There’s a fine line between disaster preparedness and mental illness.
If you try to prepare for every disaster scenario, you’re likely to find yourself gripping an M1 carbine and sleeping in the garage on an army cot surrounded by cases of canned peaches and SPAM.
On the other hand, if you don’t prepare, you might find yourself sitting in the dark – cold and hungry and waiting to be rescued.
And we all know the latter can happen, and the government may not be there to help. That’s one of the biggest lessons of 2005.
After watching horrific scenes of Americans suffering without food and water after New Orleans was slammed by Hurricane Katrina, I decided to get serious about our disaster kit.
We always kept a small supply of emergency food and water, but it was clearly inadequate. So we bought enough extra food and water to keep us going for at least a week. We also stocked up on other essentials, like toilet paper, matches and propane. There’s extra dog and cat food for the pets, along with carrying cases for all three cats.
If I was smart, I would buy a couple cartons of cigarettes and a dozen pints of Jack Daniels that I could use to barter for goods and services in an emergency. But it would be too tempting to have toot, and maybe even a toke, when working in the garage, so those items aren’t in the kit.
But what happens if disaster strikes when we’re not home? Or what if there’s a giant quake and the bridges collapse while I’m in another town or county?
Not to worry. We have an “emergency bucket” stashed in the trunk of each car. It wasn’t until after I came up with these buckets that I felt reasonably prepared for a disaster.
These are five-gallon plastic buckets with snap-on lids filled with disaster supplies. Here’s what’s in each bucket:
• Two canned food items with pull top lids. If necessary, they can be eaten cold.
• Five granola bars
• Five medium-size Snickers
• Half a dozen water bottles
• 1 roll of toilet paper
• A pack of matches
• An emergency rain poncho
• A large plastic tarp, which can be used as a tent, crappy sleeping bag or can be used to surround the bucket from public view in the event that it needs to be used as a portable latrine! For instance, if you’re evacuating an area and you’re sitting in traffic for six hours and nature calls, you’ve got an option with the bucket. Unpleasant? Yes. But it would work. Just make sure you remove the food items first.
• Lots of plastic bags to line the bucket.
• A flashlight and unopened pack of batteries
• An ugly, but warm, sweater from the Salvation Army
These supplies should keep a person going for a couple days and are in addition to what’s in the house and garage.
And so disaster preparation was one of the few long-lasting accomplishments of 2005.