September marks National Preparedness Month, an annual awareness campaign sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The event is intended to encourage individuals and businesses to take steps to proactively plan for disasters. The need for such awareness is great, since 60 percent of American adults say they have yet to put together and/or practice an emergency plan. I’m just a simple pup, but even I know that 60 percent is a majority. That’s a lot of unprepared people!
This year’s theme is “Don’t Wait, Communicate. Make Your Plan Today.”
The campaign also features a sub-theme for each week of the month
- Week 1: Kick-off to National Preparedness Month
- Week 2: Preparing Family and Friends
- Week 3: Preparing through Service
- Week 4: Individual Preparedness
- Week 5: Lead-up to National Day of Action on September 30
Since a well-made emergency kit or “go-bag” (AKA a Bug-Out Bag) is the epitome of preparedness, we thought it fitting to focus this week’s post on how to prepare your own kit. With the right “go-bag,” you will be ready for any type of emergency and able to take care of yourself and possibly help others.
Include These Items in Your Disaster Kit
- A container for storage. If the kit will be stored in your home or office, you could use a new 33-gallon trash can. If you plan to stow the bag in the trunk of your car, consider using a large backpack or duffel.
- A fixed-blade knife
- A paper map of the immediate area
- A portable, hand-crank radio or a battery-powered radio with extra batteries
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Books to read, games for kids to play
- Can opener
- Cash, preferably in small denominations
- Copies of personal documents such as birth certificates, passports, deeds, proof of address, insurance policies, etc.
- Duct tape
- Emergency contact information (Don’t rely on the information contained in your cell phone, as cell service could be temporarily disrupted depending on the type of emergency.)
- Enough food for up to three days, per person if evacuated, and enough for seven days per person at home. Don’t forget about your pets! We need food, too!
- Enough water for one gallon per day, per person, for three days if evacuated, and enough for seven days per person at home. Remember to include pets in this calculation, as well. We drink a lot of water.
- Extra clothing and a spare set of shoes (If packing for children, remember to swap out sizes as they grow.)
- Extra set of house and car keys
- First-aid kit with adhesive bandages, cold packs, sanitizer, gauze, tweezers, and antibiotic ointment
- Latex-free disposable gloves
- LED flashlights – especially valuable for building occupants who might need to spend the night in the dark following a major disaster
- Liquid bleach
- Multi-purpose tool, such as a Leatherman
- Mylar-coated space blankets, which conserve heat and serve as signals
- N-95 or surgical masks (in case air quality is compromised)
- Pay-per-use cell phone and chargers, in case yours is damaged during the disaster
- Personal hygiene items
- Pet supplies including water and food as well as bowls and medication (Hear, hear.)
- Plastic sheeting
- Portable water containers, ideally in non-breakable containers
- Prescription drugs, especially insulin, inhalers, or other life-dependent medicines (seven-day supply)
- Prescription eyeglasses, reading glasses, and/or contact lenses
- Rain gear
- Stainless steel water bottle that can withstand boiling water, if necessary (to purify drinking water)
- Work gloves
When preparing a go-bag, consider the types of disasters you’re likely to encounter in your area. For example, if you live in a hurricane zone, pack dry clothes, ponchos, waterproof containers, and water purification tools. In wildfire country, pack breathing masks and extra water. If you live in Tornado Alley, add bike helmets to your kit, to keep your head safe from flying debris and add sturdy shoes to keep your feet safe while walking around devastated areas. Just a suggestion; avoid buying those goofy boots for dogs. The indignity!
For home or business, consider these additional items for managing a disaster that won’t fit into a traditional go-bag:
- A portable generator, along with extra gasoline
- Large LED lamps
- Long-term food storage containers should be on hand and should be stocked to feed everyone in the home for at least two weeks
- Water barrels and various accessories to purify and periodically clean the water
Develop a Communication Plan
As part of National Preparedness Month, the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) agency offers tips for creating a family communication plan for usage during an emergency. Such a plan is as important as food or water because it provides a guide for staying connected with loved ones when disaster strikes. Our family emergency plan includes use of the Twilight Bark.
To create the plan:
- Collect information about each family member including health history, as well as contact information for their physicians. And don’t forget to include information about your pets!
- Print the contact information and ensure every member of the family has a copy in their bag. Also, consider posting a copy in a central area of the home.
- Make sure that contact and communication information expressly details meeting places after disaster.
- Practice following directions in the communication plan, including drilling children so they will memorize phone numbers and necessary safety steps to take following an emergency.
Maintaining a state of preparedness is essential for every month of the year, not just during September. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.