Prepared to Administer Hypothermia and Allergens

(This happened a month ago. I am just now calm enough to blog the carnage.)

So I was sitting in a soggy tent in my back yard for three hours with 2 children under 4, no socks and a mother lode of nut-based products during the worst rainstorm of the year. So what? At least I learned something.

We’re big on emergency preparedness and food storage in my church and I’ve been kind of sort of a little bit working on it for as long as I can remember.

A few months ago, the leaders of a large group of congregations in the Seattle area announced that we were going to have a disaster drill, a “mock” disaster. Just about every Sunday from that time until now someone has mentioned emergency preparedness or disaster plans. I now realize they meant for us to plan what we would do IN a disaster, not plan how to create one.

Dan and I did the basic stuff. We picked an out of state contact we’d both call if we were separated and could only call out of state. From what I hear, this is common. During a major disaster, it’s often impossible to make local calls, but more likely that you can call your grandma in Wichita.

We built up our food storage. We bought a giant tent. We made 72-hour kits… sort of. We bought batteries, water storage containers, hand crank radios and flashlights. The day before the drill, one of the preparedness gurus in our women’s group got up and made everyone close their eyes. “No, I’m serious. Everyone close them now. If anyone still hasn’t put together their emergency kits, put up your hands. Keep them up. I’m still writing down names. Okay, keep them up. Okay, you can open your eyes now.”

I laughed my good natured, hair tussling laugh. Silly people. Like, helloo-ooo, we’ve been planning for this mock disaster for months. If you’re not ready yet, you are like, so totally LAY-AME.

Monday morning, I decided to “double-check” my supplies. My food seemed to be in order but I had no clothing, rope, radios, waterproof matches…um any kind of matches or pretty much anything but food in the kits. I bought the food. I bought the backpacks. I bought some pretty stuff to go in them. Where was the pretty stuff? I started to freak out. We were supposed to open a letter at 5:00pm telling us our fate and giving us specific tasks to carry out. I WAS NOT READY!!

So I called Guru lady. I don’t remember exactly what I said but it had something to do with not being prepared enough to tell her I was unprepared the day before and me being one of the 5 foolish virgins except I had 2 kids, but no oil and no baby wipes in my backpack.

She talked me down off the forget-this-stupid-drill ledge and told me I could get a “complete” kit at the fire station. She explained that “complete” did not include full-body waterproof suits with coated seams for all of my children. I’d have to buy those separately if I wanted them. “HA! Um, yeah. I think we can get by without those. Thanks.”

4:30: I pull into my driveway with the small red backpack, pack changes of clothes for the kids, 3 diapers for 3 days (I was thinking numbers), matches, camp stove (oh, for the LOVE! I should probably have thought of buying camp dishes. For the drill, I would just have to pretend I kept my regular pots and dishes in the disaster kit.), soup for dinner, sleeping bags, blankets, small flashlights in the backpacks.

4:45: I fill our giant water barrels and realize I have no way to get the water out of the barrels. Guru lady informs me that there is a store in downtown Seattle where I can procure a siphon sometime. Good thing I won’t be needing it today.

5:00: I call Dan to ask him what the letter says because I can’t find mine. We have had a major earthquake (something we look forward to any day now in Seattle), our homes are unstable so we need to find alternate shelter. All phone lines are down and power is out. If we can find a way to call out of state, we are supposed to call our out-of-state contact. Bridges are out.

5:05: We both call Dan’s parents to tell them we’re okay. Dan begins the long drive home, trying to get to me without using any highways or overpasses. I take the kids outside in their warm fleece jackets and place our emergency luggage in the doorway of the house so it won’t get sprinkled on. It’s beginning to rain.

5:10: The deluge continues at a rate I have never before witnessed in the state of Washington. Clearly, God is smiting me. I hate getting smit. It seriously seriously bites. The kids are soaked. I am soaked and the bottom of our gigantic 4-room mesh-ceilinged tent is filling with water. Magoo falls in the water face-first and begins to choke and sputter. Then he laughs. Ha ha. This is hilarious. I’m laughing on the inside. I hope DCFS is laughing when our neighbors call to tell them that I’ve taken my kids outside in the worst storm of the century to conduct an experiment in hypothermic insanity.

