Assembling a Disaster Supply Kit is an effective way to ensure you are prepared and organized in the event of a disaster.
In the event that a disaster does occur, you may find you are required to survive without the help of everyday comforts such as electricity or running water. Preparing for such a circumstance ahead of time is imperative.
When assembling your disaster supply kit, start by packing the basics. The following is a list of appropriate items to be packed in a disaster supply kit:
- Food and Water: In the event that you are unable to obtain food or water from external sources during a disaster, be prepared. Have enough food and water on hand to last each member of the family for at least three days. Depending on the type of disaster you are planning for, you may like to store enough food for up to two weeks.
The most reliable way of storing water in your disaster supply kit will be to purchase commercially bottled water, as this will provide a safe form of drinking water in the event of a disaster. Current recommendations for water intake stand at approximately two liters of water per day per person. Take this into account when preparing your disaster supply kit, to ensure you store enough water for all members of the family.
Whilst commercially bottled water is the safest way of storing water for an emergency, there are other methods that may be applied.
You may choose to prepare your own bottles of water. If his is the case try to purchase appropriate containers from a camping supplies store and be sure to clean these thoroughly. If you will be selecting your own containers, aim for bottles that previously held soft drinks. Do not use milk or juice containers as these contain protein and sugar residue that may result in the growth of harmful bacteria in your water stores. Again, be sure to clean the containers thoroughly.
Once you have obtained and cleaned your containers, fill them with water and seal the lid tightly.
When you are packing food supplies for the family, avoid foods high in salt (as these will make you thirsty and want to drink more). Ensure you select canned or dry foods that do not require refrigeration. If canned foods are included in your kit, ensure you pack a can opener!
If a member of your family has special food requirements, ensure you take this into account and include appropriate food for them.
- Flashlight/Torch with extra Batteries: Remember, in the event of a disaster you may be required to fend for yourself without the luxuries of everyday life, including electricity. Be prepared by having a torch or some form of lighting device ready.
- Portable, Battery-operated television or radio: Packing one of these items will enable you stay up-to date with the current situation and procedures being carried out. Ensure these items are battery powered so as not to rely on electricity.
- First Aid Kit: A first aid kit is imperative in any disaster supply kit. Along with any minor injuries, in the event of something more extreme you may find yourself unable to make it to a hospital or that hospital services are ‘backed up’ if a disaster strikes. Ensure you have packed a first aid kit to tide you over until you are able to attend a hospital.
- Sanitary Items: These may include toilet paper, paper towels, baby wipes or any other form of sanitary product you think may be required.
- Kitchen/ Cooking utensils: In the event of an evacuation you may require utensils with which to cook. Pack the basics, such as a saucepan, a frying pan and a few spoons etc. Do not go overboard and pack the kitchen sink. Remember, you may be required to carry your disaster supply kit. If you have some sort of portable cooking device it may be worthwhile packing this as well. Suitable cooking devices may include candle warmers, fondue sets (for indoor use) or camp stoves (for outdoor use)
Along with the cooking items, pack a box or two of matches, and even a couple of lighters, in a watertight container. These may be helpful in any situation. Some folded up newspaper and some kindling would be useful as well.
- Photocopies of all Identification: Pack these in case all original documentation is lost.
- Extra clothes and blankets: The climate in which you live will ultimately determine the type of clothing you pack. Pack sufficient clothing to last a few days. You will be grateful for doing so in the event of an evacuation.
- Money: Be prepared and have some money on hand. In the event of an emergency, ATM machines or credit card facilities may no longer be available.
- Relevant Medications: If you or anyone else in your family suffers form a medical condition, ensure you pack a sufficient amount of relevant medications or medical equipment, as it may not be possible to obtain these in the event of a disaster. Ensure you regularly check the used by date of medications included in the disaster supplies kit.
- Pet Food and Supplies: Don’t forget the family dog, cat, or whatever other pet you may have. Having a pet carrier on hand will make it easier to evacuate with your pet. Make plans for their care in the event of a disaster in case you can’t take them with you. Ensure you have the necessary equipment and supplies for your pet such as food, water and an identification tag. It is also advisable to ensure your pets medical records are up to date (keep a copy of these if possible), and that your pet has undergone all relevant immunizations or vaccinations.
This list is a very basic guide to follow to ensure a well equipped disaster supply kit or first aid kit. Every family is different and will have individual needs. Be sure to take these into account to personalize your disaster supply kit. As your family grows and changes, remember to update the kit to allow it to cater to your family’s requirements.
Once you have developed a disaster supply kit it is important to maintain it. Keep it stored and sealed in an environment in which food remains cool and dry, to maximize the life of the dried or canned foods. Remember to regularly check the items in your disaster supply kit and dispose of any canned foods that are dented, and any foods that exceed their used by date. It is recommended that all food and water be replaced every six months.
As you dispose of items, be sure to replenish them.