During National Preparedness Month, it’s a good idea to remind yourself that if an emergency situation happens, you may need to leave your home in a hurry. It’s a scary thought, I know. Wouldn’t it be nice at a time of stress and uncertainty to have something prepared to make your next few days a little less hectic? A prepared emergency kit is the answer.
An emergency kit is a backpack, storage crate or whatever container you choose that you “grab and go” in the event that you have to quickly leave your home. It has items you use daily (or to be more dramatic, items that are potentially essential to your survival).
A few things to keep in mind when creating an emergency kit:
- Remember to only do what is practical for you. Most items in an emergency kit can be bought at the dollar store. Also, consider adding items to your kit over time to increase your preparedness within your budget.
- Your emergency kit should be personalized to your own needs. If you have a disability, an access need or a functional need, you may need to take additional steps to prepare for emergencies. If you have a family or a pet, additional items will also need to be added.
- Know what you are able to carry. Would it be best to carry your emergency supplies in a fanny pack, backpack or drawstring bag hung on your mobility device?
- Once you have your kit or bag assembled, keeping it up-to-date is also important. Review the contents at least every six months or as your needs change. Check expiration dates and shift your stored supplies into everyday use before they expire. Replace food, water and batteries, and refresh medications and other items with “first in, first out” practices.
- The American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have wonderful websites with instructions for preparing for emergencies and making emergency kits.
Here are 15 item suggestions to have in your emergency kit. If you notice an item that is not on the list, please add it if you feel like it is something that you would need in an emergency. Remember, your kit is unique to you:
- Three-day supply of medications
- Battery-operated radio
- Roll of toilet paper
- Change of clothes (including a sweater for cold weather)
- Anything necessary to help meet personal care needs: catheter kits, syringes, ostomy bags, hand sanitizer, tweezers, gloves, trash bags, alcohol, wipes
- Bottled water
- Can opener
- Cash (store in a waterproof bag)
- Copies of driver’s license/ID card, Medicaid/Medicare or other insurance cards, a list of medications, emergency contact list (store in a waterproof bag)
- Flashlight and batteries
- Mini first aid kit (e.g., adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment and gauze pads)
- Canned and/or packaged foods (e.g., peanut butter, crackers, tuna, cereal)
- Matches in a waterproof bag
- Small bag of pet food (if you have a pet)
- A deck of cards, a board game and/or a book
Hopefully, being prepared in the event of an emergency will give you peace of mind. You should be proud of yourself for being proactive.
Amy Cichacki is the Assistant Director of Consumer Directed Services (CDS). She can be reached at email@example.com.
Photo credit: Gareth Bogdanoff