5:15: The tent instructions are destroyed except for the part that says it requires at least two adults to construct, preferably one with a masters degree in architectural engineering. I begin to think I should have gotten it out of the box some time before the drill.

5:30: I beg Noah to open the door and let me on the fetching ark. “I’m sorry I laughed at you, dude. I’ll sleep with the rhinos. We’re drowning. ACK! HELP!”

5:45: I abandon the canvas palace of watery doom and watch it sink to Davy Jones’ locker. Risking my life, I re-enter the unstable house to retrieve our small 4-man tent. I set this up in 5 minutes, sop the water out of it with half our emergency blankets, strip my children nude and throw them into the tent with a pile of damp sleeping bags and our 72-hour kit backpacks. Magoo verbally informs me of his mounting displeasure.

6:00: I dress everyone in fresh clothes in the soggy little tent and realize that I have forgotten socks. I again risk my life to go into the unstable building and retrieve footwear.

6:15: Upon opening our emergency rations I realize that nearly every item in my carefully packed food pouches is nut based — trail mix, protein bars, crackers with peanut butter in them. Magoo is not supposed to eat nuts until he’s two or I think his head will detonate. That’s what my sources tell me. I let the kids slurp down some canned mandarins and call it dinner. Laylee spreads nuts throughout the tent at approximately the rate I can fish them out of Magoo’s mouth. It works out nicely.

6:30: By this time I have realized that the single most important thing to pack in an emergency kit is something to occupy the children. I have bupkus. They are bored out of their minds and are driving me out of mine. If I had to go three days with them like this, I would have to be committed to the non-existent mental hospitals that had most likely been toppled by the earthquake.

By the time Dan got home around 7, it was dark, we were freezing and I had learned several valuable lessons, including but not limited to:

1. Don’t put off procrastinating till the last possible second. Procrastinate right away so you can get down to business before it’s too late.
2. Pack age appropriate food in your emergency kits. If you have a nursing baby, you may want to pack formula, rather than steak in her backpack.
3. Children wear socks. Think of the whole body when you’re packing extra clothes. If it’s winter where you live, pack gloves, hats, etc.
4. Seattle is a very wet place. I have not yet purchased full body rubber-wear for my kids but I’ve gotten a lead on where I can buy it from Guru lady, who I now spend as much time with as possible.
5. An emergency is all fun and games till you realize you didn’t pack any fun or games. For the love of CHEESE, save yourselves and pack a deck of cards or at the very least a roll of scotch tape.
6. Learn how to use all of your emergency equipment in advance.
7. Do not store all of your flashlights in the only room in your house with no windows.
8. Leave Noah alone. Maybe even hand him a mallet or something. You may need his help someday.

Walk yourself through a fake disaster sometime. See what would happen if you had to rely on your emergency supplies to get you through. I think you’ll be surprised at how much work you have to do. Prescription meds? Feminine hygiene products? Toilet paper? Not a nut? Cash in small bills? Know how to shut off your gas and water? Hand crank NOAA radio to listen for broadcasts about why the sky is suddenly green? An ounce of sanity?Š

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45 Responses to Prepared to Administer Hypothermia and Allergens

  1. Anne/kq says:

    Wow. I’m glad I’m hyper-paranoid, but I still feel unprepared! We have three sets of 72-hour kits in 3 locations (including the car trunk), with changes of clothes rotated by season, extra shoes for everyone in the car, a sling in each 72-hour kit in case of an emergency where we have to transport supplies and both children without benefit of strollers or car, copies of vital documents in the kits and originals stored in an easy-to-grab lockbox, diapers that change each time we change sizes, wipes, formula and extra bottled water in each kit in case the baby and I get separated, those lids that turn bottles of water into sippy-cup-type things, a small book and one small toy for the kids, space blankets, etc… And yet I know we’re still not prepared enough. I don’t REALLY feel like doing the quarterly disaster evacuation drills I know we should have because my husband doesn’t get enough sleep as it is, so we haven’t had one in our new home. We have no room, so only have 2 months of food and two weeks of water stored (and that’s a generous estimate.) We have no provision for water purification yet if the taps aren’t safe and the gas goes out so we can’t boil it, other than bleach (which is icky!) Our first-aid supplies need an overhaul, big-time. Since we now have 2 kids I really should double our emergency cloth diaper stash (we use disposables most of the time.) I keep thinking after reading about Hurricaine Katrina that we need to have biohazard bags for number 2 in the event the toilets ever go out, but I haven’t picked any up yet. I haven’t even shopped for a solar cell phone charger, which I know would also be essential for keeping communication open as long as possible. My husband and I haven’t re-worked how he will get home in an emergency if he is at work since he started his new job. I haven’t rotated the medicines in the 72-hour kits lately; I know they’re still good, but I ought to rotate them anyway, and now that the toddler is old enough for chewables I ought to put some of those in, too. A few phone numbers have changed and I haven’t updated them on the emergency list. We have some piles of stuff that I keep meaning to sort through on top of the wardrobe, and they would be a hazard in an earthquake so I need to sort them soon. I really ought to clean out the girls’ closet enough that it closes, same reason. We ran out of matches and I haven’t bought more yet. We need to practice using a fire extinguisher so we know what to do if we ever really need to use it.

