If nothing else Covid-19 has shown just how unprepared many people were for a disruptive event. It pays to prepare for a crisis in advance and to try to be ready for whatever that crisis ends up being.
After an emergency happens resources can be strained quickly and you may have to do without electricity, water service, telephone service, and access to a grocery store just to name a few. That’s why it’s so important for everyone to have the ability to be self-sufficient after an emergency occurs.
“One of the best ways people can help their community and first responders is to be self-sufficient after a disaster”, “by being self-sufficient, people can take a lot of pressure and strain off of vital resources. Additionally, resources may not be able to reach you for a variety of reasons so you should be prepared by having important items already on hand.”
One of the easiest ways to be self-sufficient is to build an emergency supply kit. These kits are simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency. You should assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency because you may not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them. Keeping your kit organized in some sort of container also ensures that if you have to evacuate you can quickly take your kit with you.
There are a number of basic items that should go into your kit that you probably already have around the house, like water, food, a flashlight, a first aid kit, a can opener, and a radio. There are other items that you may not have thought of or may not have at home, like dust masks, moist towelettes, garbage bags, or a sleeping bag.
Don’t forget to take into account the needs of everyone, that thinking of things like diapers, formula, medications, contact lenses and supplies, special food, or coloring books or activities for kids. You can get a full listing of what should go in your emergency kit and how you can maintain it at ready.gov/build-a-kit.
While building your emergency supply kit can seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. When you go out to the store, see what’s on sale that you need and pick up a few things at a time, that way you don’t break the bank. Another tip is rather than buying bottled water; you can disinfect empty 2-liter bottles and fill them with water. Can’t think of what you want for a birthday or holiday; why not suggest people buy you preparedness supplies, that way you get something you’ll actually use.
Build An Emergency Kit
After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water, and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.
Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with the items on the checklist below. Most of the items are inexpensive and easy to find and any one of them could save your life. Headed to the store? Download a printable version to take with you. Once you take a look at the basic items consider what unique needs your family might have, such as supplies for pets or seniors.
Basic Disaster Supplies Kit
To assemble your kit store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.
A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
Water (one gallon per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation)
Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food)
Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and an NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
First aid kit
Whistle (to signal for help)
Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)
Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to shelter in place)
Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)
Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
Manual can opener (for food)
Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
Additional Emergency Supplies
Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:
Cloth face coverings (for everyone ages 2 and above), soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces
Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution
Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream
Pet food and extra water for your pet
Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
Matches in a waterproof container
Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels, and plastic utensils
Paper and pencil
Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Maintaining Your Kit
After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:
Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
Store boxed food in a tightly closed plastic or metal containers.
Replace expired items as needed.
Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.
Kit Storage Locations
Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work, and cars.
Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water, and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
Car: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.