I looked over the bags one more time and went over my mental checklist: Food – both for cats and humans: check, Water? Check, Important documents? Check, Litter? Check, Emergency radio & flashlight and headlamp? Check. Phone charger? Check. Laptop? Check. Clothes? Check. Extra towels? Check. Bags? Check. Blanket? Check. Car filled with gas? Check. GPS? Check. I was ready. The bird feeder and folding deck chairs from my small second floor apartment’s balcony were brought in and secured. Windows all locked and secured. Cars, also locked and filled with gas and ready to hit the road if needed. The hurricane was coming. I was ready. I knew where the animal friendly shelters were, just in case an evacuation order was given.
What if they were full?
No matter. I’ll keep driving. Home to Vermont, 12 hours away if I had to. I’d keep driving until the cats and I found safe harbor. Whatever it took.
The hurricane was coming, and I was alone. It would be months before my husband would return from deployment, but the hurricane was coming. Soon, it would make landfall. Soon. The sky was already darkening with clouds, the wind starting to pick up and rain occasionally spit from the sky. I’d never been in a hurricane. I’m from Vermont, what do I know about them? Well, fortunately having heard about them from my Floridian relatives I had an idea about them. The hurricane was coming and I was alone.
I Was Prepared.
The cats names, my address and contact info, and my parents contact info was on it, just in case we got separated. I had everything we needed to see ourselves through for a few days without electricity or in case we had to evacuate. I was prepared, I told myself.
The Hurricane shifted slightly more off shore than expected and we got lots of hard rain, lots of wind, but all in all not too much damage. No need to evacuate, but if it did happen. I was ready, and for that I was thankful. It served me well. That wasn’t the only hurricane I’ve been in. Our next duty station would be in Pennsylvania, near Philly. We were there for Sandy. We were there for Irene. Korea has brought its own need to be prepared, as well. While we haven’t had any typhoons…yet…there was the earthquake and an unpredictable northern neighbor.
Being prepared for a disaster is necessary no matter where you are stationed. Natural disasters can happen at any time, any where. From floods, to earthquakes, to typhoons and hurricanes and tornadoes. They all can happen and you need to know how to take care of yourself and your family, including your pets should the time come. I was glad I was prepared for each hurricane, and for each tornado warning. You too can be prepared, it takes some preparation but it’s easy to do and you probably have everything you need to be ready around you right now. If you don’t have emergency necessitates, they are well worth the investment! Below are some of my recommendations based on my own experiences. Add your own necessities as your own situation and experience dictates, but always have the basics: a way to keep warm/dry, food & water, ID, cash, and emergency radio.
The key to snow storms is this: If they say keep off the roads, then by all means KEEP OFF THE ROADS. This is especially important if you aren’t skilled in winter driving. Remember; 4 wheel drive is good for going, it doesn’t help you stop. You may lose power, so you may lose heat, so it is important to have a secondary heat source available if possible or at least have warm clothing and blankets.
- Snow Shovels
- Candles & Matches
- Extra blankets
- Extra winter clothes
- Extra heating source
- Winter Snow Tires (On your vehicle before the snow hits, yes all four tires)
- Emergency winter car kit
- Extra Food
- Fill vehicle gas tank
- Secondary heat source (kerosene heater, wood stove, generator, etc)
A General “Bug Out” Bag For Disaster Preparedness:
Keep this bag on hand for any time you have to unexpectedly evacuate your home. Keep in mind bags should be small enough that you can easily carry them should you need to and include enough for your entire family and your pets. Space fills up fast (and get heavy!), so try to only bring the essentials. I use a large duffle bag with roller wheels on the bottom. It’s tough and has tons of pockets for storage, plus wheels for easier movement.
- Extra clothing (Include warm clothing)
- Extra Medications
- First Aid Kit
- Enough food & water to last several days for each family member & pet.
- Pet supplies
- Comfort items (toys, books, special stuffed animal/blanket)
- Important Documents (Marriage Certificate, IDs, Passports, Checkbooks, Required forms, etc)
- Emergency radio (Hand crank or solar powered is good)
- Extra batteries & chargers for electronics
- Candles & matches
- Written contact info (for family, for local shelters, etc)
- Cash (enough for a few days, both local currency and USD if you are OCONUS)
- Car seats, bottles, and other necessities for children
Disasters happen, when they do all we can do is be prepared. It’s better to be prepared and not need it than be caught off-guard. The time to prepare is now, don’t wait until a disaster is almost upon you! Learn more about disaster preparedness at the resources below: