Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Bunch of Items to Make You Comfy in a Disaster

There have been a couple of major-ish disasters over the past few days (the Atlanta airport shutdown and the train derailment in Washington) and while these incidents were quite different in circumstance, in both cases, people were left to their own devices for a while until emergency response could get to them.  Obviously people who are injured are the first priority for responders, but that leaves many more people to hang around and wait in the dark (Atlanta), cold (Washington), rain (Washington), and without resources (like food, water, electricity to charge a cell phone) until they can be helped or moved to a better location.

That being said, here are the things you need to have with you, whether in your travel carry-on bag or your EDC bag, to take care of yourself in the event of a disaster, until help arrives.

  • Bottle or two of water.  When traveling by airline, you can bring empty water bottles and fill them up once you get past security.  I generally travel with a Contigo bottle as it keeps the contents hot hot or cold cold for more than 24 hours.
  • Food.  I never go anywhere without at least a granola bar or two or three.  Candy, gum, dried fruit are also things I regularly carry.  If I plan to be in transit for a while I will throw in a packet of oatmeal, a packet of dried soup, some instant coffee packets, etc. as you can usually find hot water easily enough.
  • For emergencies, the kind where you are left in a cold and/or wet environment for a period of time, things like a mylar emergency blanket is small enough to easily carry, an Ultra Sil poncho is a good idea, even a large extra-strength garbage bag can provide a bit of shelter in a pinch.
  • Basic hygiene supplies can also make you feel better, especially if you are stuck somewhere for many hours.  Wet Wipes, a packet of kleenex, a small tube of toothpaste and toothbrush, deodorant, floss, a bandanna in a ziploc bag for a washcloth...basically a minimal bag of items that will help you freshen up either before an important meeting or during a long-term power outage in an airport should always be carried with you.
  • Always bring extra prescription medication with you, even if you are just going to work for the day.  A disaster could preclude you from getting home and thus getting necessary meds in a timely manner so having a day or two worth of meds with you is a good idea.
  • A small, basic first aid kit is always useful.  Whether you develop a headache and need aspirin, someone cuts them self at work and needs a bandaid, or you come upon a bloody mess of a wreck and go to offer assistance (wear nitrile gloves from your kit), having basic first aid supplies with you is a good idea.
  • A portable power bank is a must-have item in my EDC and in my travel bag.  These small battery packs can charge your cell phone a time or two and are very useful when you don't have access to power to charge your phone or tablet.
  • A flashlight is also very important.  Many industrial-type buildings (office building, airport, etc) can be dark as a tomb when the power goes out (no windows in many parts of the building, especially hallways, restrooms, etc).  Always carry a flashlight with you.
  • Paracord has a hundred and one uses, from setting up a shelter to making a set of shoelaces, plus it is very small and light to carry so keep some of this in your bag as well.
  • I always carry a pocketknife with me unless I am traveling by air.  This too has many, many uses.
  • The most important items you carry with you (wallet, phone, keys, ID, cash, credit cards) should always be carried on your person.  Whether this means in your pocket or in a fanny pack, if you are flung the distance of a subway car, you don't want to be without these important items and have to go hunting for them if that is even possible.
  • Appropriate clothing shouldn't be noted as a must-have but I am always surprised at the people who travel in clothes that are only appropriate for a nightclub (men in shorts and flip flops, women in high heels and tiny skirts).  The possibility of being stranded, whether miles from home on your way to work or thousands of miles from home on your way to vacation, necessitates wearing clothes that will keep you warm and shoes that will allow you to walk for miles if needed.
The bottom line is that you need to have on hand the items necessary to take care of yourself no matter what type of situation you find yourself in.  To cover the basics, you want to be able to stay hydrated, fed, warm and dry, for a period of time without any outside help.

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