According to a recent survey from Wells Fargo, 84 percent of Americans live in areas that have suffered the impacts of a wildfire, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, flood or some other natural disaster in the past three years. However, 71 percent currently do not have a contingency plan should a natural disaster or unforeseen emergency strike.
There are several reasons for this lack of planning, the survey continues. Many households never think about it, while some focus more on the immediate issues affecting them, and others are just not sure how to prepare. But if you don’t have a contingency plan to protect your family in a crisis, it’s time to change that. So here are a few actionable tips to create an emergency preparedness kit for the events you don’t see coming.
What Is an Emergency Preparedness Kit?
When a natural disaster occurs, you might have no choice but to shelter in place for several days—or weeks—at a time. In the aftermath of these situations, roads often close, power outages occur, and even the most basic essentials are hard to access. But this is where an emergency preparedness kit comes to the rescue.
If you plan ahead by stocking up on the items your family will need to survive, you won’t be left in dire straits when a crisis actually happens. An effective emergency preparedness kit must contain all the necessities to keep each member of your household safe and healthy. It must also be stored in an accessible but secure location, so that possible weather damage will not affect the contents.
Be sure to include the following items in your kit:
You never know when an illness or injury might occur, so it’s crucial to have medical supplies on hand—especially if treatment at a hospital or urgent clinic is inaccessible. Keep items such as tourniquets, bandages, joint braces, medical tape and gauze, EpiPens, ointment, medications, inhalers, and other first-aid equipment in a safe location within reach.
If the electricity goes out, it’s just a matter of time until the contents of your fridge spoil—and it might not be possible to make a grocery store run. That’s why a kitchen filled with nonperishable food is essential. Stock the pantry with canned items you can eat at room temperature without cooking, and make sure there’s also a manual can opener on hand.
Gallons of Water
Hydration is an absolute non-negotiable in the event of an emergency situation. A human can only survive without water for a few consecutive days, so it’s vital to plan ahead with enough water for everyone in the household. In fact, Ready.gov advises that you store at least one gallon of water for each person to consume per day for about a week.
It could be a while before you’re able to wash clothes—or in the event of a disaster like a house fire, your clothes might even be ruined. Thus, it’s always a smart idea to keep a few basic clothing items such as extra underwear, socks, shirts, pants and jackets for each member of the family in a secure, weather-proof location. It sure beats wearing dirty clothes.
Flashlight & Batteries
This is another tool that will come in handy if an electrical outage occurs. Instead of using matches, which can be fire hazards, a flashlight is a much safer way to see in the dark. Just don’t forget to stock up on extra batteries too. While most lithium or LED flashlight batteries can run for several hours at a time, it’s helpful to have a backup set as well.
Wireless Mobile Charger
It’s important to have at least one functional smartphone within reach if you need to check in with loved ones or contact an emergency first responder. But when there’s no power, you can’t plug a mobile device into the nearest wall socket—you need a wireless charger. Juice up this charger while there is power, so it’s ready to use in a potential outage.
If the emergency takes place in a cold climate or season, you’ll need thermal blankets to help counteract the heat loss. In extreme temperatures or weather conditions, thermal blankets will create a barrier of insulation from the elements. They can also be used to cover an injured person’s body, protecting them from the effects of post-traumatic shock.
Remember the toilet paper shortage in those early months of the COVID-19 shutdown? If so, then you know firsthand how essential hygiene and sanitation products are in an emergency. Be sure your home is well stocked with personal care items such as toothpaste and brushes, body wash, shampoo, hand sanitizer, contact lens solution, and paper products.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, and other natural disasters can interfere with electricity or telephone lines. When this happens, a battery-powered weather radio will update you on the latest environmental conditions in your area. For the most accurate broadcast reports, look for an official National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) radio.
Keep Your Family Safe with an Emergency Preparedness Kit
You can’t always predict when a natural disaster or another extreme situation might occur. But you can plan ahead to keep your family as safe as possible with an emergency preparedness kit. This could be the difference between a crisis and a crisis averted.