My Car Preparedness Essentials

Last month, I shared the contents of my personal EDC (every day carry) bag which I take everywhere with me. Today I am going to show you what I keep in my car to fill in some of my preparedness gaps- my car EDC, if you will. (This post contains affliliate links for products I actually own and use, and feel good recommending. Clicking & buying using an affiliate link gives me a small commission but doesn’t change the price for you. Not all links are affiliate links. Thanks!) 

Let’s start with the trunk, shall we?

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This is pretty much what the trunk of my car always looks like. As you can see, I have a few things there, but there is still plenty of room for other cargo. Here’s what you see: 1. Emergency Car Kit (I’ll share the contents below), 2. Water bottles- kept together in a graham cracker box. Yes, I know, it’s classy. 😉 That box is the perfect size, and it keeps the bottles from rolling all over the car. It works. 3. Snow scraper/ brush– an essential for me since I live in the mountain west. 4. Rope– so many applications, from survival, to camping, to lugging home your Christmas tree or that piece of furniture from IKEA that you were so sure would fit, but didn’t. Yeah- been there. 5. My car emergency kit family add-on items (I will show this in more detail as well), and 6. a small towel and a couple blankets- also important with our very cold winters, but super helpful even for picnics, kid’s potty training accidents etc. I will definitely add a couple more in there as the weather is getting cooler.

Bet you couldn’t wait to see the water bottles in the graham cracker box, right? Right? 😉

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Moving swiftly along… let’s take a closer look at that emergency car kit.

Car emergency kit

I purchased this emergency kit at Costco a few years ago, but you can find the same one on Amazon, here. It comes with a small air compressor, jumper cables, bungee cord, duct tape, cable ties, tire gauge, screw driver, utility knife, LED headlamp, extra batteries, window mount triangle, and a first aid kit. Not bad- it’s got the basics covered. However, I wanted to add some things in that I consider essential!

Emergency kit add ons 1

1. LifeStraw– I would suggest keeping at least one, but possibly more LifeStraws in your car. If you were stranded in a desolate area and you needed water, you could use this filtering straw to drink out of a puddle on the ground, and you’d be fine. Pretty cool, huh? 2. Miscellaneous items including tissue, pen, hair tie, cough drops, hand sanitizer, etc. 3. Shout wipes– I have kids, plus I’ve been known to drop my lunch in my lap, so, ’nuff said. 4. Tide packet- I don’t know that this is truly essential, but I have wanted to wash clothes out in a hotel sink when we were on the road, and this would make that possible. 5. Lighter, 6. tea light, 7. compressed towel (for hygiene), 8. tinder– these items are for light and warmth in a survival or camping situation. It’s pretty easy to store a lighter and start a fire with that, as opposed to matches, for many people. 9. Mylar blanket aka space blanket– again, for warmth in an emergency situation or health crisis. These blankets reflect your body heat back to you, and while not soft or comfortable, they can be used in combination with other blankets and they’re pretty effective. I often stock up on these at the dollar store. 10. poncho–  I also get these occasionally from the dollar store. 11. extra screwdriver– yes, we have used ours, and we were glad to have it. 12. Tire gauge- this was already included in the kit, I accidentally pictured it here. 13. A few commonly needed OTC meds like pain relievers and digestive aids, and 14. a kitchen- sized trash bag- so many uses, not the least of which is to be used during carsickness.

Car emergency kit add ons

In addition to what’s in the car emergency kit, I carry a small plastic bin that’s more of a family clothing emergency kit. 😉 I use this stuff somewhat frequently.  I suggest carrying some kind of small container like this that meets the needs of individual family members. Since I have small kids, this reflects the needs of my family- i.e. potty training, carsickness, etc. If you have older kids, babies, elderly family members, or if there are specific health problems, you should tailor this kit to meet those specific needs. In my kit, you will see 1. Lots of easy, nutrient dense snacks like granola and protein bars, fruit leather, and jerky, 2. Extra straws, forks, napkins, hand wipes, etc., 3. extra shirt (child sized), 4. Extra underpants (again, child sized), 5. zip top bag (so many uses), 6. Extra training pants, 7. Spare baby clothing including a hat, 8. blanket, and onesie, 9. Socks.

