It's a new year! How have those resolutions been going so far? If you are interested in adding one, or if one isn't going real well, I have an easy replacement for you.
I understand that it can be costly to put together an emergency kit. Sometimes when it's between paying a bill or buying an item for a "someday" kit, the choice is not going to be emergency preparedness. So I want to break it down for you.
How about one item (more if you want) every few months? This can be a great family project or a duty assigned to the kids. It can also be a great gift for a grandparent, elderly neighbor or an extended family member or friend.
These items include, in no particular order:
The container. This can be a rubber tote, a duffel bag, a back pack, etc. It depends on how many people it is for. It is not a bad idea to have one for each family member and then one that contains the basic stuff for everyone. It should be something that you can keep in an area that easily accessible. A good idea for children is having their bag stored under their bed. I know I said in no particular order, but this should probably be first.
Flashlight/Headlamp You can have just one of these in just one kit, but having one for each member of the family would be nice. Headlamps are a bit nicer as they allow you to be able to use both of your hands for a task. Make sure you check the batteries regularly or store extra batteries with it or get the hand- crank type lights. You can get as creative as you want with this light. There are lights that will serve this purpose at just about any price range.
NOAA Radio This should be able to run on batteries and allow you to listen to local radio as well as NOAA weather radio. This radio can be kept in your tornado shelter area so you can monitor weather as you stay safe. Local radio will be a great resource for information in a local disaster.
Copies of important papers Easy access to these things may be impossible following a disaster. Make copies of your home and vehicle insurance documents, social security cards, immunization records, list of allergies and medications, drivers' license, passport, bank records, etc. These can be paper copies, or maybe just a memory stick that contains all of this stuff.
Give some thought as to what may be important to have. The kids can keep their medical stuff in their bags, too. And don't forget immunization records for your pets!
Medications It's a good idea to have a stash of basic over the counter medications on hand. Be sure to keep track of the expiration dates on these. Aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, antibacterial ointment, eye drops, sunscreen are all things to consider. If possible, a five-day, 10-day supply of prescription meds is also good to have, especially medications that are needed every day. A spare inhaler, nitro patches or pills, insulin, etc. are all types of medications that are required on a daily basis. It is very important to keep these rotated so what you have in your bag is useable. Speak with your family doctor to explain why you would like extra medication.
Money This is a tough one. Money is hard enough to come by that putting some cash aside can be tough. Maybe this can be accomplished by putting a certain amount every month or so into your stash of emergency cash. In the event of a natural disaster or an incident involving the power grid, credit cards and debit cards may be useless. Cash may be the only way to purchase gas or other necessary items in the days following a disaster. Smaller bills are better to have here than larger bills.
Other items to consider a basic first aid kit, baby wipes (great for cleaning up), an extra pair of good, sturdy shoes, extra age appropriate items such as diapers, coloring books, stuffed animals. Rain ponchos, basic tool set, blankets, trash bags, extra set of eye glasses, sun glasses, bug spray, etc. Portable kennels for pets, leashes, collars, toys, etc.
Water is a big one. Keep in mind that a good source of water that most of you already have that you can use in a disaster is the water in your water heater. Large jugs the drinking water are great to have. These jugs should be plastic containers that previously held water. Keeping full water bottles in the individual family member bags is a great idea. Remember water for any pets that evacuate with you.
Food Non-perishable, ready-to-eat food is the best. Candy bars, bags of trail mix, juice boxes, crackers, popcorn, dried fruits, nuts, cookies, jerky, etc. are all good examples. Stuff that takes up little room and can be eaten without preparation.
This project also provides an opportunity for family conversation on emergency preparedness and will make all members of your family more resilient in the event of a disaster. Don't forget your family communications plan so you can stay in touch with loved ones. Also keep in mind that texting usually works when cell calls don't.