Be Prepared #3

Pack Your Bag

Be Prepared #1Be Prepared #2 — Current: Pack Your Bag

We have, for years when we’ve travelled, always packed a first aid kit: Bandages, Neosporin, sunscreen, Pepto, Dramamine, and of course, Alka-Seltzer Plus – Cold for my sinuses. It seemed prudent. Additionally as I referenced in the first of these articles, “Yes, Dad. The spare tire is decent.” “And full of air.” “Checked just last month.”

At least I think it was last month.

Reservations, gas money, food money, first aid kit, spare tire, water and road trip snacks: good to go! Whether that is north towards Vegas to see one grandchild, or west to the LA area to see the other, with it being only a four or five hour trip one way, we didn’t spend much time assessing if that was adequate preparation.

Not much there in the case of an actual emergency though, other than keeping the teenagers hunger pangs (mostly) satiated and aspirin. Several assumptions run through that list of “necessary items”. Perhaps the biggest assumption is that the car would make any and all of those trips suffering nothing more than a flat tire. Following on that assumption is this: there are 4 cell phones in the car with us at all times. If there’s a problem, we’ll just call for help. (After writing that, I think “we’ll just call for help” is the new leader in the club house on the assumptions courseā€¦)

At both ends of either of those trips calling for help would not be a problem. But if you’ve ever driven from Phoenix to Las Vegas or L.A. and parts north, you know there are spots along those routes that are blackholes for cell service. Now, suppose mechanical failure in one of those spots. After dark. Raining. And the snacks are all gone. Worse yet if you had ventured off onto a side road where there is no passing traffic for possible help and you can’t make it back to the freeway.

Another scenario: having to leave the house in an emergency. Two years ago, during one of the monsoon storms here in mid-summer, the top 20 feet of the palm tree in the neighbor’s yard snapped off and fell across our property, missing the roof line of the front porch and the sliding glass door next to it by less than a foot. Had it been a foot or two longer or fallen three feet more to the south the whole front of the house would have been smashed open and exposed to 50-60 mph winds and pelting rain. Would have been a good time to get out of the house and come back in a day or two.

And it’s not even just the weather. Several residences in the neighborhood have natural gas hookups for cooking, heating and laundry facilities. A gas leak could cause an emergency evacuation. All of this lead to the conclusion that we should have an emergency bag to grab and go when needed. My overly analytical brain said: Emergency = Red. We just happen to have a red duffel bag. Great! Time to pack.

The first consideration was waterproofing everything going in that bag that needed it: meds, wound treatment, foodstuffs, batteries. We used various sizes of plastic bags with ziplock-type closures. Probably went a little overboard.

The second consideration was filtered through what would we need? Kinda. Did we over pack the first time on this bag? Yes. Did we over-over pack the 2nd time trying to pare down what we were putting in? Of course. Did we decide to do some research with some experts before packing the bag for a 3rd time in two weeks? Definitely. Did it help? We’re working on that.

Thanks for reading. The first 3 articles in this series serve as kind of an introduction to the broader perspective of future writings on the subject of emergency and disaster preparation. The goal is to post a new article every Saturday morning (morning MST) after a cup of coffee or two. These are not advice articles or How-Tos. Those I’ll leave to the experts. These are simply journals of the (mis)adventures of a family looking to expand our definition of “be prepared”.

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