The Grab & Go Kit
One of my readers, Shanna (check out her cool tie-dye stuff here) made a request of Facebook a few weeks ago that I write about putting together a Grab & Go Kit for families with children. With the Texas fires and Pennsylvania floods causing evacuations, this seemed like a good time to get this done.
First thing we need to do is define "Grab & Go Kit." To me, it is what a person would take with them if they had 15 minutes or less to evacuate their home, with a safe location such as a hotel or family member's nearby home to go to, but they would more than likely be back in a few days, hopefully with the home still intact, if a little damaged. This might be in advance of wildfires, flooding rivers, approaching hurricane, or a hazmat train derailment. Every family is going to have some different things based on ages of the kids, time of year, etc..., so I'm going to set a scenario and a particular family, and go from there.
Family: Dad, Mom, 10 year old daughter, 6 year old son, 18 month old daughter, cat
Scenario: Single family home, mini van, prearranged fall back location at the cousin's house 45 minutes away
First thing they should do is put together a document file. I'd suggest using a thumb drive and scanning copies of all important documents into it. Getting a large GB capacity will also let them save photos and videos. Documents to scan in and save to the thumb drive might include: birth certificates, Social Security cards, car registrations and titles (or loan documents), car insurance policies, mortgage documents (or house deed), home insurance documents, passports, medical records (immunization records for the kids), prescriptions, medical insurance cards, diplomas, education transcripts, professional certifications, photos of all valuables in the house (including serial numbers), recent photos of all family members (and the cat), veterinary records, military records, concealed weapons permits (and gun ownership licenses if they live in a restrictive state), video tours of the house and property (make an updated one every 4-6 months or so), bank account information, a list of web accounts, all passwords and P.I.N.s (password protect the document and share with a couple of trusted people)... I'm sure there are plenty more, but this will give our fictional family a good start. It will be a pain to do this initially, but once done, maintaining it will be pretty easy. I'd even consider making three copies of the thumb drive. One to keep with a trusted friend, family member or attorney; one to keep in the Grab & Go Kit, and one to keep in the safe or fire box.
Next up, we need to look at what the family will take with them when they evacuate. First thing is a couple of Rubbermaid Action Packers. One should have several days worth of food. Not necessarily long term storage like Thrive or Provident Pantry, but things that the kids already eat and like, and that are easy to prepare. Things like canned soup/chili/veggies/fruit, the little boxes of cereal (don't forget the shelf stable milk to go on it), peanut butter & jelly, some hard candies or M&Ms, juice boxes, a box of crackers (vacuum seal it and it will take the place of bread with the PB&J), and some powdered drink mixes. These things would be rotated out every six months. Also in this bin would be hygiene items: handi-wipes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, any prescriptions (if you can get some extras), first aid kit and some feminine products.
In the other bin, put several days clothing for each family member, towels and wash cloths, and diapers for the little one (don't forget to change the clothes and diapers as the sizes change). For each child, stick a favorite stuffed animal or toy that is out of the current rotation. For this experiment, we don't need things like sleeping bags, tents, campstoves, etc... because the family is going to another home on the other side of town in a safe area. Put the thumb drive in a ziplock baggie and duct tape it to the inside of this bin. Both bins go in the hall closet closest to the front door. On top of the bin, put a brand new litter pan, a 10 lb. bag of litter, and a cat carrier box with two bowls and a ziplock baggie full of cat food.
Beside each person's bed should be an appropriately sized backpack with a flashlight or headlamp, a jacket or sweatshirt, some individually selected comfort items, and a book or two. Of course, the baby will have a diaper bag always packed up with daily needs.
So, in this scenario, the phone rings in the middle of the night. Dad answers it and it is the county's reverse 911 system with a recording saying that a train derailed in the area and it is leaking chlorine gas... all residents need to evacuate the area as soon as possible and plan to be away from home for at least 48 hours.
The clock is ticking... the cloud of chlorine is moving out from the train... Dad tells mom what is happening...
She throws on some clothes and shoes, slips on her backpack, sliding her pistol in the front pocket of it,en route: about 7 minutes. They are all set to crash at the cousins' without being a burden or eating up their food, and have most everything they need to make the event as low stress as possible, both for the parents and for the kids.
Everyone is going to have different specific needs, but I hope this gives you some starting points to think about.
Did you catch this story from the San Diego power outage? Some have asked about me running my generator all night after Irene. Thankfully, I live far enough from the neighbors that they can't hear mine and I can't hear theirs. No crazy, flashlight wielding neighbors for me!