We all know we live in crazy times, but really, that’s nothing new. There have been only a few times in our country’s history when the times weren’t crazy, and few times in our own lives when life was smooth and easy. So “crazy” is normal – new normal or otherwise.
Today I’m talking about how we can be prepared when “Crazy” comes close to home. Several years ago the train that runs along the edge of my little town derailed. At the time it was carrying several tanker cars of a toxic chemical and the toxic cloud began to spread through the town. Everyone had to get out and fast!
We don’t have any warning of something like that, where we might have a little warning of a tornado or a flood. All we can do is Get Outta Dodge!
Or what if we got stuck on the freeway/interstate. Like in a snowstorm or a major accident, or an earthquake, whatever, that prevented us from getting out and going home. That’s a real possibility!
What we need to do is prepare a GOODy Bag that we can keep in our car. (GOODy as in Get Out Of Dodge bag. The “y” is just to make it memorable.) I am basing the contents of my bag on the premise that I will be able to drive my car. In case of an electromagnetic burst that wouldn’t be possible. Or even maybe Civil Unrest, but I think I would have enough warning to get out of dodge in the last case. If you live in an urban area you might have to consider that you won’t be able to drive your car, and the contents of your bag will be a little different.
Plan for at least three days of being away from your home. Also think hard about where you will go. In my case it would depend on the emergency, and I suspect it’s the same for you. But think about it now. When an emergency hits is not the time to start planning!
And remember: One size does not fit all. Take what I say and make it fit YOU.
I’ve put a checklist in the Library for you to download. Just click on the word Library in the banner at the top of this page. There’s plenty of space in the checklist for you to make notes for your own circumstances. I hope you’ll start on your bag today. Or if not today, this week. The sooner the better.
Okay. Here We Go.
WATER is the first thing we need to plan for. I usually keep a case of water in my car all the time. One case of 16 oz. water bottles would be enough for me and my three kitties. The experts advise a gallon of water per person per day. That takes into account washing and cooking as well as drinking. If you are planning on carrying everything in a back pack you might want to look into small filtration bottles for everyone in your family. Sources of water are usually around, although it might not be clean water. Unless you live in the desert. Then you need to map out where you can get water. As we all know, we can live without most everything except air and water.
FOOD is next on our list. I’m not planning on having a cooking source so I am putting in my bag snack type items that won’t need cooking. Things like snack bars, foil pouches of tuna (which won’t need to be cooked), lunchable-type snacks, beef jerky, and so forth. Maybe even some small cans of Vienna sausage, although they’re not my favorite things to eat. If you are planning on carrying everything weight is a factor. You also will need to rotate out your food items every six months. I plan on having a snackable party around my birthday (in June) and one at the end of the year. That way I’ll remember to do it.
CLOTHING: Just put a change of clothes in for each person. When you have your snackable party you can also check on the clothing – is it suitable for the season? Does everything fit? If you put in long pants then – if you have included scissors – you can cut the pant legs off to make a pair of shorts. Don’t forget appropriate shoes.
SHELTER: Again this depends on whether you are walking or driving. If I have my car, that’s my shelter. If I have to carry everything, that’s a different story.
LIGHT/WARMTH: Flashlights, of course. Again, you may need to think about weight and size. And don’t forget about batteries. When you have your snackable party, put new batteries in your flashlights. And check all the ones in your house too, while you’re at it. For warmth, I keep a blanket in my car. It might be a good idea to have some “space blankets” as well in case my blanket gets wet. And I know from experience that it can get really cold inside your car at night!
SANITATION/HYGIENE: I’m putting some packages of “Wet Wipes” type cleaner thingies in, along with some packages of alcohol wipes. And some latex gloves. And a roll of paper towels. Who knows what icky things we might encounter. Also some toilet paper and plastic bags – the grocery store kind, the kitchen trash kind, and a few big black trash bags. They won’t take up much space and weigh next to nothing. And the big trash bags can double as rain protection if I cut a hole in the bottom for my head. Or, if I have to sleep outside (carrying everything in a back pack scenario) they can be a ground sheet. Or even shelter if you thought to put in some clothesline. And – how can I put it? – toilet facilities. Smaller bags can be useful for that situation.
FIRST AID/MEDS: if at all possible, see if you can acquire at least a three day stash of your meds – a week would be better. You’ll need to rotate them frequently, like every month at least. A basic first aid kit is a good thing to have in your car in any case. I would also add the OTC stuff that I’m likely to use, like an antibiotic ointment, and probably something like Pepto-Bismol tablets or heartburn tablets. Probably Tylenol too. Everybody has their own needs and favorites.
