An emergency kit is the fundamental building block of emergency preparedness.
It is a small kit tailored to your life and location that suits and supports your life style. Here are the three principles for emergency kits:
- Plan based on kit basics, then tailor it for you
- Build it over time, put first things first
- Test it regularly, test the next step too
The principles are simple, but like a lot of simple things they’re not always easy to do.
Let’s consider the basic kit.
Three basic categories of things for your Emergency Kit. First think of minor emergencies, cuts and bug bites. Add abrasions, jammed fingers and things that can happen at home, the office, or while driving. Then think a little bigger. What about a tree falling on your house, a factory floor incident, or a car crash, less likely than the first, but planning and preparing for them is very similar. There are three broad category of things you need in an emergency kit:
- 1st aid & Hygiene – Bandages for minor cuts and scrapes, aspirin or other pain reliever, gauze, an eye patch, disinfectant, most minor emergency kits have the right stuff. Additionally, a sewing kit can be used for large cuts and of course it is also good for buttons and tears in clothing.
- Food & Water – Three days for every person and animal in the house is a good place to start. Bottled water, dehydrated food. Keep in mind you might have to cook with the power off, so a grill or small stove with fuel is a excellent idea.
- Personal and disaster specific items – tailoring the kit to you is important. You like rice and not noodles, don’t stock up on the ramen. If your family is athletic, add things for sports related injuries. If you live in or near a flood zone, flotation buoys might be a sincere consideration.
Once you have gotten the basics, “Make it Personal”
Tailor it for you:
- What kind of disaster lives near you? Where will you encounter an emergency? Consider the natural disasters in your region; tornados, cyclones, floods, earth quakes, or wild fires. Also make a list of any human-created potential disasters near you; chemical plant, nuclear plant, damns, levees, hospitals, or Factories.
- Where will you put your Emergency Kit? Ideally, close to where you need it. Three important locations to preposition your basic emergency kits are at home, at work, and in your car.
- How likely is an emergency? What kind is most likely? How many people will the kit need to support? A minor flood is more likely than one that will break the levee. A family of four stockpiles more for a week’s worth of food, than a young couple. If you’re a single guy, use the stockage level for two, trust me on this.
- Do you or your family members need certain medication? Check with your doctor concerning ways to maintain an extra week or month of prescription medication. An extra set of glasses is certainly worthwhile. The idea is to tailor it for your needs.
- How long will the emergency last? There is no established stockpile level that fits everyone. Balance between the hazards in your area and your resources and comfort level. Maybe you are more comfortable with a month of supplies, but your budget allows for only an extra week. There are creative ways to bridge this gap that you will learn over time. An emergency kit is not a one time fix, it is a process of keeping you and your family safe.
Build it over time.
- You don’t need it all at once unless the Hurricane is on its way.
- A good practice is to buy one item each paycheck. This is a great way to get started and to keep your supplies up to date.
- Get your top priority items first. If you live near a factory that uses or manufactures chlorine, a truck accident and spill is more likely than a factory explosion. Maybe you will need respirators, but at the very least include directions to high ground since chlorine is heavier than air.
- The main thing to consider when it comes to the expense of building an emergency kit, “What happens if you don’t have an emergency kit.”
Test your plan and kit over time
- When the truck drives through the neighborhood, loud speakers blaring a warning about the water being shut off for repairs. Yes, fill up your tub. That is good water for your dog or to pour into your toilet to flush with. Test your emergency plan and get out the bottled water from the garage for drinking. The city crew wants to get it fixed by dinner time too, but if they don’t, or even if they do, cooking from your emergency rations is a good test. You might decide to invest in the better emergency food or learn some tricks about preparing it that will be helpful in a more critical situation.
- Go one step more beyond your plan than what is required. This way you get to test the next step when it is not a disaster situation. Next expand your thinking to multiple days. Food for when you are unable to refrigerate or cook, water for when the city pumps shut down or a pipe breaks. Disaster will plague you in several ways. If your electricity is out you might not be able to go out to eat locally depending on how wide spread the problem is.
So, start with the 1st aid kit and expand from there. Increase your supply of food and water around the house. Make sure your kit fits your specific needs. Stay within your budget and build over time. Test your plans and your kits regularly, at home, in the car, and at the office. Be Prepared. Be Alive. Survive.