According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of adults in the U.S. do not have resources and plans in place in case of emergency. People often think if a disaster strikes they'll have enough time to run to the grocery store, but stores sell out of important supplies quickly and they may end up without access to food, water or electricity for several days. Preparing emergency kits for you and your family is an important step in staying safe and healthy during a disaster.
Here's what you'll need in an emergency supply kit:
At Least a 3-day Supply of Food and Water
■ Water one gallon per person, per day
■ Food foods that are easy to make and won't spoil, like canned soup, dry pasta and powdered milk
■ Manual can opener
■ Basic utensils to prepare and serve meals
■ 3-day supply of all medicines, at a minimum
■ Medical supplies like syringes, a walking cane or hearing aids with extra batteries
Personal Care Items
■ Toothbrush and toothpaste
■ Baby wipes
■ Contact lenses or glasses
■ First aid kit
■ Emergency blanket
■ Multipurpose tool (that can act as a knife, file, pliers and screwdriver)
■ Radio (battery-powered, solar or hand-crank) for updates on the situation
■ Cell phone with chargers
■ Extra batteries
■ Copies of important documents such as insurance cards and immunization records
■ Paperwork about any serious or on-going medical condition
■ Your completed family emergency plan, complete with family and emergency contact information.
You Should Also Keep
■ Extra cash
■ Maps of the area
■ Extra set of car keys and house keys
Taking Care of Others
You may need additional supplies to make sure the whole family is ready.
■ Baby supplies like bottles, formula, baby food and diapers
■ Games and activities for children
■ Food and Water:
A 3-day supply of food and water for each pet. A cat or a dog will generally need 1 gallon for three days.
Bowls or bottles
Manual can opener
■ Cleaning Supplies:
Depending on the pet, you may need a litter box, paper towels, plastic trash bags, grooming items and household bleach
■ Health and Safety:
Medicines and medical records stored in a waterproof container
First aid kit with a pet first aid book
■ Transport supplies:
A sturdy leash, harness and carrier to transport pets safely. A carrier should be large enough for the animal to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down. Your pet may have to stay in the carrier for several hours.
■ Comfort Items:
Pet toys and the pet's bed, if you can easily bring it, to reduce stress
Current photos and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them, and to prove that they are your pets, in case you become separated from them
Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and telephone number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care
Other Things to Keep in Mind
Every family is unique. You may have emergency needs not included in this list. Also, remember to update your kit according to changing needs of your family.
Be Sure it's Ready to Use
In a disaster situation, you may need to get your emergency supply kit quickly, whether you are sheltering at home or evacuating.
■ Once you have gathered your supplies, pack the items in easy-to-carry containers.
■ Clearly label the containers and store them where you can reach them easily.
■ Remember that certain items, like medications and paper documents, need to be kept in waterproof containers.
Keep it Fresh
Check the expiration dates on food, water, medicine and batteries at least two times per year. It's extremely important that all items in your kit are functional at the time of an emergency.
Families can make emergencies less stressful by preparing in advance and working together as a team.
■ Ask your kids to think of items that they would like to include in an emergency supply kit, such as books, games and pre-packaged foods.
■ Your kids can mark the dates on a calendar for checking emergency supplies. Tell them to remind you when it's time to check the supplies.
■ Include kids in planning and creating disaster kits for family pets.
Know Your House
Find out where your gas, electric and water shut-off locations are, and how to turn them off.
Prepare For Everywhere
Emergencies can happen anywhere. Remember to prepare supplies for home, work, and vehicles.