by Melissa Rivera
Recently, my family moved from Utah to Virginia. To test our preparedness, we tried to live out of our family emergency kit during the week-long cross-country drive. My family’s emergency kit helped us through flash flooding, power outage, boredom, stultifying heat, and far too many picnics. (None of us wanted to look at peanut butter or granola bars after day five.) Yet we still needed almost-daily shopping trips to replenish supplies or buy things we hadn’t included.
We learned so much about what food to not include that it became the subject of its own blog post
. The first day, my kids scarfed down peanut butter on crackers, granola bars and pudding, and my husband dove into the Vienna sausages. By the fourth day, my children were grumbling about pudding and my husband wouldn’t eat. I hate most vegetables, and I was craving them. We learned that in an emergency, we’d probably get sick of the food.
The second night of our trip we tried to get a campsite, but everyone within flying distance of Omaha, Neb., was booked. We ended up in a motel. That proved to be a blessing in disguise. A huge storm developed so fast that by the time the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the town we were in, the storm had already blasted through, knocked out power and flooded the area. From our hotel window we saw cars get stuck trying to drive through waist-deep water.
After we lost power, my son and I waded to our car—the water was only inches deep in the parking lot—to get emergency lights. (We had battery-powered nightlights instead of flashlights. I’d recommend them.) We almost got stuck outside. The hotel’s room key card system was knocked out, as were its powered front doors. Fortunately, the back door’s key lock was already broken, so we were able to get back in the building. But hotel managers had to turn away another group of travelers because they wouldn’t be able to get into their rooms.
When you make emergency shelter plans, make backup plans, too. Port Arthur, Texas residents who fled their homes ahead of Hurricane Harvey had to move again after their emergency shelter flooded
. You might have to travel to Replace a shelter that takes pets or can accommodate your health care needs.
We also couldn’t recharge our devices because our brand-new, solar-powered charger picked that night to conk out. Test your devices before you need them.
By the next morning, the water had receded and we were able to continue our trip. We refilled our gas tank just as we left. This proved fortuitous because a car accident in front of us closed the freeway. We had to travel at least an hour out of our way on back roads to get around the wreck. After we grumbled, we used the extra time to take turns recharging our devices in the car’s outlets.
This detour reminded us to keep the gas tank at least half full. It proved fortuitous the next day. Near Saint Louis, Mo., we followed a “shortcut” on our GPS. As we drove down a two-track dirt road in the middle of a cornfield, we realized that perhaps GPS led us astray.
[caption id="attachment_22186" align="alignright" width="300"]
The St. Louis Arch[/caption]
When we visited the St. Louis Arch, we parked downtown and walked to the arch. My husband’s GPS gave the travel time as a 12-minute walk. Most of our water was buried in the bottom of our supplies. So I only took two small water bottles for all of us despite the 95-degree temperature. GPS took on a 45-minute detour that included walking directly away from the arch and onto a bridge that crossed the Mississippi River. It was like that scene in the movie “Cars” where the “husband” minivan refused to stop following GPS even when he was obviously lost.
By the time we arrived at the arch, we were out of water, hot and blistered. And we had the walk back to look forward to. It was the low point of the trip. Remember to carry plenty of water even if you don’t think you’ll need it.
I decided to ensure we’d never be short on water, so I moved all our water bottles into the suitcase with the rest of the food. I was rolling the suitcase along when one of my children pointed out that water was pouring out. One of the bottles leaked.
Fortunately, our snack food came wrapped in plastic inside the cardboard containers. We only lost the cardboard.
Protect your emergency kit supplies by wrapping them in plastic grocery bags. Then, as supplies run out, use the bags for trash. You’ll need them. We went through so many plastic grocery bags on this trip.
Melissa Rivera is a jack-of-all-trades who is master of none. She has been a writer and editor for more than 15 years.