As storm seasons around the world grow ever more destructive, it’s important to plan ahead. Loss of power, flooding, and fires can leave people stranded in their homes or on the road while emergency services are overwhelmed.
Building an emergency kit and having a family plan will help you to stay calm in case the worst happens. Here are some tips on preparing for emergencies so you won’t be caught unawares!
To start, stock your home with an Emergency Preparedness Kit. There are complete kits that you can buy, or you can build your own. When you’re deciding what to put in your kit, there are two main issues to consider — is it necessary, and is it portable?
Just because this kit is going to live in your home, that doesn’t mean you won’t need to move it if there is an emergency. If you need to evacuate, you’ll want to be able to grab your kit and go in seconds. So keep it accessible and portable.
Food, Water, Shelter
Our primary needs are food, water, and shelter. You’ll want to address these first. Make sure you have at least three gallons of water per person in your kit. Bottled water has a shelf life of 1-2 years. So it’s a good idea to replace it annually. You can use the old water on your plants.
Pack some water purification tablets as well. If you end up running out of bottled water, you may need to seek another source.
Next, you’ll need food. Canned food has a long shelf life, but it’s heavy and bulky. If you have a large storage space, you can stock up, but you may have trouble taking it with you if you need to move. Make sure you have a manual can opener!
Consider pouched food instead. It’s much lighter, lays flat, and is easy to transport if necessary. A camp stove with some fuel will allow you to heat up your rations.
If there is a baby in the house or on the way, make sure to add some powdered formula or baby food to the bag. And don’t forget pet food for the family dog or cat.
Include a change of clothes for every member of the family, as well as plastic ponchos to keep dry. These can double as a ground cover if necessary. And pack a few emergency blankets as well. These thermal foil blankets help trap your body heat, and can also be used as a sun shade or to block rain or snow.
Start by adding a well-stocked First Aid kit. In an emergency situation, medical services may not be able to reach you for a while. So you’ll want to be prepared for more than just cuts and bruises.
Include gauze and elastic bandages, medical tape, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment, and hydrocortisone cream. A splint and sling can help you to stabilize sprains or breaks until you can get help.
Stock up on over-the-counter medicines as well, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. If someone in the house wears contacts, make sure to include a travel-sized bottle of contact solution and a contact case. Include hand sanitizer, soap, feminine hygiene products, toothbrushes for everyone, and toothpaste.
Toilet paper and tissues should go in your pack, as well as diapers and diaper cream if necessary.
Next, consider prescription medication. Make sure you have any necessary insulin, asthma inhalers, blood pressure pills, epi-pens, or other vital medication. These items all expire, so make sure to replace them as needed.
Since you don’t know what to expect in an emergency, it’s a good idea to be prepared for as many outcomes as possible. Add these items to your kit as well:
- Solar phone charger
- Local maps
- Waterproof matches
- Slow burn emergency candles
- Emergency radio
- Emergency whistle
- Swiss army knife or similar multitool
- Copies of ID docs, like your license and Social Security card
What if you’re on the road when something happens? Your at-home kit won’t do you much good if you can’t get home right away.
If you’re taking a longer trip, you can put your whole emergency kit in the car. But on a daily basis, it’s a good idea to have a smaller kit with you. This kit should have some similar items to the home kit, such as water, snacks, first aid supplies, an emergency blanket, and a flashlight.
But also make sure to have some car specific supplies. You’ll want to have jumper cables, a gas can, and roadside flares in case you need to set up a perimeter on the road at night. You’ll also want a car charger for your phone, an empty gas can, and an emergency car battery charger.
Finally, a car escape tool should always be within easy reach of the driver seat. This tool will include a seatbelt cutter and window breaker, which can help you escape if you’re trapped in the vehicle.
Make a Family Plan
Once your kits are set up, it’s time to create a family plan. This is especially important when there are kids in the house.
You’ll want every member of the family to know what they should do if there’s an emergency. Don’t rely on being able to call each other to make a plan. Depending on the nature of the emergency, it’s possible that you could lose cell service.
Designate a place for the adults to meet if they can’t get to the house or reach each other by phone. For example, you could plan to meet at the nearby fire station so you can decide what to do next.
If you have kids, make sure to plan out who will pick up each child from school. If your kids are in different schools, it may make the most sense for one parent to pick up one child, and the other parent to pick up another. Creating your plan in advance will ensure you can take action quickly.
Finally, make sure everyone has each other’s phone numbers written down. For adults and teens, a list of phone numbers for the immediate and extended family can be tucked in a wallet. For small children, you can write mom or dad’s phone number on a piece of fabric and safety pin it into their backpack. That way if the family gets separated or cell phones lose battery, the family will still be able to get in touch.
No one likes to think about what could happen in an emergency. But by spending some time preparing supplies and a plan, you can help to avoid some of the chaos that comes with a natural or man-made disaster.
By ensuring your immediate needs are met, you and your family will be able to regroup to consider what to do next. Whether you decide to stay put or seek help, you’ll feel more confident in your decision if you’re warm, fed, and healthy.