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Moving toward the front of the car- here’s the back seat. The reason I show this is not because it’s pretty or fancy- these are just basic booster seats for my elementary school aged kids- but I really like the seat protector pads. These pads have saved me tons of work cleaning (have I mentioned that I must have the most carsick prone kids ever? I have seriously cleaned up so much vomit out of my cars- yuck.) and these pads just wipe right off. They also have storage pockets that hang down, and are useful for road trips and such, but really, I just have them because it makes cleaning up their seats so much easier.

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In the middle seat, I keep a 1. seat organizer stocked with 2. Flannel burp rags (my baby doesn’t need them any more, but they are awesome for cleaning spills, and are also big enough that clean ones can be used as a mini- blanket for the baby, or rolled for a neck pillow), 3. Diapers and wipes (I would carry wipes even if I didn’t have kids. So useful.) 4. Emergency snacks (I am realizing how much importance my family puts on snacks. Haha.), 5. an umbrella, and 6. a road atlas book, which is important to have in case you ever couldn’t use your GPS or smartphone to navigate.

Car EDC Baby Car Seat

My baby is in a rear- facing car seat, so we love having a mirror that we can see each other in. And since the foot space is available, we stow a diaper bag that is full of baby essentials, and always stays in the car, and a diaper clutch, which for me is much more portable and practical when I’m on- the- go.

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We keep the diaper bag stocked  at all times with diapers and wipes, 1. snacks, 2. hand sanitizer, 3. extra blankets and clothing, 4. an ergobaby or moby- type wrap for carrying the baby (I have multiple wraps, this one always stays in the car), and 5. when I was breastfeeding, I kept extra nursing pads and lanolin cream.

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This lined diaper clutch was really simple to make and it fits 4-5 diapers and a small case of wipes. I do not carry a diaper bag everywhere with me. It just does not fit my lifestyle, and my baby is old enough that it just isn’t necessary. I can fit everything we need in this clutch and my personal EDC bag.

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Underneath the diaper bag, we have access to 1. a full size box of kleenex, 2. a box of trash bags (bought on a road trip, long story, but it was useful enough that we just left them in the car.), 3. an auto fire extinguisher, and a winshield sunshade (not labeled).

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Last, but not least, in the front seat. I keep 1. extra medications, 2. chapstick and eyedrops, 3. a power converter for our phone chargers, 4. extra phone charging cables, 5. a pocket sized set of scriptures, 6. flashlights (link is for different flashlights than pictured, but we have a set and we like them), 7. yah, more snacks, 8. another power converter that can be used with a standard plug (we’ve used this with our mattress pump when we go car camping), 9. this knife (use your best judgement on this and don’t leave in a place super- accessible to small children.), 10. a CPR mask with valve, 11. Extra AA batteries, and 12. more hand sanitizer.

Here is my recommendation for preparing, whether it is for your car, your home, or your purse- think about what is most important to you, and your family on a typical day and go from there. In an emergency situation, you will have physical needs of warmth, safety, shelter, food, and health. You may have emotional and spiritual needs arising from stress and grief. Think about the things that give your family comfort in all of those ways, and make sure you address those needs in your preparations.

Be happy, prepared, and safe!

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My Every Day Carry (EDC) Bag

 

My EDC Bag

Today I’m going to show you the contents of my purse. :) Haha, as you can see, it’s not really a purse at all, but my very sturdy, and at least moderately stylish every day carry (EDC) bag. If you ever read “prepper” blogs, you know that an EDC contains the minimum supplies a person considers essential for all their everyday needs as well as emergency situations. Some EDC bags are seriously… involved. expensive. overachieving. unrealistic. Ok, let me back up a bit here before I get too far ahead of myself.

Over the past few years, my husband and I have slowly been joining the “prepping” movement (what’s that, you ask? Here’s an article that might answer your questions). Yes, that includes the eccentric people on Doomsday Preppers, and no, not all preppers are exactly like that, or anywhere near it. My family just believes in being prepared for whatever changes come in our lives- be that natural or man made disaster, unemployment, national health or economic crisis, disability, or any number of other possibilities.  In fact, our church even teaches that we should have at least a 3 month supply of food, and a year’s worth is even better. It teaches us to live providently by getting out of debt, saving money, growing a garden, and preparing spiritually.

