Time to be Heroic and Prepare

September! What a great month. The weather is fine. Tired parents get a break from school age children. At the end of summer, we refocus our energies and prepare for the change in seasons. And sometimes, the seasons change rather dramatically, which is why September is National Disaster Preparedness Month.

The American Red Cross is recognizing this important time by sponsoring the fantastic and funny television advertisement above. In the ad, a young couple discusses the husband’s unusual choices for their Emergency Supply Kit. Eschewing a battery powered radio, he includes pancake batter, practical joke items and gummy worms instead. Over at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), assisted by the American College of Emergency Physicians, they are piloting an online game called Disaster Hero, to help people of all ages learn to prepare for an emergency. These are great initiatives, and I encourage any and all savvy citizens to watch the ad, giggle, play Disaster Hero, share it with your family members and enjoy. And after you are done enjoying. . .create your freakin’ emergency kit, already, and stick that thing in the trunk of your car, for goodness sake!

We are serious, people.  Someone clever wrote the script for that ad. We hired real actors, who spent days shooting it. There were cameramen, and set designers, and prop people and all the other craziness that goes into making a decent piece of televisual media. The American College of Emergency Physicians hired game designers who thought hard about how to make Disaster Hero appealing and educational. We’ve put in a lot of effort here. Now it’s time for you to do the same.

It’s easy. It’s so easy, even my chaotic, disorganized family of several teenage boys managed to get this done. Here’s what’s in our Emergency Supply Kit:

Water—one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
That means we have 2-3 five gallon tanks per person stored in our house at all times that can be moved to the car if necessary. It’s also possible to sterilize old milk jugs and use tap water.

Food—non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
Oatmeal, canned beans and rice—because these items are easy to store, healthy and filling. Nuts and peanut butter – because these items are very high calorie and great for large, hungry boys. Also, whole wheat crackers, lots and lots of energy bars, dried fruits. We included some canned tuna, for protein. As far as canned veggies, we could only agree on peas and carrots so that’s what we have. My sons may have included a bag of gummy worms. They seemed to feel that one item should lighten the mood.

We have several in our kit. Each boy wanted his own.

Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible) and extra batteries
I know it’s hard to imagine losing the ability to access info with your smartphone, but networks become overwhelmed in an emergency.

First Aid Kit – Anatomy of a First Aid Kit
This is essential for helping ourselves and others.

Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
Tylenol or Ibuprofen, as well as other medications. In our case, an extra inhaler goes in the kit as well.

Sanitation and personal hygiene items
Ladies take note! Also, TP, TP and more TP. Paper towels are a great idea as well. Don’t forget to include some of those wonderful cheap plastic bags from the grocery store. We all have like 300 of them in a drawer in the kitchen, don’t we? Our kit also includes garbage bags.

Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies), family emergency contacts, extra cash and a good area road atlas
Do it. Get it done. Zip it in a seal-able plastic bag, and keep it in a place you can grab it if you need to take it in your car. I don’t recommend keeping this info in your car all the time.

Emergency blankets
We have a few because there are so many of us, and they are all for me because, as the only one without gobs of testosterone coursing through my veins, I get the coldest. Okay, that might be an overstatement, but you never know when you might need to be warm in your car.


That’s ours, now go make yours. It takes a couple hours, and it’s time well spent.

Posted by Sarah Peterson, Communications Volunteer

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