Thursday, May 30, 2013

Build Your Own Family Emergency Kits: Part 3

Today we're wrapping up the 'Build Your Own Family Emergency Kits' mini-series with a guest blogger! My amazing friend, Kimberly, is sharing her experience of having a tornado destroy her home. She has some great real-life tested tips to share with all of us. She even has been so gracious as to share some of her personal photos from before & after.
{{Did you miss Part 1 & Part 2... go back and read them!}}


Two years ago in April 2011, our town  in Alabama was devastated by a massive tornado. Our home took a direct hit. Like Julie mentioned, there is a definite tornado season. We were right in the thick of it when our big storm hit, so we were not completely unprepared. Even still, we only had about an hour's notice that the bad weather would be passing directly through town. I grabbed my son and some snacks and toys and we headed to my husband's office (which has a basement). I did not take the 72-hour kit. I should have.
If it is bad enough to leave the house, it is bad enough to take the 72-hour kit.

After the storm cleared and we made it back to our house (which took about 2 hours between traffic and having to finish the trip on foot), we had just enough time to run inside and grab the bags out of a closet that fortunately sustained very little damage. if our house had been two houses over in either direction we would have had no closet left at all. We were very fortunate to be able to access our supplies after the oversight of leaving them behind. Almost immediately after we arrived, the police department cleared out the neighborhood due to a gas leak. We spent the night (and the next three months) living with friends. The first night, we ate out of our 72-hour kit and canned soup our friends had in the cupboard. The only thing I could convince our two-year old to eat was a container of chocolate pudding, which my sister had suggested putting in our emergency bag so there would be some comfort food for the kids in a potentially scary situation. How right she was! The friends we stayed with lived out of town and had power back within 48 hours. Others of our friends who lived closer to the center of town (but still had homes untouched by the storm) were out of power for closer to 10 days. Everyone in town had the opportunity to use their emergency supplies.
The things I was most pleased to find inside the 72-hour kit were the previously mentioned pudding, clean socks and underwear, chapstick, and sunblock. We spent a lot of time outside in the next week cleaning up debris. The things that I wished were inside that were not were toys for my son, a weather radio, a pair of tennis shoes (we were all wearing flip flops), copies of our important documents, Neosporin, and a solar-powered cell phone charger or a spare phone battery. Cell service was spotty, but texts went through eventually and were the only real communication available for the first 6 hours. Our phones died well before we were done using them. As you can imagine, our emergency kit has changed a bit after this experience. We had a simple 72-hour kit at the time that consisted of a backpack and duffle bag of clothes, food, and water. After having gone through a very real use, we've beefed up our kit since with a few nicer items (like a mini camp stove and an all-in-one weather radio/solar-powered charger), but having anything is much better than waiting until you have the time or money for something deluxe.

- Kimberly

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