Today’s post is a guest post from Gena at Ha Nui Loa. Gena and her husband Jeff ditched their hectic lives for lives of peace and joy in Hawaii. If you haven’t had a chance to check out their blog yet and get a little of your own weekly Aloha, I suggest you get on over there after reading this post!

After the recent tsunami and our own tsunami watch our real priorities in life were once again underscored. As we watched helplessly as whole villages got swept away and considered our own possible problems living here on an island in the South Pacific the realities of life’s uncertain nature came back to the forefront of our minds for several days. I wrote an article about some of our thoughts that you can find here.

As is want to happen in life though, it goes on. For each of us not immediately influenced by or directly impacted by a disaster it is all too easy to go back to work as usual, life as usual. We catch a movie with friends over the weekend and talk about the ups and downs of plot and the skill of the actors on the screen. We shop for groceries with no thought to their reliable availability, we need milk and it is there on the shelf through no effort of our own, same goes for bread, eggs, household supplies and gas. We turn our thermostat up or down at will any given day of the week and we don’t stop to consider the intricacies of all it takes to deliver that quantity and degree of heat to our vents.

We throw dinner on the stove or coffee on in the morning and never wonder at the modern conveniences of our appliances and the power that fuels them, why would we? It is so ingrained in our modern, comfortable lives that we just accept the delights of modern twenty-first century life and take the lot of it for granted. Until the day we can’t.

Ask anyone who relocated away from the Gulf Coast after Katrina and Rita and they’ll tell you all about it. Prepare to get an earful. Visit with people on the West Coast who lived near the epicenter of an earthquake or near a wildfire prone area, they have very different takes on the precious quality of life and how it can all be taken from you in a matter of moments.

Now, let me say here that I am not writing this to be a sober downer of a guest post; I have too much respect for A Life Set Free and for Marianney’s heart toward making a difference. In fact it is because of her desire to make a difference in the lives of people and animals that I felt a guest post relating to my earlier article would find its perfect home here. When you can’t help but notice that life is no longer going along as usual around the world and people, real families and their pets are suffering you can’t help but want to do something to help.

Furthermore, one of the biggest helps we can be is to be prepared ourselves for an emergency. That’s right, prepared, as in preparedness supplies, first aid kits, that sort of thing. Now before you think I’m an alarmist or some nut job that lives with cases of tuna under my bed just in case… (Side note: if you shop at a large box store and need someplace to store a great deal on anything including tuna, so that you pay substantially less than the single serve can at the grocers, under your bed is actually great for this, just had to be fair and point that out πŸ™‚

Back to my point, because I do have one…will you be a bigger help in an emergency if you are able to take care of your immediate needs and those of your family and can then reach out to others less prepared? Of course you will.

So what does that mean to you whether living in the city, country or in my case on an island? It means you should consider being proactive and finding out what FEMA or your local government recommends for supplies for your area. Your needs in the cold of winter if there is the mother of all storms and power and water service is down for several days will be very different than someone who lives on the coast in warmer weather with a tendency toward mudslides or earthquakes.

Your locale and your proximity to emergency services make a difference. Think practically for a few minutes about what your family would really need to survive for a few hours to a few days without power, heat, air, or access to shopping. Here are a few things to get you thinking, none of these are cost prohibitive and the best preparations are ones you never need to use, but have just in case you or someone else does.

  • Have a family meeting, if you’re single, bring this up with your support network; friends, coworkers, family members; where would you meet in case of an emergency? If you could meet in town? If you had to rendezvous out of town? What is your escape plan in case of a real, local emergency? If you don’t have one yet, devise one, inform friends and family.
  • Consider creating a bug out bag: The contents of these vary, you can actually purchase them fully assembled or do a little online research and build your own in a lightweight backpack to reflect you and your family’s needs. If there was another tsunami warning and the potential for loss of life and possessions meant an immediate flight to higher ground we would have the following in a pack to grab and go (one for each family member is a great idea so that each can help carry supplies that will help an entire family):

