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spring cleaning and preparing

Happy first day of spring! I adore spring. Doesn’t everyone? Did you see the Marimekko Google doodle today? I’ve mentioned once or a thousand times that a favorite spring tradition is bargain hunting. A less-loved though no less necessary activity is spring cleaning. Have you begun your cleaning yet? I am enjoying Simple Mom’s {Project Simplify 2012} series because it gives me certain areas to focus on each week, providing interest to an otherwise boring operation. I must say that I do LOVE the purging part of spring cleaning. Simple Mom’s area of focus in the last week of the challenge is “choose your own adventure.” For me, this adventure is emergency preparedness.

In my days as a public health professional, I spent part of that time as a preparedness expert. While it’s admittedly not the health topic nearest to my heart, I enjoyed my stint in the field for opening my eyes to the need of preparing my family for emergencies. We keep a bin of supplies in the basement, and I update the bin every spring (i.e. remove formula and wrong-size diapers, update the water jugs, and switch out the boxes and cans of cat food). People have asked me if I keep the supplies for an emergency that would require us to stay in the basement; while that’s a possibility, I think there’s a greater likelihood we would use them in an evacuation. Living close to the ocean means you must be hurricane-ready. You can see a list of what to keep in your bin at Here’s a quick run-down of what’s in our bin (and in the box of camping supplies nearby):

  • Light: 4 flashlights (one for each), Coleman lantern (because who wants to hold a flashlight all the time?), and a head lamp (ditto reason for lantern)
  • Personal hygiene & safety: 2 first aid kits, paper towels, container of wet ones, garbage bags, twisties, “feminine products” (don’t you love this euphemism?)
  • Kid stuff: Diapers, “lovies,” small soft blankets, playing cards, crayons
  • Sleep: Tent, sleeping bags, see “kid stuff” above
  • Clothing: one long-sleeved outfit for everyone, hats, gloves
  • Eating: mess kits, stove & fuel, matches, CAN OPENER! (note: I don’t keep human food in the bin because we have plenty of supplies in my stockpile
  • Odds and ends: Tarp, obligatory duct tape, shovel, random extra tools, rain gear, paper & pen, CASH


Charlotte likes to “help” me clean.

I mainly go through the box of camping supplies to be sure we haven’t removed anything that we didn’t return, which we are notoriously doing (e.g. the camping shovel that became Vivi’s for seed starting. And oh yeah, where did that Coleman lantern go after the last power-outage?), and checking that nothing’s gotten wet or damaged, like matches.

Lantern, cat food, duct tape

Formula (tossed it today), baby wipes, flashlights, dust masks, socks

We also keep supplies in the car. Consumer Reports has a great list of things you should carry. I can’t say I’ve got everything on that list (Target, here I come!), but I like to keep a first aid kit, jug of water, and clothes. I also try not to let the tank get down below half a tank, both so I never run out of gas with the kids in the car (one of my weird fears) and so we are prepared for an evacuation.

Hats, scarves, diapers, first aid book

Two first aid kits, large and small

If your family is prepared, and you want to take your commitment further, might I recommend joining up with Citizen Corps and assist your entire community with preparedness? I am a volunteer with the Medical Reserve Corps, and along with receiving free CPR training (which I then turned around and used a week later on a flight to London. Craziness.), I’ve also had fulfilling experiences with mass vaccination clinics during the H1N1 epidemic.

What areas do YOU focus on during your spring cleaning? 

Editor’s note: This post is part of Seasonal Celebration SundayFarmgirl Friday, Frugal Friday, Your Green ResourceSimple Lives Thursdaythe Homestead Barn Hop, Works for Me Wednesday, and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways