The American Red Cross recommends that all families have disaster preparedness kits or emergency kits that allow families to avoid some of the more preventable personal injuries that result when tragedy strikes. A few simple precautions and a good family plan can help prevent serious injuries, such as burn injuries in a fire or serious injuries to minors and children when a natural disaster strikes.
The cornerstone of any emergency preparedness kit involves an escape plan. Your family should be prepared to escape from your home safely and quickly in the event of a fire or major disaster. To develop an escape plan, go through your home and find two escape routes from every room in the house. At least twice a year, practice your escape route with your entire family. Designate a location away from the house where your family can meet once they have left the home. If you have a two-story home, purchase escape ladders or another method of escape so that people can escape safely from the upper portion of your home. Make sure that everyone in your home can use the ladders and fire routes effectively. With your children, practice crawling low to avoid smoke elation in the event of a fire. Teach your children to check the doors for warmth before opening them in the event of fire.
In addition to an escape plan, you will also want to develop a kit that helps you in the event of an emergency. This kit should be easily accessible and you should be able to grab this kit when you are escaping from your home. Keep all your kit items in one space, in a large sturdy box with good handles. Items that should be included in your kit are:
1) Non-perishable foods. You should have a three-day supply for every member of your home. The items should be easy to prepare, and you should check the expiration dates regularly. If you have packed cans, make sure you have a manual can opener in your emergency kit as well.
2) Water. Allow one gallon per person for every day, and make sure that you do have at least a three-day supply for everyone in your household. Don’t forget about pets — they need water as well. Consider adding some water purification tablets so that if you run low on water, you may be able to convert or clean some water for safe drinking.
3) Flashlight and radio with extra batteries. Look for a hand-crank radio or battery-powered radio that allows you to get emergency information from authorities in the event of emergency. Look for a high powered flashlight with a long battery life. Tuck several extra batteries into your emergency kit as well.
4) A first aid kit, medications, and medical supplies. You can purchase a prepared first-aid kit at any pharmacy or department store. This will help you in the event that anyone sustains a personal injury, scrape, or other injury during an emergency. Also, make sure that anyone who takes medicine has seven days of medication in the emergency supply kit. Any necessary medical items — such as a blood pressure monitor if someone in your home suffers from high blood pressure, for example — should also be included.
5) Personal hygiene items. Items such as toilet paper, personal hygiene wipes, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste can also be important after an emergency.
6) A small toolkit or multipurpose tool. This can be handy in helping you to open supplies or repair small damage to the home.
7) Copies of identification and documents. You may want to have a copy of medical files, a list of medications you are taking and a list of allergies as well as proof of your address, passports, birth certificates, driver’s licenses, the deed to your home, and copies of your insurance policies. In the event that these items are destroyed in a natural disaster, copies can help you make claims against damage, or can help you get the assistance you’re entitled to. You may also want to have emergency contact information for family members and friends.
8) A blanket. An emergency blanket can help people who are in shock and shivering, and can also be useful for naps and protection from the elements.
9) Cell phone and chargers. Cell phones may or may not work after an emergency, but when they work they are a useful way to try to stay in touch with family and friends if you have to vacate your home.
10) Miscellaneous items. Miscellaneous items you should include in your emergency kit include maps of your local area, ready cash in case ATM does machines do not work after a disaster, and pet supplies if you have pets that will need care after a natural disaster or emergency.