When given an evacuation order, you need to be ready to act. You don’t always have time to think clearly and gather the essentials you need to take with you.
And if you haven’t given this some careful thought and planning, you’ll probably forget something important when disaster strikes. A prepackaged disaster or emergency kit can help tremendously, if you have to leave the home, for whatever reason.
Do you know what to do to protect yourself and your family, should there be a sudden disaster such as tornado, earthquake or hurricane? These environmental risks seem to have increased of late in areas such as mine, where their occurrence was considered rare. But no one is ever totally immune to disasters or extended power outages.
Even if you are not anywhere near the projected path of this particular hurricane and tornadoes are not a concern, you should at the very minimum, have a disaster or emergency kit ready to grab – should you have to.
There are many events that can cause us to leave our homes at a mere seconds notice. A toxic spill, a nearby explosion, a forest fire, flooding or an earthquake can have us scrambling for priority items and trying to decide what to do.
At that moment, you cannot possibly round up everything you need to evacuate, or even think clearly. So take a few minutes to assemble a disaster kit and then you’ll be ready to evacuate, should you ever need to. You can buy ready-made disaster and first aid kits, but the onus is on you to make sure it has what it should, to meet your specific family’s needs.
What You Need in a Disaster or Emergency Kit
Fill one or more easy-to-carry sports bags or bins with these items. Include enough for each member of the family, for at least 3-4 days, but more is even better. This kit should be ready year round with water, food and batteries refreshed as needed.
Basic Disaster Kit:
- Medications – prescribed and usual over-the-counter pain and other remedies
- Water – at least 1 gallon per person; more during hot weather
- First Aid kit including variety of bandages, tape, gauze, dust mask
- Flashlight – minimum 1; two is best with batteries
- Blanket – one for each person
- Clothing: Jacket, spare socks, sweatshirt and change of clothes
- Manual can opener
- Basic cutlery & plates: Small variety including a sharp knife, plastic spoons, forks, knives, paper plates
- Food – Tinned or sealed dry foods, granola bars, snacks for the family for at least 4 days
- Allergy related special foods, supplies, meds
- Essential personal care items: Diapers, feminine protection, roll toilet tissue, face tissues, disposable wet tissues, hand sanitizer
- Cash: A little emergency cash is better than nothing
- Priority papers: Insurance, driver’s license, proof of identity, health coverage, passport
- Cell phone
- Radio – battery powered
- Personal priority items: Eyeglasses, mobility devices
Other Things You Could Include:
- Eyeglasses, sunglasses
- Important phone numbers, emails
- Sleeping bags, pillows, towels, facecloths
- Priority electronics
- Deck of cards, small games
- Infant, toddler items
- Important papers/documents: Wedding certificate, birth certificates, back-up data drive, insurance papers, pension numbers/cards
When You Have a Little Notice:
- Stock up on food: Always assume a longer than three day power outage or evacuation. But be reasonable. Foods should be mostly non-perishable, well sealed in case of power outages.
- Disaster kit (above) has been refreshed if needed. Everyone should know where it is.
- Stock up on water: Buy water bottles and fill water containers if risk of local services being impacted
- Stock up on gas for vehicles, propane or other fuels needed to cook and survive for a few days
- Stock up on batteries for radio, flashlights
Especially When You Expect High Winds:
- Store lawn furniture or other items which could become airborne and break windows during a wind storm.
- Secure/tie down what you can’t store
- Board up windows
Especially When There’s Risk of a Power Outage:
- Gather candles, matches
- Ready generator for essential use
- Ready propane heaters, cookstoves, barbeque
- Fill large containers with water (if local services will be out)
- Turn all electronics off and unplug to minimize power surges
- Gather food you can cook when out of power and minimize opening freezers. Freezer foods will usually stay frozen or at least cold for 3-4 days if door is closed
- Ready appropriate clothing
For information on making tap water safe again after a disaster, read my Water 101 article on About.com.