Create a Basic Emergency Kit for Your Home

Hurricanes. Floods. Tornados. Earthquakes. Snowstorms.

There are many different situations that could cause your family to need emergency supplies. Are you prepared?

Despite the various emergency situations that have arisen during recent years, the average family is poorly prepared for unforeseen catastrophes. To ensure your household is prepared, you should have a basic emergency kit in your home.

Store your supplies in an airtight, waterproof plastic bin or box.

When deciding on the amount of supplies you need, consider how long you might be without aid or assistance. City and suburban neighborhoods are likely to get help in a short period of time. Folks in rural areas, however, may go for a week or longer without any contact with emergency personnel.

The American Red Cross recommends that families have enough supplies to last three days. More cautious folks may want adequate food and water for seven days or more.

Here are the items you should always have available:

Fresh water:
On average, assume you’ll need at least two quarts of water per day, per person. That’s the minimum you should store for drinking. Don’t forget about your pets, too. Store water in clean, plastic containers. Bottled gallon jugs of water from the supermarket are good choices.

Food:
Human beings can live for quite a long time without food, as long as they are adequately hydrated. However, it’s important to your health and comfort that you keep some food on hand for emergencies. Opt for canned goods, which have a reasonably long shelf life and are generally safe from rodents or bugs. Choose items that are palatable cold, as you may not have fuel for heating. You might also consider “survival” packs or military packaged meals that are sold in sporting good or army surplus stores.

Warmth:
If the power goes out, you may need to provide some warmth for your family. Stash a few blankets in your box, as well as some waterproof matches. You might even want to consider some extra warm clothing, such as sweatshirts or jackets. Hats, gloves and scarves are a good idea if your climate gets cold in the winter.

Sanitation:
Basic hygiene and sanitation should still be maintained. Include some antiseptic gel, premoistened wipes and toilet paper.

Tools:
Don’t forget the basics like a flashlight, extra batteries, pliers, hammer, nails, and radio. A compass might be useful if you intend to spend some time on foot. You should also pack a can opener and a knife. A flare and a whistle can be used to signal rescuers, so include them in the kit. Basic First Aid equipment – like bandages, splints, tape and pain relievers – should also be part of your emergency supplies.

Remember: Food expires, batteries die, and moths can eat through blankets. Check your supplies once a year to ensure that everything is safe and maintained. Replace anything that’s old, non-working or expired.

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