May 9, 2011

Misawa Monday Preparedness Perspective - Robert

Can you find our Guest blogger on the Wall of Fame?
I tried all day yesterday to load these pictures of today's guest writer and couldn't get blogger to work.  So once again, I'm a little late posting.  But hey, I tried.  Today I'd like to introduce you to Bob/Rob/Robert.  He is a dentist here on base and a good friend of ours.  His wife Lyana is also a good friend and Doug and I love hanging out with them.  They have  three cute kids and the youngest, baby Mark, speaks Ukrainian.  How cool is that?  Rob and Lyana blog HERE.  (Be sure to search their blog for the Toilet Museum post.)
Top right corner!

Em, Lyana, Doug & Robert shoved into a teeny tiny Japanese photo booth

Recently we had the rare opportunity to utilize our 72-hour kit (well, some of it).  Now, I don’t claim to be the most prepared when it comes to emergencies, but thanks to my wife, I feel that we have a pretty smashing 72-hour kit.  That aside, let me tell you about our experience breaking open the kit.
The power went out after the first big quake hit.  With that, of course, went almost everything we take for granted everyday – internet, TV, lights, oven, stove, microwave (ahhhh!), refrigerator, cordless phones, dishwasher, laundry machines, and so forth.  You get the idea.  Obviously, some things are more important than others.  Luckily, water and sewer lines were working, so we didn’t have to get creative on that front.  Anyway, let’s talk survival.
You never know what situation you will be in when you need to use your 72-hour kit, so preparedness is key.  Our kit was set up so that we could grab it on a moment’s notice on our way out the door (worst-case scenario).  This time, luckily, we busted it out in the comfort of our own dark living room.
Our kit is divided into two large military backpacks, with smaller backpacks inside for each child.  Each of the older kids’ backpacks consists of:

  • change of clothes – one year up in size
    • you can always roll up or cut if too long.  Even though we were still at home, the kids were excited to wear the “new” clothes from their backpacks
  • basic hygiene kit
  • 2 bottles of water
  • some granola bars or other snacks
  • hand warmers
  • stickers and crayons
  • tissues
  • extra pair of glasses and lens cleaner in Alex’s bag
Mark’s bag:

  • wipes
  • diapers – keep size updated
  • diaper rash cream
  • clothes – again, one size too big
The rest of the kit, split up between the two big bags:

  • Vital documents
    • copies of passports, marriage and birth certificates
    • household inventory
    • copies of stuff in your wallet
    • contact information of friends and relatives
  • Extra cash – $100 in small bills
    • change of clothes for me and Lyana – long-sleeve shirt and pants can be used in any weather
    • a WORKING radio – tape batteries to outside of radio
      • test the radio beforehand (just a hint)
    • flashlight – battery powered ones are less stressful
      • wall-charger flashlights are fine, but rather difficult to recharge when electricity is out.  I don’t recommend them.
      • I don’t like the crank-charge ones either.  Who wants to be turning a crank just for a few minutes of light.
    • LED lights – even brighter than regular flashlights
      • we had two LED headlamps and three LED circular lights that we could put on the table or hang on the wall.  I definitely recommend these.
    • Lots of spare batteries. 
      • The LED lights were nice because they are light (ie not heavy) AND they run on AAA batteries which are also fairly light. 
    • Candles – portable, but really only practical when all your batteries are dead
    • Fire starter sticks
    • inflatable pillow – who knows?
    • pocket knife
    • cooking fuel
    • ponchos
    • alcohol hand sanitizer
    • antibacterial wipes
    • whistle
    • spool of twine
    • duct tape – some would argue that’s all you really need
    • folding shovel
    • a little bit of rope
    • compass
    • matches
    • a good book – to pass the time away
    • a good first aid kit – not just a few band-aids
    • more hand and body warmers
    • sewing kit
    • doctor’s masks – easy to find in Japan
    • permanent markers – gotta label stuff
    • trash bags
    • scissors
    • aluminum foil
    • paper towels
    • can opener
    • toilet paper
    • paper plates and cups
    • plastic utensils
    • water purification tablets
    • vaseline or chapstick
    • plastic grocery bags
    • wool blankets – we have 2
    • almonds, cashews or other nuts
    • MREs
    • emergency food rations – like energy bars or those big bricks of barely palatable bricks (we have both)
    • peanut butter – high protein and yum too
    • freeze dried food – some random stuff
    • Tums – guess why
    Since we were still at home, we obviously didn’t use everything, but the experience certainly gave us a chance to re-evaluate the practicality of certain items.  (the bags are still in the living room being re-evaluated)  

    1. Food – unless they were starving, I doubt the kids would eat much of what we had in the bags, especially the freeze-dried stuff.  Now I recommend food that you know the kids will eat and food that requires little or no preparation (who wants to be heating up water and pouring it carefully in a bag just so they can have a meal of reconstituted spaghetti?)  A special treat for the kids can be especially comforting during disasters or evacuations.  I also recommend a little bit of chocolate for the wife (Lyana told me to say that).
    2. Water – fill up your containers before you need them.  I didn’t “get around to it,” but thankfully the water never stopped working here.  I filled up the bathtub as soon as I could . . . just in case.
    3. Corded phone – wish I had one.  It doesn’t need to be in the kit, but when the power’s out, cordless phones are worthless.
    4. Car keys – I never thought about this before, but why not put a spare key in the 72-hour kit.  That way, if you have to grab it and run, you don’t have to waste time looking for your keys.
    5. Gas – I mean, fuel.  Both our cars were near empty when the earthquake hit.  Gas stations were closed so we were stuck with what we had.  I recommend keeping tanks no less than 1/4 tank and also have a full gas can in storage.
    6. Cooking – I was very happy we had a BBQ with a full propane tank.  Many people, I heard, spent those two days eating cheese and crackers.  We had a full fridge and freezer full of food to use up, so we ate like royalty.  Had to invite the neighbors over to help us.  It also helped that we had some coolers, which I filled with food and buried in the ice and snow outside.
    Okay, I think that’s good enough for now.  I’m exhausted just thinking about all of this.  But who wants to be thinking about this when they’re running out the door or just even when the power’s out?  Stocked and easily accessible is the key.
    I’m off now.  If you have any questions, just ask . . . then I’ll refer them all to my well-prepared wife.

    Thanks Robert!!!


    Judy said...

    Thank you so much for posting this list. I live in Utah and have homes in
    Idaho and there is a fear of severe flooding. I am checking my kit

    LaLa said...

    More good ideas. Thanks! And chocolate really should be a necessity in 72 hour kits!!

    Katie Adams {Blog} said...

    Thank you for posting about your experiences. My 72 hour kits were very low on the priority list until I started foloowing your blog. I live in Idaho and have thought of you and prayed for you often. I have learned so much from all your posts and am now in the process of organizing our 72 hour kits. You were just the kick in the pants that I needed. You have been such an inspriation to me. I have taken so much for granted here in my safe home. You have been so strong through all of this and I admire your attitude. If I was there I would have lost it! I just had a question for you. A few weeks ago you said you ordered a radio from The Red Cross and I was looking into buying one too. I was wondering which one you got and how you made your decision. I saw that there are 3 to choose from. Thanks again.