According to the American Red Cross, you should have at least 3 days worth of supplies in an easy to carry disaster preparedness kit. There are at least 15 items that they recommend you have in your kit. You may need more, depending on your family and where you live.
- Water: Have at least one gallon of water per person per day.
- Food: Pack non-perishable, high-protein items, including energy bars, ready to eat soup, peanut butter, etc. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and that need little or no water added.
- Flashlight: Hand-crank and alternative energy options are available. Include extra batteries if applicable. A waterproof flashlight is suggested.
- First Aid Kit: Include a first aid reference guide.
- Medications: Do not forget prescription and non-prescription items.
- Radio: Include extra batteries or use a hand-crank radio.
- Tools: Gather a wrench to turn off gas if necessary, a manual can opener, screwdriver, hammer, pliers, knife, duct tape, plastic sheeting and garbage bags with ties.
- Clothing: Provide a change of weather appropriate clothes for everyone, including sturdy shoes and gloves.
- Personal Items: Remember copies of important papers, including identification cards, insurance policies, birth certificates, passports, etc. Eyeglasses, contact lenses, and comfort items like toys and books should also be included.
- Sanitary Supplies: You may need toilet paper, towelettes, feminine supplies, personal hygiene items, bleach, and sunscreen.
- Money: Have cash. ATM’s and credit cards will not work if the power is out.
- Contact Information: Carry a current list of family phone numbers, addresses, and e-mail addresses, including someone who lives out of the area (may be easier to reach if local phone lines are out of service or overloaded).
- Pet Supplies: For each pet, include food, water, collar, leash, cage, carrying case, litter box, plastic bags, tags, as well as any medications and vaccination information.
- Map: Consider marking several evacuation routes from your local area.
- Storage: Store your kit in a sturdy, easy to carry container or containers, and put your kit in an easily accessible place. Keep a smaller version of the kit in your vehicle. If you become stranded or are not able to return home, having some items with you may help you be more comfortable until help arrives.
This list is courtesy of the American Red Cross.
You should check your kit every 6 months. Keep tabs on and replace expired items.
Evacuation plan: Talk with your family about the kinds of disasters that could occur in your area. Assign responsibilities to each family member and decide what would happen if one member was absent at the time of a disaster. Pick two family meeting places in the event you need to evacuate your home. One should be inside your neighborhood the other outside your neighborhood. Include your pets in your plan too. Practice your evacuation plan a few times a year.
Adults should also know how to use a fire extinguisher and also how to turn off electricity, water and gas. Everyone in the family should know where your disaster kit is.
I don’t know about you, but my household has some disaster preparedness work to do!
Photo credit: Elaine Vigneault