The basics of disaster preparedness

Take a look around your home and you’ll see all the things that make life comfortable. Furniture, your phone, the television, the fridge. But what would you do in an emergency? What if there was no power? If your home was in the path of a tornado? If the dead began to rise from their graves and eat the flesh of the living?

While disaster plans can vary from emergency to emergency, one thing that remains constant is the need for a good supply kit. While many of the items in the kit are commonly found in homes, it is strongly recommended that your kit contain items dedicated to that purpose. It’s well and good to have a flashlight in your house, but if you can’t find it in an emergency, then you might as well not have it.

At the very minimum, your kit should include:

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and basic sanitation. So how much is three gallons of water? It work out to about one 24-bottle case of water. So for a family of four, you’d need four cases of water. This does not account for anything more than basic tooth brushing and minimal dish washing. Plan accordingly.
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Non-perishable food includes canned products (beans, meats, vegetables) as well as dry products like rice, oatmeal and pasta. Just remember that dried products require water to prepare. Plan accordingly.
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both. Remember that in an emergency situation you may without power or Internet access. Your phone or laptop might be of little use.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Local maps

If recent disasters are any indication, cell phones are not a reliable way to communicate in the early stages as so many calls effectively jam the system. However, they can be useful once service is restored, so plan ahead with phone chargers, inverters or solar chargers.

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