I live in the Midwest these days, which means that I have to deal with the occasional tornado warning, but nothing more serious than that. It’s a fair sight better than the worries I had in my former home on the East Coast. Sure, the seafood was great and the beach was amazing, but hurricanes were more of a danger there than pretty much anything the elements can reasonably throw at me here. After Katrina, I had stocked a relatively large antique chest in the corner of my closet that I really hoped that I’d never have to use. I think that I had all of the safety essentials in it, a list which I’ll share with you now in hopes that your families will be a little safer with these items somewhere in your home.
Food and water are easily the most obvious items, but how should you set these things up? Should you just store as much water as you possibly can, with a huge mountain of canned goods or MREs to go with it? Not necessarily. A good rule of thumb to use when choosing water is to pick up one gallon per day per person for around five to seven days. The best water to go with for this is a sealed gallon bottle from a grocery store. Store it in a dark place, as both of these measures will prevent it from going stale and being just a little unpleasant to drink (a serious worry when a hurricane is beating down your walls). The amount of food should match the amount of water in the number of days you store, but again, it really doesn’t need to be any more than a week’s worth. Even if your situation is truly horrible, rescue is likely to come in a week after the Katrina fiasco. With the mention of food, a couple of other sorts of points have to be made. In addition to storing common canned vegetables, you should also store at least a few snacks and some MRE Meals such one from us. Maintaining morale in a disaster situation is an important aspect of survival. Eating vegetables out of a can might be nutritious, but having a family, kids included, eating beans and corn for five or six days straight can drive even the most tolerant child crazy. To alleviate the situation, pack some Doritos, few packs of our Blue Line and a few bottles of apple juice for when they’re needed. Speaking of children, it took me about two months to realize that I hadn’t added any baby food to my chest. I guess that I’d expected that my little cousin would eat canned green beans. The utensils you use for these foods are also important. After all, what good could come of fifty cans of canned veggies without a single can opener? Some people that I know have included portable stoves and other heating sources with their emergency supplies, but I really think that’s largely more of a hassle than it’s worth, with potential for more danger if improperly used. Lastly, make sure to also pack in plenty of utensils as well as enough paper and cloth towels to clean everything which is used.
Several other household essentials should also be stored with the food. Make sure that you have plenty of blankets and warm clothes. Seeing as the weather has already taken a turn for the worse, you may think that it really can’t get any worse. However, a temperature drop could make an already unbearable situation impossible unless proper protection is available. I’d pack some blankets with silica gel packets bundled inside. These packets will drain any moisture that leaks in, preventing you from finding a moldy lump of cloth. I’d suggest no more than two additional fresh sets of clothes per person. Any more is pretty excessive, but I’d suggest that you have at least one set per person.
You shouldn’t carry too much in the way of electronics, as salt air will cause most of them to keep fairly poorly. The ones that I really do suggest are somewhat obvious, though. Make sure that you have a flashlight with plenty of spare batteries in case the obvious (and likely) happens. I even feel a little silly telling you to carry one. The other electronic device is a radio, whether it be hand-crank (increasingly rare these days) or battery-powered. Not only is it essential that you hear news from the outside world, but hearing someone else’s voice is never a bad thing, either. While I know that this is a worst-case scenario, it doesn’t hurt to think about it. As for a phone, I’d suggest a traditional phone to use until the lines go down. As this is fairly likely in a serious storm situation, I’d also suggest a cell phone. Again, I don’t think that I need to say that, as everyone has one, but try and get an extra battery, if possible. It’s also important to have some basic tools stashed away for use during the storm. I’m not really suggesting that you pack a circular saw or something, but I’d say that your emergency chest should include a screwdriver, a small hatchet, and a small hammer. These are mostly “”in-case”” items (I don’t expect you to use that hammer in a common situation) but it never hurts, and none of those items take up an incredibly large amount of space.
The last items I’d like to suggest are just some odds and ends that you should remember to carry. I’d suggest having a small first aid kit in your chest with some gauze, bandages, alcohol swabs, and some painkiller medicine. I’d also suggest keeping a full fuel tank on hand, just in case. If the storm is really bad, you won’t be able to access more for quite some time and it’ll be essential. Another important item that many people forget is a waterproof package containing important documents. These may include identification for everyone in your home, as well as immunization records in the case that a rescue attempt must be made in a bad situation. I’d also suggest keeping a spare set of keys to your home inside your emergency chest.
I know that at points this guide may seem excessive and a little bit crazy. After all, a complete set of immunization records just in case? A hammer? An axe? Doritos? The thing is that when it comes to my family, there’s no upper limit to safety, and this guide was written with that in mind. Include or exclude items as you like, as long as you have everything you need to keep your loved ones safe. The truth is that even when I moved here, to the Midwest, I help onto the chest and its contents. You know. Just in case.