December 13, 2021
I have no explanation, and I offer no excuses – I have NOT worked (on The Vivienne Files!) for a couple of days!
I have done a lot of laundry, I’ve finished cleaning out my mother’s old apartment (woo hoo!!!), and I’ve spent time with her and with my sweetheart…
Which is not to say that I haven’t been thinking about you…
Santa wanted me to have this little chat – and YES, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, this chat includes you too!
Of COURSE in my world, Santa wears purple! Actually, this is an antique postcard from about 1916. Postcards were the greeting cards on the early 20th century, and in the Christmas ones, Santa is dressed in LITERALLY any color but black. As far as I’ve seen…
I used to collect these. Beware falling into this black hole of collections; there is no end to what you can find, and they are all more beautiful than the last. Sigh…
But seriously – you HAVE got your “bug-out” bag packed, right? (if anybody actually owns the rights to that term, please let me know and I’ll give them credit!)
After Friday’s storms, I think we all need to remember to check the contents of our bag, if we have one. And definitely, if you haven’t got one packed, starting working on this. I know it seems like over-planning to many of you, but I think being prepared for emergencies is at least part of how to minimize your worry level.
Over and over again, through the weekend, I heard people lamenting dead cell-phones. Which is why you start your bag with your essential prescriptions, some cash, and one of these:
Think about how much weight/volume you can carry, and get the biggest and most robust of these that you can manage. (There’s a TON of these, by the brand Anker, available at Amazon…)
Not only will YOU have phone security, but you will also be able to offer a recharge to all kinds of people in an emergency. There’s nothing wrong with being a modest heroine…
Other things that are going into my bag for cool weather?
LONG UNDERWEAR! Including a shirt which can be worn as a normal shirt. These pack down VERY small, also make excellent pajamas:
Another garment that I’m going to pack is a flannel shirt. A roomy one, that would be big enough for a toddler nightshirt, or to wrap up a baby to keep them warm to sleep… Note that this is a tunic length shirt – a few extra inches of warmth could come in handy!
(you can tell that I don’t necessarily assume that I’m going to need ALL of these things for myself!)
Nobody much talks about what kind of bag you should use for your emergency pack, but I’m STRONGLY encouraging you to consider a backpack. You may need your arms free for another bag, or to push a wheelchair, or to carry a baby or a pet…
Please note that you want to look for something pretty sturdy, and possibly water-resistant…
What else? A roll of quarters, a couple of hands full of $1 bills, and $5’s. (assume that paying digitally for anything might not be possible…)
Do you have copies of all of your vital documents in a plastic bag, in your backpack? Or do you have TOO many documents to carry that way? Look into the possibility of a fireproof document bag. Put everything into it in plastic, and be ready to carry them to safety:
Anything else for your physical comfort? Depending on how much time you have to prepare to evacuate, you might not have your very favorite footwear on! (my assumption is that we would have to get out of here in the middle of the night… sigh…)
Maybe something that packs really flat, slips on, but would still be warm?
And an extra pair of socks might fit into a nook or cranny… and depending on what kind of emergencies you face, a change of undergarments might be useful!
For many of us, if we’re going to be sitting in a hallway somewhere for 6 hours, we will need both a book (maybe put the Kobo reader on your phone?)
Snacks? I personally put my very favorite snacks into my bag – if I’m under a lot of stress, I do NOT want to be eating some tasteless sawdust thing that’s designed to stay edible for 30 years!
And here’s where I offer what might be my best idea – every month (on the anniversary of your birthday), put a note on your calendar to check your emergency bag!
This way, if you’re packing Reese Cups as your emergency snack, you can “remember” to take the old ones out of your bag and replace them….
The old ones might need to be… handled…. somehow!
There has to be something fun in all of this, right?
I offer this as one who worries about their friends – and that unquestionably includes all of you!
p.s. Seven years ago, I assembled some outfit suggestions for a friend who has some STUNNING ruby and amethyst jewelry. Why NOT dress to match your jewels?
p.p.s. I promise that I’m going to Revisit The Weekly Timeless Wardrobe on Wednesday… back to work for me!