    Things like that. I really need to get on them. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. jeana says:

    I have a one-step plan for you: Move next door to Guru lady. She will no doubt have a two-block tent, peanut free chicken fricasee and Twister.

  3. allysha says:

    Oh that is so funny! At least Laylee turned the nut placement into sort of a game for you!

  4. chilihead says:

    Wow. Funny, but definitely an eye-opener! We live in Tornado Alley and I always THINK I have it covered (though I’ve lived here 32 years and only had to take cover twice), but now I havce to re-think that! And fire drills. Need to do a fire drill. Now I’ll be obsessed with this for weeks. 😀

  5. grammyelin says:

    I’m sorry that it was so completely HORRIBLE at the time, but it sure seems funny to read about it NOW. I have had my healthy dose of laughter for today.

    Just remember K, to do the best you can under whatever circumstances come at you. It will never be perfect – hence the term “disaster”. I’m just impressed that you carried on with the lethal, terminally damp exercise. I think I might have bagged the whole thing and gone into my “structually unsound house” to watch TV and eat completely peanut-free bon bons. I would have learned nothing, except my ineptitude. You however, now “KNOW STUFF”. Good for you!

  6. KimC says:

    I’m betting it wasn’t nearly this funny while it was happening. Do you ever find yourself composing a blog post in your head while this stuff is happening, to make yourself feel better?

  7. Mir says:

    *mmmmph* No, no, I’m not laughing….

  8. chris says:

    My plan in the event of a disaster is to find you. My kids will entertain your kids. We can laugh together. Our menfolk can do men things like hunt? or assemble stuff. And best of all I can have all the alcohol for myself, because my emergency preparedness kit contains wine AND a corkscrew. Woooohoooo.

  9. Sketchy says:

    I am so glad that this wonderful idea has not gone church-wide, yet.

  10. Susan says:

    Is it wrong for me to admit that I laughed the ENTIRE way through this?

    Does it make it any better that we are TOTALLY not prepared for a disaster? Because, you know, Target is RIGHT around the corner and . . .

    I’m screwed. But I’m laughing!

  11. Rachelle says:

    Dude, I am just lazy enough that I wouldn’t have done the drill at all. Leave the safety of my house for a tent? Not even on my best day is that a reality. Plus the fact we don’t own a tent. And the fact I’d rather poke my eyes out with sharp sticks than ever camp., even in my backyard Now in a real emergency I guess I would buck it up. But for practice? Now that is laughable. You are my hero for doing it.

  12. Rachelle says:

    Oh, and excuse my horrible punctuation in my last comment. Apparently my teaching English hasn’t translated to real life yet, kind of like that emergency preparedness. (I have 72 hour kits and a first aid kit – does that count?)

  13. Tess says:

    reminds me of the y2k thing – I promise, I bought so much toilet paper, bottled water, and canned goods, that we didn’t have to replace the tp and canned goods for 6 months. Unfortunately we bought cheapo water, and it tasted horrible, so I ended up using most of it to water a plant with lol

    you inspire me

  14. valeri says:

    RV….an Rv would be good. Forget the tent, load up the RV with dishes, canned goods, water, gas, and generator ahead of time. Calmly leave the house and pile into the rv, everyone is dry and it could be full of board games and diapers, with a portable grill. OOOh! This could WORK!

    Thanks for making me laugh this morning. You are quite the trooper!

