One of the most important steps you can take in preparing for emergencies is to develop a household disaster plan. Just like having a working smoke detector in your home, having emergency supply kits will put the tools you may need at your fingertips. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer. While there are many things that might make you more comfortable, think first about fresh water, food and clean air. Remember to include, and periodically rotate, medications you take every day such as insulin and heart medicine. Plan to store items in an easy-to-carry bag, such as a shopping bag, backpack or duffel bag. Consider two kits. In one, put everything you will need to stay where you are and make it on your own. The other should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you have to get away
Store one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation in clean plastic containers. To accommodate for warmer weather, you may wish to store more.
Store food that won’t go bad and does not have to be heated or cooked. Choose foods that your family will eat, including protein or fruit bars, dry cereal or granola, canned foods and juices, peanut butter, dried fruits, nuts, crackers and baby foods. Remember to pack a manual can opener, cups and eating utensils.
Many potential terrorist attacks could send tiny microscopic “junk” into the air. For example, an explosion may release very fine debris that can cause lung damage. A biological attack may release germs that can make you sick if inhaled or absorbed through open cuts. Many of these agents can only hurt you if they get into your body, so think about creating a barrier between yourself and any contamination. Be prepared to improvise with what you have on hand to protect your nose, mouth, eyes and cuts in your skin. Anything that fits snugly over your nose and mouth, including any dense-weave cotton material, can help filter contaminants in an emergency. It is very important that most of the air that you breathe comes through the mask or cloth, not around it. Do whatever you can to make the best fit possible for children. There are also a variety of facemasks readily available in hardware stores that are rated based on how small a particle they can filter in an industrial setting.
Given the different types of attacks that could occur, there is not one solution for masking. For instance, simple cloth facemasks can filter some of the airborne “junk” or germs you might breathe into your body, but will probably not protect you from chemical gases. Still, something over your nose and mouth in an emergency is better than nothing.
Have heavyweight garbage bags or plastic sheeting, duct tape and scissors in your kit. You can use these things to tape up windows, doors and air vents if you need to seal off a room from outside contamination. Consider precutting and labeling these materials. Anything you can do in advance will save time when it counts.
Store a flashlight, batter powered radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, utility knife, local map, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, soap, garbage bags and other sanitation supplies, plastic sheeting, duct tape, as well as extra cash and identification. Periodically rotate your extra batteries to be sure they work when you need them.
To allow for emergencies during cold weather months, you must think about staying warm. It is always possible that the power will be out and you will not have heat. Have warm clothing for each family member in your supply kit, including a jacket or coat, long pants, a long sleeve shirt, sturdy shoes, a hat and gloves. Have a sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person.
Think about your family’s unique needs. Pack diapers, formula, bottles, prescription medications, pet food, comfort items, books, paper, pens, a deck of cards or other forms of entertainment.
For help in creating your own disaster kit, click on the link below to access a downloadable version of a disaster kit checklist.