I am not a fear monger, but there was something about this stock market crash and how our security can change on a dime (pun intended), that made me think about disaster preparedness. Here are the guidelines I put in my book Home Enlightenment (Rodale, Paperback, 2008):
Find a few hours in your week, and head out shopping with a “disaster supplies” list in hand to stock up on necessities should an emergency take place. Relief agencies suggest that you store at least a three-day supply of pantry staples and non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, no preparation or cooking, and little or no water.
You should also assemble a first-aid kit for your home and one for each car. Improvisation is the key to success here; if you don’t have a bandage, then clean rags, clothing, or almost anything will work. Infection is always a concern! Also, pick up a reputable first-aid guide and read it–you’ll be very glad that you know what you are doing, even moderately!
Keep items in airtight plastic bags. Change your stored water supply every six months so it stays fresh, and replace your stored food every six months. Rethink your kit and family needs at least once a year, and replace batteries, update clothes, and add items as necessary. Get copies of American Red Cross Community Disaster Education materials.
These basic supplies should be stored year-round in an accessible place in case of emergency or natural disaster. Involve the whole family in shopping for, packing, and storing supplies so they can feel confident about finding and using these items when the need arises. Be sure to keep track of food and first aid expiration dates, and rotate new items into your stock every year or so.
Change of clothes, undergarments, rain gear, blankets or sleeping bags, space blanket, hat and gloves, thermal underwear, and coats.
Emergency Food and Water
Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable foods that require no preparation or cooking. Water should be stored in clear plastic containers. Water (1 gallon per person per day); non-perishable, high-energy foods; ready-to-eat canned meals, sounds, fruits and vegetables; peanut butter, cereal bars, canned juices, multivitamins, food for infants, elderly persons, and persons on special diets; comfort food and snack food. For more information, read Emergency Water Supplies.
Two pairs of latex or other sterile gloves, sterile dressings to stop bleeding; cleansing agent, soap, and antibiotic towelettes to disinfect, antibiotic ointment, burn ointment, adhesives bandages in a variety of sizes; eye-wash solution; thermometer; prescription medications you take every day; prescribed medical supplies; printed first-aid guidelines.
Scissors, tweezers, tube of lubricant, potassium iodide (in case of nuclear accident); pain reliever, anti-diarrhea medication; antacid; syrup of Ipecac; laxative; activated charcoal for some poisoning cases.
Toilet paper, soap and liquid detergent, feminine supplies, daily personal hygiene items.
Tools and Supplies
Cell phone, hand-held can opener, utility knife, battery-operated radio and extra batteries; mess kits; flashlight and extra batteries; matches in a waterproof container; paper and pencils; whistle; cash, traveler’s checks, and change; compass.
(Adapted from the “Family Disaster Plan,” developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross.)
Disaster Preparation for Pets