We definitely haven’t completed all of those things yet, but we are working on them. Luckily, there are tons of resources for preppers and wanna- be- preppers all over blog land. So many, that it can be overwhelming. So today we are talking about one thing that you can do- today- with the things you have on hand already- to be a little bit more prepared for whatever life throws at you.

Photo by Phil Gradwell https://www.flickr.com/people/philgradwell/ under a Creative Commons license
Photo by Phil Gradwell https://www.flickr.com/people/philgradwell/ under a Creative Commons license

As I was alluding to earlier, some EDC bags you can find online are huge, intimidating, serious business kinds of bags. And that’s awesome. But I believe that your EDC needs to be realistic for you to literally carry around everywhere you go. And some people really do carry all their gear around and they are ready for anything- reflecting their values. So, for me, as a woman, a mother, and an RN, my EDC bag reflects my needs and values. You’ll see what I mean. (Btw, some of the links in this post are affiliate links, some aren’t. When you click an affiliate link and buy an item, it doesn’t change the price of the item, but I get a very small commission- thanks for supporting HSH.)

What's inside my EDC

I wanted something that was comparable in size to the purse I was using previously- not too big or heavy, but big enough for what I wanted to carry. I did a ton of research. I settled on this crossbody knapsack– not high fashion, but cute enough for most outings, hands free, and lots of organization.  I have been carrying it for several months now, and I am very happy with it. It is well constructed and super durable. I like that I can move the strap so that it can be worn on either side. The only thing I would change is to make it so that the strap could be shortened even more. I am 5’1” on a good day, and so even with the strap as short as it goes, it still gaps a bit. I should be able to easily fix it with my sewing machine… if I ever make the time to do it.

So, for the contents. I’m starting out with the normal purse- contents, pictured below. Gotta have ’em.

EDC Basics 1

1.Wallet/ clutch (received as a birthday gift from a friend) 2. Hard shell sunglasses case and 100% UV protection sunglasses 3. Keys including car/ house/ mail and keychain library cards 4. UVPaqlite keychain (very cool reusable glow sticks) 5. Damsel in Defense Kubaton (bought a few years ago at an expo) 6. DIY Checkbook Cover 7. Galaxy 6 phone with screen protector and this adorable Caseology shock proof case (because I pretty much drop my phone every day- oops)

Below are the “normal emergency” supplies that I think you could find in many purses. These items cover many of the usual needs that might arise, and each item is pretty self-explanatory.

EDC Basics 2

8. Tissues  9. Mints  10. Paper  11. Pen  12. Sample sized lotion  13. My favorite lip balm  14. Tide or Shout Stain remover  15. Emergency snack for me or a kid (I carry multiples)

Likewise, these last few basic items will cover a wide range of common “emergencies” and even some survival uses, but some of the items need a little explanation.

EDC Basics 3

16. Comb (probably from the dollar store)  17. Sunscreen (I have red hair, and the complexion to go with it, after all. Also invaluable for kids.)  18. Lip gloss  19. a hair band  20. the mighty bobby pin (yes, to pin hair back, pick a simple indoor lock, or make a survival fish hook)  21. norwex microfiber baby cloth (I can get it wet and wipe my kid’s hands, shopping cart handle, restaurant table etc. and not have to worry about germs)  22. tiny toy (emergency entertainment purposes for the toddler i.e. at the doctors office or parent teacher conferences) 23. hair clip  24. matchbox car (same as #22)

Let’s move on to the EDC extra tools I carry. I use these things less often, but am always glad I have them. These speak more to the survival aspect of EDC. Obviously, some of these things are not TSA compliant, so you’ll have to leave them at home when you fly.

