Emergencies can happen at any time. With hardly any warning, any one of us could be stuck without power, water, or a dozen other things we need to survive. It’s important to be prepared for drastic emergencies; it could not only save your life, but the lives of your family as well. To be prepared, you’ll have to have the proper supplies to keep your family safe and well in case of a disaster. You’ll have to store many of these supplies in your home, but it’s also important to keep a well-supplied emergency kit that you can take with you in case you have to evacuate your home. Make sure to keep this kit within reach and near an exit, such as your front door or your garage, as you may have to evacuate your home quickly in an emergency.
First off, it’s important to tailor your emergency supplies to your area. Certain sections of the country experience different hazards than others. Tornadoes, fires, hurricanes, flooding, and mudslides are just a few of the potential hazards that might affect your area. Check with your local emergency manager if you’re not sure what types of disasters your home could potentially experience. Then make your list of supplies based on those hazards and what your family would need to survive them.
Below, we’ve listed the bare minimum you should have in your emergency kit.
- A gallon of water per person, per day you’re likely to be on your own. In case of an evacuation, you should have enough for 3 days. In case you’re stuck in your home, you should have a two-week supply stored somewhere in your house.
- Non-perishable food that’s easy to prepare. Generally, this should be canned food. Again, three days’ worth have to be ready for evacuation, and two weeks’ worth should be ready at home.
- A manual can opener.
- Blankets and/or sleeping bags for each member of your family. Even in the summer, blankets can be extremely helpful in keeping your family safe and well. Warm clothes and sturdy shoes can also be vital in protecting you and your family from a potentially harsh environment. This should go in your emergency kit, as you will most likely be able to keep the people inside your own home somewhat warm, even if the power goes out.
- A change of clothes for each member of your family.
- A fully-charged flashlight. Preferably self-powered, as they last longer and can be used to charge your phone as well. Remember, if a major disaster strikes your area, there most likely won’t be any power, and batteries will be scarce.
- A portable radio, either battery-powered or hand-cranked. Some self-powered radios can also be used to charge your cellphone in an emergency, and they’ll generally be useful longer than battery-powered ones.
- At least one cellphone with portable chargers. A satellite phone would be most useful, just in case the local cell towers are knocked out of commission. As we’ve stated above, some varieties of self-powered flashlights and self-powered radios can also keep your phone charged.
- Extra batteries.
- A fully-stocked first aid kit.
- At least a week’s supply of necessary medications for your family, along with any additional medical items your family might need to function (such as hearing aids and batteries, syringes, glasses, etc.)
- Any additional medical items your family needs.
- A multi-purpose tool. You never know what tools might be useful in an emergency.
- Basic personal hygiene and sanitation items.
- At least one copy of any essential personal documents, such as your medical information, your proof of address, the deed or lease to your home, your insurance policies, your list of medications, or your birth certificates. This should also include contact emergency contact information.
- Emergency cash.
- Maps of the immediate area.
You should also make sure to tailor your emergency supplies to your family as well. Make sure to take any necessary baby supplies if you’ve got a little one to take care of. Any children in your family will most likely be scared and anxious, and it can be very helpful to take games or anything that can entertain your children, keep them active, and take their minds off the disaster. Two-way radios can also be extremely helpful in case your family gets separated. Supplies to take care of any pets you might have can also be a great help (you won’t want to lose your pet as well in an emergency). It can also be helpful to keep your car keys and house keys with you. You can never tell for sure when you might need them again.
And remember, we’ve only listed common essentials. Your area might make it necessary for you to pack other survival gear as well. Contact your local emergency manager to see what other kinds of supplies you might need in case of an emergency.