I lived through Idaho's Teton Dam disaster. In a second, my parents' lives were turned upside down. I helped them flee their home on the river. Fortunately, my house was out of harm’s way, so they stayed with me and my family. Others weren’t so fortunate.
In the last few years we’ve seen earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, fire and hurricanes. Entire cities have been wiped out by tsunamis, neighborhoods have been claimed by fire and families have lost their homes. People have had to flee for safety in a moment’s notice. Many wished they’d had a 72-hour kit that contained essential hygiene needs, a change of clothes, water and food. Today you can find many online sites that detail what needs to be included in a 72-hour kit. But after living through a crisis, my parents added several items to their kits that you might find helpful as well.
1. Printed emergency plan. Print copies of an emergency plan and give them to your family members. This plan should show rallying points, locations of emergency centers, evacuation routes and the phone number of someone who lives out of state whom they can call. During some disasters, you might not be able to call within the city, but you may be able to reach someone living out of state. During the Teton Dam Disaster, I could call my aunt in Washington, but I couldn’t reach my parents who lived in the same city as I did.
2. First aid kit. Not only should it have bandages, Neosporin, aspirin and all the essentials but also medications that your family needs on a regular basis. You will need to diligently rotate some medications, but during an emergency you’ll be glad you’re prepared.
3. Survival books. This is different from the emergency plan above. Survival books give detailed information that explain such things as what to do if an electrical line is down on the highway or how long water must boil before it is safe to drink. Of course, these books should have been read beforehand, but during an actual emergency they will become most helpful. And don’t forget scriptures.
4. Money. Cash in large and small bills, plus change, will be in high demand. During an emergency you should not rely on someone breaking a $20 bill, especially businesses that will be overwhelmed with customers. Keep in mind, vending machines are easier to use with exact change.
5. Duct tape. This all-purpose tape can come in handy is many ways: taping shut broke windows, repairing torn material, keeping a broken arm/leg taped to a board, etc.
6. Photos and family history. When my parents fled their home, they realized they’d left all their photos and family history books behind. In some disasters, you might have time to grab them. So in case you do, have those priceless books plainly marked (a red x works well) and in one place ready to grab in an instant. If your information is stored on a computer, download a copy to a thumb drive or external hard drive. Keep it updated and in your kit.
There are many other items that you can add to the list. These are but a few suggestions that hopefully will make you think outside of the standard 72-hour kit box. Disasters can happen anywhere, any time. If you’re prepared, you’ll get through the crisis a little more comfortably than others.
Kathi Oram Peterson is the author of four novels including her latest release, "River Whispers." Her website is www.kathiorampeterson.com.