EDC Extras Tools

1. Earphones (for convenience and safety when using a phone- lots of hands- free things made possible. I just use the free ones that came with my phone)  2. Paracord survival bracelet with flint and steel (obvious survival uses- enables creating heat/light, possibly shelter, safety, first aid, etc.)  3. Mini cree flashlight (love these, we have about 6 of them, they are only a few dollars and they are very bright) 4. Thumb drive (this can be for those times when you need a way to quickly copy electronic information, or it can contain copies of important documents- make sure to put sensitive information in a password protected, encrypted zip file) 5. Pocket Multi-tool (these are wonderful gadgets, with everything from a knife, to tweezers, pliers, scissors, nail file, to bottle opener) 6. Nail Clippers ( I like that these can be put on a key ring and I never lose them)

EDC Extras first aid

I am a registered nurse. I am trained in first aid and CPR. People come to me fairly frequently to ask if I can bandage up a minor wound, or asking for advice on whether or not to go the the doctor or the ER. I do my best to point them in the right direction. There have been a few times where my skills were needed when I was away from home, and I did the best I could, but I knew I could have done more if I had the right tools. Thus, for me, a well- stocked first aid kit is an essential, and it’s worth it to me to carry around the extra bulk because that is one of my core values, and what makes me feel prepared. Here’s a closer look at what I have in my first aid kit:

EDC First aid kit

I started out with this 85-piece First aid kit; everything you see that is inside the pouch above came with it (an assortment of bandages, scissors, tweezers, tape, gloves, gauze, ointments, etc.). My additions are around it as follows: 1. a sheet of moleskin (for treating blisters or even making the pumps you’re wearing as a bridesmaid more comfortable- true story) 2. eye patch and 3. sterile artificial tears (in the case of eye injury- I have a million of these laying around since I had eye surgery a few years ago) 4. a sewing kit (not really a first aid item in most cases, at least we hope not!)  5. Neosporin spray  6. a childproof medicine bottle with my most- used OTC medications (Advil (including a few children’s chewables), Tylenol, and Benadryl, generics work just fine)  7. Hand sanitizer  8. Emery board (buy from dollar store)  9. Dental floss (dental, first aid, and survival applications) 10. a few less- used but very important OTC meds (GasX, Pepcid, and Immodium) 11. chewable Lactaid for my kids who are lactose- intolerant (I usually buy the generic brand) 12. ammonia inhalant/ smelling salts (prevention/ treatment of fainting) 13. assorted feminine hygiene (tampons would also be great to keep in here- besides their obvious use, pads and tampons can be very useful to stop bleeding in a first aid situation) 14. safety pins (for the triangle bandage, or, you know, wardrobe malfunctions, or any number of survival uses).

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You may have noticed that I do not include diapers or wipes in my bag. Nor do I carry around a diaper bag, at least 95% of the time. It’s just a personal preference- I want my bag to be my bag, not full of baby stuff. Instead, I keep this perfectly sized diaper and wipes clutch stocked and it goes with us in the car, in the bottom of the stroller or baby backpack, etc. It can easily fit in our church bag, or could attach to my EDC bag if absolutely necessary. My baby is now a one year old, so there isn’t much else I need to carry for him anyway.

What I have shown you so far is what I carry around with me everyday in my bag, but I have a completely different, more inclusive set of items for my family in my car. I am excited to share those with you in another post!

What kinds of things do you always carry with you? How do you evaluate something to decide if it is essential, or just clutter? I would love to hear about your EDCs! :)

 

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Beat Nausea… Naturally!

About a year ago, when I was starting to try to get pregnant, I began making a mental list of ways I could treat common maladies (mainly just the annoying ones that I’d normally take ibuprofen or an antacid for) without using medications that would be potentially harmful to an unborn baby. My husband and I also started thinking about emergency preparedness and wondering if we would be able to treat these issues if we didn’t have access to our regular medicines.  Eventually, I transferred my mental list and research to a trusty notebook which is growing as I add more and more lists of “natural” treatments.

I am going to start sharing some of those lists as a mini- series called “…Naturally!” So here is the first installment, focusing on the nausea of pregnancy, but the tips could be useful for other tummy situations too.

