what to include in your emergency kit/jump bag

Posted on May 28, 2011 in Lifestyle

Thank you all so much for all of your kind comments and well-wishes on my last two posts. You are all fantastic. Thank you so much for letting me spew my emotions all over this blog. I am feeling much better today. I’ve swung from the depths of sadness side back solidly into the “it could be so much worse” side and am feeling very fortunate this morning. Plus, I get to see a lot of my family tomorrow, and that makes me happy.

I know I’ve talked about our jump bag/emergency kit before, but now that we actually had to use it, we will definitely be revising the contents. You can plan and plan all you want, but nothing is totally clear until you actually have to go through it.

Before I talk about what is in our jump kit, I’m going to preach to you.

Please, please, please make yourself a jump kit. We were very fortunate this week. There were stores and restaurants still open and people in the area with power. Even in that best case scenario we still would have been totally screwed without some of the items in our kit. I can’t even imagine how valuable that jump kit would have been if our entire town had been destroyed like Joplin, Missouri was. You have a three-day weekend right now. Please, go make this a priority. Trust me. I hope you never need to use it, but if you do, you’ll be so glad you have it.

Honestly, our jump kit was pretty well stocked. Here is what our jump kit had (and has always had) in it:

  • A pair of shoes and socks for both me and Babyface (we just bought cheap shoes in our size from the Goodwill)
  • 2 liters of water
  • A handful of high-calorie energy bars
  • Pen and paper
  • Key to one of our cars
  • Whistle
  • Glow sticks
  • Hand crank weather/AM-FM radio (also has flashlight and emergency alert sound)
  • Flashlight
  • Emergency blankets
  • Ponchos
  • First aid kit
  • Wet wipes
  • Accordion folder with important paperwork
    • Insurance policies
    • Copies of our IDs (driver’s license, Babyface’s green card, passports)
    • Copy of our lease
    • Puppyface’s vaccination records
    • Birth certificate copies
    • $20 cash
    • List of emergency contact info
  • Extra leash and collar for Puppyface
  • Two Tupperware containers, one empty (to give Puppyface water) and one full of Puppyface’s food

Wondering what we used?

  • The weather radio. This “lives” in our jump kit. But is usually with us during storms. It was pretty much glued to my side all of Wednesday night.
  • The extra leash. Puppyface was in the bathroom with us during the tornado warning, but when the roof started to go, we made sure to pull her into the bathtub with us and cover all of our heads with cushions. Puppyface hates the bathtub and was a squirmy mess. We put the extra leash on her, wrapped the end around Babyface’s wrist and that way if she did get away, she couldn’t run very far. Which we figure she might try to do out of fear.
  • The water, Tupperware containers and Puppyface food. Puppyface was so stressed out after the storm that she wound herself up into a hot and thirsty mess. Almost immediately after we got her safe (she hung out in the car) we had to put water out for her to drink. Also, we wouldn’t have had anything to feed her without that food.
  • Accordion folder with paperwork. We were able to call our insurance agent and know the phone number and exact policy number and get our claim filed in about 5 minutes. Other people weren’t so prepared. Babyface even had to Google some insurance numbers on his phone for people.
  • Paper and pen. There are lots of things to write down. Names of people. Claim numbers. Phone numbers. Trust me, you want to have this.

So now you are probably wondering what I’ll add? Well, if I had my druthers, I’d add pretty much everything under the sun! But that isn’t the point of a jump kit. A jump kit is supposed to be relatively light and portable. Easy to pick up and move with only a second’s notice. With that in mind, here are the things we’ll be adding:

  • Medications. We rarely take any sort of over-the-counter medications, so I didn’t put any into our jump bag. But trust me, stress does some crazy things to your body. I’ll be adding a small bottle of Pepto Bismol, some aspirin and some Tylenol PM. I didn’t sleep for about 36 hours because my mind was racing. The Tylenol PM would have been a life-saver. And I have a horribly nervous stomach.
  • Feminine hygiene stuffs. See the note about stress doing crazy things to your body? Women, stress can also trigger your period. Trust me on this one, you don’t want to be stranded from your home and not have your pads, tampons, Diva cup, whatever if the time suddenly comes.
  • Toilet paper. A roll of toilet paper is never a bad idea.
  • Deodorant. You probably won’t be able to take a shower for days. And will be more dirty than you’ve ever been in your life. We’ll be adding one travel size deodorant in a neutral scent that both Babyface and I can use.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste. See above. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel after you’ve brushed your teeth and put some deodorant on. It’s almost like taking a shower. Almost.
  • A cell phone charger to plug into our weather radio. We were very fortunate that the leasing office building had power during the duration of the storm and we could charge our phones. But without that, our weather radio has a port so you can hand-crank charge cell phones. Definitely need to get the cord. Also of note, we have a car charger that works for both of our cell phones and that was definitely used, too.
  • A key to our new car. Immediately after the storm, our car became our home base. We were able to put Puppyface in there and she was relatively comfortable and safe. And we could just toss whatever we grabbed from our apartment in the back. We were lucky that Babyface had his keys on him (I was just able to find mine in the mess yesterday). We did have a key to our older car in the jump kit, but hadn’t gotten around to getting one for the new car. Having both options is important. There were people two parking spots down that had cars that were undriveable because of damage. Having two cars available doubles our chances of having a mobile home base.
  • Our passports. We used to keep our passports in a filing cabinet, but now they’ll be added to our jump kit. For most people, the passport isn’t that big of an issue, but because of Babyface’s immigration status, it is huge.
  • A list of local hotels that take pets and contact information. In about 30 minutes of panic-filled fun, we drove around to every hotel in the area in the pouring rain only for them to us that they either (a) didn’t take pets or (b) were booked. It was not fun. And there were some tears every time someone told me, “No.” Phone calls would make it moderately better next time.
  • List of important things to grab. When we were finally allowed to go back into our apartment, we kinda ran around like chickens with our heads cuts off trying to remember what important things to grab. I want to make a checklist of the essentials. External hard drive, underwear, shampoo, etc. We’re lucky we’ve been able to go in and out of our place for the past 48 hours. If we had only a few minutes to grab everything, we would have been screwed. We’ve made at least 10 trips over there since the storm.
  • A disposable camera. Babyface and I both had grabbed our DSLRs and had them in the bathroom with us during the tornado warning (because that is a lot of money wrapped up in camera equipment). But if we didn’t have those, or our batteries died, we would have had no way to document things for insurance. Sometimes analog is the way to go.

