Welcome to all that come to us through the America’s PrepareAThon Webinar!
Preparedness has been a part of my life for at least 20 years. I can’t really imagine living any other way. I hope to encourage you to take the steps necessary to get your family prepared too. You will not regret it. Remember this does not have to be done in one day, so take your time, only spend what you can afford, and don’t stress.
If you missed the webinar and would like to listen – GO HERE
The purpose of gathering emergency supplies is to provide for basic needs in case of an emergency. Your emergency kit will:
- // Provide comfort when you are under a tremendous amount of stress.
- // Give you peace of mind to be ready before you need it.
- // Be convenient and portable – easy to grab and go.
- // Help you be self-reliant.
Each kit should be different. A kit should reflect the needs of the individual and have special food or comfort items. So, yes mom, you should sneak in a bit chocolate for yourself! Parent kits will be much more comprehensive than teen kits, which will be more involved than grade-schooler’s kits.
Basically, you want to spread the important items around among family members so if one kit is lost – all is not lost. Spread out the general supplies and keep the important things for the parents. Even toddlers can be responsible for a part of their own kit.
You should update your kits twice a year, rotating the food and water, and changing out the clothing for the appropriate sizes and seasons. We put it in our calendar for time change weekends. If you are only using one set of clothing then pack for winter and make sure you have scissors in your kit. It’s better to cut off sleeves and pant legs, than to find yourself in a winter situation with summer clothes. I can guarantee that will not be fun!
As you are planning, think about where you might be taking your kit. Do you need to use it at a shelter during an evacuation? Maybe you have a camping spot picked out and you will use it outdoors. If there is a request to shelter in place you may even be using it inside your own home.
One final word about purpose – that peace of mind is not going to be effective if you don’t practice with your supplies. Do drills, use your emergency kit, and see what specific items YOU really need to have in it.
Basic Emergency Kit Supplies
This is the foundation of your kit. Every family member should have access to their own basic items. A hand crank radio should be in the kit of every person over 12. You know your kids. If you think being able to listen to the radio would stress them out – skip it. The basic recommendation is:
- // Water – 1 gallon per person / per day / for 3 days.
- // Food – 3 day supply of non-perishable food, and a can opener. Preferably something that does not need to be heated. The subject of food in your kits is too great to go into here. See our post – Food for Emergency Kits for more ideas.
- // Radio – Hand crank / Battery powered with NOAA Weather Radio and tone alert. Don’t forget extra batteries.
- // Flashlight and extra batteries for each person. Consider at least one headlight for the group.
- // Basic First aid kit.
Now imagine how comfortable you will be for 3 days – with these 5 items. Is there anything missing for you? I know I’d really be missing a change of clothes and underwear! These are some other basic items to consider for a well-rounded kit:
- // Clothing for 3 days.
- // Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place.
- // Baby wipes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
- // Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
- // Cell phone charger, inverter or solar charger.
- // Whistle to signal for help.
Most of these items are already in your home, so this does not have to be an expensive project. Check second hand stores and dollar stores for the additional supplies you need.
Take your kit up a notch
There are other items that may bring you added comfort. Depending on where you think you will be using your kit, they may even be essential.
If you find yourself away from home you may want:
- // Extra pair of glasses (even if you wear contacts) When I get new glasses, I put my old pair in my kit.
- // Prescription medications may be the key for your safety and comfort. Ask your doctor for an additional supply. This will not actually be kept “in” your kit, but someplace easy to grab, you should always be rotating your meds.
- // Written copy of Emergency Phone Contact list in case your cell doesn’t work. I don’t know about you, but I don’t memorize phone numbers any more. Everything is on speed dial.
- // And if you get caught away from home a local map may be helpful.
If you find yourself in a shelter you may want:
- // All of the above, plus…
- // Head lamps to replace a flashlight. (you’ll need hands free for dealing with kids).
- // Glow Sticks are fun for kids and will provide 2 hours of light without using precious battery supplies. Kids love them and they can be a great comfort.
- // Blanket or sleeping bag.
- // You should still pack extra batteries (for each piece of equipment in your kit that requires them).
- // Information Binder– a full copy of your family plan and vital information should be included.