I have to laugh about this picture… what kind of picture are you supposed to use when you’re
talking about nausea anyway?  I figured a stick figure drawing would be my safest bet. :)

For many of us, nausea is much more debilitating than pain, exhaustion, or just about any other malady.  So the first several months of pregnancy can be really difficult if you don’t have any tricks up your sleeves.  Here is my list of things that I have researched and tried (most of them anyway) with success.  Keep in mind that I am not talking about Hyperemesis Gravidarum here (the severe continual vomiting that affects some women during pregnancy), I’m talking about regular-ish morning sickness (or all day sickness as the case may be).  So if you are looking for more natural ways of combating the urge to lose your lunch, try some of these. {My disclaimer is that I am not a physician, and so this shouldn’t be considered medical advice.  Do your own research, and consult with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your health.}

  • Bland crackers first thing in the morning
  • Eat fermented foods
  • Apple cider vinegar (Read more about the reasoning for these first two items here)
  • Peppermint tea- Peppermint is a digestive aid. Drinking this at night (sweetened with Stevia) has helped me a lot this pregnancy.
  • Peppermint, ginger essential oils- you can just sniff these, or you can rub these oils onto your belly (dilute the peppermint in a carrier oil first to avoid skin irritation- also, some people say it’s fine to use peppermint during a normal, healthy pregnancy, and some advise caution- so do your own research.)
  • Ginger Ale (anything with real ginger in it, really- not just ginger flavoring)
  • Diet Coke, coke syrup- this nausea remedy has been around a long time, and you can get coke syrup at many pharmacies. Also keep in mind that while caffeine helps some with various types of nausea, it can make it worse for others, especially if the nausea is due to indigestion, so you might need to experiment a little.
  • Slow deep breathing (4 counts in, 6 counts out)
  • Cold air- I don’t know why this works, but opening a window and breathing in cold air can be very very helpful in that moment where you start feeling hot before vomiting and may prevent you from throwing up altogether.
  • Positioning- lying on left side and a modified child’s pose (on knees, head down, bottom up)
  • Accupressure/ Sea bands (see this wiki for more info)
  • Eat raw carrots- This is less for pregnancy nausea than an upset tummy that may be the result of food poisoning, but still good to know… see this post by my friend Lani: http://birthfaith.org/nutrition/gods-medicine-chest-carrots
  • Magnesium- I started doing magnesium soaks before I got pregnant, and continued them after I found out I was expecting, and it seemed that my nausea was less severe the 24 hours after doing the soak. Then, I came across this post from Mommypotamus about replenishing the body’s stores of Magnesium before pregnancy to reduce the chance of experiencing nausea. That confirmed to me that magnesium levels can play a role in morning sickness.
  • Unisom and Vitamin B6- ask your doctor or a pharmacist about taking this combination of pills at night to help with nausea the following day. It isn’t a cure-all for every woman, but I have been assured by several different prenatal care providers that it is safe, and it has helped in each of my pregnancies so far. With this pregnancy, it wasn’t as effective at the beginning, but I kept taking it and adjusted the dose a bit, and after several weeks, I could tell a major difference from taking it.
For all my sisters out there dealing with morning sickness… I feel ya!  Hopefully some of the things on this list will help.
For those of you who have a special remedy for dealing with nausea of some kind- whether of pregnancy, vertigo, or some other type, will you share what has worked for you? We all love more ideas on how to combat this particular malady!

“Drive-by” giving

For our third month of Making the World a Little Sweeter, we will be helping the homeless and/or stranded. You know the ones- they sit on the side of the road with their cardboard sign that says “Trying to get home. Anything helps” (or something equally as heart-rending) and you rummage in your purse but then the light turns green and you haven’t found anything, and you have little pangs of guilt as you drive away. Sometimes you turn around and go back just so you can give them something, but other times you have nothing available, so you tell yourself for the hundredth time that you are going to put some things in the car that will be ready to grab and pass out the window.

