Red Cross: How to make an emergency preparedness kit

January 4, 2019

Well, we made it: 2019 is here, and it’s going to be bigger and better than ever.

Most of us try to start the year off with the best of intentions: diets, working out or quitting bad habits are all popular and noble choices. A different approach is being ready for whatever the year throws at us, disaster-wise.

We are lucky in central New York; we don’t have major catastrophes on a regular basis like some other locations. We still have our share of hardships. Flooding, snow and home fires are just a few examples of the risk we face, and there are certainly more we could list.

To make sure we have the best year possible, with or without disasters, we should get a preparedness kit to be safe. We should be able to take care of ourselves for seven to 10 days. These kits are an ongoing project, but the hardest part is knowing where to start. I have compiled a list of items to help you get started:

Flashlight. This is a priority, because there isn’t much you can do for yourself if you are left in the dark. When purchasing your flashlight, you can get one with a crank option. This means you don’t have to worry about batteries! If you want to use a flashlight you already have and it requires batteries, that is fine. Make sure you keep spare batteries. When you put your flashlight in your kit, take the batteries out and tape them around the outside. This prevents them from being drained, but still easy to find.

Crank radio. This is a solid choice because they are reliable and, like similar flashlights, you don’t need batteries. Many are equipped to charge your cellphone as well.

Food. Choose food that doesn’t perish quickly. Canned goods or energy bars are good options. Don’t just throw in canned goods that are in your pantry, but you don’t necessarily like. If you’re relying on your preparedness kit for food, it’s best to have something you would look forward to eating.

Water. Seems like a straightforward idea, but you need to plan for one gallon of water per day per person during an emergency. This isn’t just for drinking. It’s for cooking, hygiene and cleaning, too.

Duct tape. You can use this stuff for just about anything. It’s also inexpensive and easy to find.

Cash. That’s right, good old paper currency. If power is out for an extended period or credit cards and ATMs are out of order, cash will still work. You don’t need to put aside a small fortune, just enough to hold you over for a few days if needed.

Medication. This doesn’t apply for all of us, but it is important to get in order before an emergency happens. If you are on a medication that you shouldn’t be without, have a conversation with your doctor about a possible 10-day supply for a preparedness kit. If you get that filled, make sure you are rotating your medication on a regular basis.

First aid kit. During any disaster, emergency services and hospitals can get tied up quickly. Having a first aid kit, and taking a first aid/CPR class, can help reduce your medical needs.

Important documents. Make copies of all your important documents and keep them somewhere safe. This includes identification, insurance, bank statements and medical information. To save space, you can use a flash drive. This is something that is often overlooked and can make the recovery process a lot more difficult if lost.

Pets. Our fur family members can’t make their own kit, so you need to help them out! Making sure you have enough supplies for them for seven to 10 days is critical. A basic kit includes food, water, identification and copies of their vaccinations. We should never leave a pet behind in an emergency.

Hygiene items. Imagine not being able to brush your teeth for 10 days because you forgot to pack a toothbrush and toothpaste! Anything you use on a daily or weekly basis you should try to include in your kit. Many hygiene items come in travel size now.

Contact information. If didn’t have access to your cellphone, would you remember all your important phone numbers? Write down the important ones and put them in your kit!

To learn more, visit our website, redcross.org/wcny.

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