Being prepared for disasters mean having a disaster preparedness kit nearby. Disasters can happen without warning regardless of geographical location.
Natural hazards such as fires, hurricanes, tornados, storms, floods, and earthquakes can unexpectedly happen. As such, making sure that you have a disaster preparedness kit is one way that you can protect yourself and your loved ones during disasters or emergencies.
What is a Disaster Preparedness Kit
A disaster preparedness kit is a compartment or container where you store items or necessities which will ensure short-term survival for one or more people.
Make sure that your disaster preparedness kit is enclosed in a dry bag or any waterproof container. It is to ensure that the items inside will not get soaked in water.
11 Items to Pack in Your Disaster Preparedness Kit
Some things are absolutely essential to have in your disaster preparedness kit. Here are 11 items you don’t want to forget to pack.
1. Emergency food and water
Water is one of the most important items in the kit. Make sure to store one gallon of emergency water per family member. Pack water bottles for you and each of your family members. Emergency WA suggests preparing at least three (3) liters of water per person.
On the other hand, emergency food must contain non-perishable items such as canned goods, noodles, energy bars, biscuits, cereals, etc. Check the expiration date of the items and pick the ones that will expire at a much later date.
Bring disposable utensils such as a spoon, fork, and table knife. Have a hand sanitizer ready in case you would need to prepare food by hand. If you have an infant, store baby supplies such as milk, baby bottles, clothing, diapers, sanitizers, insect repellent, baby food, medicines, etc. At the same time, if you have pets at home, secure your pet and store pet food and water for them.
2. First aid kit
A first aid kit is a must-have in the disaster preparedness kit. It should contain the following: medicines, disposable gloves, alcohol, cotton, band-aids, bandage, antiseptic swab, scissors, and personal medication.
The NY Times wrote that the essentials of a first aid kit may include the following: micro-pore paper tape, fabric adhesive dressings and bandages in a variety of sizes, coverlet adhesive 4-wing dressing, non-adherent bandage pads, a sterile gauze bandage roll, adhesive wound closures, triangular bandages, alcohol swabs and antiseptic wipes, packets of Bacitracin antibiotic ointment with zinc, burn ointment, eye wash, and a thermometer.
3. Means of communication
Having a means of communication is very important during disasters. Your mobile phone is an essential tool for you to seek help and reach 911 or the police. Pack a power bank since most phones nowadays get easily drained of battery.
Another thing to pack is an AM/FM radio where you can tune in for weather news and updates, announcements from the governments, or any evacuation orders. Purchase a radio that is waterproof and battery-operated so that it can last for three days or more.
4. Emergency whistle
Another essential item in your kit is the emergency whistle. This will come in handy during emergency situations. Blowing the whistle is one of the best ways to call out for help and get people’s attention.
The emergency whistle alerts emergency rescue crews of your location or for locating others that may be trapped or lost.
5. Emergency light
Pack a battery-operated emergency light in the kit. Have extra batteries ready. Additionally, you can also include candles and waterproof matches in case the emergency light runs out of battery.
You can also get a headlamp that lights up the way or area and leaves your hands free to do other more important things. Choose a headlamp that can last up to 200 hours or more without recharging.
6. Personal documents and duplicates of your house and car keys
Important documents such as IDs, debit and credit cards, passport and certificates must be inside a resealable and waterproof envelope and stored in the kit. Have a handwritten copy or printed copy of emergency contact numbers in cases of emergencies and disasters.
Another good thing to prepare is to save in a reliable USB to store scanned copies of the said documents, particularly: birth certificates, marriage certificates, property titles, government IDs, passports, insurance certificates, diploma, etc. You can also save these scanned documents in the cloud like in your email, Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, etc.
Make sure to keep a duplicate of your house and car keys in your disaster preparedness kit.
7. Extra cash
Another important thing to prepare is extra cash sealed in a waterproof wallet. Having money stashed for emergencies is a good way to prepare for unforeseen circumstances.
8. Hygiene kit
Furthermore, you must pack toiletries and personal hygiene items such as body wash or soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, toilet paper, mosquito repellent lotion, comb, and sanitary napkins.
9. Protective clothing
Store protective clothing that will keep you warm and dry inside the emergency kit. You can also pack rubber boots. Ensure at least one change of clothing packed in that can last up to three or four days.
These clothing items should be suitable for the weather in your area. According to the NY Times, consider three basic layers for weatherproofing: a base, which maintains body temperature such as synthetics or merino wool; an insulation, such as fleece hooded sweatshirt or vest; and a shell which should be wind- and rain-resistant.
10. Escape kit
You can also include tools that can help you escape from entrapment, namely: window breaking hammer, pliers, pry bar, and goggles, to name some.
Another essential is an emergency flare which sends a signal outside for help and rescue.
11. Other emergency tools
Emergency tools include multipurpose tools such as a Swiss army knife, dust mask, multipurpose rope, thermal blanket, sleeping bags, scissors, glow-stick, and waterproof matches.
Extra batteries are also a must-have in your kit as it powers a lot of items such as emergency light, flashlight, radio, to name a few. You can also pack a collapsible tent where you can huddle to protect yourself and your loved ones.
5 Tips on Packing a Disaster Preparedness Kit
Packing a disaster preparedness kit can seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn’t need to be. Here are five tips to help you make sure you are ready if disaster strikes.
1. Keep it fresh and secure
Make sure that the items in your kit are fresh and ready to go. You don’t want to eat expired goods or pull out a damaged or non-working emergency light. Ensure all the items are in good working condition.
2. Be organized
Organize all the items in your disaster preparedness kit. Properly label the items in your kit so that you would know where you put the item you are looking for. The last thing you want to achieve is taking too much time just finding or figuring out what the item might be.
3. Use a portable kit
Load your essentials in an easy-to-carry waterproof dry bag or container where you can grab it quickly. In case, you don’t have waterproof dry-bags, you can wrap your essentials inside a plastic bag that is about 2.25 mil in thickness and wrap together the opening with a rubber band before you tuck it in your kit.
4. Keep your disaster preparedness kit within reach
Let everyone in the household know where the disaster preparedness kit is kept so that anyone can grab it when disaster strikes.
5. Hold an emergency disaster drill
Another tip that you can do to prepare for emergencies or disasters is to hold a disaster drill especially if you have kids. Orient yourself and your family on what to do and how to respond in the event of emergencies and disasters. With this, make sure that you and your family members know where the disaster preparedness kit is and how to use them. Moreover, orient your loved ones with what emergency numbers to call in cases of disasters.
The most important thing is that you are prepared mentally, emotionally and physically for any unforeseen disasters. Moreover, having an emergency kit ready is one of the things that you can do to prepare for disasters.
If you are living in a disaster-prone area, prepare on what to do and how to respond to it. Preparation is one of the keys to survival, but more so, the presence of mind and timely response is also essential to protect yourself and your loved ones.