PETS: Again, I’m figuring on having my car, so I would put in a week’s worth of food. I use disposable litter boxes for my cats, so it wouldn’t be hard to put a litter box in the trunk of my car. Actually, I do have one in there; I use it to put things in to keep them from rolling around. Then put in some litter – won’t need a lot – and I’m all set. Oh – I have some large cat “cages” that I got when my cats and I moved cross country. They fold flat so I could actually store them in my car. If you have dogs, or birds, or guinea pigs, you’ll need to plan appropriately. If I were walking I don’t know what I’d do about pets other than dogs or cats. My previous cats would walk on a leash. Maybe I’d better start training these kitties to do the same! Again, if I were walking and had a dog, the dog could carry his/her own food etc. in little saddlebags. Even Chihuahuas could do that.
COMMUNICATION: The first thing that comes to mind is our cell phones. Of course. In your car you probably already have charger cables for them. But what if the cell towers are down? (like in a tornado, or hurricane.) Maybe I could drive to where there was an active working tower. Maybe. I actually have a license for a ham radio and I have one in my car, but most people don’t. How would you keep in touch with loved ones who are worried about you? In your important documents place also put contact numbers of people who live a distance away. In case you are able to get a call out you can let someone know how you are and where you are. You will also want to have some way of signaling for help if necessary. Consider flares (if in car), really loud whistles, and even a mirror. You can keep up with the weather and outside news if you have an AM/FM NOAA weather radio. Mine can run on batteries (but needs to be recharged) and can be crank powered.
TOOLS: Don’t get too carried away! In my car I have a multitool thingy which has a knife on it. And scissors. Don’t forget the scissors, and make them big enough to be useful. I also have a small home toolkit which has a hammer, several screwdrivers, pliers, and other useful things in it. Rope is always handy, so I have a “hank” of clothesline. Duct tape too. Maybe heavy gloves. You’ll know what you are likely to need. Oh, and tools for my car – maybe socket wrenches. And a tire jack. I wouldn’t know how to fix my car, but someone might come along and know. Having the tools would help. Maybe a compass? I would need that, since I am directionally challenged.
IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS: maps. We all depend on our GPSs to tell us where we are or get us where we want to be. But if they’re not working… maps are handy. Make sure you know how to use them. I have a book of maps of Pennsylvania that is a Sportsman’s Guide that shows all the back roads as well as the larger ones. Even abandoned mines. Really detailed! Now – here’s the risky part. You really should have COPIES of your important documents like driver’s license, SS card, identity cards for your kids, etc. Here’s the problem: You are carrying your total identity with you. If someone holds you up or ransacks your car, your identity is stolen. You will have to judge whether the risk of losing all your papers in whatever emergency caused you to flee is greater than having someone steal your papers from you while you are fleeing. Your call. But one thing that is needed is your list of contacts.
RELIGIOUS /SPIRITUAL: I have a pocket Bible in my kit. There’s lots more things that I would like to have, but that is the most basic. You might want to take a book of daily devotions, or affirmations, or whatever reminds you that you are not alone and the Holy One is ever-present and loves you.
ENTERTAINMENT: If you’ve got kids with you, this will be a BIG item. Playing cards – good for both adults and kid’s games like Go Fish and War. Some paper and crayons. Paperback books for both adults and kids. A journal and pen/pencil. (Pen doesn’t need to be sharpened. Mechanical pencil?)
CASH: In a natural disaster like a tornado, hurricane, flood, etc. the power most likely will be out, which means that ATMs won’t work either. So having a small amount of cash will be useful. You don’t need to go overboard. And keep in mind that you could be robbed too. But it might be useful in case your car breaks down and you want to pay someone to fix it. Or trade cash for something you need.
FINALLY, what are you going to put all this stuff in? In my car I could get it in a large cardboard box or plastic tub, or, first choice, a large carry-on bag. Preferably one with wheels just in case I have to walk somewhere. If you plan on walking anyway, you will have to carefully choose your backpack. There are many kinds and styles to choose from.
A couple of last minute thoughts: Don’t let your gas tank in your car get below half-full. And keep a list of what you have in your GOODy Bag and check it at least twice a year. Update any information, test out your plan, and Rotate, Rotate, Rotate.
And to quote St. Peter, “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares about you.”
This is a lot of information. I’ve put a checklist in the Library, for you to fill in what you need for your circumstances. Please go to the Library and download it. Just click on the word Library in the banner at the top of this page. Remember the password – create.
I hope we never have to use any of this, and that our twice a year “snack” parties are a greater excuse for getting together with friends and families and having a good time. But it’s like car insurance: when you need it you need it.
Thanks for checking in. Hope I didn’t scare you but instead gave you a start on keeping yourself and your family safe. You are awesome and I know you take the best care possible of your loved ones.
Love and Blessings,