If you find yourself in the outdoors you may want:
- // All of the above, plus…
- // Duct tape and Ziploc baggies (gallon size) to use for just about anything. You can fix anything with duct tape!
- // Work gloves for ALL family members. If there is a major emergency with destruction, you’ll be glad you have a pair of sturdy gloves.
- // A small Sewing kit to repair clothing or patch tents.
- // Water purification method like a LifeStraw Personal Water Filter or water purification tablets
- // Waterproof matches and tinder.
- // Pocket Knife.
- // Sturdy shoes.
- // Mess kit for heating food and water.
How will you carry your kit?
A kit should be portable, geared to the individual who will carry it, and grow with them. Toddlers can carry items to keep them occupied, plus small snacks, comfort items, and water.
A backpack is easy to pack and carry; you probably already have several of them
- // Easy to carry.
- // Reasonably inexpensive, especially if you purchase at second hand stores.
- // Different weights and sizes are available, from day pack to hiker quality.
Suitcase with rollers
- // Easy to travel with.
- // Fits a surprising amount of stuff.
- // Great for people who cannot lift heavy items.
- // If they are responsible, kids can manage small roller suitcases.
- // Also can be found at second hand stores.
- // Sturdy.
- // Grab & Go for the car – consider putting in extras that won’t fit in your pack.
- // Waterproof.
Vest for kids
- // Use a fishing vest with 26 pockets for kids.
- // Costs around $25.
- // Comes in different sizes for kids and even adults.
- // Kids love to help pack and decide what to put in each pocket. Emphasize it is for emergency, not play!
- // It can be a source of comfort to them , knowing everything is within reach.
- // Even a pillowcase can be effective for kids. The Pillowcase Project, a Red Cross program, currently sponsored by Disney, has online education available.
The New Orleans chapter originally developed the Pillowcase Project after Hurricane Katrina. The program, currently sponsored by Disney, was standardized and updated in 2013 and pilot tested in several Red Cross regions. The Pillowcase Project has now been expanded to include 60 Red Cross regions implementing the pilot in 2014, covering most states in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico. The Global Disaster Preparedness Center is also working with Disney support to expand the program internationally in 2014, pilot testing international implementation in 6 countries.
Over the years we’ve created different kits for different reasons. My husband has a kit at the office in case he gets stuck there. We have an emergency kit in the trunk of each car and we each have a separate first aid kit. If you have special needs kids or an infant, create a kit especially for them too.
Have a scavenger hunt with your family to collect emergency supplies around the house
When we first started being serious about preparedness and gathering our emergency kit supplies we made a game of it. The first thing we did was have a family meeting and talk about the emergencies we might face in our area. Then we identified the supplies we might need in an emergency. Armed with this information, we spent 30 minutes gathering all the things we thought we would need. We had a scavenger hunt. The kids loved it, plus they knew we were serious about being prepared.
At first we didn’t have individual backpacks and it all went into a big tub. We knew we could at least grab that and go. Over the next 6 months we made a family goal to get our individual kits in order and get them packed up.
Get your child to help with assembling emergency supplies
I’ve found that kids are more than willing to help you be prepared. They are familiar with emergency drills from school and gathering supplies gives them a sense of security. This advance planning keeps them from being freaked out when an emergency actually happens. We’ve always made a game of it and the kids looked forward to it.
Put activities and toys for children in your emergency supplies
There’s nothing worse than a bored child! Make an emergency entertainment kit for the kids. This is something that they don’t play with except in an emergency. You can take them to the dollar store and pick out the items to go in it. Put it someplace safe, because they will want to play with it!
You may have to rotate the items every year or so. Our youngest daughter is away at college and we pulled out her pack about 6 months ago. She still had coloring books and horse stickers in her kit for entertainment. Yikes!
I’ve provided several downloadable files that you can use to create a personalized kit for each family member. Take a look and start planning your emergency kits today. Peace of mind is only a day away.
DOWNLOAD – Emergency Kit Supplies for a list of all items mentioned in this post.
FEMA – Preparedness on a shoestring
City of Concord North Carolina, Scavenger Hunt Supplies
Ready. gov Basic Emergency Supplies List