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Be disaster-prepared: Make an emergency supply kit

What to have on hand.

You can't always predict when a disaster might strike. But you can be prepared for one. An emergency supply kit with food, water and other essentials can help give you peace of mind.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross, your kit should contain supplies to last for at least three days. It should include:

  • 1 gallon of water per person per day.
  • Nonperishable food, a manual can opener, mess kits or paper plates, cups and utensils.
  • Flashlights and extra batteries.
  • A battery- or crank-powered radio and an NOAA Weather Radio with extra batteries.
  • A first aid kit.
  • A whistle you can use to signal for help.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation use.
  • Dust masks, plastic sheeting and duct tape.
  • A wrench or pliers for turning off utilities.
  • Local maps.
  • Sleeping bags or warm blankets, a change of clothes, and sturdy shoes for each person.
  • Personal hygiene supplies such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, hand sanitizer, deodorant, shampoo and feminine products.
  • Chlorine bleach (plain bleach—not scented, color safe or with added cleaners), which can be used for disinfecting—dilute one part bleach with nine parts water. In a pinch, you can also use it to treat water, with 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water.
  • Matches in a waterproof container.
  • Cash or traveler's checks.
  • An extra set of car keys and copies of your ID, passport, credit cards and bank accounts.

Those are some of the basics. If your family includes an infant, pets or others with special needs, you might also want to add:

  • Diapers and formula.
  • Extra prescription medications.
  • Denture items, hearing aid batteries, spare glasses, and contacts and contact solution.
  • Pet food and extra water.
  • Games, books and toys for your children.

Stow your kit in airtight plastic bags, and then place them in an easy-to-carry container, such as a duffle bag. That way, if you need to evacuate, it will be easy to grab your supplies at a moment's notice.

Rotate your supplies on a regular basis, so they don't expire. Replace food and bottled water before the best-by date. And don't forget that batteries will need to be replaced regularly too.

Consider making a kit for your home, car and workplace, since you never know where you'll be when an emergency strikes.

For more information on preparing for disasters, visit ready.gov.

reviewed 8/12/2019

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