Lately, it seems like Mother Nature is reminding us that you can never take anything for granted. In the blink of an eye, a storm can race through your community and leave a wake of destruction in its path. You might live in an area that isn't susceptible to tornadoes but think about other natural disasters like fires, earthquakes, winter storms or power outages. Can you say where you live has never been hit? Probably not. That's why you shouldn't leave anything to chance when it comes to preparing for an emergency.
Put it this way: Suppose you were given 10 minutes to clear out of your house. What would you take? Where would you go? Are you ready for that kind of evacuation? Here are some suggestions for emergency kits.
Home Emergency Kit
Try to condense what you need into two or three easy to carry waterproof plastic containers. These are available at any Home Depot, Target or Wal-Mart. This is what you should include:
- Self-powered flashlight
- Self-powered radio
- Three day supply of water (one gallon per person per day)
- Three day supply of non-perishable foods like packaged power bars
- Three day supply of canned food that doesn't require heat
- Can opener/plastic utensils
- Extra clothing
- Toilet paper
- Jackets, sweaters, hats, gloves
- Sleeping bag
- First aid kit and first aid manual
Every three months you should swap out your water and food. If you have pets you should prepare a separate kit for them including water and food bowls, treats and kibble. You should keep these kits in your garage or a closet for easy access. The goal is to get out as quickly as possible.
Also, try to imagine life without a cell phone. There is no guarantee that you'll be able to charge your phone where you're going. Get a small notebook with contact numbers and write them out. Remember writing down numbers?
Then there is the issue of important papers and photographs. Here is where you'll want to get a fireproof lockbox. Into that box should go things like passports, birth certificates, credit cards and any spare cash. You can be really proactive and scan all your photos onto a flash drive and add that to the lockbox. Go back to that "You have ten minutes to leave" scenario. Wouldn't it be easier to grab a lockbox you keep under you bed than to scramble around looking for those items?
Auto Emergency Kit
If an emergency call comes in and you're able to leave from your home with your prepared kits, you'll be ahead of the game. But what happens if you find yourself out on the road when an emergency strikes. Will you be ready? Again, think about having that small plastic container to keep in your trunk or back of the SUV. Here's what should be in that kit:
Take note that your auto emergency kit doesn't have to be used just for you. Having the ability to help someone else that might be stranded could be a huge benefit. Remember it's better to have an emergency kit and never need it then to need it and not have one.
(Now that your supplies are in place, get your family ready with a fire drill.)