If local residents learned anything in the year since Hurricane Irene, it's to plan for disasters before they happen.
South Orange resident and doula, a trained professional who provides physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth, Kim Collins knows the value of planning.
"Part of what I do as a doula is try to anticipate things in order to be prepared and avoid problems," she explains. "So I've tried to have ready what I have read or can imagine helping us be self-sufficient or able to help others if there is something going on."
Collins shares the contents of her kit with Patch; most items are easy-to-find at a large camping or hardware store, and many of them—bug repellent, baby wipes—may already be around your home.
She has great tips, too; glow sticks are good for kids to wear around their wrists or to loop through a pet's collar in a blackout—and Collins has planned for a "temporary toilet."
So print this list and get ready!
In a grab n' go open tool kit (pictured):
Headlamps for each family member, 2 of which have lantern attachments
A (floating) big lantern/light
A Mag light flashlight
An emergency whistle that floats (actually have a couple on lanyards...good for hiking with kids)
Lots of glow sticks + glow necklaces, to hopefully make it festive + to use for pets, if need be
Batteries + extra cell phone battery
Lighter (to be able to use gas stove if power out or to start charcoal grill)
Duct + electrical tape
First aid kit, with medicines for anyone in the family who needs them
Swiss army knife with compass etc/Leatherman tool
Camera (in case have to take pics of damage for insurance purposes etc), cash, copies of ID in dry pouch
Fully charged walkie talkies, set to same channel
A big zip lock bag (to throw documents in, would add a portable drive with photos if time, important papers etc or leave a dry note if need be)
Contractor trash bag
Pocket-sized rain poncho
Potable water treatment pills
A small, collapsible water container
Then I have a big Rubbermaid container with a bigger companion kit:
Sealed bin that can be temporary toilet, which holds:
3gal collapsible water container
MRE-type food bars
A couple of mess kits/cutlery in case no paper products
Pry bar, folding shovel and a couple of other tools
Tarps, plastic sheating, more tape
Bug repel. wipes + mosquito "dunks" for standing water
More potable water treatment pills
First aid book
Printed instructions on what to do in various emergencies
Tampons, diapers, other personal supplies as needed
Ziplocks, trash bags
Deck of cards, a couple Hot Wheels, a story collection
In the event of emergency, Collins has a family plan to "grab shoes and change of clothes, sleeping bags for each family member, if needed - I had them gathered for this storm."
In addition, "I have recommended water and food supply, paper plates etc., corded phone, Solar/crank radio with spot light, charcoal for grill."
Collins also notes that it's valuable, free and easy to choose a non-local person to be clearing-house contact, as well as selecting meeting place for the family. She also recommends having a copy of the key to your safe bank deposit box on hand.