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As I sat here writing this a couple of days ago, the radio coverage was of Hurricane Sally and wildfires continuing to burn in many parts of Oregon, California, Washington, and more parts of the west. And the wildfire season isn’t nearly over. On the coast of Oregon is the ever-present danger of a major earthquake and resulting tsunami as well. We are told over and over that it is not “if” it will happen but “when.” I keep saying, “Someday I’m going to get prepared.” So this post is one more “someday has arrived” item. Last week when I tried to put my go-bag together in the middle of the night when the temps went from mid-50s to 74 and the wind from nothing to about 45 to 50 mph between 11 p.m. and midnight, I got spooked. So now, I think I’m finally ready to get serious and do something about it.
Wednesday night and yesterday morning, I dug out what I’d clipped from the newspaper over the years and then went online to read blog posts. My source is Dave Robinson who has written columns about disaster preparedness for more than one coastal newspaper and is the author of Disaster Prep for the Rest of Us.
I didn’t know what to put in a go-bag. When I put mine together last week, I got some things right, but I left out some necessary items. Robinson’s recommendation is not to buy a ready-made go-bag, but to personalize it to your needs. Here are the basic ingredients: food, water and something with which to purify water, medications, walking shoes, a few clothes and a poncho or jacket, and cell phone charger cord. (He recommends to keep a second one in the car.) For Sir Groucho, I had dishes for his water and food, canned food, dry food, medications, and leash and harness. Of course, I have a carrier for Sir Groucho to travel in.
Robinson recommends sticking to foods you are used to. Freeze-dried foods may have a shelf life of 25 years but may not be good for your digestive system during a time of stress. And he suggests some band-aids, pain medication, and flashlight and batteries. He also suggests a small water filter such as a LifeStraw or Survival Spring, both available for about $20. And Lightning Strike to help start a fire. These last two might be handy if you are stuck with your car between Florence and Eugene for several days.
He thinks of a go-bag as a get you home bag if away from home when disaster strikes, which means that you need to have it in your car. And he thinks of it as the bag to grab when you are home and need to leave your house due to wildfire or earthquake. So it should be in your car whenever you are in your car and under your bed when home to be handy when you need it day or night.
We’re always told to grab important papers, which I did (I forgot insurance policies and passport), and I had them in a separate bag. I don’t want those sitting in a go-bag in the car. So Robinson’s suggestion is to make copies of them and put in the go-bag. Or photograph them, upload to your computer, and put on a flash drive. Then put the flash drive in a go-bag. These documents may include insurance policies, deeds, passports, birth certificates, and titles to your vehicles.
There is a lot of stuff on my desktop that I would not want to lose. So I think I’ll put those on flash drives, also, and put in my go-bag. And I’d also take my laptop.
In the event of a major earthquake and resulting tsunami, those of us on the coast may be on our own for up to two weeks. And that may be true also, if we happen to be on the road between Florence and Eugene. (This might be a situation where freeze dried food would be the best, because it takes up less space.) So having a kit to survive those two weeks is important. This would be in addition to the go-bag.
I attended a disaster prep workshop taught by someone else a couple of years ago, and I remember her saying that the survival kit needs to be away from the house. If the house is damaged, you might not be able to get to your survival kit. It should be close by, but not in the garage or basement or anywhere else in the house. And it will require more than one large, sturdy container.
Food and water will be the major items. Robinson has a list of 19 food items that should be in the kit as well as a hand-operated can opener. And he recommends five gallons of water per person or more. To purify water if not bottled, have a small container of unscented regular household bleach. Experts recommend 8 drops of bleach per one gallon of water. So have an eye dropper also.
Here are more of his suggestions for the survival kit:
* Two flashlights for every person with several backup batteries.
* For insurance purposes, it’s good to have a record of what your house and possessions look like before a disaster—an inventory through photos or video. These could be put on a flash drive. This morning a gal recently evacuated was interviewed on the radio and mentioned to photograph what’s in drawers too. She is from California and this was her second evacuation in the past few years. (After a disaster, if there is damage, document that through photos or video also.)
* Have some common-sense items like scissors or a utility knife (something sharp to cut with), sanitizing wipes, heavy duty trash bags, matches in waterproof containers, and a whistle to signal for help. Robinson says over and over that you cannot have too many batteries, zip ties, and duct tape.
* Have some cash on hand in small bills because ATMs may not be working and banks may be damaged or closed. And in a widespread power outage, debit cards won’t be helpful.
I should be able to do this. With Dave Robinson’s expertise, I now know what to do. In this blog post, I’ve listed some of his recommendations that I hadn’t thought of. To get the full list of foods to put in your kit ( two blog posts July 2016) and more recommendations that he calls ‘timely tips” (two blog posts July 2013), check out www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com..
If I can do this, so can you!