Disasters are all too common these days. From hurricanes to earthquakes and massive floods to house fires, disasters are usually the first thing we hear about on the evening news and the last thing we expect to happen to us. It is essential that every household creates emergency kits for their home and vehicles and make a plan about what steps to take incase a there is a disaster.
Disaster kits are easy to make and can be a fun family activity. Make sure all the members of the household know what is in the emergency kit and where it is located. Emergency disaster kits for the home should include non-perishable food and a clean water supply that will last three to seven days per person. Everyone will need at least one gallon of water per day. Here are some other items to keep in your kit:
- A battery-power radio, extra batteries, and a NOAA Weather Radio that provides tone alerts
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- First aid kit, medicine, prescription drugs, a spare set of eye glasses,
- Can opener
- For sanitation, keep moist towelettes, toilet paper, hygiene items, anti-bacterial hand sanitizer, garbage bags and twist ties
- Dust mask or cotton t-shirt to help filter air
- Plastic tarps and duct tape to create a shelter
- A tool kit
- A jacket, pair of long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes, hat, gloves, and a sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Paper towels
- Fire extinguisher
- Lighter or matches in a water-proof container
- Signal flares
- Paper and pencils
- Chlorine bleach
- Medicine dropper
- Supplies for your pets
- Copies of important documents kept in a waterproof container: insurance policies, identification, bank records, credit card information, medical records, phone numbers, etc.
- A full tank of gas in your vehicles full: in times of disaster, many gas stations may close or be unable to pump gas if the power is out.
It is also essential to create a roadside emergency kit to keep in every vehicle. This kit can come in handy during a disaster or anytime you are out on the road. This kit should include:
- Jumper cables
- Flares and triangle reflectors
- Two quarts of oil and a funnel
- A pair of work gloves
- A collapsible shovel
- First aid kit
- Extra fuses
- A tool kit and pocket knife
- A tire inflator and tire pressure gauge
- Rags and paper towel
- Duct tape
- A spray bottle with washer fluid
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Paper and pens
- A “Help Needed” sign
- Non-perishable food and bottled water
- Ice scraper
- A list of important phone numbers
- Fire extinguisher
- Cash and change for a telephone
- Information about yourself and family members
- Maps of the area
- Toilet paper and baby wipes
- Matches or a lighter
- Plastic bags for disposing trash or other waste
- Emergency kits for the home and car can be found in many stores today, especially in the big warehouse stores.
In your family emergency plan, discuss a communication plan that includes important home and cell phone numbers of friends and family. Also write down the phone number for emergency services, your insurance companies, a disaster restoration company, place of employment, meeting locations, and other community or business contacts. Keep these phone numbers with the emergency disaster kit. Also designate an out-of-area contact that every member can contact should your family get separated.
In your home, locate the safest area in case there should be a storm surge, flooding, or high winds. Sometimes the safest place to be may not be in your home, but in another building in your community. Plan out what these other safe places are, their routes, and distances. Also designate meeting places incase your family gets separated during the event. Also plan what will happen with family pets during this time. Discuss with your children the family emergency plan, disaster recovery plan, and what the procedure will be if they are in school during an emergency situation.
After a disaster, as soon as you are able, call in disaster recovery services that can help you and your family return to normalcy. Such services can help restore documents, books and pictures that were affected, dry out your home or building, and aid with business continuity. Include a disaster continuity plan while planning for a disaster. This will not only help you have peace of mind, but also help you look forward after the worst is over.
Gray, Jo Anne. “Get Your Car Kit Together.” The EpiCenter. 8 November 2008.
Mead, Scott. “How to Create Your Own Roadside Emergency Kit.” Edmunds. 8 November 2008.
“Make a Disaster Kit and a Family Plan.” FEMA. 21 May 2007. 9 November 2008.
“Ready Kids:Be Prepared in Every Situation.” US Department of Homeland Security. 9 November 2008.