It can be difficult to anticipate emergencies and to plan for them in the midst of our already over-scheduled lives. It can be even harder, though, to be told we have mere hours to gather what we need to carry us through three days of being displaced when we are forced to evacuate our homes. At times like these, even the most basic emergency supply box, stocked with items that are ready to simply be picked up and packed along with us, can be a source of great relief. Here are some items to consider preparing well in advance, even before disaster seems imminent:
Water – because water supplies can become contaminated during disasters, it's important that you have an adequate supply of drinking water on hand. You should plan on one gallon for every member of your household each day. While a three day supply is the minimum you should have, more is really better in this case. Because it isn't a commodity that expires if it isn't used before a certain date, there's no such thing as “too much” when it comes to water.
Food – Food is critical because it may be days before you are able to leave your home to buy something to eat, and you can bet that even when you are able to do so, stores will be packed with people scrambling to find something for their unstocked homes; this often translates to empty shelves. Since you may be without power, you want to look for nonperishable foods that don't rely on a stove (if yours is electric...if it's gas, then you are at an advantage there) or a fridge. In addition to the usual canned beans and tuna that fill this category well, you can purchase freeze dried meals that only require the addition of water to reconstitute them. Again, plan for at least days, but more is better.
Medicine – if there are medications you take on a daily basis, be sure to have an adequate supply of them.
Fuel – have enough gas in your car. Additionally, it may be a wise idea to purchase emergency fuel, which can be used to light fires.
Warmth – adequate blankets and clothing are important. Good shoes, layers (tee shirts, sweaters), rain gear and other articles of outerwear should have you covered.
Health and hygiene – items like toilet paper, toothpaste, and anything else you use daily you'll want to have an adequate stock of. If there is a baby in your home, you'll want to ensure a good supply of formula, diapers, wipes, and baby food.
Technology – a hand crank or battery powdered radio,and flashlight, and cell phones are the basic items you'll need here. You'll also want to have a camera on hand in order to photograph damage to your property.
Reference items – be sure to have copies or images of your personal documents (birth certificates, passports, licenses, insurance policies, proof of address). Also, without internet access, you might be surprised at the information you'll miss. Make sure to have maps of your area, and contact information for family and friends, as well as emergency services.