In honor of National Preparedness Month, we are going to cover steps to assemble and maintain an emergency kit. Emergency kits contain items that will assist in short-term survival of potential emergencies. Supplies to include in your emergency kit are: water, food, eating utensils, battery-powered or hand crank radio, flashlight, batteries, first aid kit, whistle to signal for help, dust mask, plastic sheeting, duct tape, towelettes, garbage bags, plastic ties, wrench/pliers, can opener, and local maps. It is recommended that you have sufficient water and food to last your family three days, and to store the kit in containers that are easy to carry.
It is generally recommended that you have one gallon of water per person per day, but children, nursing mothers, those who are sick, and those in warm climates may need additional water. It is recommended that you store the water in a cool, dark place. Commercially bottled water is the easiest to maintain and can be checked by the expiration or “use by” date on the container. Ready.gov/water has steps for purifying, storing, and maintaining self-bottled water, while also including recommendations for managing water supplies during an emergency.
You should have at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food, consisting of foods your family will eat. It is important to avoid foods that will make you thirsty, thus salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals, and canned foods with high liquid content are good options. Avoiding foods that require refrigeration, cooking, special preparation, or water is helpful in emergencies involving power outages. It is important to avoid eating food that has been in contact with contaminated floodwater; in cans that are swollen, dented, or corroded; or that looks or smells abnormal. FoodSafety.gov and Ready.gov have additional recommendations and information for preparing food stores for an emergency.
The maintenance of your kit can be just as important as building it in the first place. It is important to store your kit in a cool, dry place and to replace food or water with fresh supplies before they go bad or at least every six months. It is also important to review your needs and modify your kit as they change. Additional recommendations and advice regarding emergency kits can be found at www.ready.gov.