I admit, I’m kind of a disaster freak.
Not like, “Oh no, the apocalypse is coming, gotta store 500 lbs of wheat in my cellar” type of disaster freak (mostly because we live in a top floor apartment in the middle of a large metropolitan city). But, you know, I live in the Pacific Rim of Fire and that top floor apartment gives me a dead on view of a volcano that’s been overdue for an eruption for a few hundred years now. I will at least get a National Geographicesque high-resolution closeup view of a volcanic eruption before I die a terrible, burning death.
However, more realistically, my decision to live a life on top of the area where two giant continental plates smash against one another means I’ll probably get caught up in an earthquake one of these days. The county has a suggested disaster preparation list of things that every family should have on hand in case of a disaster, tailored slightly to earthquakes for the area. You’ve got your usual water bottles and emergency blankets and ponchos, emergency food bars (have you ever actually eaten those? They’re, uh…definitely only something I’d eat in an absolute emergency), and then, almost as an afterthought, the list adds “specialty items for kids and pets.” This is important, but it begs the question of what the absolute essentials are for children in a time of disaster.
Here, I think you can make a strong case to have backup stashes of both disposable and cloth diapers. Disposables are very convenient in a disaster, especially if you’re on the move, evacuating and traveling elsewhere. You needn’t worry about wasting precious water to wash them. However, you’ll need somewhere to throw away the diapers, and if you run out, you may not have the opportunity to buy more. Depending on the seriousness of the disaster, you may also be unable to secure diapers from a relief agency.
Cloth diapers seem a little less convenient at first. You might not have the water to wash them, and they take up more precious space in your emergency supplies that could be used for food or batteries instead. However, if you pack covers and flats in your emergency supplies—which is the only diaper I’d recommend in this situation, as flats dry in a jiffy and can be washed quickly and more easily by hand than other types of diapers—you actually have some very versatile supplies with you. A flat diaper can be used as a thin blanket, a changing pad, wrapped around a limb as a makeshift bandage when there are no other options, a towel, a rag, you name it.
Now, I haven’t actually had to use diapers in an emergency. I’ve been in a large earthquake before, but that was long before I had children. But since I’m kind of a disaster freak, like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’ve thought about what I would want to have on hand in an emergency. I have a day’s worth of flat diapers in the car for both children. I think I would add another day or two’s worth of disposables as well, to keep all my options open, along with some small washcloths that could be used as cloth wipes. What I do have is stored in a gallon zip bag that can double as a wetbag. Three day’s worth of emergency supplies is really the minimum, and since we live in a metropolitan area I would assume emergency relief and supplies would come quickly. I would probably feel safer with a week’s worth of supplies, but we simply haven’t the space for that.
Are you prepared for an emergency? What is in your emergency kit?