Oct 24, 2019

The Upgraded Emergency Kit

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In California, earthquake drills are often held in October, thanks to the Great California ShakeOut, which is in its twelfth year. My kids had their earthquake drill at school last week, and one of the parent meetings I recently attended went over emergency procedures, such as how and where to pick up your child if the school is locked down following an earthquake.

Back in August, we covered the basics of an emergency kit, but in addition to those items, there are some other things that are nice to have on hand. If you have the space and money for more supplies, here are some things you might want to consider adding to your emergency kit:

Solar Charger

While you should have portable chargers in your emergency kit, they won't last forever. And if you don't have access to electricity, you won't be able to recharge the chargers or your devices. But a solar charger is what it sounds like - if you have sunlight, the charger can create and store energy that you can use to charge your devices.

I always turn to Wirecutter for product recommendations, and their pick is the BigBlue 28W Solar Charger, which has three USB ports and folds up compactly. It's $59.99 and gets 4.2 stars in 228 ratings at Amazon. There's a newer version coming out in a few days that's just $40.22 when you clip the 10% off coupon and order now.

Dental Hygiene

A toothbrush and toothpaste don't take up much space, and you certainly don't need to purchase anything special. But it's worth noting that Colgate makes disposable mini toothbrushes - you can get a pack of 24 for $4.01 at Amazon when you Subscribe & Save (or just $3.59 if you have 5+ subscriptions). Over at Target, you can get a travel kit containing a toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash for just $2.50 (requires a $25+ order to purchase online).

Feminine Hygiene

This one won't apply to everyone, but if you need feminine hygiene products, you should make sure you have some in your emergency kit. A small makeup bag like this one will keep your supplies discreetly and neatly contained, and you can customize the contents with your preferred products. You may also want to include some flushable Booty Wipes.

Portable Generator

For the last few years of her life, my grandmother was on a constant supply of pure oxygen. At home, she was hooked up to a supply powered by electricity. For on the go, she had some portable tanks. I never would have thought about the need for a generator, until I was talking on the phone with my aunt, who lived with my grandmother. There was a hurricane coming, and I worried that the power might go out. My aunt told me that they had a generator with enough power to keep my grandmother's oxygen machine going for at least six to eight hours - which was hopefully long enough for emergency services to reach them if need be.

We never had to find out, since they never lost power, but the situation made me realize that there are definitely circumstances in which a portable generator might not just be prudent, but necessary. This is especially true in California right now, since electric companies are shutting off power when the danger of fires goes up due to weather conditions.

Wirecutter’s recommendation is the Honda 2200-Watt Super Quiet Gasoline Powered Portable Inverter Generator. At $1,049, it's quite pricey, but you may be able to spread monthly payments of $58.28 out over 18 months, interest-free, with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card. Alternatively, if you qualify for a Home Depot Consumer Card, you can pay off the $1,049 at $175 per month for six months, interest-free.

Important Documents and Photos

The easiest way to save your photos and not worry about losing them under any circumstances is with a cloud backup. If you have an iPhone and the 5GB of free storage that Apple gives you when you create your iCloud account isn't enough, you can get 50GB for just $0.99 per month in the U.S. (Apple offers the service internationally, so you can have cloud storage almost everywhere.) Google also offers cloud storage.

You might not want to store important documents in the cloud, and if you don't, be sure to back up your computer regularly. I like Western Digital's external hard drives, although Wirecutter's recommendation is the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB. An external hard drive is small, and you can keep it in your emergency kit when you're not actively backing up your files.

Finally, if you have a safety deposit box, you might consider keeping the extra key they give you in your emergency kit. That way, even if your house and its contents are destroyed, as long as you got out with your emergency kit, you can still access your box at the bank.

What do you keep in your emergency kit that I've overlooked?

The Upgraded Emergency Kit


Qwendykay said...

This is a brilliant list and I especially love the Solar charger, just bought three as Christmas Gifts.

We have free t-shirts we get at conferences and conventions in our bag as our spare clothes, and old school backpacks are perfect to pack our emergency kits in.

Chief Family Officer said...

Great ideas, Wendy! Are you in the Valley? Just found out my kids don't have school tomorrow because of the smoke from the Tick fire. If you're near any fires, stay safe!