I took the liberty of turning theirs into a Zombie Apocalypse Survival Notebook since my other younger brother said they were all playing this zombie video game together. I figured it would up the "fun-level" of the present before getting to the serious stuff. Strangely enough, I had seen that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had come out with a Zombie Preparedness campaign last year. (I know--just wait for the quote. . . )
I downloaded the CDC's poster and put it on the cover of the notebook. Which was actually really tricky. They provide the file readily for you to download, but it's password protected, so you can't do anything with it. In the end we took a screen shot of it and pasted it into my document.
The font of their names is "TypeWrong", the zombie apocalypse font is called "The Battle Continuez", and the survival notebook font is called "Stencil Std". I don't think any of those fonts are standard, but the place we usually download fonts is called dafont, so you can probably find them there. I'm not big into "splatters," but Jeremy had the vector from some other project, so we added it.
On the inside of the cover I added the quote that kind of explains why the CDC used the zombie theme (which is obviously popular in pop culture right now) to encourage preparedness.
The point is: despite what Doomsday Preppers would have you believe, everyone who preps is prepping for more than just one kind of emergency. If you are prepared for one--you're pretty well prepared for them all. And reaching out into the pop culture--particularly to the teens and twenty-somethings (aka the generation of entitlement)--in a language they appreciate, in order to get them thinking about and interested in practicing a little bit more self-reliance is a good idea in my book.
The hurricane font is "TagsXtreme", earthquake is "route 3", and terrorist attack is "GraphicAttitude."
The last zombie-related item I put in the binder was this survival sheet from deviantART. It's just kind of funny to fill in or paste pictures of things like your outfit, and supplies inventory, along with listing your battle anthem and last words.
But now, on to the serious stuff.
First I put a 72 hour kit or "bug out bag" list of food and supplies. I used the same simple food list as I have before, and then wrote down a supplies list that I think is practical--most of which we have in our kit.
I also came up with a "menu" based on the food and servings amount from our food list. It's pretty repetitive, but still was a bit trickier to do than I had anticipated, mostly because I don't buy everything individually packaged. Sure maybe it's "cuter" to have one granola bar and one mini fruit cup and one little box of raisins and one juice box for all in a Ziploc bag with "breakfast-day 1" written on the outside, but think of all the extra packaging weight you are hauling around doing it that way. So I had to figure out how many servings were in a one pound box of graham crackers, and how many crackers makes a serving anyhow, but--at least it's done now.
I made dividers for the remaining sections of the emergency notebook. I got a lot of ideas for my notebook from one lady, who offered her templates and everything.
The first section is an Evacuation Plan, which when I first heard the title, sounded ridiculous to me, actually ended up being my favorite thing to work on. The idea is, what would you do if you had anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to evacuate your house. What you end up with is a list of the most important things to be done, and pack, that you can grab and work on your list from the top down, and know that you've got what you need and what you want, and if you run out of time halfway through your list--at least you know you got the most important things first.
Jeremy and I each have our own list of responsibilities, and I have a different smaller list for if we had to bug out on foot/or by bike. For example: here are my lists of responsibilities
For 10-30 minutes:
Turn on movie for boys
Boys’ shoes on
Bug Out Notebook, purse, cell phone into van
Cooler with milk, cheese, fruit, vegetables and frozen water jugs from freezer in van
Pantry snack food in a brown bag in van
Camera, violin, photobooks in van
Kid’s pillows, blankets and 1 toy each in their carseats
Diaper bag in car with baby wrap (For the future)
Extra change of clothes in van
Extra candles, canned goods in van
A travel-bag of toys, books in van
Load boys in van
The movie was the other lady's idea and I think it's great--it's almost guaranteed to glue your kinds in one safe location out of my and Jeremy's way while we work like the wind. And she turned the movie on after putting her kids' shoes on, but I chose to do it before--maybe I'm the only one that ever has kids scream and kick about putting socks and shoes on--ahem.
Towards the bottom of the list I get to some of the "extras" if there's time, like more toys and books. If not, I skip to "load boys in van".
