Cats, like dogs and other animals, pick up on anxiety and other stressors in their homes. So when I noticed Nina diligently studying the coronavirus online, I realized that this was an apt time to update our emergency preparedness, particularly our Godzilla bag. That’s what Bob calls the satchel we can grab and go if we need to get the hell out of Dodge. Okay, so I’m mixing movie metaphors, but you get the idea—pending doom that goes beyond toilet paper and water.
For a good overview of emergency preparation, I recommend www.ready.gov, the official website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Its recommendations on preparing for, responding to, and mitigating natural and manmade disasters can be applied to anything from wildfires, blizzards, and floods to COVID-19, Chernobyl, and the Zombie Apocalypse. Think Godzilla!
I first became aware of emergency preparedness when we moved to New Orleans. The annual Hurricane Preparedness Week at the beginning of May caught my attention. Before the formal storm season began on June 1, we learned what to do if advised to hunker down or evacuate. During our 18 years there, we did both. Having a plan made them both easier.
In addition to annihilating buildings and roadways, Godzilla can destroy communication networks and electricity. We learned that the first sign of a pending hurricane is not the storm tracking lines in the Gulf, but the snaking lines at the gas pumps and ATMs. Bob still insists on keeping at least a half tank of gas in the car at all times, for convenience, maintenance, and unanticipated escapes.
For the same reasons, paper records are mandatory. Try proving you are who you say you are without digital backup. If you have pets, make sure each one has a separate carrier. If they sense panic, you don’t need them attacking each other. Our Godzilla bag does not include pet supplies or people food and medicines, but those items are easy to grab. Ready.gov recommends one gallon of water per person per day for a minimum of three days, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food, and a battery-powered or hand-crank radio.
If you already have an emergency kit, this at-home time is a good occasion to update it. If you don’t, it’s a good time to start. To assemble your kit, store similar items in airtight plastic bags. Stash the assemblage into one or two easy-to-carry containers, like a Homer bucket or duffel bag. Because of personal and financial identification, your kit must be secured. While you don’t want to give anyone easy access to your entire life, you don’t want to be an undocumented refugee trying to withdraw money from your own bank account.
Our kit is in a fireproof, waterproof bag that is hidden in plain sight. Here’s what’s in it:
- Bank account numbers
- Copies of Social Security cards, birth and marriage certificates
- Copies of our will, power of attorney, and advance medical directives
- List of prescriptions
- List of contacts
- Pet photos and information
- Alcohol wipes
- Small first-aid kit with pain reliever, bandages, and topical antibiotic
- Non-latex gloves
- Water purification tablets (Ready.gov recommends bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water)
- Paper and pen/pencil
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Bandanas (in lieu of dust masks)
- Toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs
- Granola bars
- Prepackaged eating utensils (the kind you get with take-out)
- Small packets of Tabasco (with a tip of the hat to a Louisiana friend, who says you never know what you may have to eat.)
In the car we keep:
- Cell phone chargers
- First aid kit
- Needle-nosed pliers
Now that we are all sheltering in place, why not introduce COVID -19 to Godzilla. Never let a good crisis go to waste.