The tricky thing about emergencies and disasters is that they often catch you off-guard. Without the proper preparations, you can find yourself and your family in dismal, even dangerous situations. For this reason, it is important to both teach and train your family members on how to act before, during and after an emergency.
One of the key items that can help your family survive is to prepare is an emergency kit. We have a family disaster preparedness calculator that will provide you a comprehensive list for your family.
Here are some things to note when packing an emergency kit:
- You need to pack enough supplies that can last you and your family for at least 72 hours.
- You can only put so many items in an emergency kit. So you will need to make them count if you need to evacuate your home, and the extra weight will slow you down. You might want to consider having a bag with wheels , to make the weight more manageable. This is great for senior folks as well.
- You can and should make more than one emergency kit. Create one for your home, your car, and even your place of work.
Keep the following in mind to help you build a well-rounded kit. To help you get started, here are five essential items your kit needs to have:
- First aid / Medical supplies
In case of an injury, having the right first aid supplies are critical to avoiding infection or even saving a life. There are several first aid kits that you can buy in stores and online but watch out with their contents. The kit that you'll find out there can have 37 items in their first aid kits, but when you look at what's included, it's only: 20 band-aids; 2 gauze pads; 4 alcohol wipes; 1 butterfly bandage; and 10 cotton swabs - a total of 37 items - but will these items really be useful in a real-life threatening emergency? No. What you need are supplies like trauma dressings, burn gel, splints, etc. See the list below:
After setting up your first aid kit, you can make additions, such as:
- Medications that you or other family members use
- Anti-allergy medications (i.e. Epipens, antihistamine)
Overall, your medical supplies depend highly on you and your family’s needs. Make sure to take into account any specific medical conditions when purchasing or setting up your own medical kit.
During an emergency, you need the strength and energy to survive and keep a clear head. When hungry, people become irritable and prone to making mistakes. It only makes sense then that food is one of the essential items that you need to bring with you.
For your home, you might have a full refrigerator and a well-stocked pantry. However, in the case of a power outage or flooding, these food sources can easily become contaminated or spoil and rendered useless. Moreover, you cannot really bring all of the food if you ever need to leave.
When choosing food, they need to be three things: dry and non-perishable and not thirst provoking.
For dry foods, you can pack energy bars and packaged snacks. Avoid packing junk food, such as chips and sweets, because they do not really offer much nutritional content and cause unnecessary thirst.
For non-perishables, canned goods and MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) are safe additions. Just keep in mind that too many canned goods can become heavy and MREs might need heat to be more palatable. We've put together a variety of grocery lists in our family disaster preparedness calculator.
Check and replace your food in the emergency kit each year to ensure quality and that they last a long time.
You can also consider emergency food bars which are great because they store well in heat, even in the trunk of your car. They are non-thirst provoking and made from all natural ingredients. With 5-year shelf life and each pack provides 3 days of food for one person.
Without water, you can die from dehydration in three days. You also need it for sanitation. For water, you can do two things:
1. Store clean water. You need to store at least one gallon per day for each person to use for at least 7 days. I would suggest for 2 weeks. So if you have 4 people in your family (1 gallon x 4 person x 14 days = 56 gallons). I would consider storing at least one 55 gallons Water Storage Barrel. Don’t forget you are going to need water for not only drinking but for general food preparation and for your Long Term Dehydrated Food Storage, sanitation, and first aid. Hand washing will become very important in a disaster to cut the risk of disease and infection. You can’t have too much water.
2. Filter the water yourself. There are filtering and purifying methods that allow you to clean the water yourself. Research about these online to find one that suits you and your family’s needs.
- Sanitation and personal hygiene
Sanitation is paramount during a disaster. People can easily get sick when exposed to bacteria and other wastes. Thus, the following needs to be part of your emergency kit:
- Extra set of clothes (You can reuse them as a pillow or bandaging if the need arises.)
- Toilet paper and towelettes
- Napkins and tampons
- Soap and alcohol
- Garbage bags and plastic ties
Keep these stored in a ziplock plastic bag to ensure that they do not get dirty.
- Miscellaneous items
This category comprises other essentials you may need to survive. Depending on how serious the emergency is, you might not need to use them, but it is best to keep them in your kit. These items are:
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Fire-starters (i.e. lighters, matches)
- Manual can opener (for canned foods)
- Copies of your personal documents (both physical and digital copies)
These are the must-have items in your emergency kit. It is difficult to predict what items you will truly need in the middle of an emergency, but you cannot also pack everything in your house. For this reason, you need to arm yourself with knowledge. Learn key survival skills, such first aid training or how to do CPR.
All in all, an emergency kit is essential to your home. Start building your own kit today.