The unrest in my city could come to yours next. It’s time to get ready

I live in Minneapolis. On Saturday, the city released community safety recommendations during the unrest we’re experiencing. Those recommendations included the following:

Pack a bag and have a plan to leave if you feel your residence has become unsafe:

  • Identify a safe place you can go and stay. This may be the home of family or friends.
  • Identify how [you] can communicate with your loved ones. This should include a location to meet if cell service is interrupted.
  • Pack items you will need while you are away. Be sure to include medications.
    • Plan several routes to your safe place and avoid areas of large crowds. Write them down. GPS may not be available.

Sound familiar?

Don’t wait until it’s too late

The city’s advice is much appreciated, but there’s one big problem: in Minneapolis, many of our grocery stores and pharmacies have already been burned or looted. It’s not possible to restock medications or to load up on food and water for a shelter-in-place.

Sure, you could drive out to the suburbs to visit an operating pharmacy, but that has become trickier since the Department of Transportation has been shutting down the freeways unexpectedly. And if you don’t have a car, it’s impossible to get groceries, medications, or leave the city. Our Metro Transit system of public buses and trains has shut down through at least the end of the day today, and our public transportation could shut down again.

City officials are now recommending we set up go-bags, but they’re also preventing us from leaving the city or getting any supplies. Mail deliveries have stopped in my area, and other shipping services have slowed due to COVID-19. So we can’t get supplies mailed to us, either.

Many of us in Minneapolis are wondering how we’re expected to assemble a go-bag in these conditions. More importantly, where it is that anyone expects us to go with it? Simply put: for me, right now, it’s too late.

But other city-dwellers don’t have to be caught without essential supplies. At The Prepared, we’ve spent hours and hours assembling guides to important supplies. Most of them are already designed, prioritized, and layered for this. That means you won’t actually have to do any major tweaking.

If someone had told me four weeks ago that I should order a ham radio or protective gear, I would have laughed. The important lesson here: if you think you’re a little bit crazy for stocking up, that means you’re on time. By the time it’s obvious you should’ve done it, it will be too late.

What I wish I had right now

A bag ready for both evacuation and safety

There have been nights in the past week when I’ve thought it could be time to bolt. I haven’t left my city because I still feel that home is the safest place I can be. No homes have been burglarized so far, and I feel most comfortable where I am. Things could be different for you, however. In fact, things could be different for me at this time next week.

When I can get supplies delivered to my home, I’ll start ordering. I’ll use our Kit Builder and organize by priority level. Right now, I’ll focus less on water purification, camping gear, and tarps. I’ll save those items for down the road. Instead, I’ll focus more on getting a ham radio, multi-tool, battery pack, and respirator.

Those tools would be good to have around even if I never leave the city. I have asthma, and I’m worried about breathing in tear gas and fumes from burning buildings. And I’d like a ham radio to communicate and get news if cell towers go down. (Note: You need a license to transmit via ham, but anyone can listen. And if you’re in an emergency and are radioing for help, getting an FCC fine for transmitting without a license is the least of your worries.)

The good news if you’re just getting started: our Kit Builder lets you customize and prioritize according to your needs and resources. So I might look at my current needs and add goggles for tear gas or Clorox wipes to defend against COVID-19.

I recommend starting to build a kit now, even if you can’t order it all in one go. According to our Sane Prepper Mantra, it’s best to find a way to buy high quality items and stay within your budget. Make a list of priorities and work down the list. Then you’ll know how much money to put aside.

More: Bug Out Bags

A real first-aid kit

My first-aid kit has band-aids, a pair of tweezers, a bug bite kit, and Neosporin inside. As my colleagues at The Prepared have recently taught me, though, that’s not a real first-aid kit. It’s a ‘boo-boo kit.’ What they mean by that is that my current supplies are perfect for an everyday injury. If I cut my finger while slicing an onion or fall on the sidewalk, my ‘boo-boo kit’ will work just fine.

If I’m shot in the eye with a rubber bullet while standing on my front porch, however, I’ll be in real trouble.

That’s why I wish I had an individual first-aid kit (IFAK, fyi).

Did I ever think that as a city-dwelling person who lives within a mile of a hospital, I’d need trauma scissors or an irrigation system? Nope. But now that emergency responders aren’t reliably serving my neighborhood, I want those items in my home.

I also wish I had extra first-aid supplies to donate to community centers. I wish I could share first-aid supplies with my friends. If you live outside of Minneapolis, you’ll probably feel crazy stocking up on these supplies right now. Do it anyway. You’re right on time.

Here are my colleagues’ top-priority items in their IFAKs: IFAK first aid kit list

Preparing for future unrest

It’s impossible to be prepared for everything. (That’s another lesson from the Sane Prepper Mantra.) But this is where I wish I’d started one month ago. If you’re based in a city where unrest is just beginning, you can learn a lesson from my lack of preparedness. You might feel crazy when you hit ‘buy,’ but I promise you won’t regret it.


    • Hardened

      Oh god Kelsey, our thoughts and hearts are with you!  How fast things have changed!  Thanks for transparently sharing your vulnerability.  Let us know if there’s any way we can help.

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    • squidvicious

      I think this is what I learned most the last 3 months — my best and worst ‘preps’, if you will.  My gut says “it’s time to do x”, but my head rationalizes away those little whispers of worry.  Being able to see around corners is great, if you act.  Sometimes, it may only be a few weeks or days before everyone else sees what you see.   There were a few times I did act, and more when I didn’t.  Thankfully, nothing I’ve missed yet has been too critical (I had plenty of TP on hand, whew!).

      Like many here — I assume — I think things are likely to get worse, in a number of ways, before they get better.  So, I will continue to accumulate items/supplies as my budget allows.  —- Quick note on budget: with some extra time at home I’ve finally gone through old bins, boxes, etc.  I posted several items on eBay and used that “found money” to get a few things I’d put off purchasing.  These things normally would end up at Goodwill/Salvation Army, but having an extra $150 to get a few extra things is nice.

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    • Haus Monkey

      I don’t think this was mentioned in this article, but I would add to keep your gas tank full! In normal times I used to follow the advice of never letting it go under half, but now I would refill even if only a quarter is missing – and I actually did that yesterday.

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