Jeremy's list is complimentary to mine:
Wallet, phone, keys in pocket
Shut of gas to house
Bring up cooler to kitchen for Jeanette
72 hr Bug Out Bags in van
7-gallon water jugs in van
Double stroller in the van
Tent, tarp in van
Charcoal in van
Extra blankets in van
Laptop, DVD drive set up in van with a few extra DVDs
Camp table, dishes, cast iron, other camping supplies, sun shelter in van
He has his own list of responsibilities, but one of his first is to get me the cooler, so when I'm done putting shoes on the kids I can start filling it. The only thing not on his list is that once I have it full he's going to need to help me carry it out--it'll be heavy. But since I don't know how long it will take me in relation to his tasks, I will just grab him to help me whenever I'm done. Once again the less-essentials are at the bottom of his list, but ending with his assignment of driving the van--I just think it's nice to have everything decided in advance.
My 5-minute or on foot/bike assignments:
Boys’ shoes on
Grab Bug Out notebook, purse and cell
Put 72 hr kit on back
Put Owen’s kit on his back
Grab atlas from car
Load Jonas and Wyatt into bike trailer
Hold / keep track of Owen
The "tug-along-bug" is Owen's name for his third-wheel bike that hooks on the back of mine. If the option of using our van for what ever reason did not exist then we would bug out on bike. That would at least get us farther initially before having to switch to foot.
Jeremy's foot/bike list:
Grab wallet, cell, keys
Bring 72 hr Bug Out Bags to front door
Shut off gas to house
Put (1) 7-gallon water in bike trailer
Put tent, tarp in bike trailer
Grab pump, green goo, and helmets
Grab handlebar and wheel for trailer
Put 72 hr kit on back
Pull bike trailer
Really the bike trailer would be pretty full with a water jug and a tent, but there should be room for Jonas and we actually have a WeeRide front seat that Wyatt can ride in. Also--have you ever riden a bike while wearing a heavy backpack? I have--Eurorailing in France--it is not ideal. It would be awesome if we had another bike trailer to train behind me and Owen for the backpacks. I mean as long as we're talking hypothetical here. . . Like I said--I had a lot of fun thinking about this one.
The next section was a Communication Plan. A lot of times people talk about prepping for major national or international disaster, but in reality it is more likely, and even probable that you will at some point in your lifetime experience a more localized disaster. Since we've lived here (7 years) there's been both an ice storm that had some people out of power up to 2 weeks--in the dead of winter--and a tornado that went through town. So a really important part of a disaster plan is having both local and out-of-state contacts. Some times it is easier to contact someone out of state than to get a hold of each other--if you happened to be separated. So we included all our extended family addresses and phone numbers.
The next section is a financial plan. Basically this includes a list of all accounts, and account numbers and even pin numbers/passwords to access those accounts. This is something I have been meaning to put together for a long time. I am in charge of finances in our household, and sometimes I worry that if something was to happen to me--Jeremy wouldn't even know what company to pay the electric bill to! It is a goal of mine to include him more, but this list is a good thing as well. I also included e-mail etc. accounts and passwords.
The other thing I included in the financial section was a zippered pouch to store some emergency cash, and a spare checkbook, and spare copies of debit cards etc. if you have them. I don't have spare copies, but I thought about maybe photocopying ours (and drivers' licenses too) to have a copy of all the numbers and stuff in case my wallet was lost or stolen.
The last section of the notebook is for Important Documents. I included some plastic sleeve pages for their important documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, shot records, social security cards, insurance cards, patriarchal blessings, and anything else you wouldn't want to loose in an emergency. We have all our originals in ours, you could also choose to just have copies in there if you have some other safe location to keep the originals.
We ended with ID pages to fill out about each family member with notable features, birthmarks, and including fingerprints.
And of course keep this notebook in a safe place:-) There's always a risk. There's a risk to having all this information in one spot, but there's also a risk to having it in separate spots or even in a safe-deposit box (those can be confiscated). For me, the possibility of something happening to me and my family not being able to find where these documents and information were stashed all over my house, has been a concern of mine. I like the idea of my husband knowing where to find it in case something happened to me. And I like the idea of being able to quickly grab it and go in an evacuation setting (hurricane, wildfire, etc.--not just zombie apocalypse) or even take it down in the basement with us in a tornado warning.