3 Steps to Prepare Your Family for a Disaster

Hurricane Harvey is a reminder that no matter where you live, the slightest shrug of Mother Nature's shoulders can throw your home into chaos. Take these steps to protect your family.

Before you put the kit together, remember, it will need to be refreshed. Water and food can go stale, and batteries can die even if they’re not used. Every few months, refresh the kit. No need to waste the food. Just pull it out of the kit and put it in the cupboard as you restock with fresh supplies.

One system for making sure the task isn’t forgotten is to restock whenever we spring forward or fall back for daylight saving time. Here are the bare essentials for your kit:

  • Water: Disasters can foul public water supplies, and power outages can mean private wells may not work. Guidelines call for 1 gallon of drinking water per day per person. Volume-wise, this can add up quickly. A family of four would need 12 gallons for three days.
  • Food: Again, you’ll want a three-day supply for everyone in the family. It might be obvious, but you want nonperishable items. Canned goods (don’t forget a can opener), dried meats, dried fruit, etc. Try to avoid salty foods or things that might make you thirsty. Make sure the foods you store don’t require water — you’ll want that for drinking. Bear in mind you may not have electricity or gas, so these should be things you don’t need to cook.
  • Medications: If you take medications, make sure to have an extra supply. Just like food, these can go stale. So, be sure to rotate them out.
  • Pet food: Your pet will be in this with you, and will need food and water, too.
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio: Your local government probably has an emergency broadcast channel. Find out what it is and tune in on this radio so you can listen for news and instructions. If you have a battery-operated radio, make sure you have spare batteries. Hand-crank radios will have power as long as your arm is working.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries: Know how many batteries you’re going to need.
  • First-aid kit: Make sure you have at least the basics, such as bandages and some disinfectant. There are many first-aid kits you can buy.
  • Whistle: This simple item can be a life-saver if you need to signal for help.
  • Dust mask, etc.: You may need to filter contaminated air. You may also need plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place. These supplies can make the difference if there’s some kind of chemical or biological spill, or even an attack.
  • Personal sanitation supplies: This should include moist towelettes, toilet paper, garbage bags and plastic ties.
  • Wrench or pliers: Use these to turn off utilities. In addition to having the tools on hand, make sure you know how and where to turn off your utilities. If there’s a gas leak, it can start a fire, and the fire department will already have its hands full. If there’s a water leak, that water damage will make cleanup that much harder.
  • Manual can opener: Don’t be the person holding a can of beans that you can’t open.
  • Local maps: Remember, your smartphone may not be working. A map can help you find alternatives if roads are blocked.
  • Cellphone with chargers, inverter or solar charger: I’ve been saying you won’t be able to count on your phone, and you won’t. But it might work — or it will eventually.

Your personal circumstance may also dictate additional items you will need, such as baby food and diapers, or climate-appropriate gear such as heavy sleeping bags if you live someplace that gets cold.

Check out the federal government’s Ready.gov website for more details and suggestions.

What are you doing to prepare for a disaster like Harvey? Let us know by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

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