What a lovely and warm mail today. Full of good advice. Thank you. I know exactly what to do with those Reese’s that need replacing. Thank you.
Seasons greetings from the wet and grey Low Lands where green (grey?) special days are on the cards.
Beth T says
Bless you, Janice – thoughtful and practical as ever. Well done for taking a break to get another important job done. Clearing out someone’s home when they are still alive is a challenge.
It is particularly hard when it is a parent’s home as there maybe things they have that we also have an attachment too. It is part of the human condition to attribute memories to objects; to keep things that remind us of specific occasions. Letting things go does not destroy the memory associated with an object. I’m sure your Mum is grateful for your support and that of your husband. You can all enjoy a happy Christmas together without worry.
It is so difficult to decide what to keep which will remain useful in a new situation and what to part with which has served them well but is no longer used. However, there is pleasure in knowing that items can be passed on or sold to be useful or attractive in someone else’s home.
Many things in my home were inherited or passed on from friends. I can remember who gave them to us or the story behind them. Even those things we have bought have often been pre-loved. I sometimes wonder about their story – who made them, who owned them before us? My daughter is also following this trend of furnishing and decorating her home with a mix of new and pre-loved items, many found in charity shops which support a worthy cause.
I also volunteer in a charity shop selling clothes and homewares. Many donations of china and glassware come from people clearing a relative’s house. I often wonder what special occasions these items were once used for. We also sometimes get given someone’s prized collection of objects. Such as four boxes of china cats – about 30 of them. They were priced individually and over the next couple of weeks, they were all bought. One person’s 30 cats are now taking pride of place in 30 other homes!
I never knew that Father Christmas wore so many different coloured coats! Whatever his guise in the spirit of St Nicholas, Christmas is about giving to others in whatever ways possible.
Heidi from Germany says
I fully understand your absence. I have too much on my plate at the moment, too.
I would add sturdy shoes. And a coat. My nightmare is: runnig out of the house at night, barefooted…. and – clearing my throat – not quite fully clothed….
BTW: I have discussed this with my aging parents. Not a bad idea to prepare a slightly different bag for emergeny hospital (like pregnant women do). Stay safe!
I wish everyone a nice time before the actual holidays!
I have so far in a long life been blessed with good health and very few hospital visits, but yes every time I am slightly unwell I think ‘I really should pack a hospital bag just in case’. Shall put it on my to do list…
My heart goes out to so many people who these days seem to face more and more disasters, currently Kentucky in the news, and again feel very blessed.
Beth T says
By the way, I love the look back. Purple and red is an unusual combination but they are rich and luxurious for this time of year. My preferred stones are amethyst and garnets.
There are always going to be times when real life takes priority. My parents spent Saturday at my grandmother’s old house supervising her and the packing. She’s downsizing to a retirement village nearer to us, so I’ll be getting some of the items she no longer needs. I’m just glad that if anything happens to her now, my parents are only a sub 5 minute drive away from her.
Your heroine suggestion was an interesting one. Between the contents of the bug bag, making the best of a post-crisis donations pile and then rebuilding a wardrobe from these pieces that reflects the limitations of seasons, budget and space as the heroine puts her life back together – it makes for a situation that could happen to any of us. All I would ask is no over reliance on black as it is such a widely available and versatile colour.
Ardyth Eisenberg says
Talking about clearing my in-laws’ home 20 years ago will make me sad all over again, so I won’t. Many of their things are in our home now as reminders. On to more practical matters: Pack a week’s supply of your meds and things like aspirin. When you check your bag on your birthday, be sure to re-charge the power supply. A friend in Portland, OR took a class in emergency preparedness, and she calls the pack a “go bag.” May none of us ever have to use it, whatever its name.
Kristina Sherwood says
So well written to make assembling a ‘bkug out’ bag seem less overwhelming – thank you!
Thank you for the tips and reminders. I really need to do this. I think I would get overwhelmed trying to accommodate for my whole family’s needs in one bag. I need to sit down and truly think about this. Regarding documents, we have a fire proof safe (large) in our home. We keep our important documents in it all the time. Do y’all think these are items I would need to carry with me? What if I took a picture of them and saved them on my phone?
