Like having a disaster plan, having an emergency kit is as crucial as it is a function of common sense. How long does it take to throw together a couple of dozen items – versus grabbing a bag from a planned spot?
- Basic staple #1, food: at least a three-day supply of water (i.e., a gallon per person per day) and of non-perishable food that does not require cooking.
- Basic staple #2, shelter: you may either lose your home or access to it for some time. Your home won’t fit in your emergency kit, of course, but you can include a list of places you can go instead – homes of family/friends or pre-identified community shelters; using the former eases the problems of the latter.
- Basic staple #3, clothing/hygiene: at least one change of clothes per person, as well as shoes, bedding and toiletry supplies. As for what you’re wearing, remember that many disasters happen at night – you may be wearing your pajamas.
- Address any special needs in your emergency kit. Examples: spare eyeglasses, medicine (or, to prevent loss through spoilage, a list of prescriptions you can fill on the run) and baby and pet supplies (remember that many shelters will not accept pets).
- Power and information are often in short supply in disaster, so take them with you: batteries, flashlight, battery-operated radio.
- Some small tools – a rope, a wrench, pliers, a hammer and nails – may prove useful.
- Even in disaster, it’s hard to live without cash. In fact, without access to your own kitchen, it might be better to say “especially” in disaster. Keep some cash or a credit card in your kit.
- Once sheltered, you may be surprised at how quickly you become bored. Some reading material in your emergency kit is more important than it seems.
Keep a smaller version in your vehicle. Why smaller? Not only is a car is smaller than a house, if you are in your vehicle you are usually mobile; if so, logic dictates you will go somewhere safe – eliminating the need to live out of the kit.