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The Dirt | Emergency Preparedness Tips #4

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Whether it’s an ice storm, a wildfire, or another natural disaster, volunteers from Benton County Community Emergency Response Team (BCCERT) have been trained to help their neighbors respond. Pam Wilson is a retired teacher and a trained BCCERT member who has created this blog post series to help Benton County residents prepare for emergencies. This is the fourth installment.

To continue the Go-Bag discussion we started in my last post, I fall back on and rely on the list of ten essentials developed by the Mountaineers years ago which can be found in the book Mountaineering: The Freedom of the HillsGo to the Mountaineers website for their  simplified two-page guide titled “The Ten Essentials – A Systems Approach,” which you can use as a checklist and guide to make sure you have the basics. Here are some things I learned over the last five years:

  1. FOOD Prepare about a 3-day supply of non-perishable foods. Don’t add food you won’t eat. I love peanut butter and honey. I do not like sardines even though I know they are good for me in many ways. There are no sardines in my go-bag. If you have food allergies, honor those in your food choices. We are fortunate there are now many places to buy gluten-free products. When I first started this, that selection was sparse and the food was awful. Even in, perhaps, especially in emergency situations, you need to take care of yourself.
  2. WATER Most sources say the rule of thumb is one gallon per person per day. I drink a lot of water. I have a Hydroflask that holds my Sawyer life straw (purifier), so I can put “yucky” water in the flask and drink from it, not from the puddle, pond, or ditch. Learn more about storing water here.
  3. FILTER I added a water filter that filters more than just a cup in case I get lucky and find a water source, and so I added a second Hydroflask.
  4. CLOTHES I have one pair of extra pants in my bag, but several pairs of socks and underwear. What is your comfort level when it comes to clothing? I hate my hair falling onto my face. In addition to a hat, I have several bandanas to hold my hair back, to secure open packages, and to hold items together in my pack. They also wipe glasses clean.
  5. ENTERTAINMENT A recommendation is to add a pack of cards or a game, especially if you have kids. But remember your go-bag is personal — I’m not a game-player. My go-bag has a book, notebook and pens. One of my grandson’s go-bag has a sketch pad and the other one’s has his night mask so he can sleep.
  6. CASH Make sure you have cash in small denominations and change. ATMs may be out of service.
  7. REFRESH REGULARLY Planning is not static. Situations change. Supplies change. You change. Respond to changes and above all PAY ATTENTION.
  8. SHARE Talk to others if you are not sure how to handle a segment of getting ready – they may have figured it out but need help in other areas. Think about holding a neighborhood gathering to discuss and share contents of your bags.
  9. GO-VEHICLE I would like to promote the idea that you have a “Go-Vehicle”. Put your basic Go-Bag in it, then think about what else you will take.
  10. GO-PLAN When an emergency arises, where you go determines what you take. Is your plan to go to a Corvallis hotel? Or are you camping somewhere in the forest? Are you bunking with family or friends? Are you counting on a shelter? If you plan on going to a shelter, know that shelters usually will not take house pets! So, if you have animals to evacuate, are your plans in place?

What basic materials you will take? Make a trip through your house and room-by-room write down what you will take from that room. This inventory of what you need with you and what you want is important. If the list indicates you need a U-Haul, you need to delete. If you have an RV, you are one of the lucky ones! Fill it with the basics and have it ready to go. One of my neighbors told me she was amazed that what she wanted to take was not what she expected. I know that feeling. We are selling our RV due to medical difficulties, and I find myself trying to fit items into the truck bed for a quick evacuation; some of the items are emotional rather than practical.

Remember to spread out this preparation process over time so you don’t get overwhelmed. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Finally, the other day I got a Linn-Benton Alert about a missing Albany man. Have you signed up to receive these notices? If not, go back to the Benton County Sherriff’s page and make the necessary changes.

Next week I’ll discuss red flag warnings and evacuation notices.