Disasters are unfortunately more common than many of us may realize. In fact, as of October 2017, America witnessed at least 15 natural disasters that include two floods, seven severe storms, three tropical cyclones, one drought, an unprecedented streak of wildfires, and other calamities. Altogether, the weather and climate have claimed 323 lives, and each disaster has cost nearly $1 billion each, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Although towns, states, and the national government have plans in place to respond to crises when they arise, in many cases, individuals must rely on their own initiative in order to remain safe when disaster strikes. With that in mind, individuals and families alike should create emergency preparedness kits stocked with essential items so that they can be prepared when Mother Nature comes knocking.
The Essentials: Food, Water, and Medicine
Be sure to pack at least three-days’ worth of non-perishable food, like canned goods, in your emergency preparedness kit. You’ll also want to stock at least one gallon of water, per day, for days for each person in your household; for example, a family of four would need 12 gallons of water to last them three days. This water will be used for both drinking, cooking, and bathing or sanitation.
Furthermore, to treat any injuries or ailments that may arise after a disaster, you’ll want to have a first aid kit handy. This should include bandages, antiseptic wipes, prescription medications, and more.
Key utilities in a disaster scenario include a NOAA weather radio to receive updates from the outside world, a flashlight and LED headlamp, extra batteries, cell phone charger and backup battery, pliers and tools, a whistle, and flares. Round out your emergency preparedness kit with dust masks to filter contaminated air, plastic sheeting and duct tape to create shelters-in-place, a heat reflective emergency blanket, garbage bags, moist towelettes, feminine products, plastic ties, a manual can opener, and local maps.
To be as prepared as possible for any situation, you’ll need more than a standard emergency kit, so consider adding supplies like non-prescription medications—like pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids, and so on—glasses and contact solution, matches, candles, a fire extinguisher, warm blankets or sleeping bags, and changes of clothing. It’s also a good idea to pack some family documents, like personal identification and insurance policies, as well as cash or checks in a waterproof container.
Your kit isn’t finished once you stock it with all of the items on the list. Instead, you’ll need to continue to check it regularly. Inspect the kit twice a year to see if any items have expired or become damaged, and if so, discard and replace them. You’ll also want to update your kit as your family needs change; for example, if you welcome a baby home, you’ll want to include diapers and formula in your kit as well.