Whether it is a hurricane, out of control wildfires or an earthquake, the time to heed the encouragement to prepare a “Bug Out” or “Go” Bag is NOW, prior to the actual need. When asked or forced to evacuate, you do not have the time to gather all the items that you need to be comfortable to survive the impending disaster.
Besides physically getting ready to evacuate, here are some tech tips that may be of help. There are free Red Cross Mobile Apps available in the Apple App Store or Google Play. Alphabetically listed:
• Blood: Schedule blood donation appointments, track total donations and earn rewards as you help the ARC meet the constant need for blood. text: “BLOODAPP” to 90999
• Earthquake: Receive notification when an earthquake occurs, find help and let others know you’re safe even if the power is out. text: “GETQUAKE” to 90999
• Emergency: This all-inclusive app lets you monitor more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts, to help keep you and your loved ones safe. text: “GETEMERGENCY” to 90999
• First Aid: Get instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies. text: “GETFIRST” to 90999
• Flood: Learn and prepare your family and friends for flooding, evacuation and a safe return home. text: “GETFLOOD” to 90999
• Hero Care: Whether you’re the parent of a child joining the military or a member of the military/veteran communities, Hero Care will connect you to important resources that can help you through both emergency and nonemergency situations. text: “GETHEROCARE” to 90999
• Hurricane: Monitor hurricane conditions in your local area, throughout the storm track, and let others know you are safe even if the power is out. text: “GETCANE” to 90999
• Pet First Aid: Be prepared to help your furry friends with veterinary advice for everyday emergencies. text: “GETPET” to 90999
• Tornado: Receive weather alerts whenever the NOAA issues a tornado watch or warning for your community – or any location where you have loved ones. text: “GETNADO” to 90999
Another agency’s app to download that will help keep you informed is the FEMA app.
• Preparedness Tips: text: PREPARE to 43362 (4FEMA)
• Shelters Open for Disaster Survivors: text: SHELTER plus your zip code to 43362 (4FEMA)
• List of keywords that you can subscribe to: text: LIST to 43362 (4FEMA)
You can unsubscribe at any time: text: STOP to 43362 (4FEMA)
As you gather things to place in your Go Bag, consider getting a backpack for each individual family member and place their name clearly on the outside. By having personal backpacks, you can meet the needs of that person with a supply of personal medications and specialty foods that they actually can eat (consider allergies etc.) and enjoy (this situation is going to be stressful enough without having to eat strange or unusual food. A change of clothing, a pillow and blankets (consider having 3 emergency survival blankets per person: one to lie on, one as a lean-to-tent, one to wrap up in $1.75 each) and toiletries (soap, towel, toothbrush and paste) will be necessities. Include sturdy closed toe shoes, leather gloves and flashlights in everyone’s bag. Children should have in their pack, age appropriate games, toys and books to help pass time. Adults also need to pack something to read or do. Don’t forget to pack for your pet(s). They need water, their favorite food, treats, toys, collar, ID tag, leash, pet carrier (label with your name, pet’s description) with bedding, litter box, litter, paper towels, plastic trash bags and a picture of your pet with you so IF you get separated that you have some documentation that you belong to each other.
There are some wonderful high tech solar charging flashlights available called LuminAid PackLite NOVA USB Solar Light ($24.95) and it’s new big brother the LuminAid MAX 2-in-1 Solar Light/Charger ($39.95) which does everything the NOVA can and has the capability to charge your cellphone. During emergencies, mobile networks can become overwhelmed making it near impossible to send or receive phone calls. Because text messages require less bandwidth they tend to be more reliable so having your cell phone charged up is important. During an extended power outage, consider changing the settings on your cellphone to POWERSAVING/ Low Power Mode. Also keep a portable phone charger in your vehicle and consider purchasing a portable USB battery charger (depending on size and speed $11-$80).
Speaking about cellphones and the ability to communicate with others makes me think that you will also want to keep informed concerning weather forecasts and other alerts. One of the best radios for this purpose is the Multi-Function NOAA AM/FM Radio with LED Flashlight. It is not only an AM/FM radio but also a shortwave radio. It receives all 7 NOAA weather channels which broadcasts 24 hours a day. One of the best features is that it can be powered 3 different ways: Battery Power, Dynamo Crank or Solar Power. It has a Built-in USB Charging Port too. ($39.95)
Another thing that technology has provided us is the ability to store important documents in a secure, password protected flash drive or in the cloud. You can use your phone’s camera as a scanning device to capture electronic versions of insurance polices, bank records and medical records including your pets’ medical records etc. You can back up your computer and protect precious photographs too. Consider capturing your contact list and even making a special group of family, friends, neighbors and coworkers that you may want to contact in the event of an emergency.
Many municipalities have an Office of Emergency Management (OEM) with one of their goals is to prepare their citizens to be ready for disasters. Questions to ask yourself: Am I ready to stay overnight or for more than 24 hours at work? What would I do IF a family member, friend or colleague collapsed in front of me and was injured or bleeding? What am I waiting for? Take a class and be prepared.