We have spent the past month focused on surviving off the grid but I have decided to postpone further articles focusing on loss of the grid until after Christmas. We will get back to this as just today our ward met for Sacrament meeting with flashlights as the power was down. Power outages are serious and ocurring more frequently. This week let’s focus on the items we can give this Christmas to encourage self reliance and assembling 72 hour, auto and workplace emergency kits.
With the advent of many stores that sell items for a dollar or 99 cents, assembling your own Emergency Kit has never been easier or less expensive. I decided to make a trip to our local store where nothing sells for more than a George Washington dollar, just to see for myself what I could find. I was pleasantly surprised.
Bandannas, 2/$1.00: I have always advised that you put a “uniform” for each family member in all your Emergency kits. This could be matching bandannas which you tie around your neck, use as a headband, or tie around your arm. This will help you find a family member if you have been separated people are more likely to remember someone with a crazy bandanna than they are just another cute little boy with blond hair and blue eyes or brown hair and brown eyes.
Baseball caps $1.00: Again, these would be great “uniforms” for family 72-hour kits, and would provide shade in the summer and warmth in the winter. You can further brand your uniform by decorating the caps – which are solid colors – with a stencil, or splatter paint them. This will make them unique and easy for people who have seen them to remember. Also a fun activity for those hours during the school Christmas break.
A “uniform” in your kits is my favorite tip. If you have not done this do it now.
Crayons, coloring books, puzzles, playing cards, beach balls and crossword puzzles: All of these can be found for a dollar and can provide hours of distraction time when you are confined to a car in a traffic jam as you evacuate, or in a shelter or hotel room later. During Katrina and other disasters, many evacuated and still found themselves without power 50 miles or more away from the disaster area.
Pencils, 12/$1.00 and Notepads 3/$1.00: Together these are a communication line as you leave messages for rescue workers and family and friends. They also provide another form of entertainment.
LED push light and or flashlight $1.00: LED lights make great night lights when the power goes out and they are small and easy to stash in an Emergency kit, car kit or office kit. Inexpensive flashlights are perfect for a child’s kit. Be sure to have at least one heavy duty powerful flashlight in a kit of one in your group.
70 foot rope, $1.00: This may not be the strongest rope in the world but it is great for a clothes line and perfect for making a lean-to or sun shade when combined with a trap.
Clothes pins, $1.00: A rope and clothes pins are not only important for the obvious but also after a flood or other disaster that causes water problems in your home. Hanging wet documents and photos to dry on a line can prevent them from being lost forever.
Pet dishes, $1.00: I found a set of two good size heavy plastic bowls that would be perfect for a water and food dish for a pet. Pets are family members too.
Work gloves, $1.00: These are a must in every adult kit, the kits of older children, auto kits and workplace kits. The $1.00 variety may not be the most durable but they will provide protection during the early hours of clean up and can provide warmth if you are ever stranded in a cold environment.
Pack of three Bungee cords, $1.00: Pull yourself together. Need I say more?
Tools, $1.00: Utility knife, screwdriver sets, mini screwdriver set for fixing glasses and other items with tiny screws, and a set of hex keys. All great additions to all of your kits.
Toothbrushes with cap 3/$1.00 and a family size toothpaste also a dollar and of course dental floss. Dental floss has lots of uses during an emergency when supplies may be limited.
Hygiene items, $1.00 each: Deodorant, shampoo, shaving cream, 6 combs, or 3 large bars of soap. All these only a dollar each and all large sizes perfect for lasting a minimum of five days.
Medical needs, $1.00 each: antibacterial cream, cortisone cream, bandages, and 2 pack hand sanitizers. Teething gel is available and a great addition to kits even if you don’t have a child; adults get toothaches too and a dentist may not be an option for a day or two. There was also a first aid kit perfect for children with basic supplies but no medications.
Five glow bracelets or 2 glow sticks, your choice $1.00: Glow bracelets are the perfect way to provide a little light at night for children and a great way to keep track of them in a crowd. Glow sticks can provide light that is safe without running down precious batteries. Remember to purchase only yellow or white glow sticks which will give you the best light.
Baby wipes, $1.00: Great for cleaning up after working or eating as well as for use with a baby. When bathing is not an option baby wipes become a great blessing.
Two child ponchos, $1.00: These ponchos are good for a single use and come in a 2-pack. You may want to put two in each backpack if you are in an area where a weather emergency such as flooding, heavy rains and snow may be your disaster. Open these and you may discover the are large enough for many adults. We stash these in our backpacks when we visit Disneyland for use on the water rides so we aren’t wet for hours after riding.
Magnifier reading glasses, $1.00: When you can’t afford a second pair of prescription glasses or you just need a little help for reading, these are a real money saver. Also valuable for any good first aid kit – ever try to remove a splinter without a good pair of glasses? Add a pair to all your kits.
Sunglasses for children and adults, $1.00: Sun glasses are vital in a kit to help not only in sunny weather but also if stranded in the snow. They will help to prevent snow blindness which can be a very serious hazard.
Sewing supplies: Thread, needles and safety pins are all vital when repairing clothing or other items following a disaster. They are also crutial when altering larger clothing to fit a small one. Often donated clothing is not the size you really need following a disaster.
Gloves: those inexpensive gloves sold at these store are thin and perfect for layering. Wear a pair inside mittens and when you need your fingers to perform a task you won’t have to do it with bare fingers. As with all layering you will be amazed how much warmer your hands are with this inexpensive addition.
We have not even begun to list all the items you can purchase for your self-reliance Christmas stockings. As always, when purchasing a new item or brand, take it home and test before you purchase several. I have even purchased one of an item and taken it out to the car and opened it before buying several, simple to run back in and stock up if the item is a keeper. Even at a dollar it’s not a bargain if you throw items away, but you can find some real deals if you are willing to experiment.
You do not have to spend a large sum of money to assemble a great Emergency kit for each family member or to encourage others to do the same. Begin by gathering items from around your home and then hop in the car and check out your local one dollar store. Stop putting it off or making excuses. Begin today.
Prices are going up, and in a few months even these store may have to adjust their selection or raise prices. Just as one day not long ago there were still stores called “The Five and Dime”, I am sad to say that soon there may be new interest in the old $2 bill for such stores as these.
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