No one wants to live like disaster is just around the corner. But there’s a case to be made for being prepared. Just look at the freak pre-Halloween blizzard that left tens of thousands of families without power, causing displacements and major disruptions of every day life. Or the flooding that has decimated several major cities over the last few years, the tornadoes that flattened Joplin, Mo., and the fires that forced Central Texas families to seek safer ground.
These recent episodes argue that preparedness—not paranoia—is important, no matter where you live. The American Red Cross suggests that every household assemble a disaster supply kit, just in case. You may also want to stash one at the office and in your car. Pack the items in easy-to-carry containers, label them and store them where they are easily accessible. Make sure all members of the family—even children-know where to locate them. Duffle bags, backpacks and covered trash receptacles are good candidates for containers.
Here’s what to include:
- Water—one gallon per person, per day. You need a three-day supply if you’re evacuated, a two-day supply if you are homebound.
- Food—nonperishable, easy-to-prepare items. Aim for a three-day supply, which would be sufficient if you’re displaced or homebound. You can use the canned goods, dry mixes, and other staples on your cupboard shelves. A typical disaster kit could include, for instance, cans of green beans and applesauce, canned beef stew, dried beans and rice, and boxed macaroni and cheese.
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
- Multipurpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Cell phone with chargers
- Family and emergency contact information
- Extra cash
- Emergency blanket
- Map(s) of the area
Depending on the needs of your family members, you may also want to include:
- Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
- Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
- Games and activities for children
- Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
- Two-way radios
- Extra set of car keys and house keys
- Manual can opener
Additional supplies to keep at home or in your kit based on the types of disasters common to your area:
- N95 or surgical masks (to protect from smoke or airborne toxins)
- Rain gear
- Work gloves
- Tools/supplies for securing your home
- Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
- Plastic sheeting
- Duct tape
- Household liquid bleach
- Entertainment items
- Blankets or sleeping bags
This article was originally published as Emergency Preparedness on SpryLiving.com.