Some people are great at packing for vacation. They make a list, lay everything out neatly, and know how to fold their clothes to minimize wrinkles. Other folks (like me) are horrible at packing, choosing to shove one of everything they own into a suitcase at the last minute. Then, on the second day of vacation, they realize they totally forgot their underwear or toothbrush (I've forgotten both)!
But packing for disaster is serious business and shouldn't be left until the last minute or, worse, ignored in the hope that a disaster kit won't be needed. So, how do you go about packing your family's disaster supply kit? Here are some important tips provided by Ready.gov:
1) Take stock of the most likely disasters or emergencies your family is likely to face and choose your supplies accordingly. Spring emergencies, such as tornadoes, will require some different supplies than winter emergencies, such as ice storms.
2) Understand that a disaster that destroys your home might cover enough territory to render first responders unable to reach you for several hours or even a day or two. Ready.gov and FEMA recommend that your family be self-sufficient for 72 hours.
3) Water is critical. Store one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days to be used for drinking and sanitation. Healthy people can go much longer without food than without water. Don't cut corners here!
4) Stock a three day supply of non-perishable food items such as granola bars, jerky, canned fruit and vegetables (but don't forget the can opener), and peanut butter. Put some disposable paper plates, napkins, and plastic silverware in with your food supplies.
5) Purchase a high-quality battery-powered or hand crank NOAA weather radio. Good radios aren't too expensive and may be your only source of information after a disaster if cell towers go down or are overloaded.
6) Grab a 5 gallon plastic bucket and add a flashlight, extra batteries, a first aid kit, an emergency whistle, dust masks, rubber gloves, duct tape, a tarp, some moist towelettes, garbage bags, and cell phone chargers that run on solar power or are pre-charged.
7) If someone in your family is dependent upon medications, make sure to have a safe supply of their prescriptions on hand. And, if your sheltering with your family's pets, pack a three day supply of water and food for them, too. Consider adding a pet first aid kit in case they're injured by leftover debris after the disaster passes.
In addition to gathering your survival supplies, practice responding to emergencies with your family. If you're awoken in the middle of the night by tornado sirens, everyone will respond better and more quickly if they've practiced their responses before the disaster strikes.
Want to learn more about being prepared and protecting your family? Visit www.ready.gov for important information, tips, and checklists.