Ready at a Moment’s Notice: Assembling an Emergency Preparedness Kit

Hurricane season in the Atlantic region runs from June through November, but organizations like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), American Red Cross, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend being prepared for an emergency all year long for the simple reason that a disaster may leave you without shelter, food, and clean water at any given time. In the United States, hurricanes, tornadoes, raging brush fires, earthquakes, flooding, and dangerous heat are capable of causing death, property destruction, and the displacement of whole communities, and most Americans are vulnerable to some form of natural disaster. Those who reside along and near the Atlantic Coast know that a powerful hurricane is a deadly threat to everything and everyone in its path.

Checklist

Whether an emergency requires you to flee or shelter in place, you’ll need a well-stocked emergency kit capable of sustaining you and your loved ones for an extended period of time. Begin with a checklist that addresses all of your subsistence needs. There are emergency product websites that can help you put together a checklist and tell you which products are the most reliable, adaptable, and transportable in an emergency.

Emergency kit

Most emergency-preparedness experts and organizations recommend having bottles or pouches containing gallons of potable water on hand. However, if a disaster requires you to get away quickly, lugging, packing, and storing cartons of heavy water bottles will likely be impractical, which makes a portable water-filtration product a must. In truth, a reliable water filter that can be packed away and carried is a much more viable option because it means you can rely on having clean, safe water to drink almost anywhere you go. Iodine water-purification tablets are also a good option. Also have cash on hand and keep any older family members’ medical records and medical contact information with you. Insurance documents should also be included.

Food

There are many nonperishable food options these days, and some are more palatable than others. Energy bars are a popular option among many emergency preparedness experts, and the brand your family likes best is probably as good as any other alternative. Just-add-water food options, such as Ramen noodles, are another practical choice. Don’t forget to keep a manual can opener in your emergency-preparedness kit.

Communication and lighting

A battery-powered radio is an indispensable item in an emergency—particularly a hurricane—since it’s safe to assume that you’ll lose power at some point and because you’ll need some way of getting up-to-date information. Be absolutely certain to keep enough batteries in your emergency kit to power a radio for a week. While your smartphone has power, you can take advantage of disaster information apps such as ICE Standard, Zello, GasBuddy, Waze, and the Red Cross and FEMA apps. Lighting is another necessity after you lose power in a hurricane. Flashlights, with plenty of reserve batteries on hand, and tea candles can provide emergency light if you’re sheltering at home. Consider keeping a headlamp in your kit, some of which can provide light for up to 200 hours on just three AAA batteries.

Chargers

Pack a couple of phone chargers in case you have to leave home, and consider purchasing a solar-powered charger, which can fully charge a phone or tablet with just one day’s worth of sunlight.

First aid

A first aid kit is an essential part of any emergency preparedness package, including bandages, band aids, antiseptic, aspirin, and rubbing alcohol. Include any prescriptions, especially those belonging to elderly family members.

Hurricanes are one of nature’s most powerful forces, capable of wiping whole communities off the map. In their aftermath, electricity, heat, and gasoline supplies may be unavailable for weeks. Your emergency-preparedness kit should be ready to go at a moment’s notice and must be kept up to date.

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