Have you put together an emergency supply kit? Purchased one but not sure where it is? Are you chuckling? Trust me as, I learn a lot when I write these articles. In fact I just found our battery powered radio in a drawer so I know in an emergency, I wouldn't have found it. What good is it to buy these things and then not be able to find them? So my punchlist has a new project, to “collect all the pieces of my emergency supply kit” and find a place where I can keep everything together.
As September is National Preparedness Month, it seems like we could all use some help getting ready for our next home emergency. I'm not talking about a cut because I know my first aid kit is in the half bath off the kitchen. This article is about putting together your emergency supply kit for those times when you lose power for more than a few hours or worse, have to leave your home for a few days.
The last time we went without power for 3 days, a friend loaned me their generator and we used it to power our refrigerator to avoid food spoilage. We're lucky that with gas heat and hot water, our fireplace is able to keep us warm and I didn't have to go to a friend's house for my hot shower. It was a fun adventure as we ran heavy duty extension cords to 2 neighbors, and the generator powered 3 refrigerators.
Okay, let's get back to business although maintaining a sense of humor does help you get through most emergencies.
A few key things to remember about your emergency supply kit:
- You need to take your emergency supply kit with you when evacuating your home.
- You also need to have a plan for your pets and it's recommended you take them with you, so don't forget their emergency supplies and food.
Emergency Supply Kit for Communication
If you read my last article, Do You Have a Home Emergency Plan, you know that the most important thing you need during an emergency is family communication. If you don't know where your loved ones are, you'll have a hard time doing anything else.
- Battery operated or hand-crank (love it) radio. You might like the American Red Cross NOAA AM/FM weather radio which is great because if you run out of batteries, you can keep going with the hand crank and it can charge your cell phones (I have the earlier model called the SolarLink).
- Cell phone(s) and a way to charge them – inverter, solar charger or the radio shown above.
Emergency Supply Kit – Food, Medication and Sanitation
You'll want to prepare for going without power for at least 3 days, and in NH where I live, people in less populated areas have gone without power for up to 10 days.
- One gallon of water per person per day, so a family of 4 needs 12 gallons for 3 days … plus water for pets.
- Three day supply of food that doesn't need refrigeration or cooking, things your family likes to eat and avoid salty food. You'll also want eating utensils and paper plates, cups, etc.
- Babies and seniors will need special food so don't forget these.
- Prescription medications and personal hygiene items.
- Clothing appropriate for the weather and sleeping bags.
- For personal sanitation, you'll want paper towels and moist towelettes.
- For garbage, include garbage bags and plastic ties.
- Manual can opener for food.
What Else You Need in Your Emergency Supply Kit
- Flashlight, extra batteries and matches.
- First aid kit and fire extinguisher.
- Copies of important family documents like insurance policies, and cash or traveler's checks if you need to evacuate. For a good checklist, use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit put together by FEMA.
- Things to pass the time – books, paper and pencil, games, puzzles, etc.
- Whistle to call for help if needed.
- Dust mask to filter contaminated air, plus plastic sheeting and duct tape.
- Wrench to turn off utilities, and turning off natural gas is the most critical of these.
- Local maps for evacuation on roads you're not familiar with.