There will also be some things I’ll be rearranging. I had the pen and paper in a separate part of the jump kit, but I found that whenever we had to deal with paperwork stuff, I’d just grab the accordion folder and go. I’ll move the pen and paper into there.

Mostly, even with the things missing from our kit, I am so very, very thankful that we had one. Even if we didn’t use a lot of the stuff in it, just knowing we could if we needed to took a huge weight off our shoulders. And I know I now sleep better knowing that we have it stashed in our closet. Seriously kids, go make one. Now.

12 Comments

  1. We have a mini jump kit, but I really need to update it now that we have another human (who has his own paperwork and nutritional needs). We keep our extra collars in the emergency bag, along with some food for the cat and dogs (and water), but I never really thought to put food for the humans or spare leashes. It might do us well to get a spare leash with a double leash extender. The toughie is how to prepare the cat, but we’ve just started keeping the emergency bag on top of the cat carrier, and all the necessary pet things are inside the carrier.

    I’m so glad your over-preparedness paid off in this situation. I know most people would think they’d never need an emergency kit, but you just never know. And I tend not to update mine (and haven’t in six months, obviously), but this is a good reminder that the emergency kit needs to be a priority.

  2. Jeff has promised me that we will be making a proper jump kit asap (next paycheck) but there’s no reason we can’t start making copies of documents and things. Thank you for sharing, Cass. You and your faces are in mine and Jeff’s thoughts.

    • Hey Cassie–
      We’re making our jump kits this weekend and I had a question about the docs… You mentioned keeping copies of the passport and whatnot in the bag and then ammended your plan to keep your ACTUAL passport in the bag. Will copies suffice or do you recommend that Jeff and I keep our passports in our jump bag too?
      Thanks again :) ~Megs

      • Originally, we just had copies in there. But now, we’ve put our actual passports in there to stay. And then, make sure you have copies somewhere else in your house (filling cabinet, lock box, etc.). The passports were one of the first things we went back to get once we could get back in our apartment just because of the whole immigration thing.

      • We bought a lockbox for the originals and will keep copies in the jump bag. I’ll post pics soon! thanks for the inspiration. Hope things are going well for you. I’ll catch up on your blogs soon too.

  3. Even though I have taking CERT training, I have been lazy in preparing my own bag. Thanks for the continued push to get me to do it and be prepared.

  4. Thanks for the reminder Cass! I’m going to get one together this weekend – especially since the last THREE weekends we’ve been narrowly (and I mean by miles) missed by tornadoes. :(

  5. I’m so glad you guys are OK- these tornados are no joke!

    Great, informational post. Even though I’m up in CT, considering this weather, I wouldn’t be surprised if WE were next. Hopefully your weekend is happy and bright, despite the week you’ve had.

  6. I just had a genius idea! I am going to use this for my informative speech topic in my com class next week…informative AND practical. A++

    • That’d be perfect! Share the jump bag gospel!

  7. Suggestion: Instead of wet-wipes, I recommend a travel-sized package of baby wipes (i.e. from the $1 section). I’ve now convinced my husband that these are a must have in traveling, etc… because they are more substantial, great at removing grime (obviously, think of intended use) and gentle. We use ‘em for face, underarms, etc to freshen up.

    And as long as you get the travel-size, they aren’t bulky and they keep well.

  8. I was searching for go kits and your post was one of those I had to click on to see what was there. I wish more people would see that someone actually had used their go bag! I have taught CERT and other things and have been lucky to have not needed any of my jumpkits.
    Wonder if you have updated yours and if so what it ended up looking like. A suggestion I pass along to those on a budget who say they cannot afford to do a kit. Go to the dollar store and buy what you can afford and then go back next paycheck and buy more!

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