The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has earmarked September as National Preparedness Month. The annual awareness campaign is designed to encourage individuals and businesses to proactively plan for disasters. The need for awareness is crucial. Nearly three-quarters of Americans report they are worried about natural disasters, terror attacks, or serious accidents affecting their communities. And most admit they aren’t adequately prepared for such calamities. That’s a shame.
This year’s theme is meant to address that mindset head on: “Prepared, not scared.”
The campaign features sub-themes for each week of the month:
Week 1: Save early for disaster costs.
Week 2: Make a plan to prepare for disasters.
Week 3: Teach youth to prepare for disasters.
Week 4: Get involved in your community’s preparedness.
Preparing a well-made emergency kit or “go-bag,” also known as a Bug-Out Bag, is the epitome of preparedness. We want to focus this week’s blog post on the way 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
- Bacon (Okay, I’ll admit I added this idea.)
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Books to read, games for kids to play
- Can opener
- Cash, preferably in small denominations
- Chew toys (For stress relief)
- 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.)
- 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
- Fixed-blade knife
- Food for up to three days, per person if evacuated, and enough for seven days per person at home. (And don’t forget to include some pet food if you have a dog or cat.)
- Latex-free disposable gloves
- LED Flashlight – especially valuable for building occupants who might need to shelter in place (SIP) in the dark after a disaster
- Multi-purpose tool
- Mylar-coated space blankets, which conserve heat and serve as signals
- Paper map of the immediate area
- Personal hygiene items
- Pet supplies including water and food as well as bowls and medication
- Plastic sheeting
- Portable water containers, ideally in non-breakable containers
- Portable, hand-crank radio or a battery-powered radio with extra batteries
- Prepaid cell phone and chargers, in case your phone is damaged during the disaster
- Prescription eyeglasses, reading glasses, and/or contact lenses
- Prescription medication, especially insulin, inhalers, or other life-dependent medicines (7-day supply)
- Rain gear
- Stainless steel water bottle that can withstand boiling water, if necessary (to purify drinking water). Also, include a bowl to keep your dog hydrated.
- Storage Container. 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.
- Surgical or N-95 masks (helpful if air quality is compromised)
- Water for one gallon per day, per person, for three days if evacuated, and enough for seven days per person at home.
- Work gloves
Location-Specific Disaster Planning
- As you prepare your go-bag, consider the types of disasters native to your geographic location. 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 in your kit, to keep your head safe from flying debris as well as sturdy shoes to keep your feet safe while walking near debris. If you live near cats, my suggestion is to move.
- For home or business, consider these additional items for managing a disaster that won’t fit into a traditional go-bag: portable generator and extra gasoline, large LED lamps, non-perishable food in storage containers to feed everyone in the facility for at least two weeks, water barrels and accessories to purify and clean the water.
Wherever you are, make a plan!
- Make an emergency plan.
- Sign up for alerts and warnings in your area.
- Learn your evacuation zone and use it to develop an evacuation plan.
- Practice your plan. Practice makes perfect!
About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System
Disaster preparation 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 Allied Universal 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.