  15. Becca says:

    And here I’ve been feeling so smug because I have my food storage! Riiight. The wheat and barrels of water aren’t going to cut it alone. I laughed the whole way through this, but with a mounting sense of guilt at my own lack of preparation.

  16. Amanda says:

    Very humbling to think “what if” seeing that this was ONLY a mock disaster. What a great idea to stage something like this!! I know we are sorely lacking in this area and really need to do something about it. Great eye opening experience.

  17. Mel says:

    Thanks for the good laugh!

    I’m at approximately your stage of readiness at this point. My grandma, on the other hand, is your guru woman’s long-lost twin. I just helped her re-pack her 72-hour kit. She’s getting a bit feeble at 85 years old, so she is thinking of buying a wagon that she can load her two bags on when disaster strikes. Her plan would be to sit on the top of the thing at the bottom of her driveway and wait for someone healthy who is fleeing to grab the handle and pull her to safety.

  18. Shalee says:

    This gives me hives just thinking about it. I’m going for the chicken with her head cut off approach. I just don’t have the time or finances to ready myself thus far. I admire the gusto, but deep down inside I’m thinking “You’re nuts.” Meant in a wonderful way, I assure you.

    I feel good just to have the fire drill down at our house… I hope we all make it to the mailbox across the street.

  19. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for posting this. I have some work to do.

    And I am very impressed that you followed through with it.

  20. sarah hart kingston says:

    Please, oh please, “for the love of CHEESE” don’t make me ever do that. There’s a reason, a good one, that I was not born two hundred years ago in a time without central heating. You’re so brave to stick it out. And Target around the corner. (Or at least the BYU Creamery.)

  21. Pieces says:

    OMG, ALL of our flashlights and batteries are in the ONE room in our house with no window. I would never have thought about that.

  22. My emergency preparedness kit includes a lovely bottle of Valium. I’m not even kidding. If the crap’s going down all around me, I’d rather experience it while sleeping, or at least with lots of pretty colors.

  23. jodijean says:

    haha, we’re sooooo not prepared either, our plan is to go to my moms house, or my one friend who has a house and LOTS of food (yup, everyone else in our little group all live in apartments – not really a lot of storage places for this kind of thing) hopefully the disaster will wait until christmas, cuz i know my ‘rents have bought us a tent. of course by then we wont be 2 anymore, and we’ll need diapers and formula and wipes …. ahhhhhh

  24. This had me laughing so hard, DYM.

    I used to be semi-serious about disaster-preparedness, until we began watching the show Jericho on CBS this season. HOLY SHMOKES! It’s scarin’ the crud out of me.

  25. Tiffany says:

    LOL and then, LOL!

    And I’m suppose to be the Guru Lady in my area. Um, I might be a bit (ok, a lot) unprepared in the same situation. How wonderful that you went through with it despite the rain! Can I share your experience with my Ward?

  26. Suzanne says:

    I came across your blog and this post cracked me up! Doesn’t emergency preparedness seem like an ongoing process?

    After Hurricane Katrina, we finally completed our 72 hour kits: food, clothing, first aid, hygiene kits and a couple fun things. The problem: Our stuff is too heavy. There is no way that my children could carry their own backpacks. So we will have to rethink… again. Like I said, it’s a process.

    Thanks for making my day. You’re a hoot! 😀

  27. glo says:

    On my mission, Hurricane Georges destroyed our island. I spent almost 48 hours locked inside a cement house with only the scriptures and Missionary Guide. You can only do the “tithing” doubt so many times before you really, really, really wish you’d thought ahead and bought a board game at the local colmado when you picked up the rice and beans you need to survival. “Surviving” after all – is excessively boring to the elevated mind.

  28. KYouell says:

    I must say that here in earthquake country I know I should be prepared, but I’m not. You ARE inspiring. Especially #5 (“for the love of CHEESE”!) as I can totally see a roll of tape entertaining my son for ages. I think the fact that I’ve lived here 40 years and have yet to feel earthquakes while people next to me are saying “What is that?” has made me way too complacent. I wonder if there is anything special that should be in a pregnant woman’s kit? Sheets? Boiling water?

  29. KYouell says:

    I must say that here in earthquake country I know I should be prepared, but I’m not. You ARE inspiring. Especially #5 (“for the love of CHEESE”!) as I can totally see a roll of tape entertaining my son for ages. I think the fact that I’ve lived here 40 years and have yet to feel earthquakes while people next to me are saying “What is that?” has made me way too complacent. I wonder if there is anything special that should be in a pregnant woman’s kit? Sheets? Boiling water?

