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Thursday, September 9, 2010

4 Tips for Building a Baby Emergency Kit

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4 Tips for Building a Baby Emergency Kit

It all started when for the fourth time in a week, I arrived at my destination, looked in the diaper bag and realized I’d forgotten something. Rewind a few hours and I could picture myself scurrying about, shoving things into any one of our four diaper bags. No wonder I was unprepared. It sparked a thought about whether I was prepared for my baby’s well-being in an emergency situation: car breakdown, house fire, natural disaster, family emergency. No one wants to find themselves in an emergency, and most of us think “it’ll never happen to us.” We don’t want to be alarmist, but the reality is that emergencies happen, but unforeseen doesn’t have to mean unprepared.

My husband and I have long stashed an Emergency Essentials Roadwise Emergency Kit in each of our cars in the event of car breakdown or other emergency. Some people keep a “Bug-Out-Bag” close to the door in their home. While there are probably items in our emergency car kits I could use for a baby, I decided to create a Baby Emergency Kit (BEK), the baby version of the “But-Out-Bag.” This bag somewhat duplicates a diaper bag, but also includes hygiene and "information" items (see below) if we couldn’t get home or to a store for 72 hours.
 
Roadwise™ Emergency Kit

I decided the Baby Emergency Kit needed to be “bare bones” because chances are, in an emergency I’ll have one of our diaper bags as well. But since, as I mentioned, our diaper bags are constantly interchanged, I wanted a bag that always included the bare essentials. Also, I didn’t want to add a lot of weight/volume to our regular emergency kits.

While your own kit will vary depending on the age and needs of your child, here are my tips and suggestions for making your own Baby Emergency Kit:

1. Do a little “home shopping” – You probably have duplicate baby items you wouldn’t miss day to day; use these to fill your BEK. Select items you don’t need daily because you don’t want to keep packing and unpacking this bag like just another diaper bag. Find items that won’t expire or lose their usefulness (like sized clothing/diapers would).

2. Think small – You already have a baby to carry, you don’t want a 15 lb BEK too. I used a plastic makeup case I found in my closet. It’s small, water-resistant, has mini inside pockets, and zips closed so nothing falls out. Also think small for items in the bag - use sample packets of diaper cream, ointments, (like those received in the hospital) to equip the bag. Trial size, travel size and sample packs reduce the size and weight of your kit. I included mini nail files, packets of Brush ups for when baby has teeth, and mini books for entertainment. I also found a small stick-on baby thermometer that reads body temps for up to 48 hours, which eliminated the need to include a regular thermometer!

3. Make it Multi-Task – Include items with dual purpose. Instead of separate wipes, burp clothes, washcloths, I packed three small baby washcloths – these can be wet for washing or baby bum wiping. They can become a tiny bandage, burp cloth or diaper stuffing. Of course, the hope is you have a water supply to wash and reuse, but carrying a lot of disposable items doesn’t make sense if you need your bag to stay a manageable size. I included a small blanket which could be re-purposed as a pillow, changing pad, or even clothing if baby’s outfit becomes soiled.

4. Include information – Your baby probably can’t talk, so include information in the unthinkable event you become separated from your child. Create a laminated information card with the baby’s name, birthday, parents’ names, address/phone information, and medical/feeding information. I included a photo of the baby and of us, so we could be identified and reunited with baby. Also attached to the outside of the BEK is a “Grab It” card – this lists other items NOT in the bag that I might grab if I have time/room (extras like clothing, diapers, food, medications).




You’re probably wondering, “What about…?” Here are items I didn’t include in this kit and why (I may add these later, but right now, decided against them):

a. Clothing – Babies grow too fast to have clothes sitting around in a BEK. Plus, clothes add bulk; in an emergency, a baby can wear the same outfit for a few days, or, be wrapped in a blanket or a larger child/adult’s piece of clothing

b. Food – I breast feed, so I would continue nursing in an emergency. However, should I have to give the baby to dad or someone else, I packed a 2 oz bottle of ready-to-drink formula with a nipple (the container becomes a bottle and can be reused) and a sample pack of powdered formula. It’s not much, but would get your baby through a couple days.

c. Pacifier – if your baby uses one, chances are they already have one with them. If not, a baby can always suck their thumb or an adult finger for comfort.

d. Medications – I am fortunate to have a healthy baby who has never needed medication yet; plus, our regular bags contain first aid kits, so I didn’t need to duplicate these items. Of course, if your baby had medical needs, you would want to include their medications. You might list meds on the “Grab It” list to avoid having expired meds in the BEK.

I’m sure there are many items it would be “nice” to have in an emergency with the baby, but please know my BEK is still a work in progress. At least now I’m thinking about how to be more prepared so I don’t find myself scrambling. With this Baby Emergency Kit, I’ll have some peace of mind, and hopefully a few minutes to look at the “Grab It” list and actually add some of those “extras” before heading out the door.

What other items would you consider essential to have in a Baby Emergency Kit? Do you have more ideas for including small, multi-purpose, long-lasting items? Share your ideas!

-- Julie, Connecticut