The best time to prepare for an emergency is now. Emergencies never occur when we would like them to and once one hits it may be too late to gather the necessary supplies to keep you and your family safe and comfortable during the ensuing days.
Yet, half of adults in the United States do not have the resources and plans for an emergency, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). “Preparing emergency kits for your family is an important step in keeping them safe and healthy during a disaster,” CDC experts explain.
Here are some essential items to include on your family preparedness checklist:
1. Water and Food
In emergency weather situations, it’s likely that you will not have access to clean drinking water. You should be sure your emergency kit has one gallon of water, per person per day. Food should be non-perishable and easy-to-prepare, like canned tuna, dried pasta, protein bars, nuts and granola and powdered milk. Don’t forget a manual can opener and some utensils.
If you’re evacuating, the Red Cross recommends that you have a three-day supply of both food and water for each person in the family and a two-week supply if you are stuck at home. Carrying enough water can be heavy, and what you need will likely not fit in a backpack. Instead, pack a mobile water purifiying kit so you can clean any running water for hydration and cooking.
In any emergency situation, the power could go out. Flashlights are the most practical and portable sources of light to use, whether you need light to prepare food or look for something in the dark. Keep candles and matches or lighters in one specific drawer in your house, so you can use those for light if you’re waiting out the emergency at home.
3. Battery-Powered or Hand-Crank Radio
This is critical for getting emergency alerts and weather warnings, especially because your T.V. and/or cable will likely not be working. The hand crank is better than battery operated for a long-term outage and may be your only method of receiving news during an extreme emergency or catastrophe.
4. Extra Batteries
Anything portable, including flashlights, radios, and smoke detectors, all require batteries to run. Since you could be without electricity for several days, it’s imperative to have plenty of extra batteries on hand to keep the portable devices running. When prepping for an emergency, check to see what kind of batteries every essential item needs and make sure to stock up on every one; your smoke detectors will require much different batteries than your flashlight, for example.
5. First Aid Kit
A complete first aid kit with bandages, gauze, antibacterial ointment, medical tape, small scissors, rubbing alcohol and pain medication, at a minimum, should be accessible at all times during an emergency.
Be sure to regularly check that the items in your first aid kit haven’t expired and replace when necessary. You can buy a kit that has all of these items, as well as other first aid products at most mass retailers.
6. Copies of Important Personal Documents
The personal documents you need to have on hand include:
- Driver’s licenses
- Social security cards
- Birth certificates
- House deeds
- Title’s to any vehicles
- List of emergency phone numbers and contacts
There’s always a possibility that the navigational system on your cell phone may not work if there are widespread power outages or if you’re forced into a remote area. For this reason, you should keep a paper map of the local region for reference, and know how to read it.
8. Extra Cash
In the event of a major emergency, there’s a possibility that ATMs will not be operational. A stash of money that is comprised of both small and large bills (ones, fives, tens, and twenties) to purchase things like gasoline and food is recommended.
9. The Finishing Touch: Put It All In Your Go-Bag
Many emergency personnel are required to have a bag ready to go, filled with essential supplies to last two to five days. These “go-bags” are an important addition to your checklist, making sure they’re stocked with what you need, and ready to grab-and-go.
When prepping your go-bag, Putting Together the Ultimate Go-Bag: The Essentials recommends packing the following:
- Multi-tool or hand knife
- Gloves (winter and work gloves)
- Hat (for sun and cold)
- Matches or lighter
- Compact sleeping bag, blanket and backpacking tent
- Extra clothes: Thermals, socks, underwear, sweatshirt, poncho
Don’t forget to add the other items mentioned on this list, including your first aid kit, maps, personal documents, flashlight, batteries and radio.
What else would you add to your list?
About Maile Proctor
Maile Proctor a professional blogger and content editor. She writes articles on health and fitness and lifestyle and family. She’s written for Volunteer Match, TakeLessons, Active.com, Travefy and more. She earned her Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University, and when she’s not writing she enjoys hiking in San Diego, California. Follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.
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