In light of the recent earthquakes in Mexico, Indonesia, and off the coast of Oregon it seems like high time we talk about emergency preparedness. The last thing you want to think about when you’re preparing to go abroad is how you’ll deal with an emergency but you might have to. You can’t control the tectonic plates or off-shore winds but you can control your response to them. We’ve already mentioned how important it is to register all of your travel with the state department and honestly, we can’t say it enough. Registering with the state department isn’t a way for the government to keep tabs on you while you travel (that’s what your passport is for) it’s a way for them to hunt you down and save your life in an emergency. Get on it.
The purpose of an earthquake kit (or any disaster supply kit) is to keep you stocked in the essentials in the event of an emergency. It should be self contained, portable, and easily accessible. In addition, it should contain the things you need to stay alive for at least 3 days. If you head here you’ll see the US government’s take on disaster preparedness; it’s comprehensive and most definitely worth a peruse.
Here is everything you need to make a study abroad friendly emergency kit:
Go Bag. You’ll need something to put all of the rest of this stuff in. I like the idea of a backpack because they make carrying heavy loads easier and don’t really get in your way as you move around. That being said, any bag is better than no bag at all so use what you have available.
Water. Fit as much as you can, this is the most important thing to have with you. In the event of a major disaster access to clean water will be interrupted and you can’t live without it. When in doubt or if you’re lacking space choose water over other things in this kit.
Food. At least 3 days of non-perishable food. I recommend packing small nutritionally dense foods like nuts, protein bars, and packs of peanut butter. Try and avoid salt and foods that will make you thirsty (unless you’re living in a place that’s very humid in which case salt is a vital part of keeping your body chemistry in a healthy place). I would also add something overtly sugary (like a roll of lifesavers) if you’re the kind of person who gets light headed when they are nervous. They take up almost no room and might keep you from fainting. Another good emergency kit addition is a small container of Chia seeds because they are full of nutrients and can help stretch the life of your other foodstuffs.
First aid kit. A small first aid kit could save your life. If you don’t buy one pre-made you can make your own, head here for some of our tips.
Flashlight and batteries. This is a no brainer, pick one like this to get more bang for your buck.
Prescription medication and glasses. If you can’t live without them you’d better pack ‘em
Important documents. You should pack a Copy of your ID and Passport, bank account information, and any other vitals.
Complete change of clothing. At the very least pack a long sleeve shirt or anything that you think might be handy
Whistle. You might need this to signal for help.
Baby wipes. We’ve talked about how great these are before, if you have some with you, you’ll at least sort of feel clean and be able to sanitize your hands.
Matches and candles. Your best bet is to pack matches in a waterproof container but really anything you can use to start a fire would be helpful.
A multi-tool. These are great in all situations so I can only imagine they’d be perfect in a disaster.
Space blankets. These are great because they take up almost no space and keep you warm.
Mementos from home. Don’t forget to add a picture or two of loved ones to keep you going.
In case you didn’t pick up on it, the first three items on the list are sort of the big three (Water, food, first aid) and if you can manage to fit those in a backpack stashed in the corner of your room, you’re in good shape. As for the rest of it, add things as you have space and feel free to deviate from the list to include things that make sense to you and your environment. The major problem with emergency kits isn’t so much making one, it’s keeping it viable for the duration of your stay. No matter how desperate you get for a match or a snack its supremely important that you don’t break into your go bag. It’s there for emergencies. No ifs ands or buts.