I think that our neighbors did something like this as well. They went backpacking overnight and so they would essentially have their 72 hour kit packed in their back-packs (complete with sleeping bags, tents, and food) and then they would use it on their next camping trip. I obviously haven't mastered this one, but it's something I'm working on."
After watching the destruction in Haiti, a neighbor realized the importance of being able to access your supplies - even when you can't get into or stay in your home. She shared some of her ideas with my mom: "She said they have decided that they need to get a garbage can that they can seal completely and put blankets and coats, hats, and gloves inside in case there was a disaster in bad weather. Then, they are going to store this container in the shed in the back yard, thinking if (buildings) had fallen because of an earthquake, it would not be as hard to get in and access the garbage can."
My mom assessed her own 72-hour kit supplies and location and realized: "I just purchased new food to replace the food that has expired. (As I replaced it,) I realized that even though I have some supplies by the front door, it is not all in any type of container and it would take me too long to gather it all together."
"One of the things that was always difficult for me was the homeless people on the corner. I've never liked the idea of giving money, but still wanted to do something. I love it when I see someone after a trip to the grocery store because then I can pass out a box of cereal or some fruit. This was nice if the food was in the car, but what about the times when the food wasn't there.
"Well, my husband went on a business trip this summer. He was living in a hotel for a few days and purchased some soup to microwave. He ended up not eating all of it and then just left it in his car. Then the next time he saw a person asking for food/money on the side of the road, he gave them some soup. Ever since then we have kept a few cans of non-condensed soup with pop lids in the car. They can be eaten straight out of the can - hot or cold. This has served two purposes, obviously we can now be charitable to those in need. But it's also comforting to have some food in the car if there was ever an emergency. As you know, those pop-lid cans don't withstand extremes in temperature, etc. We see people in need often enough that I haven't had anything in my car too long."
I'm going to be featuring several guest posts over the next while. They are a grab bag of ideas from my family members. We grew up in a home where my parents made having their food storage a priority. Preparedness is one of those righteous traditions that each child is now trying to perpetuate. I'm so thankful for my parent's goodness and example.These thoughts are from my Mom:
"After watching all of the Haiti disasters and trials AND giving the Visiting Teaching message on self-reliance, I had a thought run through my mind. I got thinking about “work." I see all those (Haitian) people standing around and know that sometimes things are getting tense there – and they would be with me if I was starving. But (even) after they have received food and water, many are still just waiting. My thought is how much better they would feel, how much stress could be released, and tensions eased if they had something to do to contribute to making things better. I know that they are in need of big trucks and equipment, but is there not something they could be doing – removing the smaller pieces of cement, helping to clear the roads, digging down to restore the water, etc.?
"I suspect that there are many who are doing works of service – but my most important question is for us. We have our 72-hour kits. If we are able to get them and all of our family members to a place of safety – then what would be our plan? Would we be just sitting and waiting for someone to call out the next move? Is it possible that we need to have some plans in place – besides those of ward, city, stake, etc. – that we can take action upon? Is it possible that we need to store some shovels, saws and other tools (not electric tools) near doors in our garage or house that we could (easily) get and go out and make a difference. I noticed in the Church News this morning an article about one of the church humanitarian agents who was playing games with the children so the children would not be wondering aimlessly. What is it that we individually could do to help even though we were a victim in a disaster?"
It's now been more than two weeks since the earthquake in Haiti. One thing I've noticed is that finally some of the water and supplies are getting through to help many (but still not all) of the displaced and injured people. You might assume that it took additional time to get supplies into Haiti because of a more rudimentary distribution situation. However, it is interesting to me that it also took up to two weeks (or more) for aid to get to many Katrina and Rita victims. In all three cases after two weeks there were still many who were not getting any help.
There is a lesson in this for our own preparation. It's a good idea to have at least two weeks of supplies including water, medical supplies, shelter, money, food and fuel (more would be even better). It takes time after emergencies, disasters, or economic crises for help to arrive.
In an emergency, I've always assumed that our family could just leave our area and stay with family if things were bad enough. Recently, though, I've realized that floods, earthquake scarps, pandemics, winter storms and panic all block roads. It is likely in many different scenarios that you will have to shelter-in-place and be ready to take care of yourself. Many emergency kits provide three or four days worth of supplies which just isn't enough to make it through those first two weeks during which you'll likely be without any help.
If you are just starting out, make gathering two-weeks worth of supplies your first priority. If you've been working on your home storage supply for a while, take time to inventory and make sure you have the supplies on hand to help you navigate through the first few weeks of any type of emergency. It would be even better to be prepared for a long haul with a three-month supply, a water supply, a financial reserve and some longer-term storage so that you can take care of your own family without relying on outside aid. Being well prepared will also put you in a position to better help others and allow those who are less prepared to utilize any aid available.