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Putting Together An Emergency Supply Kit
We live in an uncertain world. Each day there seems to be a new headline shouting at us about the latest earthquake, hurricane, flood, or economic collapse. Being prepared for any natural disaster or other emergency seems prudent. But where do you start?
You certainly don’t have to go and buy an entire farm or expensive generators or solar panels — unless you want to. There are plenty of small things we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones in an emergency situation. Try to think of your emergency kit as an insurance plan. It’s best to put a small amount of money into it each month and watch it grow than to go crazy buying everything at once. Here are a few things to consider as you begin to plan:
What do you and your family need to survive?
Food, water, and shelter come to mind. What about medications and any medical supplies you might use on a regular basis? Pet food? Are there small children or infants to consider? Do you have enough water stored or access to clean with fresh water? The general rule is to stock enough of these necessities to last your entire family at least two weeks. The longer, the better.
Don’t forget sanitation needs.
If the power or water are turned off for any length of time, toilets will not be able to be flushed, and washing becomes an issue. Sanitation is not the easiest emergency need to plan for, but it is one of the most important. Unsanitary conditions can quickly lead to disease and even death. Consider getting a 5-gallon bucket and filling it with compostable bags for restroom needs. Also, consider stocking extra toilet paper and feminine hygiene supplies if they are needed. A shallow tub and some biodegradable soap can provide a welcome “bucket bath.” You can keep a separate, smaller bucket with a sanitize solution for hand washing.
Consider the weather where you live.
Not everyone will need to stock the same supplies. If you live in an environment where temperatures are below freezing in the winter, you’ll want to stock up on extra blankets and fuel. Whether it’s oil, propane, or wood, try to always have enough on hand to get through a rough winter. If you live in an environment where summer temperatures are uncomfortably hot, you’ll want to stock extra water and perhaps invest in some hammocks if sleeping outdoors would be more comfortable than staying inside.
Let’s talk about first aid kits.
There are many schools of thought on the subject of first aid kits. For every person you ask, you’re likely to get a different answer. A basic first aid kit is a must. It should contain a first aid manual, antibacterial wash, antibacterial ointment, an assortment of bandages, gauze, scissors, tweezers, eye wash, pain relievers, allergy medication, butterfly closures, burn ointment, antiseptic wipes, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
More advanced kits might include a suture kit, splints, tourniquets, dental repair kits, and even surgical tools. Try to keep in mind that your first aid kit is only good if you can use it. Consider taking a first aid course. They usually only take a day or two and can be invaluable when it comes to saving a life.
Time for some creature comforts.
An emergency or natural disaster is no fun to live through. The more comfortable you and your family are, the more likely you are to stay calm and breeze through your ordeal. Keep your important records and documents in a permanent place so that every family member knows where they are and can grab them if needed. Keep a small supply of cash hidden somewhere. ATMs and credit card readers run on electricity. Keep an emergency radio somewhere, so you have access to local information. Most emergency radios now come with solar charging and hand-crank USB chargers. Bonus!
Keeping a few old-fashioned board games around can help ease the boredom of extended power outages. A deck of cards, a chess set, or any other games your family might want to play is highly recommended, even if just for emotional stability during a stressful time.
While food and water are necessary, snacks can be a real joy for the whole family during an emergency. Try stocking some beef jerky, chips or hard candies. Be sure to only stock foods that your family normally eats and enjoys. Rotate them out once in a while as you use things before their expiration dates.
Throughout history, the human race has survived innumerable catastrophes, and will undoubtedly survive many more. As you begin stocking your home with emergency supplies, you will discover other items that are particular to your area or your family. Keep a notebook handy to list these items as you think of them. With some planning, your family will be well prepared to deal with whatever happens, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’ve done all you can to ensure their comfort and health.