-hazards, etc.)

  3. Evacuate/ “Go Bag” or “Bug-Out Bag” (BOB), for situations where we need to leave our homes, and may or may not be able to return in the future, or home may not be in the condition we left it. (Spreading wildfires, major flooding, tornadoes, etc.). “Go Bag” planners recommend supplies for about three days of evacuation.

  4. The fourth category has many nicknames: “SHTF” (Shxt Hits the Fan), “Zombie Apocalypse”, and “TEOTWAWKI” (The end of the world as we know it) are a few you may have heard. There are people out there that are planning for the worst kind of future.  You may have seen TV shows about Preppers and people like this.  These people go past “Emergency Kit” and have planned for an off-the-grid, self-sustainable life that extends well past a short term emergency, and assumes that infrastructure of our government, economy and communities will be destroyed.  This isn’t where I focus my planning, but it’s clear that people like this have plenty of skills they teach and share on the internet, and it’s there for you if this is the kind of planning you feel you need to do.

Here in New England, we can face short term and long term outages of power (up to a week without power, for instance, in addition to an ice storm).  We haven’t faced a need for a quick evacuation (like many coastal towns in hurricane zones do, or in areas that have been plagued with spreading wildfires), but I know it’s a possibility.  Our Emergency Kit, therefore, has two levels:  We have “Shelter-in-Place” kits, that work for 72 hours or up to one week, and also a “Go Bag” that works for 72 hours or more.   In my next post, I’ll walk through it with you, and outline how you can start building your own kit.

Until then, give your own situation some thought… how prepared are you?

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