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Creating a Culture of Self-Reliance: Step Nine

Step Nine: Uniform and Photo

There are a few things often ignored when building a five day kit that are very important, even essential: a family uniform and family photos. These are fun for the family to work on together.

A family uniform is two or three pieces of clothing that are a little outrageous, easily identified and unique. A uniform may be a hat, t-shirt, or even a bandana. Your uniform should be worn when traveling or in a shelter to more easily identify a family member who has been separated from the group. Imagine you choose to make a tie die t-shirt. Every shirt has the same design and uses the same bright colors. Now you have become separated from your five year old daughter or even from dad. Describe them; Lisa is this tall and has long blonde hair and brown eyes and she is wearing jeans and a pink shirt. How many children will fit that description? But, what if you described Lisa as a blonde wearing the same crazy t-shirt you are wearing. Which scenario will help you find Lisa faster? Someone will remember the crazy shirt or hat or bandana far more often than they will remember a random little girl.

If you are on a budget purchase some crazy bright colored fabric and cut it into a bandana size. These can be worn around the head or neck. The important thing, be sure the fabric is unique. You may also consider purchasing a white baseball cap and jazzing it up. You may want to splatter paint on it in crazy colors, add jewels or ribbons, use markers to add stripes to the brim, let your imagination run wild.

The most important part of including a uniform is to wear it, every single family member. Day one you may want to wear the bandana, day two a t-shirt, day three the hat. Be aware if you wear the same item each day people will begin to confuse when they saw your missing loved one.

If you are trying to encourage self-reliance and emergency prep with friends and extended family have your family make a uniform for them as a gift.

The second fun project to tackle is just to take family photographs. Ask a friend to take photographs for you, these do not need to be professional quality. Take one photograph with every family member including pets. Once you have accomplished that take individual photos of each family member. You will want both types of these photos in every kit.

Individual photos may be used to post or shared with first responders when you are separated.

The family photo is important if a family member should need medical attention. This photo will help to prove your relationship to that individual so non-life threatening medical aid can be given. These photos are also important should a child be lost and a family member needs to claim them. After the tsunami in Thailand, children were being claimed by those who were not related but had lost their own children to the disaster.

Teach children to show these photographs to first responders should they become separated from the family. Doing this in combination with wearing a uniform will make it much easier to be reunited quickly.

Purchase small photo albums at a dollar store to place your photographs in, protecting them in your kits. These photos can also be used by children to find comfort during an evacuation so fill up the small album with extended family or goofy photos.

Go have fun creating a uniform. Share your creativity with us!

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