Tips for Creating Your Own Natural Disaster Survival Kit

With the recent natural disasters affecting large portions of the world, people are wondering if they are prepared. “What would I need? What would I do?” are the questions many people are asking themselves as they watch in horror and dismay at the effects of wide spread floods, wild fires, tornadoes and other natural disasters that have occurred over recent years. Creating and maintaining a natural disaster survival kit may just save your life or the lives of someone you know.

Depending on what type of area you live in may impact your decision on what to provide for an emergency survival kit, but there are several items that are recommended to build a basic survival kit that everyone should be aware of.

1. Food and Water – necessary to survive over periods of longer than 24 hours in an emergency situation. Experts recommend keeping at least 2-3 gallons of distilled drinking water per person in the household. Food items which are best to keep in an emergency pantry include: prepackaged dry goods such as dried fruits, trail-mixes, nuts or beef jerkies, canned foods with pop off tops making access to the foods easier during electrical outings, and items that are packaged to be held for long periods of time at room temperature such as peanut butter. Basically anything that is packaged to keep out moisture or contamination, can be held for long periods of storage and does not need to be heated or have water added to it to be edible. Food and water items should be replaced as recommended by dating on the packages. Most experts recommend at least once per year.

2. Emergency lighting – Experts recommend storing in your emergency kit one or two flashlights with spare batteries for each. Candles are no longer recommended during power outages because of the risk of fire. Also convenient are small headlamps with their own power source such as the type auto mechanics use to leave hands free while focusing the light where it is needed.

3. Bedding – keeping a sleeping bag or blanket handy and easily accessible to the other items in your emergency kit is recommended. Not only convenient for sleeping arrangements, they are also useful should someone go into shock from injuries and medical professionals are not immediately available, as well as protecting against frost bite or hypothermia in cold climates.

4. First aide kit – A small first aid kit reasonably supplied with basic first aid supplies is a necessity for a survival kit. Items inside the kit should include several sizes of bandages for scrapes and abrasive wounds, mild pain relievers, antibiotic cream, a pair of tweezers, antiseptic solution or alcohol swabs,a dry ice pack, eye rinse and burn cream or spray. Other optional items that may be helpful include a needle and thread in a sterile package, gauze, bandages for sprains,and medical or sports tape.

Also a small supply of any necessary medications for anyone in the family should be included in the kit such as spare insulin with sterile needle, an extra inhaler or other life saving medication. A three to four day supply is good. Always make sure any medications or pain relievers included in the kit are up to date by checking expiration dates once every three months. A convenient way to do this is to tape a sheet of paper to the front of the kit and write down each medication and the date it was added along with the date it should be changed that way whoever is monitoring the kit knows the medication is good.

5. Extra health accessories – extra items that are needed for persons in the household who have special needs are a good thing to store in the kit as well. Items such as an extra pair of glasses, spare batteries for hearing aides or a walking cane are not too much trouble to add to the kit and keep handy in case the person needs them after a natural disaster has occurred.

6. Documentation – stored in a plastic baggy or other weather proof receptacle inside the emergency kit is probably the best place to keep a spare copy of everyones birth certificate, social security number,drivers license or government issued identification cards, any legal documentation that is used on a regular basis, spare debit, credit or other banking cards, health insurance cards and copies of home or renters insurance policies are handy to have right after a disaster as it helps to identify injured persons as well as facilitate needed services in a more timely manner. Also convenient but not necessary, a small amount of cash could be reserved here as well for immediate emergencies such as gasoline, food or to pay for a motel room if your home has become uninhabitable.

7. Spare keys – keep a set of spare keys to any vehicles, your home, outbuildings, safety deposit boxes, key lock safes or anything else you use that is locked up on a regular basis with your emergency kit. If you need to leave your home you don’t want to spend hours hunting for a key that may have been misplaced or lost during a disaster.

8. Emergency radio – a hand held, battery powered radio is excellent to have available to be able to monitor the situation as it happens. Weather and news reports will let you know when its safe to come out of your shelter and give some idea of what to expect. A two way radio is probably the best kind because it can be used to communicate the location of persons trapped or injured by debris to local authorities and get assistance to the area faster. Make sure everyone in the household who is old enough is trained in how to use the radio and specific channels for emergency and weather information for your area are programmed into it. You can get this information from any local emergency agency.

9. Flare gun – A flare gun with spare flares can be used to single your location to authorities after a natural disaster and make it faster for help to arrive where you are at.

10. Protective clothing – items such as heavy rain gear, insulated jackets for winter weather, a spare pair of leather work gloves to protect hands, and protective gear like plastic goggles or earplugs for each person in the home should be stored with the emergency kit. An entire spare wardrobe is not necessary but a change of clothing for each member should also be considered. Protective clothing is dependent on what type of climate you are living in. Regions that are prone to sudden cold snaps would require more cold winter wear than regions that are prone to flash flooding or wild fires. Spare clothing items should most ideally be all weather material, not too bulky to ensure movement is not restricted and be flame retardant.

11. Map – an up to date map of the general area around where you live is handy if you have to navigate your way out of a disaster area or radio for help and give instructions to your location.

Keeping and maintaining a disaster survival kit could make the difference between making it out alive or not. With a little forethought and planning and regular maintenance, this is something that is easy for anyone to do. Other ideas for items to keep handy during a natural disaster and issues related to disaster survival can be located on the national Red Cross website or speak with your local emergency management office for guides on ways to handle natural disasters in your area.

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