Emergency Preparedness Made Easy
By Amanda Kuzak
It doesn’t matter where you live; you are susceptible to an earthquake, hurricane, snow storm, power outage, flood, or some other disaster. Any of these events could leave you and your family stranded at home for a few days without power or electricity. Since September was National Preparedness Month I wanted to help you get your emergency kits ready for whatever may come your way this winter.
Before I talk about the emergency kit you need to have in your home, I want to talk about the emergency kit you should have in your car. An emergency could happen while you are driving, so it is smart to have a small container in your trunk with a few emergency essentials.
This is what my emergency kit for my car looks like, it has a blanket, an extra pair of sneakers and socks (just in case I am wearing heels or sandals and need to vacate my car and walk), a flashlight, a power flare, and water. Of course, you would duplicate items for your family and keep them in the same container or create their own.
Next, let’s talk about emergency kits for your pet. This is my emergency kit for my pooch Harper, it contains a towel, food, water, an extra food dish, a leash, a toy, and her medicine. I keep her kit stored next to my emergency home kit, it is stored in a small bin so I could carry it with us if we had to evacuate.
Living in California, I thought more people would have an emergency kit in their homes, but I rarely see one. When I ask my clients why they don’t keep emergency items on hand, they say that they don’t worry about emergencies, or don’t know how to create one, or they have been meaning to set one up, but they just keep forgetting. How many of you have an extra supply of food, water, and emergency items in your homes?
This is what my kit looks like. It is recommended you have supplies stored in air-tight tubs or on shelves in your garage or basement. Mine are stored in a cabinet in our garage. I also keep a duffel bag on top just in case I need to leave my house during an emergency.
Here are the items that should be in your kit; this list comes directly from FEMA.
- Three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Three-day supply of water – one gallon of water per person, per day
- Portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit and manual
- Sanitation and hygiene items (moist towelettes and toilet paper)
- Matches and waterproof container
- Extra clothing
- Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils, including a can opener
- Photocopies of credit and identification cards
- Cash and coins
- Special needs items, such as prescription medications, eye glasses, contact lens solutions, and hearing aid batteries
- Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers
- Other items to meet your unique family needs
Depending on your climate, these items might come in handy too…
- Jacket or coat
- Long pants
- Long sleeve shirt
- Sturdy shoes
- Hat, mittens, and scarf
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket (per person)
I stock my kit with non-perishable food from Costco because it comes in bulk. I chose items that we would eat normally like tuna, protein bars, peanut butter, fruit cups, canned chili, canned beans, and pasta.
There is also an extra pair of shoes, towels and blankets, moist wipes, and at least 3 days worth of water. If you have a pool or live next to someone who has a pool think about investing in a high quality water filter.
Whenever I buy new blankets, I add the old ones to my emergency kit.
As important as it is to have an emergency kit, here are some things to do in order to maintain your kit…
- Keep canned foods in a dry place where the temperature is cool
- Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect from pests and to extend its shelf life
- Throw out any canned good that becomes swollen, dented, or corroded
- Use foods before they go bad, and replace them with fresh supplies
- Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in the front
- Change stored food and water supplies every six months. Be sure to write the date you store it on all containers
- Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family needs change
- Keep items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers, such as an unused trashcan, camping backpack, or duffel bag
Note: If this all seems too daunting to do on your own, you can purchase a pre-made kit from many different online retailers including the American Red Cross www.redcrossstore.org