We can be as organized as we want, but most importantly, we need to be prepared! I will be sharing today about an at-home emergency kit, and later on this month I will tell you about prepping a go bag and a car emergency kit.
There is a misconception that emergency preparation is for people who are paranoid about apocalypse type situations. That's completely untrue. Earlier this year, some east coast cities were without power for WEEKS after a tropical storm. Hurricane Katrina was a horrific catastrophe that left people without food, electricity and fresh water. There are hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, wildfires... all reasons you may need to hunker down in your house without some amenities. Even a power outage or gas/water main break can throw off your day.
To prep for a "shelter in place" I want to share with you a few items to keep in your kit. We're in the process of building ours. You don't need to keep everything inside of the kit as long as your items are quick to find. Your kit should be in a place that you can get to with your eyes closed. If the power goes out and it's pitch black, you don't want to be fiddling in the attic or a cluttered closet. We have a tupperware tub that will stay in the bottom of our closet. I can get to it easily. Make sure it's well marked. Use neon duct tape or write in bold letters EMERGENCY KIT. Make sure all your family members know where it is.
Where do we start?
- First and foremost, you need water. You should have 1 gallon of drinking water per person per day. Don't forget your pets! They will need water too. You should have a gallon or two in the emergency kit but you may keep your water stored elsewhere.
These bladders are available from the Red Cross. They're one time use water storage bags. You stick them in your tub and fill them up. This is great if you have a blizzard coming that may freeze your pipes or during a hurricane.
- You will need food. You can keep it in your pantry, but make sure to have ready to eat food such as canned meat, dried/canned fruit, soups (some soups can be eaten room temp), nuts and other food that doesn't require heat to eat. Don't forget a manual can opener! Keep a spare in the kit just in case.
- Candles, glowsticks, flashlights (with extra batteries), matches, a lighter and a battery operated lantern should be in your kit. You want a flashlight for each member of the family. We plan on ordering this setup from the Red Cross store. It is a bit pricey, but it's a flashlight, charger, radio and can work off cranking, solar power and batteries.
- If you can't afford the big setup above, you need to have a small radio to listen for weather and news. Always have extra batteries.
- Cards, coloring books, small toys, travel sized games, paper and pencils and other non-power activities to keep occupied. If you lose power, you won't want to waste your phone battery to keep yourself entertained.
- Tarps, plastic dropcloths and thick painter's tape. If you lose heat during a blizzard or you're sheltering in place due to a chemical spill or environmental hazard, these are necessary. Bring your kit, family members and pets into one room and then tape off all the windows with the dropcloths and tarps. You can find plastic dropcloths at Dollar Tree in their hardware section. Big Lots has inexpensive tarps. Keep them in their package until use. Taping up windows, doors and entryways will help keep the room warm.
- First aide kit. In your kit, you should have band-aids, wound cleaning supplies, gloves, scissors, wraps, ointments, instant ice packs, instant heat packs and pain medication. I also suggest having a weeks' worth of prescription meds just in case. Don't forget meds for children and pets.
- Dust masks. If you have to leave your house, you may need these depending on the situation.
- If you have infants or toddlers, make sure you have an unopened can of formula and/or baby food, extra diapers and wipes and nursery water for them.
- Extra pet food. I try to keep an extra bag of dog food for our boys at all times. When one bag runs out, we move up the backup and then buy another bag. Once again, these don't have to stay in your kit, but should be in your home.
- A list of important phone numbers. If your phone dies and you need to make a call from another phone or landline, you will have the number you need.
- Copies of your car and house/renter's insurance policy. In case of an emergency that may damage your property, it's easier to have all the information right there instead of rummaging through file cabinets.
If you don't want to keep everything in one spot, definitely make a list and keep THAT in a place that easy to find. Write down where each item is located, so you can easily assemble your items in a timely manner. For instance, you can keep the food and water in your pantry, but everything else goes in the kit.
This doesn't have to cost you a lot of money. Almost everything on this list could be found at a dollar store, discount store or big box store. You need to check your supplies every six months. Make sure batteries aren't dead and that nothing is damaged or expired.
Ready.gov has lots of information about putting together emergency kits. This is just my own personal list of things. You may need to tailor it to fit your needs or add and subtract stuff. I plan on adding battery operated fans because desert summers are hot during power loss. We also have a camp stove and butane for it in the garage just in case. In my three part series, I will show you how to prep a "go bag" for evacuation and to put together an emergency kit for your car. Being organized and prepared are one in the same!