Planning for an emergency was not something that many New Zealanders would have thought to do.....in the past! We are a small country with a young and moving physical environment. A narrow land mass that gets battered in the South with storms straight off the Antarctic and pounded by Tropical Cyclones in the North. So as a result of Mother Natures impact and unpredictability most Kiwis would now have some form of "go to kit". It was the recent series of Cyclones coming through the top of the North Island that prompted me to ensure that what we had as a family would be a sufficient emergency kit.
So I knew that the "go to kit" we had was by no means an emergency kit. It just contained some candles, matches, torches, portable radio and batteries. So I set myself the mission of creating a proper emergency kit. To be honest I was not entirely sure where to start, so I got onto Mr Google and did some research. There are a number of good blogs on this subject, especially in the US. If you are wanting to get serious, check this blog, from A Bowl Full of Lemons, which has a whole series on building an emergency preparedness station. For something much more low key, smaller, simpler and cheaper check out Doitonadime.
I actually found that the New Zealand government website getthru really helpful. There is a lot of very helpful information and all things that you need to consider in planning and preparing for an emergency. There is a great printable PDF emergency checklist that I used to help create our kit as well as complete the planning.
Gathering the items
So having decided on creating an emergency kit which needed to support us for 3 days, I realised that I would have to source most of the items. As you can imagine this was going to potentially be a bit of a cost. Although it was important to get most items I did want to be mindful of the cost. So this is where I took the idea from Doitonadime and sourced a lot of items from my local $2 store. Now it is important to know what is ok to purchase with value in mind and those items that need to be of robust quality.
Before I rushed off to the shops I did "shop the house" to see if I could find any items that were surplus to requirements and put it into the kit.
Food - All non perishable (at least 1 year to expiry) - These were all purchased from the supermarket
- Rice pudding
- Fruit salad
- Protein bars
- Weet-bix bars
- Can opener
- Plastic knives, forks and spoons
Health and Safety Items
- Prescription medicine
- Face masks *
- Hand sanitiser*
- Toilet paper*
- First aid kit*
- Antiseptic spray and alcoholic wipes*
- plastic gloves*
- Torch and Batteries*
- Large plastic rubbish bags*
- Playing cards*
- Notebook and pen*
- Water bottles
Apart from the odd item that I had at home, I purchased all the food from the supermarket and all those with an asterisk, I got from the local $2 shop. So it did not cost a lot to put together.
An important part of the kit is to include any prescription medication. Try and have enough to last a week. If your prescription expires then just simply keep a record of the expiry date and swap it out prior and use it. This means that by rotating it you are not wasting the medicine.
The best and easiest way to store all the items is in a large plastic box. These are cheap and easy to purchase from any local hardware or homeware store. Just ensure that it seals well. I purchased this Sistema storage box from the Warehouse
A good piece of advice is to place the kit in an easily accessible place. It is likely that you will forget all about it if it is shoved to the to the back of a cupboard. An open shelf in the garage or laundry is ideal. If you are tight on room you could put it at the bottom of your pantry, or in a cabinet, but again it needs to be easily accessible.
I have placed our kit on the open shelves where the luggage and backpacks are. This actually also serves a purpose as we can just grab one of the backpacks to put the items from the kit into if we can`t take the kit with us in a car.
Records and review
A number of items will have expiry dates so it is important to ensure that you review all the contents at least yearly to ensure that the are up to date.
Also put a copy of the list and all important documents and contact details into the kit.
Lastly just task in your diary or calendar, manual or electronic, an annual date to review all contents as well as ensuring that all the documents and contacts list are still correct. The best idea is to task in your computer diary the dates the food items are going to expire so you can use and replace them.
That's it folks, it was not a big job and not a big cost. I have to say that my mind is at ease a bit now that I have finally got the Emergency Kit sorted.
I would love to hear about your kits, what do you have in the kit, where do you store it?, have you ever used one?