Preparing For An Emergency In Your Tiny House

Things happen. Emergencies are a part of life. Some we may be prepared for and others may catch us by surprise. Either way, there is no reason to be completely unprepared. Living in a small space simply is not a reason for not having some basic preparations should you have to evacuate, go without power, etc. In fact, if anything, a “tiny life” should teach us how to make essential what we need while shedding what we don’t. That can be applied in emergency preparation as well.

Just this past weekend I realized it had been nearly a year since I went through my families emergency bags. Since they contain some basic food items, a few toiletries, and even paper documentation, I felt like I needed to reassess. Good thing I did. Turns out our documentation had the wrong address, a few of our condiments were old and unusable, and my daughters actual bag no longer fit her back. I was ashamed honestly because I take pride in our emergency preparations.

As I sat at the computer and scanned a few things, updated others, and decided to revamp our thumb drives, I was again alerted to the notion that some tiny housers may think they don’t have room for emergency preps. I disagree and I hope these tips below help you become more prepared should something unexpected come your way.

HOW TO EVACUATE. I think the first thing to consider in regards to an emergency is how you will be able to evacuate. Because we live very close to the ocean we are more susceptible to hurricanes and the weather they bring which includes flooding of our river system and rain that causes our municipal systems to fail. Those are situations that call for evacuation. When there is a threat of a storm we always make sure our truck is full of gas. No reason to avoid the obvious. We also make sure our 5-gallon gas can is filled up in case we need to use our generator or even take it with us should we need to evacuate and have no access to gas stations.

As you are walking out the door (No need to run. This isn’t Hollywood and spraining your ankle on the way out would be horrible!) be sure to grab your emergency bag or as some people like to call them, B.O.B.s (bug out bags). We prefer not to call them that as evacuating and bugging out seem to be two totally different things. Packing may be similar but the idea behind them are not.

EMERGENCY BAG. Each member of the family has an emergency kit and we also have a small duffel for our dog. In our emergency kit is the following:

  • An LED flashlight
  • An LED headlamp
  • A glow stick
  • A Leatherman multi-tool
  • A firestarter key
  • An old film canister with dryer lint inside (for starting a fire)
  • A first-aid kit with basic first aid essentials (similar to this)
  • A small NOAA hand crank radio
  • A waterproof belt pouch with 2-$5 bills, 10-$1 bills, 20 quarters, 10 dimes
  • A small spool of paracord
  • 1-gallon of water (in quart size bottles)
  • 2 days worth of food (kept in food saver compress pack)
  • 2 bags of loose snacks
  • Personal hygiene bag
  • 1 extra set of seasonally appropriate clothing (plus an extra pair of socks and underwear)
  • 1 waterproof bag that contains photocopies of important documents (Driver’s License, Marriage certificate, Insurance info, Passport, etc) and a thumb drive with the same documentation. In this bag is also a recent family picture for ID purposes

NOTE:  If you have a child that is under the age of 18 it is important to have an ID for them that features height, weight, hair color, eye color, recent photo, and your contact info. You can get an ID at your local DMV, through IdentAKid, or you can make your own.

Our emergency bags stay stocked and under our bed all the time so they can easily be grabbed in a moment’s notice. The pet duffel has food, water, a harness and leash, and some treats, and is also with our bags. It would take my family less than 3 minutes to exit our house, get in the truck, and go….dog included!

HUNKERING DOWN. If you don’t have to evacuate there is no need to. Hunkering down can be an awesome way to find a little slice of paradise inside an emergency situation. With food, beverage, some games, and a good attitude, there is nothing to fear.

What we have learned is that hunkering down should be taken literally. Living in a tiny house or a small house decreases your chances of having an interior room without windows. In this case, always have pre-cut, pre-drilled, plywood window coverings at the ready. Keep them underneath your house (off the ground and with blocks between each one to keep air flowing) and the screws to hold them on in a Ziploc bag with your toolbox. Make sure your propane tanks are topped off and you have something to manually light a pilot should it blow out. It is also important to have food and water available. You should have a stockpile of 1 gallon of water per person per day. Set your prep time and keep everything you would need to hunker down in your tiny house for three days. That would mean 3 gallons of water, 6-9 meals that require very little preparation, 3 days worth of medicine if you need it, 3 days worth of entertainment (assuming you have no TV, Internet, or even electricity), and 3 days worth of communication (a hand crank radio is good, a cell phone with a charged battery, etc).

Most importantly when hunkering down, is having 3 days worth of clean undergarments. Make sure you have fresh underwear and socks. Those two items will make you feel better and keep your spirits lifted. The socks will also keep you warm if you are having to do without heat.

Lastly, keep a flashlight or solar lanterns on hand. There is nothing worse than sitting through a storm, in the dark. The mind plays tricks on you and that is no fun.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list of ways to stay at the ready. There are plenty of lists online to help you prepare. But have you started thinking about what you would do in case of emergency? Is a tiny house a reason to avoid such decisions? Tell us in the comment section below.

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]

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