Don’t wait until severe weather strikes to make preparations. When a disaster occurs, you won’t have time to think clearly, and you may have to leave your home quickly. That’s why we recommend that you pack your emergency kit well in advance and store it in a safe place that’s easily accessible.
Your emergency kit needs to have anything that you might need for an extended period without the services we usually take for granted like transportation, food, electricity, and water. This kit should be able to sustain you for at least 72 hours, as it might be a while before emergency personnel can reach you.
Don’t just prepare an emergency preparedness kit for home: have a kit at work too, or urge your employer to organize one for all employees. Having an emergency kit at work is especially important for those jobs that are vital in times of emergency, as you’ll likely still be working in the event of a disaster.
What Goes into a Kit? Here Are the Most Important Items:
- Have at least one gallon of water per day, per person. This water won’t only be used for drinking but sanitation as well.
- Pack at least three days’ worth of non-perishable food. It might also be a good idea to pack so-called ‘ready to eat’ foods, as you may not have access to fire to cook.
- First aid kit
- Cell phone with a charger and a backup battery
- Can opener
- Emergency weather radio
- Personal sanitation items: toilet paper, paper towels, moist towelettes, soap, etc.
- Tools: screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches. You may need to turn off utilities to prevent leaks
- Several changes of clothes, sneakers for walking, and jackets.
- Important family documents. Make sure these are sealed in a watertight bag.
- Sleeping bags
If you live in an area at risk for air quality issues as a result of a disaster, masks, plastic sheeting, and duct tape are also recommended as you may be asked to ‘shelter in place’ and seal up your shelter to prevent contaminants from getting in.
The above suggestions are what we consider the minimum for any emergency kit to have. But most decide to include more. Whether you do or not is up to personal preference, but many of these items will be nice to have.
Other Items to Consider
- Rain gear (ponchos, raincoats)
- Camping stove
- Paper plates and plastic cutlery
- Flares (to signal for help)
- Paper, pencils, pens
- Personal hygiene items
- Disinfectant wipes
- LifeStraw 1.0 family water purifier
- Medicine dropper (see above)
Emergency Kits for Pets
Often when we prepare our disaster kits, we forget about our pets. These types of situations can be especially stressful for animals, so it’s vital that you keep them as comfortable as possible. Here are our recommendations for a simple emergency kit for your pets:
- Medical documentation and a supply of essential pet medication
- Pet first aid kit
- Several days’ worth of non-perishable pet food
- Cat litter
- Extra collar and leash
- Bottled water and a plastic bowl. Depending on size, a pet may require as much water as a human!
For more information regarding pet safety during an emergency, read this guide from Ready.gov
Where Should I Store My Emergency Kit?
After packing your disaster supply kit, you’ll want to store it in a dark, cool, and dry place. Store items in an airtight plastic container, and if you live in an area prone to flooding, high enough that floodwaters won’t reach it.
It should also be in a place that’s easily accessible in the living area of your residence. You may not have the time or the capability to get to a basement or attic, and either place could be flooded or damaged in the event of a disaster.
Also, make sure all members of your family or other employees at your workplace know where the kit is.
How Often Should I Replace My Emergency Kit?
Most of the items in your storm emergency kit will last years without any need to replace the contents. The food should be cycled out of your kit before the expiration date, replaced by new foods.
Should I Have Money in My Emergency Kit?
Yes. Most of us no longer carry cash with us, opting instead to use our credit or debit cards. In a disaster, power may be cut, electronic payment systems may fail, or ATMs may run out of cash. Banks might be closed for extended periods of time, and it may be difficult to gain access to money.
In the event of a disaster, make sure you have enough cash on hand to sustain yourself and others for several days. It is a good idea to have some money in the kit itself, but if there’s a disaster you can prepare for—such as a hurricane, tornado, storm, etc. pull money out of the ATM days before and store that cash in your kit as well.