Organizing for emergencies

September is National Preparedness Month in the U.S. Obviously, you can’t plan for emergencies, but you can be organised and prepared for emergencies. And, unfortunately, a few summers ago, I spent quite a bit of time in hospital waiting rooms and I came up with some organisational tips that will help keep you prepared for these unplanned events.

Keep your first aid kit up to date. Ensure your antibiotic creams have not expired. Make sure your supply of bandages is replenished regularly. Keep an assortment of bandages on hand such as those for knuckles, fingertips and large scrapes. You can use clean feminine protection products or diapers to stop the bleeding of larger wounds so consider keeping a few of each in your first aid kit.

Are your first aid techniques up-to-date, too? While you may not need to know how to put on a tourniquet, you should be able to give correct treatment for cuts, scrapes, burns, strains, sprains, fractures, and animal bites. St. John’s Ambulance and the Red Cross offer first aid courses, and classes may also be available through a local community center or department of health.

Keep your pantry stocked with ingredients for healthy meals you can make in less than 30 minutes. These things can include:

  • frozen casseroles;
  • frozen or canned vegetables;
  • frozen or canned fruits;
  • spaghetti (an all time favourite);
  • chicken strips;
  • fish sticks.

Keep a stash of healthy snacks you can quickly toss in a bag and take with you such as:

  • juice or milk in tetra pacs;
  • frozen muffins;
  • granola or cereal bars;
  • bite-sized cereals (wheat squares, oat rings, etc);
  • raw vegetables (mini carrots, cauliflower, broccoli);
  • fruits (bananas, apples, pears, grapes);

You may want to keep a small cutlery set in your purse or backpack just in case you need to cut things into pieces.

Keep a few ice packs in the freezer for applying to injuries and for stuffing in a bag to cool your snacks during the long wait at an Emergency Room and/or Walk-in Clinic.

Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you because you may sitting at the hospital with sick people.

Have an “entertainment pack” ready to go. Items that can be included are:

  • a deck of cards;
  • portable gaming devices and their chargers;
  • some books;
  • a pack of crayons and colouring books;
  • a favourite stuffed animal or blankie.

Make sure you know whom to contact at your spouse’s/partner’s office should he/she be injured.

Have a friend or neighbour you can call on in a crisis to come and mind the kids in the middle of the night. Offer to return the favour.

Make sure your car has enough gas to handle an emergency, such as driving to the hospital in the middle of the night. Keep at least $20 cash in small bills in a secret place in your wallet or in your car in case you have to pay for a taxi or for parking in a cash-only car park.

Do laundry regularly so you have clean clothes handy. If you’ve been called to the emergency room, take a change of clean clothes for the injured person. The emergency room nurses may have had to cut the injured person’s clothing to remove it.

Ensure parents and caregivers have copies of heath services registration numbers and health insurance numbers. Store this information in a secure file in your smartphone or carry a copy in your wallet. Children should also know where to find copies of this information and, if they are old enough, have a copy stored on their smartphones. Keep your cell phone charged in case you are out and need to call 911. Program an emergency contact number into your cell phone so someone can dial that number if you can’t do it yourself. Label it “!Emergency!” so it is on the top of your contact list and “In Case of Emergency” since that is another contact someone might look for on your phone.

If you go for a run or bike ride, take your health insurance information and identification with you. Print business cards with contact information on them (names, address, phone number and email address) to put in every backpack and wallet, including the kids’ bags and backpacks. Consider registering with ROAD ID. It is an easy way to carry identification and medical information with you at all times. Anywhere in the world, first responders can access your medical information and emergency contacts.

Road ID Anklet

Although I hope you never have to go through a crisis, by following these organisational steps, you’ll be able to survive with much less stress.

4 Comments for “Organizing for emergencies”

  1. posted by Liz on

    Although this post deals with a medical emergency, it also helps to think about weather emergencies which seem to impact all of us.

    A few items – radio and flashlights which use hand cranks to charge up (so you don’t have to rely on having enough batteries), flash drive with key info loaded (insurance, medical records, etc)and a written personal medical chart listing medicines, allergies, recent medical tests and procedures, family illnesses,etc. that you can hand to the ER person and not try to remember.

    In addition, think about what you need to live on for a specified period of time, such as 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, one month. Then, evaluate your situation for water, food, shelter, energy (heat, light). Decide if you shelter in place (for a snow storm) or evacuate (for a wildfire). Adjust for the seasons. Adjust for where you live (urban, rural),the types of emergencies (earthquakes, hurricanes, snow & ice storms, wildfires) and how long it may take for something to return to “normal”.

    And remember that you may not be directly impacted by an emergency, but it still could affect the regional supply chain.

    This type of evaluation takes a while to complete, but once done, you realize that you are organized for many different types of events.

  2. posted by Leslie on

    My ex is disabled and for us, an emergency could be getting caught outside the home too long. Because he’s in a wheelchair, some things I started carrying regularly in the van was fixit flat or similar product for tire repair. Great for auto and wheelchair tires. Up to 3 days change of clothes for him. I have a flash drive that I keep in my purse that has medical info on it. I also have electronic copies of relevant car info, current pictures of pets/family members, copies of pet vaccines (I’ve had to produce those on more than one occasion) and other emergency info. There’s also a sm sticker on my driver’s license pointing emergency personnel to same flash drive.

    Having lived in a community that caught fire, we also kept a supply of water, pet products, assorted human stuff (food, sanitary supplies, etc) and a coffee press because making coffee on the bbq when the power is out is NOT a good way to start the morning.

  3. posted by Nattie on

    Your article is a timely reminder for me to get have emergency food and supplies ready and our first aid kit updated. My husband has been bugging me for the last few months, and probably influenced by his prepper friends. I tend to shun from all that talk of possible disasters. But reading your article, I am reminded that things can happen, and it’s good to be prepared.

  4. posted by Jen on

    Living in Christchurch, New Zealand, where we had a series of major earthquakes a couple of years ago (plus literally thousands of aftershocks which have only just died down in the last few months), I’ve learnt whenever I go out to be prepared for the possibility that I might have to walk home (public transport often shuts down in an emergency, and cars can become trapped in parking buildings). So now I never leave the house without my phone (making sure I charge it every night) and a water bottle, and if I can manage it a sensible pair of shoes (depends on the bag I’m carrying, of course). I also keep a spare pair of walking shoes in my desk at work, as that’s the place I’m most likely to end up walking home from.

    At home, my emergency kit includes a camping stove and light with spare gas bottles (in an emergency power might be off for days), and enough bottled water and canned food to last several days, plus often-overlooked essentials like toilet paper. Our experience was that even when the supermarkets reopened (which took a couple of days, while they cleaned up their own damage), many things were in limited supply.

    The other important thing is to have a plan that everyone in the family knows for what you’ll do in an emergency, and most importantly, how you’ll find each other if you’re separated (remembering that phone networks can get overloaded so you may have no way of communicating). It doesn’t have to be complicated – for instance, my partner at the time and I decided that if anything happened while we were away from home, we’d try and get home and meet there, and if that failed for any reason (say the street had been evacuated), we’d meet at our local sports ground, which would be likely to be used as an evacuation point.

Comments are closed.