Since the mid-80s, natural disasters have been steadily on the rise. Each year we see more flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes. When disaster strikes families have to relocate often with only a few possessions or they have to make do in the damaged areas without basic amenities such as running water, food, heat, or sanitation.
UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a relatively conservative organization, has agreed that global warming is to blame for this increase. If temperatures continue to rise we will see more natural disasters, which is all the more reason for you to have an adequate stock of emergency supplies.
Putting together a basic emergency preparedness kit is actually quite simple. The most basic kit is intended to last you for 72 hours (or three days) and should include:
- Drinking Water: Plan on one gallon per person per day. Water will be used for drinking, cooking, and minimally for hygiene.
- Food: Pick foods that you know your family will eat and store enough food for 9 meals per person. Remember that after a natural disaster you will likely not have a way to cook food so choose foods you can eat cold. Avoid salty foods as much as you can. Include a few treats that will lift your family’s spirits such as a couple of chocolate bars or a favorite cookie.
- Manual Can Opener: While this may seem obvious, many families forget! If you included canned goods in the food you store, make sure you have a way to open them.
- Hand Crank Radio: Power is one of the first things to go in a natural disaster so having a radio that does not need batteries or electricity is essential. Radio will be the easiest way to keep up with rescue efforts.
- Flashlight: A hand crank flashlight is ideal, but one that uses batteries will suffice as well. Be sure to include extra batteries.
- First Aid Kit: A simple kit with basic supplies should suffice. Include bandages, antibiotic ointment, basic painkillers, and burn cream.
- Solar charger: Purchase and include a small solar charger in your kit. While solar chargers can sometimes be slow, they are often enough to help keep a cell phone charged.
- Personal sanitation supplies: If water is cut off, then you will need alternate ways of maintaining personal sanitation. Pack moist wipes to wipe down your body and garbage bags and twist ties to use in a bucket as make a makeshift toilet.
- Ways to make a shelter in place: A shelter in place is simply sealing off where you are sheltered. Duct tape and plastic sheeting will be needed to cover windows and doors and keep you safe.
- Whistle: A great way to signal for help is with a whistle. Keep one in your kit at all times.
- Medicine: If anyone in your family is on prescription medication be sure to keep at least a three day supply in your emergency kit.
Once you have put together your kit you will need to make a plan to maintain it. Once every six months, go through your kit and check expiration dates on your food, water, batteries, and medicine. Replace any food that will expire before your next planned maintenance. Cross check your supplies with the most current recommendations on websites such as Ready.gov. Double check that your solar charger, whistle, and hand crank radio are all still in perfect operating condition.
While putting together an emergency preparedness kit can seem expensive and unnecessary, you will not regret having put forth the effort if and when a disaster strikes. The peace of mind knowing your family will be okay for at least three days is more than worth it. Take care of your family and get your kit ready today! The power is now!
Eric Lawrence Frazier, MBA
President and CEO