What to take in an emergency

By Campbell McClusky

PREP wants you to think “preparedness” just in case.

It is easy for us to write about what you should have in your emergency bag providing we stick to general items; but when you pre-pack your emergency “go-bag,” it will be your family’s personal items that are difficult for us to list.

Each member of your family takes different medicines or different vitamins; each adult will want special items just as each child will want different “feel-good” candies or stuffed animal.

Moms may be thinking about the various shampoos and toothpastes to bring for the family, etc. while dads may be reluctant to be without their rechargeable shaver. Someone will likely demand a pair of hiking or athletic shoes be packed, and all these demands will likely push whoever is doing the packing to leaving some key items out in favor of satisfying favorites.

Such bags might be essential to a family. Anticipate the worst – the need for at least two weeks’ worth of clothing, pills, toiletries, snacks, etc. with access to shops questionable.

Assume power is not restored for two weeks and crossing the border problematic – whatever you pack may need to be stretched for many days and nights. Or, of course, your family may “wing it” and trust that relief supplies for a protracted emergency will magically appear.

Still, there are two kinds of “go-bags.” Type A, the transition away-bag against the possibility of having to leave the Point, this bag may be pre-positioned in the family car, van or RV and Type B which sits by the front door to be grabbed on the run. One should review the contents of these bags at least once a month.

Bag preparations might not, perhaps, be done in isolation; keep your mind on the neighborhood. Which among your neighbors might need to be at least partly covered by your bag or bags as a result of whatever emergency.

For example, a neighbor whose one vehicle is being repaired; a neighbor whose children have been with your children for the afternoon, or for an overnight; a neighbor who has been ill or simply has put-off preparing anything resembling a “go bag.”

Some steps will be up to you. Think: “Got a bag in each car, we’re set!” What about gas? It won’t suddenly appear. What about important phone numbers off your refrigerator door? And don’t forget your phones themselves, plus car-based phone chargers.

Don’t forget your list of required meds or, if you must, some essential valuables beyond wallet and purse which you will grab at the last minute. You should already have a list of Point Roberts emergency phone numbers and contacts in your car or on your person.

Many of you have already calculated such preparations if only to avoid being burdens to whatever emergency personnel and volunteers will be out directing traffic, staffing emergency shelters, linking priority ham radio links beyond the Point, helping to assess damages, injuries, needs for EMTs, etc. Or simply to be so adequately prepared that some among your family may be able to volunteer if and when needed.

Assess your neighborhood, match what experience you have to the emergency needs as you see them developing, fit specially experienced neighbors to the urgencies as you see them in your neighborhood.

More importantly, urge any of your neighbors willing to be called during an emergency to provide their contacts with Virginia Lester at 360/945-2827 or with Shive Marshall at 360/945-8872: we are especially thinking of neighbors with medical training and experience, emergency relief work experience, former EMTs, doctors, etc., persons willing to be on a to-be-called list when a Point Roberts emergency strikes.

A final word: We at PREP, especially our chairperson and leader, have the ambition of continuing this column on a monthly basis, All Point Bulletin permitting, to cover in detail the full range of emergency preparedness actions that we all as neighbors helping neighbors need to keep in mind.

We welcome any among you with writing skills who might share this monthly writing burden with us. Others among you willing to be on-tap when emergencies arise, please contact us at prep@whidbey.com – please take note.

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