Monday, March 11, 2013

Packing an Emergency Safety Kit

A guest post by Maire Hunter

What a crazy winter it has been! With weather-related emergencies from Hurricane Sandy to the blizzard, many people have gone without power for days or weeks at a time. People are wondering, how can my family be safe at home? How can I prepare better for emergencies, either natural or man-made? Well, the first step you should take is creating an emergency safety kit in the home.

Appropriate Preparations

This really depends on you. Brainstorm a list of possible dangers. If the area where you live is prone to wildfires or tornadoes, these disasters may top your list. On the other hand, if tornadoes are rare or nonexistent in your area, you shouldn't waste space preparing for them. Have the whole family sit down to plan out your kit.

Items to Keep in Your Kit

These should directly reflect the situations you've decided to prepare for. Common items you'll probably want to keep around include the following:
  • First-aid supplies: Cuts, scrapes and burns may happen in emergencies. Be prepares to help your family and others. Your first aid kit should include tweezers, scissors, gauze, aspirin, antibacterial ointment, bandages and sanitizing solution.
  • Handheld or hands-free flashlights: If the power goes out, you'll need to be able to see your way in the dark. Keep one flashlight per family member in your kit.
  • Drinking water: You can't guarantee that municipal water will remain potable in an emergency. Store several gallons of bottled water in the home.
  • Food: Non-perishable food items such as canned soup, canned tuna, peanut butter, jelly, dried milk, canned juice, energy bars, dried fruit and instant coffee may mean the difference between staying comfortable in an emergency and feeling real hunger. Involve all family members in developing an emergency food supply so that everyone has something they enjoy eating.
  • Miscellany: Depending on the emergency, you may need to make your way to a remote location. For example, if a flood comes, you may need to evacuate the family on foot and seek higher ground. How will you do this? Consider having a compass, area maps, sturdy hiking boots, tent and signal flares.
Storing Your Supplies

Well-prepared families have two types of kits: one to use in case of emergency evacuation and one to use at home. On the road, you'll need your miscellaneous supplies and a three-day supply of food and water per person. At home, you may want a battery- or self-powered radio in case communications become disabled.

Store supplies in a waterproof container in your basement or other secure area. Also prepare a grab-and-go bag for each family member, using backpacks or small rolling suitcases. Ensure that you have a similar bag at work and a smaller one in the car; you never know where you'll be when an emergency strikes.

If you don't have everything at home, add one to two items to each shopping trip to prepare effectively. Soon you'll be prepared for the most common emergencies that may occur near you.

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