Organizations as diverse as The Boy Scouts of America, the Center for Disease Control, and FEMA all recommend that Americans have a basic level of preparedness for emergencies, disasters, and disease outbreaks. Although we are less prone to natural disaster than most locations, there are still some emergencies that might catch us off guard, such as a wildfire, contagion, or other disaster. If the unexpected occurs, there are special considerations that you might want to take to keep yourself and your family safer.
A basic level of preparedness includes having a home kit, a car kit, a travel kit, a hiking and camping kit, and even a bug out kit (which is just a bag containing those items you would want with you if you had to leave your home quickly, for at least 3-4 days).
To get you started preparing your family for the unexpected, here are several kits that local resident and veteran, Mike Lavelle, recommends you put together. With these, you can make living in the desert a little bit safer in an emergency.
For your home preparedness kit you would want food, water, and basic toiletries for at least two weeks, if not more. Part of your home kit could be as simple as those items you have on hand in your bathroom and medicine cabinet, with selected additional items to include adding basic medical supplies for minor injuries and sicknesses (include prescription medications for two weeks), batteries, flashlights, and candles. One recommendation for home preparedness is to have not only a stocked pantry, but also the storage of additional foods that replace the food in your pantry as they are used. By doing this, you will avoid having food going bad over time (although storing some rice and dry beans is not a bad idea as they last a very long time).
In addition to a first aid kit, a car kit should contain items for the car itself like a tire repair kit, radiator tape, and such items. You will also want to include additional water for possible consumption, as well as a cigarette lighter cell phone charger, and other items related to travel. When traveling the distance away from Vail, don’t forget essential jumper cables, blanket, and such. For local travel, it is not a bad idea to have a hard copy of the addresses and phone numbers of the local fire department, police stations, and hospitals. These are good to have on hand if your cell phone fails due to signal reception or battery. You might also want to put an old pair of prescription glasses, which is better than nothing if your glasses became broken. Depending on the length and duration of your trip, you might want to consider also supplementing your kit with either your hiking or camping kit.
For hiking and camping, one could have a lightweight hiking kit that had a simple first aid kit, supplemented by moleskin, sunscreen, some rope, duct tape, whistle, signal mirror, LED flashlight, insect bite/sting kit, water purifier, and a water filter. When camping, take the hiking kit, and add the additional elements of a camping kit, that might include a mosquito net, bivy bag, lightweight bag, larger camp LED light, solar charged radio, and other items related to camping.
Bug Out Kit
While some might think a bug out kit is extreme, you never know what sort of emergency might require you to rapidly leave your home. In recent years, there have been multiple events, from the Boston Bombing to Katrina, where people had to quickly leave their home. A bug out bag or kit is simply those supplies that you can quickly grab that have all those items (that you generally can carry), that you would like to have with you, where ever you might be, (a friend’s house, a shelter, or a motel).
Such a kit would include not only a first aid kit, but food and water. Water is heavy, and the amount you carry depends on your need and destination. You’ll also want to pack layered clothing, a wind up or solar powered radio, an LED wind up flashlight, basic medications and prescriptions, utility knife, lightweight sleeping bag, tarp, thermal under garments, wide brimmed hat, sunscreen, personal hygiene items, items to help pass the time (book, deck of cards, and such), a wind up charger to power a cell phone and other micro-USB powered devices. It is possible that your plan might include knowing that if the time came where you had to leave quickly, you simply grabbed your hiking and or camping kit, your advanced travel kit supplemented by items from your food storage, and along with additional items, like those just noted, and this becomes your bug out kit.
One critical item that is often not thought of would important documents. While it is not feasible to carry a large folder of selected documents, it is possible to have a USB flash drive that has such items scanned, such as, social security card, driver’s license, marriage license, deed to home, insurance documents, DD-214, will, power of attorney, medical advanced directives, and a document that has the information of your various financial accounts, as well as contact phone numbers. If you are worried that this information could be compromised, it is very easy to encrypt the information that only you could supply the key to decrypt the information.
What else would you include in your safety kits?