Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
We live in Earthquake country and the rolling black-out State of California. Having been through several Earthquakes over the years I have been accustomed to having an earthquake kit for my home. Currently we have two suitcases and a duffel bag that are packed with essentials should we have to run out the door in an emergency situation.
The car also has a package of diapers, crackers, books, health supplies, towels and water. The duffel bag contains a large stack of negatives for our photo collection. Some of the other items I have in this duffel bag include:
letters of reference from custody hearing
SSI award letters
copies of Social Security cards and my drivers license
copies of birth certificates
my childhood photos
copy of recent IEP
deck of cards
notebook for drawing
One suitcase contains clothing for all three of us. Each season I go through this suitcase to toss out old clothes that no longer fit and replace with current seasonal items. I have sheets, garbage bags, and raincoats inside as well.
The remaining suitcase is for all health and beauty related items. I stock a variety of batteries. Each time a major disaster occurs around the country I use that time to stock up on more batteries. A local dollar store is perfect for this purchase. We have extra prescription medications in here that I continue to rotate with newer ones. My asthma medication and cortisone ointments and creams are stored inside along with a supply of the antipsychotic medication Matthew takes and a bottle of Melatonin for Nicholas. Samples of cough medicine and benadryl received from the Doctor's office are perfect for the suitcase.
Other items include:
straws, plastic spoons and forks
boxes of sample sized soap
toothbrushes and toothpaste
first aid cots (for finger tips)
Dr. Spock book
first aid book
samples of tylenol pm
cosmetic samples (from magazines and in mail - Olay, etc)
stack of my business cards
list of banking locations for my Bank
two books for each child
I went through my suitcase for my supply this past Spring Break when we went to Sea World in San Diego via the Amtrak train. Packing for an emergency is much the same like packing for a weekend trip. Think of all things you need and place an extra one of that inside your emergency suitcase/duffel bag or backpack.
Recently we were in a financial crunch for a week when my paycheck was late and my car was in need of repairs. I was able to gather supplies from my suitcase and car to help out with toiletries we needed in the home. I kept these items on my shopping list and replenished the suitcase supply.
There is a line of products that I have utilized and told many about. These are perfectly suited for autistic kids and those with Alzheimer's. No-Rinse makes a shampoo that needs no water and is ready to use. They have a bath product and the washcloths. They are available at Sally Beauty Supply Stores in full sizes for under ten dollars. Through the Website you can get samples of the smaller sized bottles. Their products are used by NASA, campers, hikers, the military, cyclists and truckers. I highly recommend the No-Rinse Shampoo - you just apply, lather and towel dry. You can do this while following around your child through the house!
Both my kids still have a product I purchased when they were preschoolers My First Flashlight by Playskool. Nicholas uses it all the time and keeps it close by during storms.
A product I wish we still had, but during a home robbery it was taken, is the Portable 7" DVD Player. This enabled my kids to enjoy the three-hour train ride. I highly recommend getting one for your household and save the battery for times when you will need it. We will be investing in another Cyber Home DVD Player this holiday season. It is available at Amazon.
I have had a Spectra Black and White TV with AM/FM radio for many years that requires 10 "C" batteries. To view what this type of small B&W TV looks like, this is available from sellers on Amazon. It is very lightweight and handy in emergencies when the power is out and you want to hear the news to find out if the whole city or just your neighborhood is out. I lived in New Jersey during the power outage back in the 1970s.
Since I have yet to own a cell phone and do not drive a vehicle that is equipped with On Star I am thinking a CB Radio might be the next purchase for our emergency preparedness kit. A CB radio is available at Amazon. The two-way radio I purchased at KB Toys was useful for Sea World and playing around the house, but I want a better one for emergency purposes to keep on hand. This one is a value pack with two batteries available at Amazon.
Also consider storing extra pillows and blankets in your car and update your auto and home emergency kits as the seasons change. Also test your smoke detectors and invest in a carbon monoxide detector. I bought mine on ebay and also purchased a mold test kit through Avon a few months ago.
You might also want to think about some fidgets and small items that your child enjoys to pack a duplicate one in your car and/or emergency kit in the home. If your child uses PECS - the Picture Exchange Communication system, think about storing some in your car and home for emergency purposes.
Nicholas likes to draw so a notebook for emergency purposes would be helpful in calming him down during a crisis. He can write out his feelings and draw some photos of what he enjoys. Matthew likes to shake items so old magazines and a few videos inside the suitcase are necessary for his comfort.
I am continually updating the suitcases and placing items inside the car. I use the time I wait at the school for Matthew to go through the items in the car to note what I need to restock.
When each of my children received their diagnosis of autism I initiated contact with my family. We had not spoken for two years prior to Nicholas's diagnosis. At that time I also had a good friend in New Jersey. I sent copies of the diagnosis to each of them to have in case of an emergency. I did the same thing when Matthew was diagnosed seven months later. This is something families should consider doing. Sending copies of important papers regarding their child to relatives or a friend who is located in another State. This will help in case of an emergency and you were not able to get your original document.
I also keep a phone book with some addresses and phone numbers in my suitcase. I carry photos of my children in my wallet and have their school data on the back, with the phone number and their classroom numbers - noting they have autism. I have five bumper stickers on my car referencing autism and a sticker inside noting both kids have autism and Matthew is non verbal. This is available through Unlocking Autism.
If your child is in a carseat or booster seat consider placing a label on the side indicating the child has autism and their data like blood type and medications taking, if any. Purchase a window decal.
I have on my refrigerator my beeper number taped, my landlord's number taped and on the side of the medicine cabinet their height and weight with the current date taken. I also have a taped copy of the medication on the bulletin board in the kitchen and in a plastic sheet an emergency paper noting phone numbers to organizations in case someone comes into my home and finds me unconscious. I have insurance papers on the refrigerator and a photo of the Doctor and her data.
I also keep a photo album of pictures of Matthew with his various therapists. This helps us prepare him for new sessions and a good reminder to see people from his past and reflect.
If you are a family that is on the WIC program you can take the extra box of cereal and peanut butter and store in your car. Whenever I came across homeless people wanting money I would offer them my extra WIC products. We were part of the WIC program while in New Jersey, Florida and California. It is too bad that this government program ends when the child is five. I think they should extend it for families that have children with disabilities.
It would be best to take the time to observe your family members over the course of a weekend day. Take photos of them enjoying their favorite items, and work from there on storing some of these for the emergency event. Hopefully it will never happen, but being prepared is the first step in achieving stability - especially for a child on the Autism Spectrum.
Feel free to visit the Forum to share your tips on emergency preparedness and ways to help the Hurricane Katrina victims.
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