An Out of Town Emergency Contact Ties It All Together

As you build your Emergency Plan, make designating an out of town emergency contact one of your first priorities.  (Do this immediately after making your detailed list of the people included in your Emergency Plan.) For some of us, the identity of out of town is a "no-brainer."  For others, it may require some thought.  Use these suggestions to help you narrow down the best out of town contact for your family.

They need to be somewhat available. Although this person probably won't need to come rescue you, they may have several people contacting them.  They need to have the time, patience, and availability to communicate with many people, even some that they might not know.

Getting Prepared - "I probably should, but..."

We all know that we ought to prepare at least a little bit for something, right?  If you've watched much  television or Googled disaster preparedness, you know that there are plenty of people out there who seem to be going WAY OVER THE TOP.  That discussion is a whole other post. Today, I hope that I can clarify  the simplest way to get started with the right amount of preparedness for your family and your situation.

Imagine... you can't leave your house for 3 days AND you have no utilities or services (no power, no water, no natural gas, no cable, no phone service, no mail, no deliveries) AND the businesses within walking distance are closed, too.

What would you need?  Where is a flashlight?  Do you have extra batteries? Do you have enough water to drink?  What do you have to eat, will it spoil without power?  How are you going to cook it?  Can you stay warm (or cool) and dry enough?  Is everyone else ok? Do you have enough of your prescription medication?  Enough diapers? Enough chocolate?

Needing a can opener is not just a preparedness cliché!

I know you're thinking you already have a can opener at home. And if it's not electric, you're thinking you are covered. But if your can opener is not directly with your disaster kit, you risk it not being there when you need it most.

This picture highlights my two favorite can openers. The larger black one actually un-crimps the lid from the can leaving no sharp edges. It's not any harder to turn, but it takes a few tries learning how to getting started.

The tiny steel can opener is the type that came with military canned MREs. It's called a P-38, although the jury is still out as to how it got its name. It takes considerably more practice and work to open a can, but it costs less than a dollar and fits on your keychain.

Need a few more ways to open a can?  Your regular ole' electric can opener at home certainly counts as your primary way to open cans.  A hole punch can opener can open a can, but it leaves a billion sharp edges in a star shaped opening.  In this video, a can is opened with a spoon, but I've never tried that. gives us this Karate Kid can opening solution (wax on, wax off). And I would be remiss if I didn't mention using a knife to hack a can into submission or using a rock and bashing the lid in. Caution, during an emergency no one wants to see blood over a can of tuna.

From your everyday life, to your disaster kit, you should be planning to meet your family's needs at least four  layers deep. Plan to have four separate ways to open that can of soup from your disaster kit  Note: the simplest solution is to own four manual can openers.  And put at least one can opener IN your disaster kit.  You don't know what you'll face or who you might be able to help with the right supplies.

For everyday tips and tricks to keep your family safe, like Everyday Providence on Facebook and follow @eProvidence on Twitter.