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Word Formnoun
DefinitionA railroad employer who is in charge of a railway yard.
Synonymstrain dispatcher, trainmaster
UsageObserving that the yardmaster had his back turned, the vagabonds leaped into one of the boxcars.


Because of our world wide news force and ease of getting first hand information instantly, we are more aware than ever of any disasters as they occur.  Which hopefully is bringing awareness of our own vulnerability to the forefront.  There are certain items all of us should have immediately available and portable.

I remember growing up in Kansas and my mom and dad always had ‘tornado supplies’ stored in our basement. There was some sort of metal box down there that I was told had all our important paperwork in it and I was NOT to move it.


We had our canned goods down there, of course (we did live on a farm) along with some small kitchen tools and other items necessary to fix food with.   I thought it was ‘neat’ to have a second kitchen down there.

Fortunately, we never had to actually use that makeshift kitchen, but we did head down there many, many times where I would wait with heart pumping and grasping one of my kitties – ears straining to hear if the ‘train noise’ would get closer.  It never did, thank goodness.  But it happened to several of my friends, and it’s still happening today.

I put something together that may help you get ready for anything that will cause you to seek shelter in your home or to actually evacuate your home in a hurry.  If you and your family will take a few hours (usually just two) to put all this together, you won’t regret the time spent.


The basics are a small cache of emergency food supplies, household fire extinguishers, extra water, some means of containing human waste, a safe of some sort for your important documents, a first aid kit, and a few blankets.


1. Your emergency food bag should contain a few cans of meat, fruit, soups (that do not need water to prepare), and some energy bars. Don’t forget a can opener, eating utensils and a knife.

2. Three household fire extinguishers a Class A,B and C

3. A few containers (two?) of distilled water, and a pack of small bottled water.

4. One 5 or 6 gallon bucket with a tight fitting lid and a pack of toilet paper. To keep the odor under control until you can dispose of the contents outdoors sprinkle a little sawdust, or crumbled dry leaves, or dried grass clippings, or chopped brown pine needles, or shredded paper on top of the waste to help control the odor. Then replace the bucket lid to keep the smell inside the bucket.  When possible, and if necessary, dispose of the contents outdoors (as far from your living area as possible) by either digging a small hole (or by placing the waste on the ground) and then covering it with a layer of dried leaves, or shredded brown pine straw, or dried grass clippings, or shredded paper. You should use approximately the same amount of covering material as human waste. This will keep the odor under control and it will help keep the heat trapped inside the compost pile. Rinse or clean the toilet bucket and then return the empty toilet bucket to its normal location inside your home. Then immediately wash your hands.

5. A water and fire proof safe for your important papers.  This should contain copies of social security cards, credit cards, passports, contact information (phone and log-ins/passwords for a computer), account numbers and means of contact for all bills including utilities (in case you have to call and get utilities shut off) and any other irreplaceable documents that may need to be dealt with.  Have copies made of your drivers license and any other cards you have that may be needed for identification. If you are like most of us, you will need to print out and keep in the safe all the phone numbers that you have saved on your Smart Phone.

6. Your first aid kit should contain things like antibiotics, pain killers, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and gauze.

7. One can always use blankets, no matter what the weather is.


What I like to call my 20 Minute List. Some disasters give a bit of warning, so 20 minutes should be plenty of time for a full-on evacuation of all the critical (NON-replaceable) items.

Essential clothes. (Winter wear, one change of clothes)
Essential medication. (In something waterproof)
Any flash drives you may have… just back up anything on your computer that you think you may want or need. Or grab a laptop if you have one.
Remember, anything that is Non-replaceable.
This list is assuming you have the basics (listed above) already prepared and waiting for you in a safe location.  It really wouldn’t hurt to have a copy of a Boy Scout handbook in your emergency cache.  Some of the information in there might be invaluable to you.  Being prepared like this doesn’t really take a lot of your time.  And it could be something you will be thankful you did.































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