A couple of weeks ago I was writing out a check to the Red Cross for relief work in the Philippines when I decided to cut my donation in half and spend the remainder on bottled water.
I know; that’s a shameful thing to admit.
But I realized that if I want to consider myself a responsible parent, I have no business sending money to a far-off place when I can’t say with 100 percent certainty that I’m prepared for emergencies here at home.
My children count on me. If a natural disaster struck Puget Sound, would I be able to keep them safe?
The last time I took a serious look at my family’s emergency readiness was in 2011 after the devastating tsunami in Japan. I did what any good girl from San Diego would do. I made an earthquake kit for our back yard.
It was a knee-jerk reaction. The San Andreas Fault was the looming enemy of my childhood, ready to tear my home to bits in the middle of the night. When my teachers lectured about earthquake dangers, I paid attention.
Google “Puget Sound faults” and you’ll have nightmares, too. The map looks like a really bad case of varicose veins that could cripple us at any moment.
So why do so many of us (myself included) not take the threat as seriously as we should?
My problem is that I get bogged down with the specifics. We have a hot water heater. Does that count as back-up water? We have a pantry. Does that count as emergency food? What about the camping supplies in our garage? Do we really need anything else?
I also get confused by hypothetical situations. Theoretically, an earthquake could render us unable to get inside our house to recover anything. Or even worse, what if our house fell down into the back yard and smashed our earthquake kit? Nowhere is safe!
It’s really easy to become paralyzed by the unknown and do nothing. Focusing on the controllable is boring and takes a little bit of cash.
The earthquake kit I made in 2011 cost me $40. I filled a brand-new trash can with water, food, clothes, blankets, a crank-operated radio/flashlight and other essentials.
Now, more than two years later, everything inside the barrel is dry, but has a really bad musty smell like the storage room in somebody’s basement. Almost everything needs to be replaced.
I also need to buy a second barrel. The Red Cross advises a three-day supply of one gallon of water per person per day. My kit has room for just eight gallons. That’s not good enough for my family of four.
Would it be good enough for yours?
Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at teachingmybabytoread.com.