On a personal note- Janice, I don’t know your current situation with your mother, but it sounds like you are transitioning to a new living arrangement for her. I know that can be challenging in many ways, and I just want to send you extra love and and virtual hugs. May your holidays be blessed with joy and sweet moments!
Beth T says
As for documents, even fire proof safes and boxes have limitations. If you need to get replacements, you might need to provide a certified paper copies of birth/marriage certificates, passports, financial benefits etc. Probably best to get several copies of each document done and kept in a waterproof wallet in the bag.
Janice, thank you SO much for introducing the subject of disaster preparedness! More information can also be found at http://www.ready.gov
Sharon Randall says
Excellent information-very practical and relevant-thank you! Wishing you the happiest of holidays!
You call it an unscheduled break, I call it an excellent way to prevent burnout :)
Thank you for the valuable advice, I’ll definitely take it and plan an emergency bag – I’ve already had to travel at a day’s notice this year and it has lead me to have a list of things of essentials for sudden travel, but somehow I didn’t think about preparing an actual bag!
Linda T says
I lived on a sailboat for years and we called the bag a “ditch bag”. A vacuum sealer or just large Ziplocs allow you to squish stuff down, like a sweatshirt and pants, to almost nothing. A photocopy of ALL those important documents takes almost no space and has it all in one place. I would also suggest that the bag be the brightest colour backpack you can find, they do make ones specifically for this purpose actually. Easier to find on a dark, stormy night.
On another note, I love Santa in purple! What a great look.
Suzanne S says
FYI, this is an excellent blog written during Katrina about not only what happened but what to put in your bug out bag. He has oodles of worksheets & directions. http://www.theplacewithnoname.com/blogs/klessons/
I live in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and only create our GO BOX when the hurricane prep mailer arrives each year. It’s mighty haphazard, this box. Though I am great at keeping frozen bottles of water in the freezers in case we lose power. I need to ensure I have another small bag with the items like you described too.
I guess we need to recharge the phone charger each time we check as they don’t hold power forever, do they?
My grandparents always kept their medication in a bag hanging from their backdoor as their grab and go emergency situation preparation.
Great tips! My heart goes out to all those involved in this historic tornado.
I also live in the Low Country! About 50 miles inland from HHI. We are on the northern/western side of 95 and therefore just beyond the regular evacuation zone, but even so hurricanes still cause lots of damage and power outages on the inland side. Nice to meet a fellow SC Vivienne follower!?
I would add, if you have a little backup hard drive for your computer, pop that in with your important papers when you are ready to flee. Easy to grab, but it needs to be plugged into the computer to actually back anything up. Other folks use the cloud to back up their computer.
Denise Lagundzin says
Thank you for this reminder!
Book Goddess says
Another suggestion for people with cars: don’t let your gas tank get below half full. You don’t want to have to look for gas in an emergency.
Amanda Hudson says
Good tips. In my area leaving is usually associated with the arrival of a hurricane. We are blessed enough to head away from the coast to a lake house where I have plenty. However I keep a thin jacket, gloves, extra reading glasses, and a blanket in my car at all times. These items are tucked into rubber boots. Can’t tell you how many times a grandchild needed the jacket (big but keeps the chill off). The blanket gets used regularly. If it starts pouring I can save my shoes by swapping out boots. And if the weather drops 30-40 degrees and I need gas in my car, I’m glad for the gloves. My adult children who Venmo or charge most everything know where I always have some ready cash Ha.
Birgit Knutsen says
Wonderful tips and a thoughtful post. I live in NE Arkansas where the tornados began and there is so much devastation. One thing to add to the bug out list is a car phone charger. If the power goes out and you don’t have a backup phone battery – everyone is getting one for Christmas! – you can always charge your phone in the car. This becomes essential after several days with no power. Also, I keep small headlamps in our nightstands and throughout the house so we can light our way and keep our hands free if the power is out.
This is a great post. Thank you for the reminder.
