What belongs in your disaster kit? That really is an individual decision based on your disaster plan as we outlined in a previous article. But there are a few tips of things you may need in almost any disaster.
A disaster kit should be designed to help you survive until help arrives or the situation has stabilized to the point you can start recovering. If you are confined to your home a disaster kit should be able to provide food, water and a source of power while you are waiting for help. If you are affected by an earthquake or tornado you may be without power for a period after the event. A source of power can be crucial, as well as food and water. A disaster kit is an individual kit and should be designed by you with the things YOU and your family may need to survive at least 3 days. This is the expert recommendation to allow time for local emergency responders or FEMA to mobilize.
The following recommendations are the minimum for a basic disaster survival kit:
1. The most important supplies during a disaster situation would be water, food, supplies for first aid and sanitation, extra clothes and bedding.
2. The supplies should be stored inside a backpack or duffle bag so they are easy to grab and go should it be required. The key here is to be able to get it immediately during a disaster and to carry it around with you if you have to.
4. Bottled water can be stored for long periods and should be purchased and stored with your food. It is easy to carry and safe. Plan 1 gallon of water per day per person at minimum for drinking. In hot and humid conditions such as after a hurricane, water needs will increase due to perspiration. This does not include water for cooking or hygiene. Additional water should be stored for those purposes in addition to the supply for drinking.
5. A 3 day supply of nonperishable foods should be in the kit for each person. Note that you can get by with less food in a survival situation. But water is an absolute necessity. If storage space is a concern you can purchase freeze dried foods which can be reconstituted with water. Don’t forget energy foods such as fruits or nuts which can help give you a boost if you are expending lots of energy trying to survive.
6. First aid supplies are important. You can purchase a basic first aid kit or put one together yourself. Whichever you choose it should include bandages, gauze, tape, tweezers and scissors, antiseptic wipes and liquid antiseptic, soap for cleaning wounds and basic over the counter medications such as ibuprofen, nausea and anti-diarrheal drugs. Also make sure any prescription medications you require are easy to grab and throw into the kit.
7. Personal sanitation items including toilet paper, trash bags and any personal hygiene items such as shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush.
8. Each person should have at least one set of clothes and shoes. In cold weather include a jacket and cold weather gear as well.
9. Small items that you may need include a battery powered radio, spare batteries, a lamp or candles, waterproof matches, kindling to start a fire in case you get stranded. A knife is always good to have. A swiss army knife or multi tool is a must have if you don’t carry a tool kit in your vehicle at all times.
10. Copies of important personal documents that are sealed in a watertight storage bag or container. These are important should the unthinkable happen and you lose your home.
These are the ten basic items you need to include in your disaster kit. Make sure they are accessible and easy to grab and go in case of an emergency. You can add other items as you like to customize your disaster kit to your exact needs.