Preparing Your Kit
Whether it’s wildfires in California, storms hitting the Carolinas, or gas lines blowing up houses in Massachusetts, current events remind us that having a few extra supplies ready can make things much easier in case of an emergency.
The site ready.gov is a good starting point. The following list is from their page on building a kit (with comments from me). If your resources are tight, I’d recommend starting at the top of the list, and working your way down. If you get just one item per week then you will have a good, basic kit in less than three months. Remember, this is a long term planning task. It’s about spending time when you have it (before an event) so that you have resources when you need them (during an event).
These first three are excellent things to keep with you or near you every day.
- Flashlight (Always good to have extra flashlights)
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery (Having a USB charger and especially a charging cable for your phone is critical.)
- Whistle to signal for help (A whistle is a great tool, and it can fit on a keychain.)
The next three are good things to keep in your room, apartment, vehicle, or house.
- First aid kit (These range from tiny pocket-sized packs to briefcase sized full medical kits. If you raid it for band-aids and acetaminophen, remember to refill your supplies!)
- Extra batteries (AA and AAA seem to be popular these days, but whatever you need, every time you buy one get an extra for your stash. Then you always have one when you need it.)
- Local maps (Navigation systems are great, but your phone battery can die. No batteries are required for a good old map! If you go cheap and print your own be sure to laminate it. You want it to last should you need it.)
The rest complete a good starting point for a kit, whether it’s a small bug out bag for a dorm room or a stocking a basement.
- Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation (Bottled water is great, but having a purification method can be very useful, and it can be easier to carry. Options include filters like LifeStraw as well as water purification tablets of many types.)
- Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food (For a family this can be fancy prepper food with a shelf life of 25 years, or for smaller kits it can be a stack of energy bars. As you move from a simple emergency bag to a full house emergency kit the food requirements will change.)
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert (These start at around $17.)
- Manual can opener for food
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- 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
There are lots more resources on this available from ready.gov, fema.gov, and other sites. Having even a few of these items can make it much easier to get through any crisis.