Is Your Family Ready for a Natural Disaster?

After reading about Momergency Kits over at, I thought I should detail what the modern parent can do to prepare for real emergencies. Although googly eyes can be very important in certain situations, being prepared for all kinds of emergencies is another step towards sleeping easily at night.

Being prepared for a disaster is nothing to sneeze at. We’ve seen so much media coverage of major disasters in the past few years. It is time to think about being prepared for the possibility of losing water or electricity for several days. I am a worrier. Having a 5-day disaster supply kit eases my mind a bit. At least in the “being prepared for a disaster” area.

There are many emergency preparedness websites out there. The Red Cross has an emergency supply list and there are dozens of 72-hour kit websites. My favorite, though, is from the East Bay Municipal Utility District. With this guide, you can assemble a 3-7 day disaster supply kit over a period of 6 months without going bankrupt.

The guide is broken down into 24 weeks; you collect all of your supplies and them rotate them over a six-month period. Each week there is a short shopping list for the grocery store, hardware store or first-aid supplies. You purchase and gather your supplies little by little and at the end of 6 months, you should have a comprehensive collection of food, tools, water and other emergency supplies.

Storing these supplies does take up room. Consider your storage area before beginning the buying process. Our supplies take up a 32-gallon garbage can (with wheels) and a cupboard that is about 3 feet wide by 3 feet tall by 18 inches deep. The water is, in my opinion, the most important supply to have on hand and it definitely takes up the most room. We also don’t keep many of the suggested tools and clothing in our specific emergency supply area. I keep a text document with the supplies that notes where certain tools and clothing can be found in the garage and the house.

Some of these supplies can be stored indefinitely (toilet paper, deodorant, toothbrush, etc.), while others should be used and replaced every 6-12 months. At the bottom of the above plan, there is a handy chart noting the typical shelf-life of your supplies. I have another handy word document that lists when I need to replace food items in my supply cupboard. I also label each box or can with the month and year that it was purchased.

Along with your ‘shopping list,’ there is a short ‘to do’ list for each week. This has suggestions
such as “Have a fire drill at home” and “Make photocopies of important papers and store safely.” There are also reminders such as checking and changing smoke alarm batteries.

In our emergency supply bin (e.s.b. as I like to call it), we have also placed copies of the kids’ immunization records and birth certificates and a list of phone numbers, out-of-state contacts, pet information, and some financial numbers (phone number of credit card companies, bank phone number, etc.) These documents are handy and could easily be tossed in the car if the emergency was such that we needed to leave the house and property immediately. The e.s.b. is on wheels and could (probably in a burst of adrenaline) be lifted into the trunk of the car.

I rest a little easier at night, knowing that our family has taken steps toward emergency preparedness.

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