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  • Flipping the White House in 5 Hours: How Long Does Your Emergency Plan Give You?

    Inauguration day news was dominated by pomp and circumstance on the one side and protests on the other. Yet behind the scenes, all over the city, months of preparation were coming to fruition.

    It’s a lesson everyone can use in their own emergency preparation.

    The White House in Washington DC, United States

    Imagine flipping your house in five hours. It can take that long to get a kid’s room clean. On inauguration day, White House staff members had about five hours to turn the Obama White House into the Trump one, according to stories in the New York Times, USA Today, and Time.

    It’s a mad dash involving decorators, carpenters, cleaners, painters, and electricians. Although the public rooms are mostly off limits by law and tradition, the family’s private quarters are pretty much fair game, according to USA Today.

    Everything from rugs to curtains to shower heads can be replaced. Furniture can be the family’s own or taken from a warehouse of White House historical furniture. They can even add or remove walls, according to Kate Andersen Brower’s book The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

     

     

    The process of preparing the White House for the transition started almost 18 months ago, when the White House chief usher compiled a book of staff members and information about the building.

    Once the first family decided what they wanted, staff members choreographed the transition like a military operation, according to the New York Times.

    As soon as the old first family leaves, White House staff packs their things. Right after the new president is sworn in, two moving trucks pull up: one empty, one full.

    "The outgoing president sees the house the way he always saw it," Dean Mercer, a former Secret Service agent for President Clinton's and President George W. Bush's details, told USA Today. He added the new president "walks in and everything that is his is there."

    By the time the incoming president arrives, favorite snacks are in the fridge, toothbrushes are in the bathrooms and clothes are in the closets.

    Emergencies often involve deadlines. A fire or flood can force you out in five minutes. That’s why it’s important to have an emergency evacuation plan and practice it, so you can carry it out with military-like precision.

    Do you have everything you need quickly accessible? Are all your important documents stored in a safe place, or away from your home?

    As soon as President Trump was sworn in, the White House online communications – Twitter, Facebook and a web site – became active, according to Time. Do you have a communication plan and an emergency contact that everyone in your family knows?

    Also in preparation for the Inauguration, about 28,000 security officials from many agencies turned Washington, D.C. into an anti-terror fortress.

    USA Today described the efforts.

    They included closing streets and bridges, setting up barricades to limit access to the National Mall and bringing in construction equipment and Dumpsters to prevent vehicle attacks. The Secret Service planned how to deal with protesters, for both Inauguration day and the women’s march the next day.

    Jimmy Rivera works in downtown Washington, D.C. He slept on an air mattress at work on Thursday night rather than make his way home through all the barricades and closures. On Friday night, he had to travel out of his way and face numerous delays to get home.

    “I just want my bed,” he said.

    Flipping the White House - Evacuation Plan

    When making an evacuation plan, think about your family’s needs and comfort.

    Where will you sleep? Do you have something to sleep on? It’s winter. Can you keep warm? Do you have spare blankets and clothes?

    What will you do to entertain yourself? Rivera had his phone. He could communicate with family and watch movies.

    Rivera uses a CPAP machine. He took it to work with him on Thursday along with his prescription medication. If you need prescription medication or medical equipment, is it readily accessible in an emergency? He could plug his machine in. Do you have a backup power source?

    Do you have pets? Many emergency shelters and hotels won’t allow animals.

    All in all, Inauguration weekend went fairly smoothly. Although more than 200 protesters were arrested, compare that to the hundreds of thousands of protesters and visitors who showed up over the weekend. There was some damage and rioting in one part of the city, but Rivera said the most disruptive thing he saw was a woman who flashed him. And the Trump family hasn’t complained about their new housing, so it’s a reasonable supposition that they got in OK.

    Planning and putting plans to work helped continue the 200-plus year U.S. tradition of a peaceful transfer of power. Think about applying it to your emergency preparedness efforts.

     

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  • How to be Prepared for Any Apartment Emergency

    The following article is a guest post from Sam Radbil.

    Sam Radbil is a contributing member of the marketing and communications team at ABODO, an online apartment marketplace. ABODO was founded in 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin. And in just three years, the company has grown to more than 30 employees, raised over $8M in outside funding and helps more than half a million renters find a new home each month.

