Never Go Anywhere Without Your Kitten – Teja Van Wicklen

I saw a clip on Facebook a few months back called Kitten Therapy. Self-proclaimed stressed-out people were invited to remove their shoes and experience a guided meditation in a large transparent room in the middle of a busy square. These unsuspecting victims donned headphones, closed their eyes and listened to the sounds of purring kittens…. When asked to open their eyes they found, one by one, a slew of rowdy grey and white kittens squeezing into the meditation space through a series of kitten-sized panels. Sudden relaxation and joy ensued like a chemical experiment gone right–take stressed humans, add kittens, stir.

Too bad the thought of conflict management techniques, self defense knowledge and intrapersonal skills don’t have the same effect. Self defense just isn’t fuzzy enough.

But, there just might be another kind of stress-relieving kitten that doesn’t require emptying cat litter.

Ten or so years ago when I had my son I found I was often foggy and forgetful from sleep deprivation. I began carrying a small assortment of necessary items to help me offset and placate my anxious mommy-brain. More recently I began calling this assortment of approximately ten things a Ten-Kit or KitTen (I’m pushing the metaphor, I know).

My KitTen is about the size of a woman’s make up kit or a pencil case and it holds what I consider to be my most urgent daily items. Which is to say, mostly first aid stuff (says the EMT and Mom) with a few other helpful nuggets thrown in for good measure.

As a Conflict Manager Magazine reader (or contributor) the concept of preparation is already an integral part of your lexicon. So what is your EDC (Every Day Carry)? How much time did you spend figuring it out? How many websites did you consult? How often do you check your supplies? Every conflict manager needs an EDC. If you haven’t thought about this yet, some suggestions follow.

As an instructor of Protective Offense and an EMT, but especially as the mother of a nine-year-old, there are some contingencies that are really more like eventualities – cuts, stomach aches, headaches, hunger fits, splinters, etc. It’s amazing how quickly the fun of a vacation or even a movie ends when a kid is uncomfortable! But what about being locked out of your car or house? What happens when you forget your wallet or get lost?

These kits can become overwhelming, so we need to keep them paired down to the bare minimum. To each her own, so modify where needed.

Begin by making a list of the people in your family and especially any unusual or critical medications they take. Now add any other special items you already consider a necessity (besides wallet and keys). Finally, think about the kinds of situations you have encountered over the last few years and the things you wished you’d had.

If you live in the country, on a boat or in the Australian Outback, your list will be different than someone who lives in the desert or the city.

What follows is a list of the top ten average-day items I (almost) never (let’s be really honest here) leave the house without, and a few extra things I sometimes bring along or substitute or that you might like to have for your family.

Start with a makeup or pencil-sized bag you can fit in your purse or everyday carry bag. My “purse” is a small backpack, my KitTen is a small square-ish Le Sports Sac thingy (no I don’t get a kickback). If you can find a fuzzy makeup case you’ve really maximized the kitten metaphor. Now you can get down to business.

Here’s what I carry:

Pointy tweezers are good for many things besides splinters. Ticks and beestings are one example. Flat household tweezers are not what you want. A fine point makes your KitTen tweezers useful for more things like ticks and beestings.

Miscellaneous-sized Bandages – Water-proof ones are good to have around as well, especially if you’re at the pool or beach! These are the things you will need to refill most often if you have kids. Throw in one or two gauze pads for good measure.

A Small role of first aid adhesive tape and/or duct tape can be used for many things, including fixing shoes. Tape is indispensable for creating make-shift splints for small body parts like fingers. You can remove the cardboard holder and wrap the tape tightly around something smaller, like your finger, so it takes up less space.

Safety-pins are great for making a sling for a broken arm out of just about any kind of material. They are also great for keeping important things attached to you in case you need your hands free and for fixing clothes among other things. Bring a few of different sizes. You can save space in your KitTen by attaching them to the zipper.

Alcohol pads and/or alcohol gel sanitizer (avoid Triclosan, which is an Endocrine disruptor and generally nasty chemical. There is some evidence that effects children’s learning and enhances allergies). What you want is the ability to disinfect almost anything, wherever you are. There has been a kickback of late against hand sanitizers. At home use simple soap, but sometimes you don’t have that luxury.

A mini multi-tool is absolutely indispensable. Get one preferably with scissors and pliers, and both a flat head and phillips screwdriver. Victorinox or Leatherman-type tools are available everywhere, including Amazon. Cheap ones can’t always be counted on, the joints and screws can break when you need them most. Get something with some sort of reliable guarantee.

Medications. Pack 1 or 2 of each pill or individual packet, more of what your family uses most. Try to find small packs and mini size ointment and cream containers or buy small containers, clean them well and fill them. You might also want to have a medicine cup or spoon if necessary.

Aspirin and non-aspirin pain relievers (you may not want to give children and teens aspirin. There may also be issues for young children with Tylenol)
Antibiotic ointment
1% Hydrocortisone Cream
Over-the-counter oral antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (still the gold-standard for allergy emergencies)
Anti-diarrhea medication
2 antacid tablets
Activated charcoal (only if instructed by your poison control center 1-800-222-1222)
any prescribed medications that don’t need refrigeration, including drugs to treat known allergies, such as an Albuterol inhaler or epinephrine auto-injector, insulin, etc.

Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline) – It’s not organic and it’s not good for your skin, but it can keep the bad things out in a pinch and it lasts forever. PJ protects skin from sun and cold weather chapping, lubricates just about anything and is flammable – so it will help you start a fire if you’re freezing to death. It can even act as a makeshift bandage to slow minor bleeding. You can buy tiny jars or tins, and fill them yourself.

LED Flashlight, a small headlamp, or both. Flashlights are indispensable. Until you need one, you have no idea how important they are. If you have room, bring a few extra batteries for whatever flashlight you have. If it’s a small disposable one, check it often or carry an extra. Extras don’t have to go in your KitTen, they can attach to keys and zippers.

Secret Stash of Cash, an extra credit card or both. $20 should do.

Here are some suggestions of extra or substitute items I have found helpful:

I like to have an extra car and/or house key either in my KitTen, bag or stashed in a (really smart) hiding place (not in the plant by the door!).

Feminine pads and/or Tampons. If you are a woman between 11 and 55 you never know when having an emergency supply of these might come in handy. It’s also nice if you are with friends and are able to come to the rescue. As it turns out pads and tampons also work for heavily bleeding wounds, liquid spills and as tinder for making a fire! But that’s another post.

Medical consent forms are helpful if anyone in your family has specific medical
needs. These forms can be loaded on to a flash drive, labeled and kept in your kit or printed in a small font, folded and enclosed tightly in a zip-lock bag and taped shut to keep it safe from water.

Medical history cards for each family member, with blood type (you can print these very small and laminate them so they don’t have to be folded and bagged), are a very good idea. Keep them in your kit or your wallet. Or you can have your blood type and allergies tattooed on your body like one person I know.

Emergency phone numbers, including contact information for your family doctor and pediatrician, local emergency services, emergency road service providers and the regional poison control center can also be laminated and kept in your KitTen or wallet.

Simple First-aid instruction manual – you can also have a first aid app on your phone.

Quick Clot is an emergency clotting agent for major bleeding (including arterial) that needs attention sooner than traffic may allow. Some CPR training facilities and gun ranges offer classes on how to use it though it’s pretty cut and dried. Pun intended.

A Mini Sewing Kit with 2 needles a small amount of thread and fishing line can be helpful for fixing clothing, suturing emergencies, fishing and making traps – although you’d have to learn how to do these things. But I love every day tools that cover more than just the one most likely scenario.

Water-proof Matches, a torch-lighter (works in wind) or a flint and steel. Seems silly but fire is such a crucial thing to have access to. If you’re trapped in a snow drift over night in your car, the ability to make a fire could save your life. And the spare tampon and Vaseline you have in your KitTen will serve perfectly as tinder. Toby Cowern taught me that!

2 Non-lubricated Condoms – Not what you’re thinking (although you never know). For carrying water in an emergency, because they take up no space. Even just to flush a wound. I’ve heard you can even boil water in them if you have to. I haven’t tried this, but apparently the water keeps the rubber from melting. Get confirmation before counting on it. The details are pretty specific.

A couple of rain poncho packets. They take up no space and keeps you and your kids dry in a downpour.

Heat blanket packet. You never know when you or your kids might get really cold. I’m told these work, though I have never had the occasion to use one. They come in a tight, flat pack. You may have seen them or been the recipient of one after a Marathon.

Mini Sharpie and/or Pencil for taking and leaving notes and making directional signs on trees and rocks if necessary.

Snack/Water: Whether in your purse, bag, car or KitTen, you should always have some sort of snack with you–a bar, some nuts and raisins. Never get caught without food or water, especially if you have kids, or low blood sugar. Waiting on line for a movie can become a crisis without this stuff. If you are off the beaten path or plan to be, I highly recommend having a few water purification tablets. They take up no space wrapped in a small amount of aluminum foil. You have to have a container and you must wait around a half hour before drinking. A water purification straw like the LifeStraw, filters dirty water from a puddle in an emergency and takes up a fraction of the space of other water filters. It is still too large for your KitTen though and is more likely to live in your car.

(Picture: Notice the mini pill case. This works for me because I get to choose what I put in it. Or you may prefer the tiny one-use packets you can buy in bulk.)

Give Your Kit a Regular Checkup and Other Suggestions

This is your everyday kit. Take care of it. Replace items, check expirations on prescriptions at least. I’m not so worried about expirations on OTC stuff. They tend to work fine decades after they expire, or so says my Father-In-Law, the Professor of Biochemistry and Immunology, and a few articles I’ve read. But make sure crucial drugs like nitroglycerine or epi-pens are up to date. Don’t take my word for it. Always do your own research, but you probably don’t need to throw away your five-year-old aspirin. Donate the extra five bucks to charity or put it in a jar.

Consider taking a first-aid course through the American Red Cross. Contact your local chapter for classes. Find a buddy and make it an event.

Prepare children for medical emergencies in age-appropriate ways. The American Red Cross offers a number of helpful resources, including classes designed to help children understand and use first-aid techniques.

I’ll Never Get Around To It:

If you need someone to build you a KitTen, contact us at Teja@ConflictResearchGroup.com. We can collaborate on it. It will cost about $150 to $200 for quality products, depending on the items you select (we’ll send you a PayPal invoice). We agree on the price before any work gets done.

If you DIY it, expect to spend about $75 at the very least, depending on the quality of products, especially the MultiTool and Headlamp if you include them, and you should.
Make one for yourself and others in your family. They make cool, thoughtful, personal gifts.

I’m actually more of a dog person myself, but who can resist a KitTen.

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