OK – we took on the insane. We went on a 72-hour kit camp-out! We had SO much fun and simply learned a ton. We went with some good friends up a canyon to the east of Logan, Utah. The main rule was that for 24 hours, we were only to use our 72-hour kits and see how we fared. In that restriction, we were allowed to use our tents and sleeping bags – especially since we keep ours by our 72-hour-kits and I consider it part of the greater “family-kit.” (We did allow one exception for a bag of marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate – though I decided that a bag of mallows might be a fun and super light snack to add to my kit for the future anyway.) MY family actually started our camping trip on Thursday night, but did not use food from our kits (I did not want to have to replace ALL of it after our trip was over) and only started the strictly kit-based camping on Friday at lunch time. (I will insert an admission here – we did go down the mountain from our campground before lunch on Friday to get two major things we had already realized we really needed to have in our kits.) Our campground had lots of trees and long grasses and some jolly-good outhouses (at least as good as outhouses really get). In this post, I will try to give a run down of the pre-camp-out preparations I made. I will cover how things went on the camp-out in a future post or two as well as the things that I added to my “I need to include these in my kit” list.
So, here we go. Lets get ready for a “disaster.”
Since I KNEW we were going to have a “disaster,” I took the time to think through a lot of what was in my kit and did do some PREparing. I started by going through some of my papers from old preparedness lessons and looking at several websites (including some from FEMA and Ready.gov and many others too). I looked at all the “lists” of ideas and needed items and types of items to have in a basic survival kit. I also looked into what are the most likely disasters that might happen to my family in our area and how I would need to prepare for those specifically. One thing that I realized over the course of the PREparing and during our adventurous weekend is that your preparation needs to be based on YOUR circumstances! I don’t live in Alaska or Hawaii and my kit should reflect that. I have a family with LITTLE children and my pack needs to show it. My husband is home most of the time and my kit reflects that too. Though I try to have my pack ready for everything – especially the MOST likely things – I need to tailor my kit to MY life.
On that note, getting ready for our trip included packing a pack for my baby. We generally try to go through our kits every 6 months (we do it in conjunction with the LDS General Conference as a means of occupying my kids while we watch 8 hours of church on TV – but you can do it at any time that will be easy for YOUR family to remember, but 6-months is a good interval to use). I knew that we had NOT done it this past spring however and so I knew that our packs had not been added to since having my baby. I knew I had put in a few blankies and some PJs and onesies in MY pack last fall – for in-case she was born during an emergency. Well, now she is here and 9-months old. She needed some not premie size stuff and some food and ….. I took the time to gather together some things for her into a pack for HER.
I also went through and took the time to gather some of the things that simply needed to be gathered, but had not been before. For instance, I had planned for the last – ohhhh – 4 years or so, to add an “I.D.” to each of my kids’ kits with their names, pictures birth-dates, family information, emergency contact info. and locations where we plan to gather in an emergency. I had never taken the time to do it and I finally did. It did not take all that long and now all I have to do is update pictures every year or so and re-hook them on the front of their pack in case we did have an emergency and one of us got separated from the rest. I also compiled a copy of all of our essential documents – birth certificates, social security cards, insurance policies, financial account contact information, etc. – and put them in a protected waterproof container in one of the kits (I also plan to leave a copy at my mom’s house out of town as back-up). I also restocked a few things that had been un-stocked from our packs. Like returning to the packs all of our flashlights that had been used for a funny activity a few months back and sticking the pile of stuff I had on the corner of my counter that has been waiting to be put into the kits until “I get a minute” for the last 9 months. As I added things in preparation for our trip, though, I made myself stick to the idea that unless it was going to stay a permanent addition to our kits, it was NOT allowed to get added just for the sake of our trip.
Since I knew what day our “emergency” was going to happen I was also able to PREpare my kids for what I would want them to do in an emergency. (My first BIG tip – make sure you do that now in case an emergency – a real one – happens tomorrow.) I assigned each of my older girls (ages 8 and 6) to be “in charge” of a brother (ages 4 and 3). Each boy knew which sister they needed to go to if they needed help and each girl knew that her “responsibilities” for an emergency included THAT brother and HIS responsibilities too. Each of my boys were “responsible” for getting his own shoes on and to get TWO pillows each and get into the car and in their buckles. My 6-year-old daughter was in charge of talking with each child in the family and ask them what ONE thing they would take with them if they had to leave EVERYTHING else behind and may never see any of it ever again. (I saw this suggestion on a super helpful preparedness blog a while ago and loved the idea of everyone having their something special. Though none of them played with their special things on our camp-out in the mountains, I think it would be a great comfort to all of us if a REAL emergency happened – especially if we were in a refugee center or something and the kids were only busy with being bored not climbing mountains and such.) After the 6-year-old knew what everyone wanted, she was responsible for quickly gathering those special items, her one brother, her own shoes, and getting in her car buckles. My 8-year-old was required to grab EACH child a blanket – one that would actually keep a person warm, not just a fluff-of-nothing blanket, her shoes, her one brother, and get into her buckles in the car. We told them this would be our plan if we had some amount of warning that there was an emergency coming and we had a bit of time to evacuate. (Next time we do this – and yes, we are going to do it again! – we might try the 5-minute or less evacuation, not the 30-minute or less version that we were going for this time.) I was also able to PREpare my husband with what he was expected to do or grab as we “evacuated” and where all of those things are or how they need to be handled (yes, I am a bit of a control freak and an OCD planner about some things). He is in charge of gathering our business backup records (we own our own business), our computers that have our entire lives on them, the cases of bottled water (which we no longer store IN our actual backpacks due to repeated spilled water inside of the packs), and the 2 big tote buckets that have the “family kit” in them. (The family kit contains things like a hatchet, the tent, a pot that is bigger than my mess kit, the baby’s kit, a more comprehensive First Aid Kit, and other things that we would WANT, but do not have room in basic backpacks to carry for everyone.) I am responsible for the diaper bag, cellphone and charger, walkie talkies and charger, camera and charger, sleeping bags, all the kids’ packs, and our two packs – oh, and the baby!
When my hubby finally gave the “call to evacuate,” I was actually rather impressed with how well everyone did. I found out that our sleeping bags were not actually with the tent where they were supposed to be (I think they may have been lost in our move, but either way, they were not there) and had to add a trip into my bathroom with a big black trash bag to grab additional bedding to replace it. My oldest daughter missed a blanket (though I had pleantly since it was a nice warm summer weekend). Other than that, everyone got everything they were supposed to and we were in the car and on our way within about 15 minutes. Granted, we were aware that it was coming AND we did not take our computers or a couple other things that would take a few extra minutes to grab if we were truly evacuating, but honestly I was impressed.
I will add one funny side note. I let the 3-year old choose what our “emergency” was. When I asked him what emergency we should pretend to have, he said, “A plane!”
I said, “A plane? What about a plane?”
“Did the plane crash into our house?”
He said, “No. It crash in a lake!”
“Ohhhhhh.” (I kind of held onto that thoughtful response for a while as I tried to think of a way that a plane crashing into a lake could “cause” our “disaster.”) “When the plane crashed into the lake, did the lake overflow and flood the valley?”
He nearly bounced out of his seat at the table as he said, “Yes, yes, yes!”
I guess that gives a whole new meaning to the idea of a flood plane, now doesn’t it? (Sorry, you’ll have to excuse the one bad pun moment, but he really did make me laugh at his bursting enthusiasm for this GREAT disaster he came up with!)