September is National Preparedness Month and with Hurricane Isaac fresh in our minds, safety and preparedness couldn’t be more relevant. Whether you live in an area always at risk for a natural disaster, or a community that rarely has one, everyone should have a disaster supply kit. Here are the bare essentials as recommended by www.ready.gov. Share them with your friends and family so they can be prepared for the unexpected too:
• Water, one gallon of water per person for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
• Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
• Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Whistle to signal for help
• Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
• Moist towlettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
• Manual can opener for food
• Local maps
• Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
You’ll want to make sure your disaster supply kit is accessible and portable. Store it in a place that is clean, cool and dry. In addition, you should change out your food and water every six months. Water will build up bacteria over time, so it’s important to switch it out on a regular basis. Some good food items to consider including in your kit are compressed food bars, trail mix, peanut butter, instant coffee and tea and food for infants, elderly and special diets. When considering food options the most important questions to ask are: Is it non-perishable? Is it high in calories? Does it require minimal preparation? Does it take up minimal space?
While those are just the basics, a disaster supply kit should be tailored to you, your family and your location. Once you have a basic kit, you may want to consider expanding upon it for lengthier emergencies. Some suggestions include:
• Additional food and water
• Warm blankets/heavier clothing
• Prescription medications
• Cash and traveler’s checks
• Chlorine bleach
• Personal hygiene items
• Portable cooking equipment
• Important family documents/identification
Your basic supply kit should be kept separately so you can grab it easily in cases of extreme emergency. The larger kit could be stored in a sealed plastic bin ready to be loaded into your vehicle. For more information on additional kit items and emergency preparedness, visit www.ready.gov.
The Coast Guard does their part to stay Always Ready and encourages everyone to be prepared for a disaster to strike. If as many people are prepared as possible, emergency services can focus on the true life and death situations as they arise so that everyone can get out safe and sound.
Do you have a disaster supply kit? Share what you have in yours in the comments below!