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Emergency Preparedness Buying Guide

by Christina Walker

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In the event of an emergency, it may be several days before services are restored to your community. Experts advise you to have three days' worth of food, water, and supplies to keep everyone in your household safe and healthy no matter what kind of disaster may strike. If you are just starting to build your kit, or if you are taking inventory of your existing supplies, make sure you have these emergency preparedness essentials.

Emergency Supplies:

  1. First-aid and medical supplies: Bandages, antibiotic ointment, burn gel, anti-itch cream, and painkillers are some of the most basic medical supplies you can have in emergency preparedness kits, but they are some of the most vital in disasters as well. You can start building your survival gear by purchasing first-aid kits; make sure these include a first-aid guide so you know how to properly use each medical supply. Then add any medical considerations your family might need in an emergency, such as allergy medicine, extra prescription medications, contacts and contact solution, or asthma inhalers.

  2. Food and water storage: First, stock up on things your family typically eats, especially canned and frozen foods that you can use within the first few days of a disaster. Next, build up your long-term storage, foods that will last, when appropriately stored, for several years; this portion of your disaster preparedness includes things like wheat, rice, and dried beans. Remember to store several days' worth of water -- at least a gallon per person per day, plus enough for your pets; a water filtration system could be helpful if you think you may need to be self-sufficient for longer than 72 hours. Last, find ways to cook and prepare your food storage. You may be able to store firewood in your backyard or you might want to have a few extra propane canisters handy for your backyard grill or camping stove.

  3. Light and communication: Whether you're home without power or leaving a disaster area or evacuation zone, light and communication will be very important. Flashlights provide enough light for many situations. Hand-crank flashlights are lighter than battery-powered ones; consider having both in your preparedness supply. Candles are an affordable lighting option for your home and are easy to use as decor in non-emergency times. Lanterns may be hand-cranked, battery-powered, or propane-powered. AM/FM radios are useful when you need to find out what the emergency is, how long it is expected to last, and what you are advised to do, while two-way radios can help you stay in touch with family and friends when the power and phone lines are down. Include the appropriate fuel sources for lighting and communication supplies in your emergency preparedness kits, including matches, batteries, and propane canisters.

  4. Survival and rescue: Include in your supplies all the survival gear you might need if you have to evacuate your home, such as ponchos, all-weather blankets, whistles, flares, or signals. Keep some of these at home as well in case the house gets cold or you get trapped inside and need to call for help. Your car and workplace should also have some survival and rescue supplies for emergencies.

  5. Other basics: While things like disposable dishes, extra toilet paper rolls, bars of soap, feminine hygiene products, and hand sanitizer are not strictly emergency supplies, having extras in your home will make an emergency or disaster situation more comfortable.

Emergency Preparation Tip:

  1. Emergencies can include everything from the power being out for longer than a few hours to being evacuated from your home. In addition to storing emergency essentials in your home, purchase or assemble a 72-hour kit that you can easily grab if you need to evacuate the area. Keep one on hand for each member of your household and for each pet.

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