A natural disaster can happen at any time without warning. With the right supplies and equipment, you can have peace of mind knowing that you and your family have the essentials you need to survive long enough for order to be restored. Here are some helpful steps you can begin taking now that will get you on the road to preparedness.

72-Hour Emergency Kit

Start with a 72-hour emergency kit for each member of your family. The kits should be lightweight and portable so they can easily be carried out the door during an evacuation.

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What to include in a basic 72-hour kit:

  • Backpack – To hold all supplies
  • Food – Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for 3 days
  • Water – Have either a portable water filter or water purification tablets
  • Clothing – Shirt with long sleeves, pants, socks, shoes, coat
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Matches in waterproof container
  • Plate and eating utensils
  • Knife
  • Sanitary wipes
  • Sanitation and hygiene items – soap, shampoo, toilet paper, comb or brush, toothbrush, toothpaste

Additional items:

  • Blanket – Best if waterproof such as fleece fabric
  • Plastic sheeting for shelter
  • Rope or string
  • Tent
  • Duct tape
  • Bucket
  • Household bleach
  • Scissors

Many of these items can already be found around your house. You can gather them together in one evening to begin putting together your kit. The kits should be portable and lightweight. sure to go through your kit every six months to make sure the food is still good and that the clothing fits.

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Emergency Communication Plan

Communicating with family members during a disaster is one of the biggest challenges disaster survivors face. Have all important phone numbers in your wallet at all times. These phone numbers should include work, school, and/or daycare phone numbers for members of your family. You can find family communication preparation kits that allow you to gather and organize this information quickly.

Make sure each member of the family knows where they and other family members will be evacuated too. It is also a good idea to have an out-of-state contact in the event that local communications are down or overwhelmed. Family members can potentially communicate with each other through this out of state contact.

Build Emergency Food Supply

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Emergency food storage preparation begins by buying a little extra each time you go to the grocery store. For example, buy two jars of peanut butter instead of one. As you do this your emergency food supply will slowly build until you have enough food to feed your family in the event that you cannot buy necessary food or leave your home for several days, weeks, or even longer.

You can purchase ready-made food supply kits but be sure your family will eat the food included in the kit. There are also printable lists available but do not buy everything on the list if your family will not eat it. For example, if the list includes oatmeal and your family does not like oats or has an allergy, oatmeal would not be a practical food storage item. Work to build your food supply gradually so that it doesn’t become a financial burden.

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Some factors to consider:

  • Age of family members – Families with children will have unique needs such as diapers, wipes, and baby food.
  • Frequented locations – school, daycare, work
  • Dietary needs – likes and dislikes, but also nutrient needs per person
  • Medical needs – prescriptions, equipment, special clothing

Start Small and Simple

Being prepared does not need to be complicated or overwhelming. If you take it one step at a time, you will gradually meet your preparedness goals. Begin by evaluating where you are right now. You may find you have more of the necessary survival items than you thought. Once you’ve started, keep working towards your preparedness goals. You will bring yourself peace of mind knowing you’ve done what you can to ensure the safety of you and your family.