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Preparing for a disaster

Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, fires, acts of terrorism and other unexpected emergencies can force you to evacuate your home at a moment’s notice—or confine you inside it. How would your family fare if you couldn’t get to a store for days or more? Prepare for a disaster before it strikes by assembling a supply kit to care for your family’s needs in an emergency.

Your kit should contain basic items your family would need to stay safe and comfortable during and after a disaster. Be sure to include the following:

  • a three-day supply of water (one gallon a person per day)
  • a three-day supply of nonperishable foods and a manual can opener
  • any special foods or dietary items family members need
  • a flashlight and extra batteries
  • extra clothing and blankets
  • matches and cooking equipment
  • all prescription medicines
  • medical supplies (diabetes testing and medication supplies, catheters, syringes, inhalers, nebulizers)
  • over-the-counter medicines (pain reliever, antidiarrhea medicine, antacids, antihistamines, eyedrops)
  • a cooler with ice or freezer packs to keep cold any drugs that must be refrigerated
  • infants’ items like formula, diapers, wipes, bottles, pacifiers
  • a first-aid kit (sterile gloves, bandages, cleansing agent or towelettes, antibiotic ointment, burn ointment, eye-wash solution, scissors, tweezers, petroleum jelly, cold packs)
  • a thermometer
  • hearing aid and batteries
  • wheelchair batteries
  • eyeglasses and contact lens solution
  • toilet paper, feminine hygiene supplies
  • denture needs
  • oxygen
  • cash
  • copies of identification, credit cards, vital medical documents, such as insurance and Medicare cards, health records, proxies, prescriptions

Assembling your kit

Find an easy-to-carry container, such as a backpack or a plastic bin, in which to pack your kit. Seal all items in airtight plastic bags and store your kit in a place where it will be easy to grab and go if necessary. Plan for the needs of any disabled family members and give your power company a list of all power-dependent life support equipment your family uses. Develop a contingency plan that includes an alternate power source for the equipment, such as a portable generator or battery.

Re-evaluate your family’s needs and update supplies at least once a year. Check medications for expiration dates every six months and replace when necessary.