Continuing what has become both a repost and a bit of an expansion of some previous preparedness posts. You can find an archive of all of them here, and I would also urge you to go back and read the "fundamental" posts and -- especially -- the comments here, here, and here; and the post on walking home and yesterday's post. Today's post was originally posted 21 June 2004.
Into each life some rain must fall, but it does not have to fall in the bedroom. That is the basic premise behind the room kits (previously discussed here) I have in each major room of the house. Huntsville seems to have a bullseye painted on it when to comes to weather, and in the two times I have lived here I have seen several tornados, heard a few more, seen a trees go down, seen a tall oak go down over a truck longways such that it looked like an oak hotdog in an F-150 bun, and seen lightening drop 20-30 feet of tree top down through the roof of my neighbor’s bedroom and through the floor (fortunately, he wasn’t home).
So, long before Tom Ridge thought it was a good idea, I started keeping some things handy. When any emergency happens, time is of the essence, so you don’t want to waste time hunting supplies whilst the outside pours in. To that end, there is latch top storage container in each room with some basics. Those usually consist of tape, tacks, brads, hammer, plastic, small first aid kit, knife or some means to cut the plastic, and some form or forms of alternate lighting. There are often other things, most often including a couple of decks of cards.
The plastic sheeting is the central player in these kits, as everything else pretty much revolves around it. The plastic can cover electronics, furniture and more to protect it from the elements if there is a whole in wall or roof, or a window is blown out. It can then be used to patch the hole if possible. Even if there are tree parts or such in the way, you can use the plastic sheeting to block, and even to re-direct the water back out or where it will do the least damage. It can cover where the window used to be, or in the event of a man-made disaster, cover the window. The various types of tape, tacks, brads, cutting tools, and such are all there to support this effort.
Each room has its own flashlight, and each kit has chemical lights, candle lanterns, and maybe another flashlight. I want as many options as possible, for as many disasters as possible. If gas or inflammability is an issue, I have chemical lights, and my flashlights (Hubble) are designed for such environments. If long-term lighting is needed (winter storm or such), I have the candle lantern and candles along with waterproof matches. The church key gives me a bottle and can opener, and the cards a means of passing time if needed.
You will note that every kit of every type discussed this week will have one thing in common: a pencil. Pens are great and I keep them around, but pens dry up and don't work under a lot of conditions. Pencils will work almost anytime and anywhere, and are easy to sharpen. So, there is one in every kit. I also tend to put the medicines I use or might need the most in each kit.
Now, the room kit is not designed for heavy work. It does not contain anything that will remove tree parts, pry things apart, or do other Herculean tasks. It gives you some basics to protect property, treat small ouches, and get a handle on things. But that is crucial because in any emergency you want to buy yourself as much quality time as possible. That time is what gives you a chance to think, to plan, and to act in a deliberate manner to meet whatever challenge has arisen, while retaining as many assets and options as possible. Especially if you have to wait on emergency crews, insurance adjusters, or others who don’t quite share your sense of urgency about the situation.
Also in each room is an emergency food kit. Also in a latch-top container, these vary but most often have textured vegetable protein in various forms, along with other goodies that vary based on what I had that would last a while and might be good. Vacuum packed coffee is in many of them, along with other “just add water” items. I also stick other things in there that might be useful, from spare keys sewing kits. If there is room, why not make use of it? These kits are not short term or pretty, but are designed for long-term storage and viability. Just in case.
These kits are all modular for a reason. Actually, for several reasons. First, it makes them easy to store, tucked away in the back of a closet or on top of a cabinet out of sight. It provides some weather protection for the contents as well. It also makes it easy for bugging out, in that the containers are easily grabbed and loaded into a vehicle. I will discuss staging more later, but the containers give you maximum flexibility and utility. Having them in multiple locations also guarantees that if the disaster damages or destroys part of your home, at least some of the kits should survive intact.
One final note is that you will notice a lot of things in the kits are vacuum sealed. I have a food saver, and will note that it does not have to be used just for food. I have sealed up papers from my parent’s estate for storage; what I hope will be collectible items for future enjoyment or sale; and, even weapons of various types. I love my food saver system in the kitchen, but don’t let its use stop there. Think about this, and about what other things you may have that can do double duty.