Medications, durable shoes, etc. We will not likely be able to take our favorite records, picture albums etc. and we should take copies of insurance policies, birth records, etc. in an easy to store form. I little ‘flash drive’, ‘thumb drive’ or ‘USB’ drive’, (I have heard them called by these names) can carry copies of hundreds of records and family pictures and important medical records. They are so small that they can be added to a key chain and can easily be accessed and printed on any available computer. Also, you should have some energy food such as candy for emergency use.
You should consider how you will carry these things. You may have a ‘grab bag’ with the most essential materials in it by your exit door. Consider using a larger bag, such as a back pack to contain extra clothes, extra drinking water, extra food and a change of shoes or boots. Store it near your exit door so it will be ready at a moments notice, even in the middle of the night.
You should have designated contact people who live far away from you so they might not be involved in your local emergency. You might agree on a time of day, such as 10 PM, to phone them if you can. Several such people may be able to keep you informed of important family news and you can pass your information to them for distribution to interested parties. A hand powered radio may be nice if you have room for it.
You can’t know about emergency sleeping arrangements. You may plan to open your big garment bag and sleep on it as a mattress to guard the contents while you keep your small bag secured to your person as a pillow. Sleep with your clothes on including your shoes. Be emotionally prepared to stay with unruly and obnoxious people as refugees. You must expect to be severely inconvenienced with middle of the night moves, etc.
A note about emergency food storage: Store what you eat and eat what you store. It would be the height of folly to have emergency food supplies that you have not ever prepared. Cooking time and portion sizes, for instance, should be very familiar to you as the emergency nature of the situation would keep you fully engaged. These should be simple foods. Remember, this is an emergency and ‘favorite foods’ would be too much to handle. You may have to live without coffee or even hot foods. Dry bread is delicious if you are hungry.
If you are a ‘private’ person, you may be severely challenged by a crying baby in your face in an army truck with strangers. Money will likely be of little value as there may be no markets open. They would likely be long empty from looting or other action. What valuable papers you carry should likely be worn on your person, using a waist band type of money belt. You can also get a cache to wear around your leg above the ankle.
Everyone should wear long pants – summer and winter as you never know what you will have to expose your body to. Also wear long sleeves to the wrist. Dresses would not be practical at all. You will likely have to walk a lot, so walking/hiking shoes that come well above the ankles should be the order of the day. Please do yourself a huge favor and break in your shoes long before an emergency arises. You wouldn’t want to have sore feet along with all the other inconveniences. During the away-from-home emergency, leep in your clothes with your shoes on. You don’t want to wake up to find them missing. Desperate (unprepared) people do desperate things. Forget your expensive fur coat. Have a sturdy wool jacket instead.
Learn how to use your emergency equipment by going for hikes and over night camping trips. Learn how to go for days at a time without changing your clothes. The same is true for your emergency food supplies. Canned foods are bulky and require special handling. A soft bag of biscuit mix will provide comfortable package to carry and provide different kinds of foods from breads to pancakes. Again, carry what you eat and eat what you carry long before you need it in an emergency. Emphasize dried foods that you can eat without preparation, such as dried fruits and nuts. Carry high energy foods such as candy (sugar).
Your life style would be forced to change, maybe for the rest of your life. Above all, deliberately adopt a tolerant attitude. Feeling sorry for yourself will accomplish no good purpose. You may have once been a king or queen, but now you are a refugee. Helping other people may be the exact therapy you need to survive well. Remembering what you used to have will only wound your spirit.
You can carry only enough drinking water to last a few days. Be prepared to use natural water wherever you can find it. For use as drinking water, you can carry very small and inexpensive water purification tablets. You can find collapsible water buckets made for this purpose. They fold flat and can easily be carried in a back pack. You may want to have two of them indifferent colors, on for washing and one for drinking water. Water for washing should be avoided except when there is a sufficient supply of drinking water available or you can be established in a camp of some kind. If you can do it, let cloudy water stand for a while to allow the solids to settle. Then you may ‘decant’ drinking only the clear and treated water at the top of the container.
There is a growing problem of amoeba in drinking water. They can pass through some kinds of filters and they resist chlorine as a disinfectant. Amoeba can make you to be a very ‘unhappy camper’. The best way to control this problem is to boil the water for 5 minutes, if you can. Keep your feet healthy. Wash your socks, stockings and feet as often as you can. The rest of your body can survive a long time without a bath. I was once in a situation that required me to go un-bathed for months. I survived along with a thousand other people.
Please remember who you have become and not who you ‘used to be’. You may have been the head of a large corporation but now your identity is that of a refugee and nothing more. Learn to identify with the others – crossing all social barriers in the commonality of your common condition.
You may be forced to identify and associate with people of a wide range of including with vulgar to ‘saintly’. You may be forced to associate with people whose lifestyle is very different from yours. It is to your great advantage so simply accept your relationships at ‘face value’ and without any expression of criticism or judgment. If you consider yourself to be ‘better’ than others; be happy with the distinction but don’t ever mention it or you will be stigmatized for the duration of you relationship. If you want to be well thought of, patiently listen to the complaints of others and keep your own problems to yourself. That way, you will become ‘mister big’. It may be that patiently listening to others is the greatest service that you can offer.