Emergency Kits for the Home – What to Include?

October 27, 2015

If you’re like most people, you probably think that a disaster won’t happen to your community. It can be difficult to think in terms of the worst-case scenario, but being prepared for an emergency situation is important to keep you and your family safe and healthy. If a disaster does strike, you want to make sure you have everything you need ready to go. Your access to food, water, electricity and even plumbing could be compromised after an emergency.

Home Emergency Kits Keep You Prepared for the Unexpected

You’ll want to make sure you have enough supplies to last at least 72 hours, as this can be the amount of time it generally takes for relief workers to arrive on the scene. You might get help immediately, but depending on the scope of the disaster it could take hours or a few days. It’s better to be over-prepared in this case.

Your home emergency kit should include the following:

  • Water- the most important item in your emergency kit is clean water. You should plan on having a gallon of water per person in your household per day. You’ll use this water for both drinking and sanitation.
  • Food- at least a three day supply of non-perishable food. Don’t forget a manual can opener!
  • Flashlight- one or two flashlights with working and extra batteries.
  • First aid kit that includes bandages, antibiotic ointment, aspirin, etc.
  • Emergency blankets.
  • Changes of clothing.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and twist ties for personal sanitation.
  • Soap, toothbrush, toothpaste and other personal care products.
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape for shelter.
  • Dust masks to filter possibly contaminated air.
  • Whistles to signal for help.
  • Multi-purpose tool that can be used to turn off utilities if necessary.
  • Maps of the area.
  • Copies of important documents like immunization records and insurance cards.
  • Extra cash.
  • Cell phone with charger and extra batteries.

If you have an infant, make sure to include extra items in your home emergency kit like diapers and wipes, baby food and formula, and extra blankets. If you have small children, add a few toys, games or books to keep them occupied. Likewise, if you have pets don’t forget to include items for them as well. Your pet should have a supply of food and fresh water, plus a leash or harness to keep them secure and close by. Don’t forget about their medicines and medical records, too!

Your home emergency kit should be kept fresh and ready to use, so this means making sure the food and any medications haven’t expired and that the batteries are all still new and in good working order. Mark your calendar or set a reminder in your phone for certain dates throughout the year to check your kit and swap out any necessary items.

Store the kit in a safe place in a large, plastic tote that can keep out dust and debris. Clearly label it and make sure the entire family knows where it is kept. If you move it to a new location, alert every one of its new spot.

Don’t wait until an unexpected disaster strikes; prepare your home emergency kit well in advance of such an event to keep these emergencies from becoming disasters.