Residents of nearly every region of the United States will experience some natural disaster in their lifetime. In the West, earthquakes tend to be the major threat. The northern Midwest might suffer from severe winter weather. Residents of Texas, Oklahoma, and surrounding states might experience a tornado or two throughout the course of a year. Residents of the South and Southeast are very familiar with the destructive impact of a hurricane. And–in this day and age–all Americans might very well be victims of another terrorist attack. Yet, we ignore the calls by public health and safety officials to prepare ourselves for an emergency. However, the time to act is now.
“Great,” you may be thinking. “So I know that I need an emergency kit. I just don’t know what to put in one.” Still other state, “Look, I know I need an earthquake kit. But I don’t have the time to drive around to the various stores looking for the items. And even if I did, those items are too expensive. I don’t know how I could ever afford them.” All understandable excuses. But one thing is for sure: when the disaster hits, excuses won’t keep you warm, hydrated, or fed. Here are some general guidelines and ideas for pulling together an emergency supply kit:
Emergency experts state that you should estimate needing one gallon of potable water per person per day. Most emergency supply kits prepare you for being stranded for 72 hours. However, safety and survival experts suggest you have enough water to last you well beyond the normal three-day parameter. “You want about a gallon of water per person per day, enough food to last anywhere from 7 to 10 days,” advises Brian Blake of the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium. It may take three days for emergency crews to not only formulate a response plan, but it could take far longer for damaged infrastructure to be replaced. Human beings may be able to survive with limited amounts of food, but the body simply must stay hydrated in order to live.
Water is, without a doubt, the most important item in your kit. However, you should think about stockpiling other items, as well. Canned or dehydrated food is important. As are other items, such as prescription medications, over-the-counter pain relievers, batteries, and battery or hand powered flashlights and radios. Do not forget to plan for the smallest members of your family, as well. Toddlers, babies, and pets will need special attention during the planning process.
In the event of a catastrophic event, it is safe to assume that the power grid and physical infrastructure will be affected. You will not be able to rely on normal conveniences of your daily life. ATM and credit card readers will probably go offline. In short, you will need cash to cover yourself in the emergency. If your kit is well-stocked with other items, experts suggest about having $300 in cash on hand. Be sure that this amount is in smaller denominations as you may not be able to rely on many people being able to provide you with change for a one hundred-dollar bill.
As mentioned above, you should think about supplying your kit with enough items to last you through the first three days following a natural disaster. Seventy-two hours is a safe assumption for city dwellers as large municipal disaster relief plans are already in place. While execution will still prove a challenge, cities have central areas for individuals to congregate and receive necessary aid. Individuals who live in rural areas or more expansive metropolitan areas may want to plan on a week’s worth of supplies, as crews may not be able to reach you by the time you begin to run low. Additionally, if you live in areas that are susceptible to severe winter weather, many weather events sometimes last longer than three days.
Your individual and family needs change throughout the years. Five years ago, you may not have had children. You may have been single. Reevaluate your needs on an annual basis. Additionally, many of the perishable items have a limited shelf life and will need to be replaced at or around five years.
Developing a plan and executing a plan will help you and your family survive any catastrophic event that may occur. Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods disrupt regions of this country on an annual basis. Additionally, we never know when the next terrorist will strike. Wouldn’t you rather be prepared?