Image from http://www.images-graphics-pics.com/signs/

I know there are lots of different feelings out there about helping beggars/ panhandlers, but my own personal feeling is that I don’t know why they are in the situation they are in, and I don’t know what they are going to do with the handouts I give them, but I will help anyone who asks in whatever way I can so that my conscience will be clear. I believe I will one day be responsible for my actions, just as they will be responsible for theirs. So I don’t worry about whether or not they are going to use money I give them for purposes I may consider less- than- worthy. (That said, a guy approached me a few weeks ago straight out asking for $2 to buy some vodka…. I gave him a granola bar instead…) I’m not saying this approach is right for everyone and every circumstance, but think about it and decide what you are comfortable with, and feel good about doing.

So, as you may have guessed, this month we are going to put together some little packages that can be stored in your car or bag and can be quickly pulled out to give away to people in need. The beauty of this project is that there are so many different ways you can do this, taking into account your own personal circumstances and beliefs.

Here are some ideas:

  • A granola bar or other food item rubber-banded with a small amount of cash (whatever you feel is realistic and affordable for you), or perhaps a fast food gift certificate and an inspirational quote.

    • Raid your sock drawer and pull out all those long-mismatched socks. Tube socks would work great. Fill the sock with things like small cash bills, compact food items, sample soaps or toothpaste etc.

    • Personal care bag: people away from home or displaced are likely to be lacking some of the basic hygiene stuff we take for granted. You could pick up packs of these items at the dollar store and make several little bags to give. I made some drawstring bags using leftover fabric and grosgrain ribbon. I got an assortment of tissue packs, toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash (hey, I’m big on dental hygiene), deodorant, soaps, hand sanitizer, etc. I also have a good sized bag of hotel soaps and shampoos I have collected over time that are mostly unopened- and I bet you do too. Those would make a great addition, and you get to purge some of your bathroom clutter- win/win!

      Most of you probably already know how to make a simple drawstring bag, but in case there are any new seamstresses out there, here is a quick rundown:

      1. Find a rectangular scrap of fabric large enough to be a bag when it is folded in half.
      2. Fold the fabric in half, right sides together, and stitch the sides closed.
      3. Make a casing at the top for a drawstring by folding down the edge 1/2″, and then another 1″ and pressing. Unfold the top and add grommets or buttonholes through only one layer- these are the openings for the drawstring to come out.
      4. Fold top back down and sew all the way around for casing.
      5. Thread ribbon, shoelace, or other drawstring through holes. Ta-da!
      6. Start to finish = less than 10 minutes.

      It might be a good idea to compile a few local resources (i.e. for health care, food, shelter, mental health, job resources, etc) on a little card and add that to the package. Now, if you don’t sew, or want to take a simpler approach (because realistically, if this is something you continue, it may not be practical to sew another bag every time), why not just put the goodies in a ziplock bag and call it good?

      The last but very important step is this: when you are finished making your packages- whatever form they may take- remember to put them in your car/ purse/ bag/ whatever so you can easily and quickly pull one out next time you need it! I promise if you do this, you will bless someone’s life, and you will feel so good! 😀

      P.S. Be sure to enter our giveaway for a free crochet pattern!

      In case of emergency, large or small

      I have been in major nesting mode for a while now, and to me that includes all sorts of organization.  One thing I have been working on is getting our important information updated and gathered for easy access in the event that we have some sort of emergency or crisis.  Of course, it’s nice to have it all together for handy reference at other times too.
      Here are some blank forms you are free to use and edit to meet your needs.

      In Case of Emergency– this is great to have laminated or in a sheet protector that you can pull out for the babysitter, or as the need arises.

      Important Numbers and Other Information– a place to compile insurance policy numbers, the location of important documents, loan information, utilities information, numbers to call if your credit card is lost or stolen, etc.

      I have a binder that I am using to keep track of this kind of stuff.  It also has calendars, current receipts and coupons, and cleaning checklists (which haven’t been used in quite a while- ha!) and I want to get some sort of rotating meal plan in there too.  I know that is way more planning than many people like, but what can I say? I am a list person.  I’ve got lists of my lists.  I like having my life organized, but many of those things are non-essential.  However, I think it is a smart idea to give yourself easy access to important information for those times when stress may prevent you from thinking clearly.

      If you are like me, and want tools for organizing every aspect of your life, but don’t know where to start, check out The Executive Homemaker Binder or Fly Lady’s Control Journal.