It is never a bad idea to prepare for an emergency. The kinds of things you need to prepare for will change depending on where you live, but everyone needs to have an emergency preparedness kit. These kits include essential equipment and supplies to keep you going for 72-hours if you are caught in the middle of a disaster. This list covers crank radios and the other essentials of what should be included in your kit.
How long can you go without food? The most common answer is between 4 to 6 weeks. Though, this depends largely on a person’s initial health. Regarding the emergency preparedness kit, it is a good idea to have a three day supply of food per person. The food shouldn’t need to be refrigerated or cooked. Some good ideas of the food to pack include:
- Granola Bars
- Trail Mix
- Canned Meat
Organize the food according to meals in plastic bags. This way you don’t have to hunt through your emergency kit bag to find what you are looking for. It makes it easier to distribute among your family, and it is a good way to keep track of how much you are eating and what you have left. MREs are useful since they last for a couple of years, if kept at a cooler temperature; however, they can be more expensive than other options.
While you can last for several weeks without food, the same is not true for water. If it is cool, 10 days without hydration is considered the limit. Taking that into account, it is a good idea to have one gallon of water per person, per day. The problem with water is that it is relatively heavy. One gallon of water weighs just over eight pounds, but trust us, all that weight is definitely worth it. Not only should you have enough water for everyone, but you should also carry iodine pills or a water purifier of some sort. This way if you find water, you will be able to use it without fear of ingesting something dangerous.
There are two things to keep in mind when packing bedding: staying warm and keeping dry. Even in the driest environment, moisture is likely to form overnight and soak through the fabric of a cloth blanket. Invest in a water-repellent blanket and a tarp to protect yourself from moisture. A space blanket can be an ideal addition to an emergency it. Space blankets help you retain your body temperature, keep out the rain and wind and are compact and light. There are even some that have been made to function like a sleeping bag for even more added warmth. They aren’t going to be as warm as a down comforter, but they are better than just a tarp.
Clothing is one of the most difficult items to pack because it takes up space and requires planning for everything. It is a good idea to have two shirts – short and long sleeves – a pair of trousers, a jacket, socks and under garments. And that is just covering the bare essentials since you don’t know what time of year it is going to be. At the very least have a jacket and a change of socks. Having warm, dry feet every night makes it easier to sleep and will keep you warmer overall. If you have children, you have to make sure to check their emergency kit clothes regularly to make sure they still fit.
There are various ways to get light when the power's out, including flashlights, lamps, flares and candles. Make sure you have spare batteries or matches. There are some flashlights and lamps that are powered either using a solar panel or a crank. These can be a great way to make sure you have light without worrying about corroded batteries. Even if you aren’t planning on using candles, always pack water-proof matches so you can start a fire if you need to. The matches should be placed in a water-proof container for extra protection, and they should be kept all together.
First Aid Kit
We can’t stress the importance of this one enough. Having a first aid kit is vital in an emergency. Some of the items to included are:
- First Aid Booklet (including CPR)
- Antibacterial wipes
- Antibiotic ointment
- Bicarbonate of soda
- Eye drops/eye wash
- Fever reducing medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen
- Hand sanitizer
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Ipecac syrup
- Medical tape
- Needle and thread
- Rubbing alcohol
- Safety pins
- Sterile strips
- Tourniquet kit
- Triangular bandages
Make sure that you store your first aid kit in a container that will be protected from the elements. If all else fails, wrap it in a plastic bag to keep water from entering.
Supplies and Medication
Supplies and medication include toiletries, cleaning supplies, and personal medications. Disease spreads quickly after a disaster because of contaminated environments and a lack of sanitation. Include items such as toilet paper, hand soap, shampoo and dish soap. There are some soaps that can be used for multipurpose and can be found at many outdoor stores. Make sure to keep a supply of prescription medications – at least enough to last for three days if not a week or more.
Documents and Money
Documents to pack in your emergency kit include copies of birth certificates, wills, passports and contracts. You should also include vaccination papers and insurance policies. While they don’t have to stay in the kit at all times, they should be close at hand and be in a water-proof container. During times of disaster it is probably unlikely that you will be able to find a workable ATM, so it is a good idea to have some cash stored in the kit as well. This can be used to purchase supplies or gas if needed.
This is the largest and the bulkiest portion of the kit. The most important piece of equipment to include is a radio. Make sure that you have extra batteries or a crank radio to stay connected with the outside world and receive information on the current situation. Other items include:
- Can opener
- Pen and paper
- Duct tape
While not all of these are absolutely essential for survival, they will make life a little easier. Pick and choose which items will be best for your situation and which ones you can feasibly carry.
All of your supplies are gathered, neatly organized and you are ready to pack. This can be the most difficult part. If you are only creating a pack for one, all of the weight falls on you. Choose a pack that is comfortable to carry for long periods of time. Some bags come with wheels, which make them easier to transport over flat surfaces, but it's important that they can be carried easily as well. Make sure to put the non water-proof materials in bags. This way even if the house floods, you can still have dry bedding and clothes, and the bags can be used later for other purposes.
If you're packing a kit for your whole family, spread the supplies around to the all the packs. This way if one of the packs is lost, you don’t have to worry about missing all of the water or all of the food. Younger children can carry smaller packs with their clothing and a few essentials such as a food, water and bedding.
Now that you have finished packing, make sure to go through the kit on at least an annual basis to rotate the supplies and keep everything up to date. Store the kits in an easily accessible location, so you can you can grab them on a moment’s notice. And it's not a bad idea to have a separate kit for your car.