When disaster strikes and you have to evacuate your home, you rarely have time to get together much to take with you. That means you need put together a disaster kit now! You may not think your home could ever be in the path of a hurricane, flood, wildfire or mudslide, but all of these disasters—and others—can force you out in a hurry.
Often when this happens, you have little opportunity to prepare for your stay at a makeshift shelter or other safe haven. That’s why you should get ready now so that you and your family, and especially any young children, will have a more comfortable stay until the danger passes and you can return to your home. In addition to putting together a disaster kit, make sure you and your family have an emergency plan in place.
You can find some disaster kits for sale, but many can be overpriced and leave you underserved. Instead, prepare own disaster kit, tailored to your family’s needs. Here are some tips on how to do it yourself.
Items to Include
According to the American Red Cross, a basic survival kit should consist of:
- First-aid supplies, including bandages, disinfectants, ointments and pain relievers. Remember to accommodate young children who should not take some pain medicines.
- Non-perishable foods and a gallon of water per family member per day. Emergency evacuation kits should provide enough sustenance for a minimum of 72 hours.
- An all-purpose tool, such as an army knife.
- One week’s worth of the prescription medications needed for each family member.
- Hand sanitizer or moist towelettes.
- A flashlight.
- A battery-operated radio.
- Extra batteries.
- A whistle to alert emergency responders to your location if you can’t make it to a shelter.
- Phone chargers (in case you have access to electrical outlets).
- Cash or traveler’s checks.
- Copies of important family documents (such as the deed or lease to your home, insurance policies, passports, medical information, and birth certificates) in a waterproof container.
There are also additional items that would be smart to include, such as:
- Items to keep children occupied, such as games, coloring books and crayons, puzzles, etc.
- Diapers, formula, bottles, and other supplies for infants and young toddlers.
- Food and extra water for pets. Many shelters do not allow animals (with the exception of service animals), so it’s a good idea to have a care plan in place for your pets.
- A change of clothes for each family member, including long-sleeve shirts, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider including more layers if you live in a colder climate. Adjust the clothing seasonally.
Prepare and Stay Up-To-Date
Do research on the types of disasters native to your area of residence and plan your kit accordingly. Always have a disaster kit packed, and keep it located in an area that would be easily accessible in the event of a disaster.
As it’s recommended to practice an emergency evacuation plan twice per year, also check your kit to add, remove, or substitute items. Children can grow a lot in six months, and it’s important to make sure the clothes in the kit would still fit. Also replace perishables as needed.
As a homeowner, it’s important to be ready for any sort of scenario. Ensure your family will be protected and sustained if a disaster strikes too close to home.