A few weeks ago, when Hurricane Sandy swept through the US, I got to thinking about emergency preparedness. Now, I am normally not prepared for anything. I am the person with no umbrella/sunhat/food/drink bottles for my poor children when such items would be appropriate, and I like to think they are very tough and resourceful due to this character deficiency of mine. I also make sure I go places with people who are very organised.

Still, I thought it would be a pleasant way to spend half a day, checking that we were all kitted out for emergencies, and besides, then I wouldn't have time to clean the bathroom. So I put new batteries in all the torches in the house, and then realised that most emergencies (small ones, I mean, like inclement weather, not imminent death or destruction by cataclysmic natural causes) tend to happen when we are in the car.

So I changed the torch batteries in the car torches, and added an umbrella to each car, and a two litre bottle of water, and those microfibre towels I bought from a camping shop (The Girl needed one for a school camping trip, but they were three-for-one on sale. What could I do? See, this is how our houses fill up with consumer ordure). I added sunscreen and lip balm, and antibacterial handwash to each car, and discovered that one car had both pocket knives, and one car had two first aid kits, and The Boy's car none. I opened the first aid kits for the first time since we got them several years ago, and discovered that though they were packed full of gauze dressings and wrappings, there weren't any thick pressure bandages for snake bites, one of the most likely hazards facing picnicking Tasmanians. Upon reflection it seemed rather silly to have snake bite bandages in my suburban kitchen rather than in the cars, so out they went. Then I topped up the packs with bandaids and painkillers and we were good to go for every emergency, which meant of course we would never have any...

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon, and we are eating lunch and reading the paper, when I get a phone call from The Boy, who has been camping with friends (and you have to love this conversation. The Boy is one of the most laid back people I know):

Er, Mum, are you and Dad busy right now? Because I'm at the hospital, and I have a few stitches so I can't drive the car home...

Turns out he had tripped over while running, broken his fall on some glass, and had lacerations down the length of his inside arm, you know, where that GREAT BIG VEIN is, the one one that causes you to bleed out and die.. and apparently there was a LOT of blood, and they were over an hour away from a hospital, on dirt roads, and all they could find to stop the bleeding was a sanitary pad, and a flannelette shirt. Gotta love teenagers! Then they opened the glove box in The Boy's car, and there was a first aid kit, so they could wrap his arm up properly, which slowed the bleeding, and took him to the nearest hospital, sat with him while he got stitched up, bless their dear hearts, and then brought him home to our hospital, doing amazing tag team relays with the car, as The Boy was one of the only drivers, and then, once he was all fixed, taking gory photos of his grazes, bandages, and blood soaked clothes to send to his girlfriend, who is overseas, because teenagers are kind like that.

And while I thought that the whole exercise was a little bit of overkill at the time, I am so grateful that the one time in my life I was prepared before an emergency, was the time it mattered.


Great story! It does contradict my basic notion that if I go to the trouble of preparing for emergencies, then then emergencies will never happen (isn't that how it works?). I guess I was wrong about that. So glad your kit was in the car!

what a good thing to do. my emergency preparedness only goes as far as thinking "how many of my dresses and shoes and magazine and recipes could i fit in my car if i had to evacuate?" i have some dettol and bandaids for gardening-inflicted scratches but nothing serious. i might make this my holiday project. thanks for the idea.
Jo said…
Frances, that was my thinking entirely, and I am quite disturbed to have my world view shattered like that.

..and e, you have prompted me to consider an 'emergency evacuation' section of my wardrobe. Favourite high heels and new Jane Lamerton 'vintage' dress, and then there would have to be an 'emergency book' section of the bookcase... so much to think about..
Anonymous said…
What perfect timing! I am glad your son is going to be OK :)
Jo said…
Jo, I am so glad too! Injuries to the children just don't bear thinking about, do they..

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