Basic Disaster Preparedness: Keeping You & Your Family Safe
No one wants to think about the next big storm, flood, or emergency situation that could leave you and your family without power or trapped within your home. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared for anything and everything-- even the zombie apocalypse! Yes, we know the chances of the walking dead happening is pretty much zero, but when it comes to any disaster, it never hurts to be over-prepared.
Here are some tips to get started:
How to Prepare for a Power Outage
One of the most common issues during a bad storm or heat wave is a power outage. Consider investing in a portable generator. Portable generators can power most, if not all, of your home’s power needs. For those with health issues that rely on electric-powered machinery, it could be a lifesaver.
If you don’t have a generator or your residence doesn’t permit the use of one, there are other supplies that will aid you when the lights go out. Here are some basic supplies you should have in your home in case of a power outage:
- Flash Lights
- Emergency Lantern
- AM/FM Radio
- Ice Packs
- Corded Phone
- Water Supply
We know that losing power can be frustrating, but the more prepared you are, the less stressful the situation can be.
What to Pack in a First Aid Kit
Regardless of a disaster, it’s important to always have a well-stocked first aid kit. You may not always be able to get medical attention quickly, and will need to address accidents/injuries on your own until you can access help. Minor injuries could become worse if not properly and immediately taken care of. Here are some basic supplies that you should have in your first aid kit:
Dressings and Bandages:
- 25 adhesive bandages of various sizes
- 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
- 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 3 inches)
- Gauze roll
- Eye shield or pad
- Roll of adhesive tape
- Elastic bandage for wrapping wrist, elbow, ankle and knee injuries (3 to 4 inches wide)
- 2 triangular bandages for wrapping injuries and making arm slings
- Sterile cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs
- 2 pairs of latex or non-latex gloves
- Instant cold pack
- 5 safety pins to easily fasten splints and bandages
- Turkey baster or other suction devices to flush out wounds
- Aluminum finger splint
- Syringe and medicine spoon for giving specific doses of medicine
- Tweezers to remove ticks, insect stingers, and small splinters
- Scissors for cutting gauze
- Breathing barrier for giving CPR
- Hand sanitizer (liquid and/or wipes)
- First aid manual
- List of emergency numbers
Medicine for Treating Injuries:
- Antiseptic solution or wipes, such as hydrogen peroxide, povidone-iodine or chlorhexidine
- Antibiotic ointment that contains ingredients such as bacitracin or mupirocin
- Sterile eyewash or saline, such as contact lens saline solution
- Calamine lotion for stings or poison ivy
- Hydrocortisone cream, ointment or lotion for itching
- Pain and fever medicines, such as aspirin or ibuprofen
- Antihistamine to treat allergies and/or swelling
- Decongestants to treat nasal congestion
- Anti-nausea medicine to treat motion sickness and other types of nausea
- Anti-diarrhea medicine
- Antacid to treat upset stomach
- Laxative to treat constipation
Keep in mind the special needs of your household, such as children or the elderly. Does anyone in your household have specific allergies or an illness? Add supplies specific to these conditions. Be sure to check your supply kit monthly, refill as needed, and check expiration dates on medication.
What to Store in a 72-Hour Pack/Kit
A 72-hour pack/kit is a grab-and-go emergency pack if you and your family need to evacuate your home quickly. It is important to make sure that what you pack you can actually carry, especially if you need to be agile in a flood. Below is a list of what you will need to build your own 72-hour pack:
- Quality Backpack – You need 1 for yourself and 1 for each member of your household. Don’t forget your pets! This is where you will store 72 hours worth of supplies for each individual.
- Water – FEMA recommends 3 gallons to last 72 hours, but that recommendation includes cleaning water as well as drinking and weighs 25 pounds, that’s a lot to carry. Consider purchasing a 2-gallon water carry bag, making it less weight and easier to store. You may also want to consider something with electrolytes and carbohydrates like Gatorade or Powerade to pack in your kits as well.
- Food – You will want to pack items with long expiration dates such as peanut butter, whole wheat crackers, nuts and trail mix, cereal, granola bars and power bars, dried fruit, canned tuna, salmon, chicken or turkey, canned vegetables, and canned soups. Make adjustments to the food you pack in these kits for each individual. Maybe you have an infant that requires formula, a child that has specific allergies to certain foods, or you are packing food for your pet. Remember to check expiration dates every 6 months on the food you packed and replace as needed. You may also want to consider packing some multivitamins, as these supplements will help replace the nutrients you would have consumed on a normal diet.
- First Aid – All your kits should have small individual first aid packs that include the basic first aid supplies and a first aid manual. Check out small camping first aid kits for purchase or an idea of what you should put in your small first aid kits if you would like to assemble them yourself. Remember to think of the individuals in your household. Does anyone require specific medications? Be sure to add that to their kit.
- Equipment – We’re going to stick to the basics here, but know that you can always add to your preparation later on. See more on 72 hour packs/kits here.
- Flashlights – small water resistant flashlight in everyone’s pack
- AM/FM Radio – Either battery operated or hand cranked. You do not need to store a radio in everyone’s pack if you plan to be together. For example, it’s you and your spouse and two children. Put a radio in your bag and your spouses.
- Pocket Knife – always good to have and once again does not need to be stored in everyone’s packs
- Can Opener – If you packed can food you will need this.
- Pen and Paper
- Shelter – You want to invest in an instant pop up shelter or tube tent, if not, at the very least consider space blankets.
- Personal Supplies
- Extra pair of clothing - seasonal/rain gear/sturdy shoes. Consider special items for babies and elderly.
- Toiletries - toilet paper (remove the center tube to easily flatten into a zip-lock bag), feminine hygiene, folding brush, soap, mini hand sanitizer, tooth brush etc. Think travel size.
- Extra cash
- Emergency numbers
- Map of local area
- Garbage bag
- Important documents: insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.
We hope this guide will help you get started with preparing you and your family for a possible disaster. In emergency situations, local officials and relief workers will be on the scene, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in a few hours, or it might take days… and that is why it's so important to be prepared.
For more information about being prepared and keeping your family safe during an emergency, check out the American Red Cross ‘Plan & Prepare’ page. You can follow our board ‘Emergency Preparedness and Prevention’ on Pinterest for additional tips and tricks. Stay safe!