    • Passports, copies of pertinent information can also be scanned and emailed to yourself for a back up once power comes back on, a stash of emergency cash in small bills, in case where you go has power a second phone charger, first aid kit including a travel quantity of any daily prescriptions, light layering style changes of clothing, backup pair socks, quick dry undergarments, a micro fiber towel, antiseptic wipes, a variety of protein bars, trail mix, pkgs of crackers, couple of cans of soup that heat in the can, pkg of jerky, pkgs of gum, bottled water, travel toothbrush and paste, hand wash, bug spray, a mini tool kit, roll of duct tape, a group of Ziploc style baggies wound in a couple of rubber bands, portable water filter, collapsible bowl, travel utensils and Swiss army style knife, tin or small size of pain relief, a couple of 5 hour energy drinks, a light weight blanket and travel pillow, a box of matches or lighter, emergency candles, wind up no batteries needed flashlight and radio, deck of cards, notebook and pens, map of area, list of emergency numbers, permanent marker and reflective tape.
    • Women could add in personal supplies, a lip balm and hand lotion.
    • Children’s packs can also include a couple of favorite candy treats, a coloring book and crayons or puzzle book, something to help occupy their attention and time, if hand held games run out of juice and your kids rely on them for constant entertainment expect anarchy if you don’t plan a diversion.

    disaster kit

  • Consider outfitting your trunk or back hatch area with an on the go emergency kit. You can use a plastic milk crate or plastic storage tub to pull a few items together. People suddenly stuck in snowdrifts or racing away from a flooded area would be grateful to find the majority of the contents of the bug out bag, a heavy blanket, a couple of oversized beach towels, a couple of gallons of water, a few snacks sealed in plastic bags, jumper cables, roadside flares, small size tool and first aid kits, a gas can, emergency fix a flat in a can, plastic tarp and bungee cords, if in cold climate: ice scraper, reflective blanket, extra gloves and scarves, couple of cans of coffee or hot chocolate that heat in the can. In warm climes: bug spray, extra water and salt tabs, cool gel packs, baby wipes.
  • Sometimes emergencies leave you home for an indefinite amount of time awaiting family members, waiting out a storm or waiting for water to recede. You may still find a lot of use for the items in your bug out bag or trunk ER kit, but consider an organized backup pantry or part of your garage for things to help weather a few days without power or heat. In our part of the world having a generator is a foregone conclusion, many people have outdoor showers. On the mainland if water service is interrupted you have quite a few gallons in your hot water tank. Keep your fridge and freezer closed until you need to get something out quickly. Consider taking a quick snapshot of the interior of both on your cell phone so you know what you have and where it is, the enemy of cold food is warmer air. Set back a few extra gallons of water in the pantry or garage and rotate them out every few months.
  • Know your neighbors no matter where you live, check on them if they are elderly or infirm. Our house once was an impromptu B&B during an ice storm, friends used all available beds, bunked by the fire, extra blankets were a big plus as was cooking on our grill. Cast iron cook ware works great on a gas grill even in subzero weather!
  • Don’t forget that pets are helpless and horribly affected when disaster strikes. Consider having a small variety of dog and cat foods on hand for pets in flux. We always had a back up supply for our dogs, especially in winter.

Shelter in a Box in action

It’s not that difficult to be prepared for an emergency and there are options for those of us unscathed by recent natural disasters to give to those who now literally have no home, one option is through Shelter in a Box, a large plastic tub outfitted with much of what I’ve described above, camp style cooking gear and a ten person tent combine to create an immediate shelter for families from the elements. Every donation no matter how small makes a difference and partners with other donations to shelter people going through the unfathomable.

We are choosing to look risk and uncertain elements on our planet as a way to motivate ourselves to be ready to help those less prepared. We’ve probably overlooked other great items, left them off the list inadvertently or are not aware of what makes sense in your climate or region of the world. Can you think of a few extra items or ways to be prepared? What are they? We hope we’ll all never need them, if we do we’d love to be ready to help others in need.

Gena of

G. Smith lives, creates and writes on an island about slower, more conscious, less consumerist living. You can find more of her and her ohana at Or discover Ha Nui Loa’s Go Slow life at where for way less than the price of a gallon of gas you can learn more about slowing down and enriching your life, whether you live on an island or not!

