In the event of an emergency, it’s entirely possible that help won’t reach you for a few days. For that reason, FEMA recommends creating a “Basic Disaster Kit” for home, work, and your car that can tide you over for roughly three days — the amount of time most agencies figure it will take to get assistance into a disaster area.
The items below, compiled by Joan Crain of FamilyDisasterPlanning.com and the Centers for Disease Control, should be stored in a sturdy backpack that each member of your family can easily carry, just in case you are told to evacuate your home.
Don’t worry about assembling every single item into each person’s pack. Clearly, babies don’t need to have their own shovels or matches. Instead, concentrate on creating a basic pack for each person, and perhaps a “family pack” for the house (which you can store in a large plastic container).
When you are creating your family’s kit, be sure to remember your pets! Chances are they will not be allowed into an evacuation center with you, so in addition to food and water, including their health and vaccination records — these will allow them to shelter with a pet-care organization.
The items below should be rotated or revised every six months so that you don’t end up with expired food or water when you really need it, and also so that you can revise the items to correspond with the needs of growing children.
Don’t let the number of items listed overwhelm you! Start with whatever you have readily available in the house and then slowly add to it. It’s better to be a little prepared than not prepared at all.
- Protein/Granola Bars
- Trail Mix/Dried Fruit
- Canned Tuna, Beans, Turkey, Beef, Vienna Sausages, etc. (use regular, not “pop-top” cans, as they will not accidentally explode in your pack)
- Juice in foil packets
- Candy (not anything that will melt) and gum
- Water (1 Gallon/4 Liter Per Person)
- Baby formula (if your baby uses it)
- Bedding and Clothing
- Change of Clothing (short and long-sleeved shirts, pants, jackets, socks, sturdy shoes)
- Lightweight Rain Coat/Poncho
- Blankets and Emergency Heat Blankets (that keep in warmth)
- Cloth Sheet
- Plastic Sheet
- A flashlight with new batteries (batteries should be stored in their original container and not opened until needed)
- Extra Batteries
- Water-Proof Matches in a waterproof container
- Manual Can Opener
- A plate, cup, and spoon/fork/knife per person
- A small shovel
- Radio (the crank kind is best, otherwise battery-operated)
- Pen and Paper
- Pocket Knife
- Small first aid kit with manual
- Plastic Ziploc-style bags
- Pacifier (for babies) or small soothing toy (for older kids)
- Baby diapers
- Personal Supplies and Medication
- A roll of toilet paper (remove the center tube to easily flatten into a zip-lock bag)
- Feminine hygiene supplies
- A comb or small folding brush
- Hand sanitizer