When it comes to emergencies, preparation is essential. Depending on the type of situation, it can sometimes impact your safety. This is especially true in the event of natural disaster, such as a hurricane. The key to preparation is an emergency preparedness kit, stocked with essentials that not only help you stay safe, but also, informed about what is happening around you.
Consider these top tips to create, stock and store an emergency preparedness kit in your home.
Create The Right Kind of Kit
The type of emergencies you should prepare for, especially where natural disasters are concerned, should be the specific to your region. For example, someone living in California or Washington state need not prepare a hurricane kit. Someone living in Florida is less likely to need a wildfire survival kit.
Determine the kind of emergency and/or natural disaster you would be most likely to encounter. This ensures that the supplies with which you stock your kit help you respond more effectively to the situation in question.
Make a Portable Version
Your emergency preparedness kit will likely be stored somewhere in your home to deal with an emergency or disaster as it happens. This kit will house many of your supplies and may take up a closet or storage space because of the number of items.
However, you also need a portable version of your kit that can grab on the go. Place these items in a large backpack or duffle bag that you can easy grab if you have to leave in a rush. This is especially important in areas prone to situations that don't offer a lot of warning.
If you have a lot of food and water to take, consider a plastic bin with wheels or even a rolling cart, similar to the kind you might use for the beach. The cart is ideal because you can fold it up and stick in the car, so that you can unload your items when you arrive at your destination.
A good example of such a situation is the annual wildfire threat in the western regions of the U.S. When wildfires flare up, residents often have mere hours of warning to vacate their homes. Comparatively, residents in the southeastern United States may contend with hurricanes, but they often have days of warning before disaster strikes.
Start With The Basics
A good emergency preparedness kit should include basic components such as a first aid kit, batteries, flashlight and battery-powered radio that receives weather alerts. Make sure that the radio has fresh batteries in it and an extra set of batteries to keep it powered throughout the emergency.
The first aid kit should include alcohol wipes, antiseptic cream/ointment, band-aids/bandages, sterile dressing, tweezers, disposable gloves and adhesive tape.
Focus on Food
Include a three-day supply of non-perishable food for each person in the house. Canned goods are popular items for inclusion. However, if your kit is portable and you need to move fast, canned foods can weigh you down.
This is where freeze dried food can be handy. These packs come in a variety of sizes and flavors and can be purchased in bulk. This is the ideal food inclusion for your portable emergency preparedness kit because it won't weigh your bag down. It will provide you with the necessary nutrition to get through several days of evacuation.
Good food choices for inclusion in an emergency kit include canned fruits and vegetables, tuna pouches, pudding, beef jerky, peanut butter, instant milk and canned beans. Soups, stews and pre-cooked rice bowls are also good inclusions for food in a survival kit.
Include Plenty of Water
This is admittedly a tricky option for portable kits because similar to canned goods, multiple bottles of water can weigh you down. But water is essential for survival. Store multiple cases of bottled water in your home wherever you store the rest of the items in your kit.
Then, use emergency water pouches for your portable kit. These foil packs generally contain purified drinking water that remains viable for several years. They are each to store, you can easily throw numerous packs into a backpack and they ensure hydration if you need to evacuate immediately.
Add a Few Accessories
Every emergency preparedness kit should include those items that people need in an emergency, but just don't think about in the heat of the moment. This includes:
- A whistle in case you need to signal for help from first responders
- Dust masks to help you breathe in air that may have been contaminated during the disaster
- Antibacterial wipes for sanitation purposes
- A map of your community in the event that paved streets are no longer recognizable after an emergency
- A pair of pliers to turn off your home utilities to avoid electricity-related dangers
- A manual can opener to open your canned food items
- An extra cell phone, fully-charged with a back-up battery
Store It Somewhere Accessible
If yours is a portable emergency preparedness kit, make sure it's somewhere you can get to it quickly. If it's stored in the back of a closet, behind your Christmas decorations for instance, in a moment of panic where you are already not thinking as clearly, you might forget where you put it.
Place your kit in a cool, dry area of your home. Keep it out of reach of children, so that you know it contains all of the items you placed in it. Some of the items in your kit may also be dangerous for children.
Maintain Your Kit Routinely
While many of the items included in a good emergency preparedness kit are made to last, it is important to maintain it. The last thing you want is to pull out something from your kit during an emergency only to find it has expired or is working improperly.
Every six months or so (more frequently during storm or wildfire seasons), thoroughly inspect all the items in your kit. Make sure that everything is up to date and replace items as needed.
One of the reasons that an emergency kit is so important is because you can't just run to the grocery store or your local survival pro shop during a crisis. You need to have everything you might need to survive for days on end in your home.
There will be little you can do if you half the canned food is no longer safe for consumption or your radio batteries are dead. For organization purposes, maintain a log of what you purchased for your kit and when, recommended expiration or replacement dates and any other pertinent information about the items you've stowed.
This will ensure that as you maintain your kit, you are aware of what needs to be replaced or updated, especially in situations where seasonal threats give you plenty of time to prepare.
Go Solar Where Possible In Your Emergency Preparedness Kit
Solar is ideal for inclusions in your emergency kit because it decreases your reliance on batteries or electricity. For example, use a solar radio to stay updated on the latest news or official instructions. This mitigates the need for a battery and you can use solar energy to charge it.
Don't Forget Fuel
This is one of the easiest items to overlook in an emergency kit because it is not something you can keep inside your home. In a crisis, though, you may not have the option to purchase fuel to evacuate.
You may also use fuel for a generator, so keep enough to fill your generate and put some your vehicle in case you end up having to evacuate.
Copies of Important Documents
This is one of the items for a survival kit that might seem extreme, but can actually be helpful as you deal with the fallout of the crisis. Make copies of you and your family's birth certificates, identification cards, insurance documents and anything you might need to use in the rebuilding process.
Wading through the complexities of rebuilding after a disaster or even returning to a home in need of repair is so much more challenging without proof of your identity or insurance information.
Make copies of these documents and put them in a plastic, waterproof bag. Keep this bag close to you at all times if you have to evacuate. Keep some cash in an envelop in this bag as well in case you need it during an evacuation.
Keep a few extra clothing items in your kit to help stay comfortable. This is particularly important if you live in an area prone to hurricanes, because you are more likely to get wet while evacuating.
If you have room or are so inclined, extra blankets and towels would also be an ideal inclusion in your survival kit.