Emergency Preparedness: A great excuse to get more gear

For some reason, this year has been the year of power outages around here.  Normally, the power rarely goes out, but this year we’ve had several times when the power’s been out for hours at a time.  Okay, I know that’s not a HUGE deal, but when you have a hungry family, it kind of feels like the end of the world (why does our power always go out around dinner time).  These are the times when we’re grateful that we have good camping gear.

Screen shot 2011 10 30 at 9.47.40 AM Ski NewsPhoto found here

Two weeks ago, our area got our first snowstorm.  AWESOME!  Except it had been so warm that many trees had not lost their leaves yet, and branches were breaking all over the place.  Just after lunch, the power went out.  As the sun set and temperatures began to drop, the power was still not on.  Not wanting to pay to eat out, we cracked open a window and cooked on the camp stove.  That night while all our neighbors were using candles or flashlights, we used our Coleman rechargeable lantern which could light up a room (dimly).  When our kids went to sleep, instead of worrying about them freezing, we put on their beanies, and tucked them into their awesome North Face mummy bags.  The next morning when we woke up, the power was back on and the house was toasty again.  Would we have been fine without all of our camping gear?  Probably.  However, having everything that we needed for an emergency, on hand, kept us calm and cool.

Although this is the off season for camping, it’s a great time to evaluate what your family has and what you might need, both for camping and emergencies.  For us, it’s sometimes difficult to spend more money on gear, but if it is multi-functional, it’s easier to justify.  Here are a few pieces of gear that we think are important to have on hand for an at home emergency (even if you don’t plan on camping):

  • a warm sleeping bag
  • flashlights and extra batteries (a lantern is a bonus, but not necessary)
  • a camp stove with extra fuel (we usually keep at least 6 canisters on hand)
  • first aid kit
  • multi-tool/pocket knife
In addition to that, it’s important to have food and water on hand in case you cannot leave your home or the stores aren’t open (that happened a few years ago here).  We have a large amount of food in storage and keep enough drinking water on hand to last our family 2 weeks.
The Department of Homeland Security also recommends that every person have, at very minimum, a 72-hour kit.  At the very least, your 72-hour kit should contain the following (found here):
  • One gallon of water per person per day. This means at least three gallons of water per person.
  • Sufficient non-perishable food for three days. Ideally, these foods will be lightweight and high in energy. If you pack canned foods, remember a can opener!
  • Prescription and non-prescription medications. Include a spare set of glasses, if you need them.
  • Battery powered portable radio. This may be your only source of information during a disaster.
  • First aid kit. The small camping kits work well. Remember to get enough supplies for the number of people who may be using them.
  • Personal hygiene items.
  • Clothing and bedding. A spare pair of socks and a space saver blanket would be a minimum.
  • Special items such as baby needs or contact lens supplies, etc.
  • Personal comfort items. Books, games, personal electronics, etc.
Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security has a more detailed list found here.  With winter upon us, being prepared in an emergency is essential, especially if the weather is bad.  Although you cannot prevent emergencies, you can prepare for them, and stock-up your gear stash along the way!

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