Disaster can strike anywhere at any time, and often without warning. Whether you're evacuating from a Category 5 hurricane or the electricity went off in the dead of winter, it's essential that every family has a stocked and readily available emergency kit, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It's no fun groping around in the dark for a flashlight, or waiting until the last minute to see if that storm was really going to come your way before you have everything you need to weather it. So think ahead, plan ahead and gather your supplies before you'll need them.
Food and Water
Have enough food and water for at least three to seven days, according to FEMA. Pack at least a gallon of water per day per person. This may seem like a lot, but you may want to take a sponge bath or flush a toilet. Also pack nonperishable items such as canned and boxed foods--and don't forget a nonelectric can opener. Add some paper plates, plastic utensils and napkins.
In a natural disaster or other emergency, you or your family members could be injured by a number of hazards. Include basic first aid supplies in your emergency kit. Include assorted sizes of bandages; sterile pads; gauze; antibacterial cream; disposable gloves; eye wash; burn cream; over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and anti-diarrhea medicine; and prescription medications. Also include the name and contact information for your pharmacist.
Tools and Other Essentials
Sometimes power outages can last for days or even weeks. Your emergency kit needs to include at least one heavy-duty flashlight with extra batteries, battery-powered flameless candles, a fully charged cell phone, a battery-operated radio with extra batteries and a corded phone. You will also need a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, a dust mask and a whistle to signal for help. Pack extra clothing and blankets for each family member.
Keep your car full of emergency supplies and keep the tank at least half full. In a disaster situation, gas can be hard to find. If you have pets, make a plan of action for them by finding out in advance what hotel chains accept pets. Pack pet supplies and water. For insurance purposes, take photos or video of the inside and outside of your home. Put these on a flash drive or DVD and give it to someone you trust for safekeeping.
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