     

    View of colorful apartments and condos in the city. View of colorful apartments and condos in the city.

    Hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and brutal winter storms are just a few of the hazards for which people all around the U.S. have to be prepared. Even smaller disruptions, such as a water main break, can be mitigated with just a few early steps. And it’s not just homeowners. As a renter, your landlord might have had the responsibility of installing emergency lights, smoke detectors, and a standby power system, but you have your share of preparedness measures to take, too. At ABODO, we want to make sure every renter is prepared.

     

    Household Emergency Supplies

    Citywide catastrophes aside, small-scale household emergencies need preparing, too. For example, make sure you have an easily accessible flashlight with working batteries, a few candles, matches, a fire extinguisher, a first aid kit, and a small store of potable water. The average person needs 1 gallon every three days, which is the minimum recommended to have on-hand.

    emergency-kitStore-bought and sealed water is a great, simple, and sanitary option, but you can also prepare your own by completely sanitizing water or soda bottles (not milk or fruit juice containers, because leftover sugars can lead to bacteria growth), filling with chlorine-treated water, and replacing every six months.

    These supplies will come in handy during severe weather or a kitchen mishap, but you should also have a full-scale emergency kit packed in the event of larger disasters.

     

    Disaster Supplies Kit

    Like insurance, it’s something you should always have but hope you never need. Since space is at a premium for many renters, you could consider storing your disaster supplies in the trunk of your car (if you have ready access), so they’re ready and waiting if you need to hit the road. If that’s not possible, keep the kit as available as possible — don’t let it end up in inconvenient, offsite storage.

    But what to pack? Ready.gov recommends some of the aforementioned items, such as a flashlight and first aid kit, as well as extra batteries, radio (and NOAA weather radio), a whistle, dust masks, plastic sheeting, duct tape, moist towlettes, garbage bags, plastic twist-ties, wrench/pliers, manual can opener, maps, cellphone with charger (solar, if possible), and a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water for every person.

     

    Other Helpful Tips

    There is the possibility that in the event of a serious disaster, you won’t be able to charge your cellphone, or you could lose your phone. Add a little extra protection by making a list of pertinent phone numbers (emergency services, family members, etc.) and keeping it in your disaster kit.

    • Sign up for emergency alert texts, so you can respond quickly and appropriately to changing circumstances.
    • Keep a map of your building and surrounding roadways in your disaster kit, which should be provided with your lease. Some apartment complexes can be very large and winding, and in case of an emergency, your regular route might be blocked. It’s important to know all of your exit/evacuation routes.
    • Have some cash on hand as well — ATMs and card readers won’t work with no power.

     

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  • Everything You Need to Know About Emergency Kits

    What is an Emergency Kit?

    emergency kitAn emergency kit, according to Ready.gov, is “simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.” Many of the items found in your personal emergency kit may vary from person to person (due to personal circumstances), but the majority should remain constant.

    Emergency kits are your bread and butter during times of disaster and other crises. Everything inside should help you get through whatever disaster comes your way. Of course, all disasters come with different challenges, but the basic necessities will always remain unchanged. Which brings us to the next question…

     

    What Should an Emergency Kit Contain?

    Keep what you need to survive. What do you need in an emergency? The obvious answers are food and water. But that’s just the beginning. With more gear and tools, you will have a much easier time getting through your crisis.

    The following list is what Ready.gov recommends you have in your emergency kit (and should last you for at least three days):

    • Emergency KitWater
    • Food
    • Radio
    • Flashlight
    • First aid kit
    • Whistle
    • Dust mask
    • Moist towelettes, garbage bags
    • Wrench or pliers
    • Can opener
    • Maps
    • Cell phone charger, inverter, or solar charger

     

    All these items serve an important purpose for not just survival, but obtaining whatever comforts you can when everything else is out of reach. Whistles are essential for calling for help without wasting too much energy. Moist towelettes can be used for sanitary needs. Food for eating. Water for drinking. Well, you get the idea. Everything in your kit should help you succeed during a disaster.

     

    What Should You Do With Your Kit?

