Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Autumn Decorating

We woke up Labor Day to a delicious slight chill in the air. Yes, we're still looking at afternoon temps in the high 90s and low 100s, but you can't fool me. Autumn is coming. To celebrate, I pulled out our fall decor and splashed the house with some oranges and reds and browns.

Autumn is my favorite season. The mild weather gives us a chance to peek our heads outside, and its coming is the signal for the most festive time of the year. October (when our real autumn weather sets in) through December is just the most pleasant time I can think of.

Hay rides, corn mazes, pumpkin-carving, costumes, and candy.

Holiday meals, craft fairs and festivals, treat-baking and -delivering, gift-buying and -sneaking and -giving.

Apples, cinnamon, caramel, nuts. Brown, crunchy leaves, sweaters and boots, pinecones, yarn, wool.

Ahh, it's a good time of year.


Friday, September 2, 2011

72-Hour Kits

All the recent talk of the hurricane hitting the East coast and the preparations families made to weather it out and/or evacuate was a good reminder for me to take a look at our family's emergency supplies and make sure things are updated.

Our first priority for emergency preparedness has always been our 72-hour kits (also often called "Go Bags"). I assembled my first when I was living on my own and have added more for my husband and kids as they've come along. The goal of a 72-hour kit is to supply each member of the family with enough food, clothing, toiletries, and emergency supplies to get through 3 days. It should be easy for each family member to grab quickly and carry independently.

We store each person's individual supplies in a backpack or diaper bag and have one duffel for shared family supplies. Containers with back or shoulder straps are ideal, because they lighten the somewhat heavy loads. I've marked the bags with each person's name both to help us know instantly whose is whose and to help emergency personnel identify us if necessary.

Husband's Bag:
3 breakfasts (cereal bars)
3 lunches (canned pasta)
3 dinners (canned chili)
snacks (banana chips, beef jerky, granola bars, hard candy)
complete change of clothes (1 short-sleeved shirt, 1 pair pants, 1 pair shoes - currently some extra flip-flops he had laying around, but eventually I'll buy some lightweight tennis shoes, 2 pairs socks, 1 lightweight jacket, 1 warm hat)
1 light stick
1 emergency blanket
1 whistle
1 dust mask
1 flashlight and extra batteries

My Bag:
same except for the addition of feminine products and nursing pads

Old diaper bag. I like keeping all our bags the same color so we can find each other in a crowd if need be.

Margaret's Bag:
3 breakfasts (cereal bars)
3 lunches (canned pasta)
3 dinners (canned chili)
snacks (banana chips, beef jerky, granola bars, hard candy)
1 can formula (If we were without food for an extended period, the formula could help fortify her diet, even though she's 2 years old.)
complete change of clothes (1 short-sleeved shirt, 1 pair pants, 2 pairs socks, 1 lightweight jacket, 1 warm hat)
1 light stick
1 emergency blanket
1 dust mask
1 infant pain reliever
12 diapers
12 cloth wipes
2 pacifiers
4 toys (book, lovie, ball, flash cards)

Family Bag: (I'd love to have enough of each supply to put one in every individual's bag, but for now a family bag has to suffice until we can afford that.)

2 butane heaters
18 disposable bowls (disposable, so we don't have to waste water washing)
18 sets plastic cutlery
3 plastic cups
1 baby bottle
2 manual can openers
iodine tablets

Self-Care (I use the free samples I get in the mail instead of buying expensive travel-sized cosmetics/toiletries.)
6 multivitamins
12 pain relievers
12 antihistamines
12 cough drops
2 deodorant
1 hand lotion
1 sunblock
1 hand sanitizer
3 toothbrushes
1 toothpaste
1 floss
1 mouthwash
1 shampoo/conditioner
1 bar soap
1 toilet paper
6 cotton balls
6 cotton swabs
2/4 hair ties and pins
1 nail file
1 length of thread
2 needles

Emergency Supplies
1 pocket knife
1 scissors
4 lantern batteries (size D)
3 long-burning candles
6 rags
2 plastic trash bags
3 plastic grocery bags
1 plastic sheet
3 bungee cords
1 permanent marker
1 50' rope
1 duct tape
1 tool kit
1 crank-powered radio (Ours has a built-in flashlight and LED signal, also crank-powered. We got it at Wal-Mart for $15.)

$50 cash
8 quarters
1 notepad
2 pens
2 pencils
1 pencil sharpener
1 playing cards
1 crossword puzzle book
important papers (car titles, mortgage, insurance information, marriage license, birth certificates, credit card and social security numbers)
current photos of family members
copies of house and car keys
emergency phone numbers

We purchased a pre-assembled first aid kit to ensure we didn't forget anything important, and because it was so compact.

Large Emergency Supplies (stored near but not in kits)
1 electric lantern
1 first aid kit
9 gallons drinking water (1 gallon/person/day)
1 shovel
1 corded land line (works even if power is out)
1 rolling bin (to store all the kits and large supplies in)
1 water barrel
1 gas can

Check out all the stuff this one little kit stores!

  • We rotate our kits twice a year to keep food fresh and clothes in current sizes.
  • Food should ideally have an expiration date at least 1 year from the date you're storing it, to give you time to use it in your pantry after replacing it in the kit.
  • Avoid pop-top lids, as they've been known to explode and make a mess in storage.
  • Pack foods that are not only nutritious, but that your family enjoys eating. Comfort foods are great in a stressful situation. Hard candy and gum are good for keeping spirits up and mouths busy.
  • Avoid foods that require water to prepare.
  • Pack wet cosmetics/toiletries in zip-top bags in case of leaks.
  • Pack tissues, toilet paper, paperwork, etc in zip-top bags to protect from moisture.
  • Consider your climate when packing clothes. We pack layers so we don't have to rotate clothes according to season.
  • Store enough cash (in a zip-top bag to protect it) in case you don't have access to an ATM or bank.
  • Remember to pack things to keep the family entertained. Playing cards, books, and notepads/pens all store compactly and provide a variety of ways to entertain both kids and adults.

Wet and dry things separately bagged, then stored in one large zip-top bag for easy location in the family bag.

Every year we use our tax refund to build our emergency supply storage (not just the 72-hour kits, but food/household goods storage, and our emergency saving's account). This year, we hope to buy a generator and a second water barrel.