We all know that having an emergency preparedness plan is important. We also realize that the time to prepare for an emergency is before the emergency happens. However, knowing and doing are often two entirely different things for most people. Wading through the mass of information available is time-consuming and it can be overwhelming. Quite often what happens is that although people would prefer to have an emergency kit and plan in place in case of need, it is easier to adopt the “I hope it never happens to me,” stance and do nothing in advance.
Emergency Preparedness Kits
In breaking things down to the very basics, water, food, clean air, and warmth are the essential items for survival. When preparing an emergency kit, each family or individual should customize their kit to meet their specific needs. Also essential to include are important family documents and account information.
According to www.ready.gov, the following are recommended supplies to include in a basic emergency preparedness kit kept in a portable container:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand cranked radio and flashlight and extra batteries (stored taped to the outside to keep them fresh and easily accessible)
- First Aid Kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust Mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Can Opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Local maps
- Cell phones with chargers
In addition to the above, the following additional items are also recommended:
- Prescription medications and glasses
- Infant formula and diapers
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
- Cash or traveler's checks and change (ATM’s will not function in a power outage)
- Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information available from www.ready.gov
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
- Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
- Fire Extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Secure Storage for Emergency Cash and Other Valuables
Having a place to store valuables, such as money, gold coins, traveler’s checks and copies of important documents is essential to emergency preparedness. In an emergency, banks may not be open to access money or important items stored in safety deposit boxes, and ATM’s will not function if there is a power outage. Fireproof safes are a popular choice for storing valuables and important papers at home. However, most fireproof safes are rated to withstand heat and flames for only about an hour and if the temperature exceeds 350 degrees most will allow the papers inside to be incinerated. One of the most effective solutions is to hide money, gold or documents is to store in an underground safe.
Taking the time to prepare in advance for potential emergency situations brings peace of mind. Having a plan and an emergency preparedness kit in place, as well as a secure place to store valuables, emergency cash, and important papers will help to keep you and your family safe and well cared for in the event of an emergency.
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