Recently we have seen and heard about areas in our country that have experienced weather emergencies. Some of them have been massive disasters where power has been wiped out for days or even weeks. We’ve heard news stories about people who’ve had no way to connect with family members to update them on their condition or location, leaving loved ones concerned. Other storm victims have been isolated with no food or water. In our own community, we had a family lose everything they owned in a house fire this month, including phones, driver’s licenses, personal papers and documents, etc. If you came face to face with an emergency, do you have the supplies and a plan to get you through tough times?
In short, a little preparation goes a long way. Often, there is not much warning and very little time to prepare for an emergency. So, what should be included in an emergency kit for your family?
Obviously, you may need food and water. To be well-prepared, store a two-week supply of nonperishable food in a dry and safe place. According to the Red Cross, you need one gallon of water per person, per day. If you have pets, don’t forget to include food and water for them.
Let’s say you lose power for a long period of time. In your emergency kit you’ll need to include battery-powered flashlights and extra batteries. Battery-powered lanterns are also available. If you have access to a portable, hand-crank radio, pack it, too. A first aid kit, including any medications that are necessary for family members, would be a necessity. Add to this list some blankets, clothes and personal hygiene items. You also might pack a tool kit and a small amount of cash. If you must leave your home, having all of these items will give you some peace of mind in the middle of a stressful time. Keep in mind the unique needs of your family. You may have younger children or you may care for an older parent. Someone in your family may have a medical condition. Consider what else you might include to meet your family’s needs.
Many of us these days just pull out our phones and push a button to make a phone call. If we were asked to give the number, we’d be unable to recite it because we no longer have to actually dial a number. If forced to leave your home, it’s important to have certain things written down such as emergency contact information, including those phone numbers. In a water-proof bag, place copies of proof of address, passports, birth certs, driver’s licenses and all your insurance information. You may doubt that you would ever experience an emergency of this type. I would hazard a guess that many people in Houston, Texas and others along the Carolina or Florida coastlines thought the same thing. Like our friends, your emergency may be a house fire without much time to exit your home. It may be a tornado disaster. Whatever the emergency, having copies of those important papers in a safe place can provide a small amount of comfort in the case of a total loss. Clearly label your emergency kit and keep it somewhere easily accessible in case you need to grab it and go. Just as you check your smoke alarms regularly, add this to check each year. You may need to add or replace items. Let’s hope you never have to use your kit, but it’s there if you need it.