Thank you for this reminder, Janice. I live in an area that suffered from Friday night’s storm and spent much of the night huddled in my basement, grateful for the fact that I had a basement to retreat to. I offered space to my neighbors as well but some couldn’t manage to get here because it was simply too awful outside. Fortunately our locale did not suffer major damage, but there were a lot of trees down, my back porch was damaged, stuff like that. But we suffered no deaths and no homes were destroyed so we count ourselves lucky.
I did not have a bag at the ready to take with me into the basement and now, as I think on what might have happened, I am today starting to plan for an emergency bag to put in the basement ahead of time when weather threatens. And your suggestion for items that can help others is spot on and I will incorporate that into the bag. The charger is a good idea but when the cell towers are all down, it doesn’t matter whether your phone is charged or not. But a smart thing to have regardless since tornadoes aren’t the only reason to pack that emergency bag.
Again, thank you for this timely and sensible advice.
Even if I don’t have a phone connection, I still want my phone to play games and read; I have books loaded on my phone using Kobo.
I was just reading the poster’s comment about leaving the bag in the basement…where is the BEST place to leave a bag? I am thinking in a front hall closet or behind a bedroom door. As mentioned storms aren’t the only reason to take flight. Floods, fires ( either barreling down the mountain or even the house) often there is precious little time to grab family members/pets never mind rush to the basement looking for a bag. So would ‘the best place’ depend on the locale? Is it dependant on the danger our area is most prone to? Thoughts? Since storms are our issue the basement might well be the best place but flooding and hurricanes more of an issue with our coastal summer home which has no basement.
Also if you have pets keep a leash and some food in your bag maybe one of those water bottle/ drinking bowl combos. Make sure pet vaccinations are up to date and that proof is part of your document kit. Also remember that in an emergency human life comes first save your animal only if it’s safe to do so. Many are saved by Samaritans in boats or cars or the animal manages to stay safe in the house. Cast your eyes to British Columbia’s recent floods and the huge loss of valuable livestock. One farmer spent a day helping to save cattle only to return to his own ranch to be told he needed to to evacuate immediately and sadly, lost all his own livestock.
I would suggest every family member have their own bag as needs will differ, I am thinking that any visitors staying with you should also be aware of your emergency ‘ house rules’ escape routes, meet up points etc.
Vancouver Barbara says
Words to the wise… I’m in British Columbia, Lower Mainland where we had devastating floods and mudslides and it all happened in a very brief span of time. Lives were lost and those who survived have lives changed forever due to massive losses. I will get my go bag together. Thank you for this. Despite all the tragic losses, I hope we can muster some joy and enthusiasm for the season of renewed light and life.
Thanks for the reminder. I have a backpack that I keep in a cabinet of an inner bathroom. I grab it when leaving on road trips of any length. Things can go wrong on the road. And, It is ready with with a couple gallons of water in case of a shelter in place warning. I need to update everything in it.
Happiest of holidays to everyone.
Megan M says
I rotate my emergency food with my rv camping food. I have a leash for my dog that goes around my waist and kevlar booties packed to protect his feet in case we deal with a lot of debris.
Great post Janice. I woke up to a power outage and was thinking about needing to recharge cell phones if the outage went on for long. I’m going to put that in my usual kits for George and I. We live in fire country and I always have our kits packed – it works for an overnight to several days sudden family trip situation too.
Coach Laura says
I have two important items that I recently added to my bug out bag – but all of my items are important.
I have a phone charger that can be recharged the normal way but also via solar power, which can be really useful on our sailboat or in a power outage or a car breakdown.
I also have an old-fashioned transistor radio that also has a crank and a solar panel and a flashlight and charges cell phones and things via USB. It’s the size of the old transistor radios from the late sixties – no bigger than a can of beans. So all those functions without the need to make sure the batteries are charged up.
I have a strobe flashlight that also flashes red – great to have when you break down – as my car did recently – and the flashers wouldn’t work.
Headlamps are always in our camping box and in our sailing gear and one more in each car but also one in the bug out bag. The most recent one I bought is also USB rechargable.
Hand-crank radios! Those are wonderful – mine also charges phones, and has a light…
Thanks for mentioning these!