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Prepare Disaster Plan and Emergency Supply Kit Now

Tropical Storm Irene Flooding

What is Disaster Preparedness?

Disaster preparedness refers to measures taken in advance of a disaster to mitigate the impact and help with survival. Preparedness includes assessing your risk, creating an emergency management plan, assembling an emergency supply kit, creating a crisis communications plan, and planning for an alternate location.

Assess Your Risks

Based on a combination of experience, forecasting, subject matter expertise, and other available resources, develop a list of threats and hazards that could affect your family, business, or community. Threats and hazards can be organized into three categories:

  • Natural hazards: acts of nature
  • Technological hazards: accidents or the failures of systems and structures
  • Human-caused incidents: the intentional actions of an adversary

Assess the likelihood of an identified threat or hazard affecting the community and the challenge(s) presented by the impacts of that threat or hazard, should it occur. Examples include: earthquake, tornado,  hurricane/typhoon, tsunami/flooding, winter storm, fire, chemical leak, etc.

Prepare for transportation disruptions including mass transit delays/shutdowns, traffic jams, fuel shortages, etc.

Make and Practice Your Emergency Management Plan

With your family, household member, and/or coworkers, make a written plan to prepare and respond to the types of emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, and work. (See Resouces below for a Family Disaster Plan worksheet.)

Identify responsibilities for each member and discuss how you will work together as a team. Obtain any necessary training; examples include first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), aquatic rescue, etc.

Practice as much of the plan as possible. 

Assemble your Emergency Supply Kit(s)

You may want to prepare several types of emergency supply kits – a vehicle kit, home kit, school kit, work kit. You may want a kit that provides for a few hours while you await assistance, 1 to 3 days, and a kit that provides for longer term survival in the event of a major disturbance. At a minimum your kit should include basic survival and first aid items that can be contained in a waterproof bag, can, or tube. The following lists can be used to help you prepare your kit(s). A good rule of thumb is to plan for at least 3 days for each person. If you feel like something is missing, explore that feeling paying attention to your intuition and add to your kit accordingly. If you are familiar with dowsing, dowse the list.

The right container for your kit will depend on many factors such as where you will be storing your kit, how many items your kit contains, the weight and size of your supplies. A quick grab and go pack might take the form of a backpack, canvas bag, 5 gallon bucket with lid, etc. A more substantial kit could be stored in a suitcase, plastic bin, or other similar item. Just be certain you will be able to lift or carry your kit when it is needed.

Basic Emergency Supply Kit Suggestions

  • Emergency drinking water pouch
  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food – energy bars and emergency food items (see list below)
  • Prescription medications
  • Money including change
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account information in a waterproof, portable container (see sources below)
  • Battery-powered radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both
  • Light stick, flashlight and extra batteries, or portable lights
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags
  • Disinfectant – alcohol (70% if available),  chlorine bleach (diluted nine parts water to one part bleach)
  • Chlorine bleach can be used to treat water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Mask to help filter the air – N95/KN95, surgical, dust, 2 layer cloth mask, bandana, or even a t-shirt (in order of filtration quality).
  • Plastic sheeting to shelter-in-place
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Gorilla/Duct tape (or other strong waterproof tape)
  • Knife, scissors
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Water filter in case drinking water is limited or unavailable
  • Poncho

Clothing and Bedding

One complete change of clothing and shoes per person. If you live in a cold weather climate, consider:

  • A jacket or coat
  • Long pants
  • A long sleeve shirt
  • Sturdy shoes
  • A hat and gloves
  • A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person (other additional bedding)
  • Rain gear 
  • Hand warmers

Foods Ideas

  • Energy Bars
  • Dried beans, lentils, (can be sprouted and eaten cooked or raw)
  • White rice (it keeps longer than brown rice)
  • Grains & seeds (quinoa, millet, buckweat, amaranth, oats, sunflower)
  • Dried Potatoes
  • Dried Milk
  • Herbs/Spices (salt, pepper, creole/chili seasoning, parsley, oregano, dried onions/garlic, mustard powder, other spices you like)
  • Sugar/Honey
  • Cooking oil
  • Dried foods
  • Coffee
  • Canned foods/meats

Other Items to Consider

  • Computers, Cell Phones, Charging Cords/Plugs, Solar Chargers, etc.
  • Emergency reference materials such as a first aid book
  • Portable cook stove, cooking utensils
  • Solar oven
  • Water filtration kit
  • Mess kits, cups, plates and utensils
  • Paper towels
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Tent
  • Compass
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Signal flare
  • Paper, pencil
  • Personal hygiene items including feminine supplies
  • Medicine dropper
  • Books, games, puzzles, playing cards
  • Local/Other Maps

Develop a Communication Plan

Determine how family, friends, coworkers, etc. will communicate in the event of an emergency. Consider multiple forms of communication and multiple contact people including someone located in an area that might not be affected by your disaster. 

Identify a Meeting Location

If possible, determine a meeting location for people who may not be with you at the time of the evacuation. This location might be an evacuation site such as a family or friend’s home, a second home, a community site, etc. Consider a secondary site in the event the first site is detrimentally impacted or inaccessible. 

Review and Replenish

Review your plan periodically and replenish or replace your supplies as needed. And, consider reviewing and revising your plan after any disaster updating it with new knowledge and information.

Remember, if you sense something is missing from your plan or supply kit, pay attention. Universal knowledge is all knowing – we just need to tune in and listen!

Sources for additional information or Assistance

  • Search for open shelters by texting SHELTER and a zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA). Example: SHELTER 12345
  • U.S. Government:
  • American Red Cross’ Family Disaster Plan worksheet, English  or Spanish
  • Apps from the American Red Cross in the Apple Store or Google Play –  Emergency: Alerts (weather); Hurricane; Tornado; Earthquake; First Aid; Pet First Aid
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, IFRC Shelter Kit Pamphlet
  • Enable Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) on your mobile devices.
  • U.S. National Weather Service County Coverage Listings by State
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