  30. KYouell says:

    PS — I have no idea why that posted twice. But I would like to know if mental blogging during weird experiences takes some of the stress out.

  31. Abbey says:

    I would have been on the phone to my husband yelling at him to”drive across the bridge already! I need help.” You need to post the complete list of everything in the new improved kit. Then I can be prepared with out the practice.

  32. KYouell – It totally lessens the stress. There have been many times since I started blogging that I’ve thought, “This BITES! But at least I’ll get a good blog post out of it.”

    Abbey – You can only imagine my tremendous restraint. Seriously, by the time he got home, I wanted to find ways to share the full experience with him, ifyouknowhatI’mSayin’? Oh, and in the end he came home the normal way because after driving back roads for 2 hours, he realized that it was impossible to get home without bridges or freeways.

  33. tiffany says:

    What all exactly should be in a 72 hour kit?

  34. Tammy says:

    Wow, so funny but true…having just been through a semi-emergency last week in Hawaii…our first real family vacation and on the first morning, an earthquake hit! (I am posting a 3-part story on it all…I never thought I’d be thrilled to back in the rainy northwest, but I am!)

    In Maui, all the power was out for half a day…hardly any stores open, and the couple that were, could take cash or check only. It was crazy!
    I know we need to be more emgerncy-prepared here at home… your story was a great reminder, especially to me, when all I went through is fresh in my mind!

  35. dadweiss says:

    Do you live in Washington. Our son and daughter in law had a similar experience a few weeks ago. Was an eye opener for them.

    Mark Weiss

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  37. Guru lady says:

    Hey Daring One,

    That post cracked me up!
    I just have to say that you are welcome to move next door, however, you should know that I don’t have any peanut free chicken fricasee (what is chicken fricasee) or Twister.
    If it makes you feel any better, there was plenty added to my to-do and to-buy lists during and after that drill.
    Way to go on sticking it out. You learn such much more by actually doing than even just thinking it through!

  38. Nicola says:

    Great story! And really good info on disaster preparedness. It can happen any time and usually without warning. That’s the point of being ready! We were hit by a nasty tornado in March, which was followed shortly thereafter by a blizzard if you can believe it, had no power for weeks, our car was crushed under what had once been our garage so we didn’t even have transport, and we were totally unprepared. My husband shivered through with no radio or cell phone, determined to “man the house”. My son and I were lucky enough to vacate and stay with friends. Next year we’ll be ready.

  39. Cyndy says:

    What a great post! Makes me want to “imagine through” the volcano scenario in SW Washington where we live, and where it rains ash at times. I’m passing this on to our congregation’s preparedness chairperson. I’m sure many others will enjoy your adventures and learn something as well! Thanks for sharing!

  40. Let me wipe my eyes first. Oh, and I had a bathroom emergency thanks to your little emergency recap.

    But seriously, excellent post, it’s really about being over all ready. I wouldn’t want to be caught unprepared.
    I have learned something as well, thanks DYM!

    PS. If they did this in my stake, I know I’d fail miserably.

  41. Margaret says:

    This is now my life motto: “Don’t put off procrastinating till the last possible second. Procrastinate right away so you can get down to business before it’s too late.”

  42. Tamara COsby says:

    YOU ARE HILARIOUS! I am not sure if you are still getting comments on this post, but you have officially become one of my reads 😉 COOL STUFF!

  43. AxcessPoints says:

    Thanks for an amusing and informative article. I noticed several of your audience are looking for a good list of items to be in an emergency kit. So here’s a blatant plug – our website,, includes a tool that calculates specifically for you based on the composition of your household, what you should have. And you can track your rotation dates, get reminders to purchase items, and even, sign up for a family drill. Best of all, it’s free for 30 days with no credit card needed. Check it out.

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  45. April says:

    I about died laughing reading this post. And now I’m thinking. This is a great idea. I would love my ward to try this. You don’t happen to have a copy of the original trial letter do you? Or have a lead for me to get a hold of one? I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes. I live in AZ and we don’t have rain, but I could be stuck in a tent that’s 1000 degrees inside with no water and small bored children. Hmmm. Maybe I’d better rethink this.

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