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13 Responses

  1. Tornados are the primary risk here in Texas, but fortunately we’re on the bottom end of Tornado Alley, so massive ones like they get in the Midwest are rare here.

    Since you can’t really do much to prepare for a tornado if you don’t have a storm cellar, it make sense to donate to help those who can be prepared for the disasters that come there way.


    • Gena on 06 Apr 2011

      Gip, Glad that you are by and large out of typical harm’s way. It is hard to prepare for a potential tornado other than just having some emergency supplies on hand to help those hit, the south took a huge hit a couple of days ago, so you’re right one great thing to do is to donate to relief organizations. Thanks for sharing!

  2. AnotherdayinParadise on 06 Apr 2011

    Thank you both Marianne and Gena. You are right about getting prepared. Since I live in a hurricane/tornado/fire prone area and nothing has happened in a few years I got comfy. I am now preparing a bagpack with emergency supplies and writing a list of the important stuff and where they are so that I can get out of here in a couple of minutes.
    One important thing is do not let your vehicle run dry, when thousand of people run out of Dodge you may found out that stations are close or ran out of gas or the automatic payment is not working. A few dollars in your backpack might be good when all ATMs are down.
    Once again thanks.

    • Gena on 06 Apr 2011

      I’m so glad to hear that, your family will feel so much better knowing you have some supplies on hand. You hit the nail on the head about gas; we always refill when we get to half tank and always go top off if there is seriously strange weather afoot for that reason. It was so sad to talk with people who had such trouble getting out of Katrina’s & Rita’s way because the gas ran out. Same with the cash suggestion, we are all so programed to rely on our debit and credit cards now, but we’ve been in areas hit with major power outages and guess what? Cash is king in an emergency! Thanks so much for sharing your additional tips!

  3. Jenny @ exconsumer on 06 Apr 2011

    Marianne – Thanks for posting this really helpful post from Gena!

    Gena – I love this. I’ve tried to put together emergency supplies several times, but I always get distracted and never finish. The biggest concerns in my area would be power loss and possibly a tornado. I have some emergency supplies, but they’re scattered throughout the house. I need to consolidate them into one area like you recommend here.

    Thank you so much for all this really helpful information!

    • Gena on 06 Apr 2011

      Organize and consolidate! Family weekend project! With kiddos you could tuck in something age appropriate for them to do in case you have to take your stuff on the road, just to keep them occupied and happy πŸ™‚

      • Jenny @ exconsumer on 06 Apr 2011

        I love the idea to pack something fun for the kids Gena. That could make such a huge difference in an emergency situation!

  4. marianney on 06 Apr 2011

    @Gip, you might want to keep an emergency pack in your car trunk in case you have time to run from a tornado.

    @mom, yes you guys really need to have emergency provisions in FL! you never know if a hurricane will one day break its course and come by you guys!

    @Jenny, i know what you mean. i always mean to put an emergency pack in my trunk, but never get around to doing it. i will have to go through Gena’s checklist here and make one up before next winter.

  5. Gena on 06 Apr 2011

    Thanks for hosting us, its amazing how we all get comfortable and think bad things only happen else where, it just doesn’t hurt to be prepared and may make a huge difference to someone else!

    • its very true. we take for granted that bad things happen in other places. we are lucky to not have many natural disasters in Colorado, but even still, we’ve been known to get some pretty crazy snowstorms and people have gotten stuck on the road. Luckily we live in the city, so we wouldn’t necessarily be stuck in our homes if it came to it.

      thanks again for sharing with us today Gena!

  6. Mallory on 07 Apr 2011

    Thanks for the great tips! I have some emergency gear stashed in the car, but the bug out bag is a really good idea.

    Disaster preparedness is one of those things that we put off thinking we’ll never need it, until the day we do.

  7. Gena on 07 Apr 2011

    Putting things off is definitely human nature, being prepared though could potentially provide such relief and comfort in an emergency. A bug out bag and a family wide known plan could really make a difference if things go bad for any reason. Nice to *meet* you! πŸ™‚