    Emergency kits are to be used in the event of an emergency (as the name implies). That means it must be ready when an emergency happens. If your kit has sat unused for years, there’s a chance some of the items won’t be usable when the time comes.

    Flashlight batteries could be dead, food could be old and bad, and other things could be wrong with the contents if you haven’t looked through it in a while. Ideally, you should be checking your emergency kits every six months, rotating your food, water, and other gear when necessary.

     

    Keep it Handy

    It would be great if we could plan when and where disasters strike. That way we would always be ready. But, as life would have it, controlling those outside factors just isn’t something we are able to do. Usually, disasters give us little or no warning, which means you’ll need to act fast when a crisis comes for a visit. And, since you never know where you’ll be when disaster strikes, it’s ideal to have an emergency kit in many different locations.

     

    Home

    You spend a lot of time at home. If nothing else, it’s where you sleep, and many disasters have been known to wait until the wee hours of the morning before making their presence known (i.e. tornadoes, earthquakes, etc.). Having an emergency kit at home is vital to your success, day or night.

    Speaking of night, it’s never so dark as when the power’s out and you’re looking for your gear. That’s one reason why it’s imperative to store your emergency kit in an easy to reach location. Likewise, disasters may force you from your home without a moment’s notice (much like those who fled the wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alberta). When this happens, you grab what’s available and get out of there. By having your emergency kit in a handy, easy to reach location (such as your front closet), your emergency kit becomes your bug out bag, which will help you get through the next 72 hours of uncertainty.

     

    Vehicle

    Trunk Emergency Kit All these emergency items can pack up small for maximum trunk space.

    From mudslides in California to snowy roads in many other parts of the country, your road trip can take a turn for the worst without so much as a warning. Drivers have been stranded in their car for days, relying on whatever provisions they had for their road trip to see them through until help arrived. Usually, it’s just a few snacks, rather than anything substantial. By having an emergency kit in your vehicle, you can not only have the food and water needed for survival, but tools to help get your car unstuck and back on the road. At the very least, you can have ways to call or signal for help.

     

    Work

    Aside from your home, you spend quite a bit of time (too much, perhaps?) at the office. Find out what your business’s emergency contingency plan is. If they already have kits for their employees, great! But chances are you’re on your own in that regard. Put an emergency kit together to put in your locker, slide under your desk, or somewhere else it will fit.

     

    School

    Your kids deserve to be ready for anything, and you can help them. There are many instances in which your children may have use for a mini emergency kit, such as a school lock down, severe weather, bus accident, and more. Just like any kit, your children’s school emergency kits should have water, food, an emergency whistle, a first aid kit, and other essential items. Of course, this kit should be small, so as to fit in the bottom of your children’s backpacks. Additionally, have your children keep another emergency kit in their locker. This way, they can have larger items (such as an emergency blanket) already at the school should they need it. For more information, the Mom with a Prep blog discusses what each child’s emergency kit should contain, as well as why it’s necessary.

     

    Get Your Own Emergency Kit

    Now that you know more about emergency kits, the next step is to acquire one of your own. You can either make one yourself, buy a pre-assembled kit, or add to an already assembled kit with your own customizations and personalizations.

     

    Purchase a Pre-Assembled Emergency Kit

    We’ve put together a wide range of pre-assembled emergency kits, containing all the basics you need for various situations. Check out our line of emergency kits and get the one(s) that will best suit your needs. Once you have your kit, feel free to add to it. You might include personal documents, extra flashlights, and anything else feel you may need.

     

    Make Your Own

    If you already have everything you need for your kit, or you just want to use other products not in our pre-assembled kits, you can make your own easily by getting a backpack and filling it with all the supplies you need (see above for a list of important items). Or, you could make a hybrid by taking one of our kits and adding other items of your choosing.

     

    When emergencies strike, you’ll want some basic supplies to help keep yourself safe and healthy. Emergency kits, when properly packed with frequent rotations of items, are the ideal resource to help see you through those tough times. Keep them in your home, in your car, and at work and school. After all, you never know when or where a disaster will strike. But when you’re prepared, there’s nothing you can’t handle.

     

    Click here to shop our emergency kits.

     

    Emergency Kit with Box

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