emergency-kit-red-crossBe Ready: Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed.

September is National Preparedness Month, and, today is World First Aid Day.  It’s a great time to review your own emergency plans and to make sure family, friends and neighbors are prepared.

Whether it’s a house fire or a natural disaster, having a plan in place before an emergency hits means you’ll know where to turn in times of crisis.

So this month, take a few minutes to make an emergency game plan and prepare your emergency kit of essentials. Hopefully, the day doesn’t come when you’ll be thankful for it, but it pays to be prepared.

Being prepared means being equipped with the proper supplies you may need in the event of an emergency or disaster. Keep your supplies in an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you in case you must evacuate.

At a minimum, you should have the basic supplies listed below:

  • Water—one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Food—non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit – Anatomy of a First Aid Kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area

Consider the needs of all family members and add supplies to your kit. Suggested items to help meet additional needs are:

  • Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc)
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Games and activities for children
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Two-way radios
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Manual can opener

Additional supplies to keep at home or in your survival kit based on the types of disasters common to your area:

  • Whistle
  • N95 or surgical masks
  • Matches
  • Rain gear
  • Towels
  • Work gloves
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Household liquid bleach
  • Entertainment items
  • Blankets or sleeping bags

It is important to make sure that the entire family is prepared and informed in the event of a disaster or emergency. You may not always be together when these events take place and should have plans for making sure you are able to contact and find one another.

  • Meet with your family or household members.
  • Discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play.
  • Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and plan to work together as a team.
  • If a family member is in the military, plan how you would respond if they were deployed.

Emergency Contact Cards for All Household Members:

  • Print one card for each family member
  • Write the contact information for each household member, such as work, school and cell phone numbers
  • Fold the card so it fits in your pocket, wallet or purse
  • Carry the card with you so it is available in the event of a disaster or other emergency
  • You can download an emergency contact card template here

Plan what to do in case you are separated during an emergency:

  • Choose two places to meet…
    1 – Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire
    2 – Outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate
  • Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or saved on their cell phones.

Plan what to do if you have to evacuate:

  • Decide where you would go and what route you would take to get there. You may choose to go to a hotel/motel, stay with friends or relatives in a safe location or go to an evacuation shelter if necessary.
  • Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on your map in case roads are impassable.
  • Plan ahead for your pets. Keep a phone list of pet-friendly hotels/motels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.

Let Your Family Know You’re Safe

If your community has experienced a disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website  to let your family and friends know you are safe. You may also call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and select the prompt for “Disaster” to register yourself and your family.

Test Yourself!

Next week we will take a look at how to prepare each member of your family for emergencies; children, seniors, persons with disabilities and your pets.

Download Great First Aid and Emergency Preparedness Apps offered by The American Red Cross

In the meantime, stay safe, we hope you will never need this advice.