Tips and Essentials for a Home Emergency Survival Kit

In life, disasters can strike suddenly and leave a family without the things that they rely on for safety and survival. These emergency situations can impact a single home, a neighborhood, a city, or a whole state. The cause of these emergencies is commonly natural disasters, such as wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. Other situations, such as residential fires or widespread power outages, may also result in situations where food, water, and shelter are limited or not accessible. For this reason, people should create home emergency kits that can help them and their loved ones not only survive but do so safely.

Store Standard Supplies

Any survival kit requires standard supplies that are important for comfort and safety. Two of the most obvious items that everyone should have are flashlights and a battery-operated radio. To ensure that these items remain operational, keep a supply of additional batteries in the emergency kit. As an alternative to a battery-operated radio, one may consider buying a hand-cranked radio instead. An emergency kit should also include a whistle that can be used to catch the attention of emergency responders. Although cell towers may be down or overloaded during a disaster, keep a phone charger in the survival kit in the event that the phone can be used for calls. Cell phones are also a way to take pictures and video recordings of one's property or events that are taking place. Blankets, plastic sheeting, and protective masks are also necessary items to have on hand, as are matches, garbage bags, extra clothing, and money in the form of dollar bills and coins.

Create a Store of Food

In the event of an emergency, one should have a two- to three-day supply of food that can feed everyone who lives within their home. When stockpiling food, including items that are non-perishable or won't expire for an extremely long time. This includes items such as dry cereal, nuts and dried fruits, powdered or shelf-stable milk, and crackers. Foods that can provide an energy boost are also important to have on hand. Include high-energy foods such as granola bars and peanut butter.

Choose canned foods over food in pouches, as they tend to last longer. Food items in cans will often provide the nutrients and protein needed for strength and health. Try to store items such as canned fish, poultry, vegetables, and hearty low-salt soups.

And any emergency food supply is not complete without sufficient amounts of water. Keep in mind that every person in the house will need a minimum of a gallon of water daily and there should be enough to last three days or longer. If there is a baby or pet in the home, do not forget to include powdered formula, baby food, or pet food in the stockpile, too. One should also remember utensils and invaluable tools such as a manual can opener.

First Aid Supplies

Injuries are a real possibility in a disaster or emergency situation. To prepare, keep supplies on hand that will allow for the treatment of minor injuries and that will help prevent infection. A basic and effective first aid kit will include items such as adhesive bandages and sterile pads, both in a range of sizes. Scissors, needles, and tweezers are also crucial, as are antiseptic, alcohol wipes, and latex gloves. Infection and other conditions can cause fever, which makes a thermometer a smart and necessary addition. Include ibuprofen and acetaminophen plus ointments, creams, and sprays such as burn ointment, antibiotic cream, topical corticosteroid cream, and antihistamine spray. In case the emergency or disaster exposes one's family to steady sunlight or biting insects, the kit should also include bug spray and sunscreen. If a family member takes medications, a spare supply should be kept in the kit. All items should be routinely replaced.

Form and Practice an Emergency Response

One of the best ways to make it safely through an emergency situation is to have a plan for how the entire household should respond. Family members and residents living in a home should not only form and commit to the plan, but they should also practice the plan to improve their chances of remembering it in an actual emergency situation. Communication is a key component, as it makes it possible for families to provide assurance that they are safe. Communication plans include an agreement on places to meet, who is the family's out-of-town contact, and who to contact locally if unable to reach one another.

Families should then consider what types of disasters are most likely for the area in which they reside and research ways to prepare for events that may occur immediately before, during, and after a disaster. An evacuation plan should also be established for events such as house fires, with at least two escape routes for each room if possible. This is an example of a plan that should be practiced and fine-tuned to reduce the risk of injury or loss of life in an actual event. Print out the emergency response plan for every member to keep for reference.

By: Steven Moore