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Summer in California means fire season. I can’t be the only one that gets a little nervous thinking about this, especially considering the amount of devastation the last two years alone throughout the entire state. I always had a sense of security because I always assumed wildfires burned in remote areas. However, the Wine Country Fires of 2017 and the Camp Fire that ravaged through the town of Paradise in 2018, proved that fires don’t care where you live and can happen anywhere.
Watching these disasters play out the last few years always made me think I should put together an emergency kit. I am definitely a “worst case scenario” thinker, and living through one of those traumatic events with kids really scares me, especially since AJ is a first responder. He will be called into work if a natural disaster hits and I will be on my own scrambling with two kids. I’ve been dragging my feet to put this together but, last week, a grass fire broke out about .75 miles from my house. Our development is surrounded by grassy fields and it was a windy night. We’ve had a wet winter and spring, but I couldn’t help but feel nervous. Luckily, the fire was put out before it spread too far. But, that was enough to get me to finally prioritize this idea and make an emergency kit for my family.
Basics For Your Emergency Kit
It’s really overwhelming to think about everything your family would need should you have to evacuate your home. Most people recommend having enough supplies for about 36-48 hours, which is even more overwhelming to think about. If your family is like mine, you are on a fairly strict budget. We are fortunate that we have some wiggle room, but we also don’t have hundreds of dollars to pour into an emergency kit. Especially since it will sit in the corner and potentially never be used. That’s why it was important to me to gather items that will be reliable and useful in the event we need them but wouldn’t blow the budget.
I knew we’d definitely need some batteries, so I headed to Walmart because I knew they’d have a big selection. I picked up some Energizer®. EnergizerMAX batteries which hold their charge for up to 10 years in storage and the Energizer Lithium batteries that have a shelf life of 20 years, which makes both perfect options for an emergency kit. The new packaging also makes them easy to locate on the shelf. There is also an Ibotta Offer available, making them even more affordable.
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My goal was to start assembling an emergency kit and add to it as I find things on sale or get things (like sample sizes from the dentist). We also have a lot of this stuff in our camping gear (like a stove), so I didn’t want to double buy. I’ve just made a mental note to grab the camping box too if we ever have to evacuate. Here is a list of basic supplies to get your emergency kit started:
- Paper towels
- Toilet paper
- Baby wipes
- First aid kit
- Shelf stable food
- Cups, plates, utensils
- Pain reliever for adults and children
- Trash bags
- Change of clothes for each member of the family
Other Things To Consider In Your Emergency Kit
- Don’t forget the little members of the family. If you have young children, don’t forget diapers! If you have babies, you’ll want formula, if necessary, too.
- Prescription medications- This is probably the first thing I’d forget. Depending on the type of medication, you might be able to get some extra from your doctor.
- Pets! If you evacuate, you’ll be taking them with you and you’ll need food for them as well.
- Don’t buy everything new. Chances are you have a lot of the things you already need around your house already. The key is that they will all be organized in one location for you to grab and go if necessary.
- Important documents. Some suggest making copies to keep in your kit. To me, this defeats the purpose of keeping things like birth certificates or Social Security cards secure because I don’t plan on locking the emergency kit in the safe. Plus, in most instances, copies are not acceptable. We have a fire rated safe where we keep them, so I’ve chosen to keep them in there. But, I do need to be better about knowing how to open the safe. I usually defer to AJ, but I need to know how to open it in case he isn’t home to do it.
- Make a plan. Like most families, mine isn’t all together 100% of the time. If an emergency happens, the odds of us being all together are pretty slim or you may even be separated. As a first responder, AJ being separated is almost a guarantee. Cell phone connections often go out to be redirected for emergency communications, which would make reuniting even harder. Think of a rendezvous point where you would regroup. A friend or family member’s home several miles away (far enough that they would potentially be unaffected by whatever even is happening) would be a great location.
Thinking about everything our family would need in the event we had to evacuate for a wildfire (or another natural disaster) is really overwhelming. But, then I started to think about how stressful a situation like that would be, and how I’d rather ease that burden now by preparing a little here and there instead of in the middle of a high stress situation. My emergency kit isn’t complete, but I do feel better that I have now started.
Have you made an emergency kit for your family? What things did you include?