I’m in the process of making a series of posts about different types of emergency gear kits.  The reason is that, as I’ve said before, disasters happen anywhere and “anywhen” and often with no warning.  The purpose of having different layers of preparedness gear is so that you have at least something on hand when “it” hits the fan.

I think of these different layers of preparedness gear like an onion:  Smaller layers in the middle with wider and more encompassing layers further and further out.  At the very middle (on your person all the time) is the Every Day Carry gear.  Truth be told, the stuff in EDC land is as much about making life convenient as its about being prepared for disasters.  Moms are really good at the EDC thing, even though they mostly don’t think about it in those terms.  Boy Scouts are pretty good at this, too, with the motto “Be prepared.”

The huge power outage on the Eastern Seaboard a couple of years ago demonstrated the usefulness of a “get home kit” which should be intended to help you, well, get home.  Tens of thousands of people literally had to walk out of Manhattan.  While the disaster was incredibly wide-spread, the first part of it made it necessary for commuters to walk a long way down, and a long way out.  In this case, a flashlight, some food and water, a good pair of shoes and socks, and a map of the way “out” would have gone a long way to improving the comfort and state of mind of those who were stuck in the city.  Fortunately, there were wide-spread reports of cooperation and good behavior, even though the situation was dismal.  Here’s hoping that something of this magnitude is a one-off.

Having a kit in your vehicle is also a great idea, and is often talked about in areas of extreme hot (e.g. Desert Southwest) or cold weather (e.g. Great Plains), where it can be a long time between travelers.  It is my understanding that basic supplies are also very common (if not required) in Alaska, as well.  Food, water, shelter, and communication are huge priorities if there is a chance that you might be in a place that is poorly traveled. In the more highly-trafficked areas, like city and suburbs, the priorities shift to more first-aid, communication, and “break-down” needs.  Emergency Essentials has a breakdown kit available, and has a decent article on the how’s and why’s of a car kit here.  Wal-mart carries several automotive-specific emergency kits, as well.

These are all well and good when you’re out and about, but what happens when you get to your home base?  This is where most of the disaster and emergency supplies should hang out, since everything else that I’ve mentioned is intended to get you (back) to safety.  As with the other types of kit, you want to have food, water, first aid, shelter, and personal protection gear on hand.  Of course, this is all limited by your available budget and available space.  The Church of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) advocate having a full years’ supply of food and at least two week’s worth of water for every person.  I can only interpret this as being a best-case recommendation, mainly because I’m not a Mormon.  I don’t know or understand the doctrine behind the recommendation from a religious standpoint, but it’s a really good idea in my opinion.  So, at home, have food and water, a good (comprehensive) first aid supply, and adequate personal protection equipment for your expected circumstances.  I (being a mostly medical prepper. See here for different “styles” of preparedness) tend to be heavy on the first aid supplies, but I’m trying to balance out these days. 

One thing that doesn’t quite fall into any specific category is what I call a “document kit” and can fit on a USB drive.  Things that should be included in a “document kit” are scans of important documents.  Insurance policy information of all types, identification card info, current images of the family and pets, and various licenses or permits are all excellent candidates for inclusion.  I’m saving to buy a set of Corsair Flash Survivor USB drives for everybody in the family to have one  These guys are pretty bulletproof, from all reports.  I just don’t know what size I need at the moment.  These drives are not inexpensive, but then again, they’re really durable.  You get what you pay for, I think.

The basic tenet of emergency preparedness is, in my mind, thinking about the unthinkable.  By thinking about the unthinkable, you are able to be mentally prepared for when things go sour, and can react to the situation with some level of rationality.