At Home :: Prepare a Kit
There are three steps to being prepared at home:
1) Prepare a Kit
2) Have a Plan
3) Be informed
When preparing for a possible emergency situation, it's best to think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth.
Prepare a Kit
Recommended Items to include in a basic Emergency Supply Kit:
Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation.
- Children, nursing mothers, and sick people may need more water.
- If you live in a warm weather climate more water may be necessary.
- Store water tightly in clean plastic containers such as soft drink bottles.
- In an emergency, you can use bleach to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
Food, store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water. Pack a manual can opener and eating utensils. Avoid salty foods, as they will make you thirsty. Select foods your family will eat.
Choose ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables such as:
- Protein or fruit bars
- Dry cereal or granola
- Peanut butter
- Dried fruit
- Canned juices
- Non-perishable pasteurized milk
- High energy foods
- Food for infants
Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both.
Flashlight and extra batteries (or self-charging flashlight).
First aid kit
In any emergency a family member or you yourself may be cut, burned or suffer other injuries. If you have these basic supplies you are better prepared to help your loved ones when they are hurt. Remember, many injuries are not life threatening and do not require immediate medical attention. Knowing how to treat minor injuries can make a difference in an emergency. Consider taking a first aid class, but simply having the following things can help you stop bleeding, prevent infection and assist in decontamination.
Things You Should Have:
- Two pairs of Latex, or other sterile gloves (if you are allergic to Latex).
- Sterile dressings to stop bleeding.
- Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes to disinfect.
- Antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
- Burn ointment to prevent infection.
- Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes.
- Eye wash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant.
- Prescription medications you take every day such as insulin, heart medicine and asthma inhalers. You should periodically rotate medicines to account for expiration dates.
- Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment and supplies.
Things It May Be Good To Have:
- Cell Phone
- Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
- Non-Prescription Drugs such as aspirin or nonaspirin, pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medications, antacids (for upset stomach) and laxatives
Whistle to signal for help
Dust masks to help filter contaminated air
Some potential emergencies could send tiny microscopic "junk" into the air. For example, flooding could create airborne mold which could make you sick and an explosion may release very fine debris that can cause lung damage. A biological terrorist attack may release germs that can make you sick if inhaled or absorbed through open cuts. Many of these agents can only hurt you if they get into your body, so think about creating a barrier between yourself and any contamination.
A variety of face masks are readily available in hardware stores. A face mask should be provided for each member of the family. Masks are rated based on their ability to filter out particles - you will need to decide which masks are best for your family and situation. Do whatever you can to make the best fit possible for children.
If an emergency situation arises and you do not have access to a face mask, any dense-weave cotton material that will snugly fit around your nose and mouth can offer some protection. It is very important that most of the air you breathe comes through the mask or cloth, not around it.
Given the different types of emergencies that could occur, there is not one solution for creating a barrier between yourself and any contamination in the air. For instance, simple cloth face masks can filter some of the airborne "junk" or germs you might breathe into your body, but will probably not protect you from chemical gases. Still, something over your nose and mouth in an emergency is better than nothing. Limiting how much "junk" gets into your body may impact whether or not you get sick or develop disease.
Other Barriers for "shelter-in-place"
- Heavyweight plastic garbage bags or plastic sheeting
- Duct tape
There are circumstances when staying put and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside, a process known as "shelter-in-place," is a matter of survival. You can use these things to tape up windows, doors and air vents if you need to seal off a room from outside contamination. Consider precutting and labeling these materials. Anything you can do in advance will save time when it counts.
Use available information to assess the situation. If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you can use these things to tape up windows, doors and air vents if you need to seal off a room.
Find shelter information here.
HEPA Filter (High Efficiency Particulate Air Filtration)
Once you have sealed a room with plastic sheeting and duct tape you may have created a better barrier between you and any contaminants that may be outside. However, no seal is perfect and some leakage is likely. In addition to which, you may find yourself in a space that is already contaminated to some degree.
Consider a portable air purifier, with a HEPA filter, to help remove contaminants from the room where you are sheltering. These highly efficient filters have small sieves that can capture very tiny particles, including some biological agents. Once trapped within a HEPA filter contaminants cannot get into your body and make you sick. While these filters are excellent at filtering dander, dust, molds, smoke, biological agents and other contaminants, they will not stop chemical gases.
Some people, particularly those with severe allergies and asthma, use HEPA filters in masks, portable air purifiers as well as in larger home or industrial models to continuously filter the air.
Personal sanitation items
- Moist towelettes
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Feminine supplies
- Garbage bags with ties (for disposal of sanitation items)
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
Prescription medications and glasses
Infant formula, food and diapers
Pet food, extra water and sanitation items for your pet
Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
Cash or traveler's checks and change
Emergency reference material such as a first aid book
Sleeping bags or warm blankets for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper - when diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
Matches in a waterproof container
Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
Paper and pencil and books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Next step: Have a plan.