Preparing for emergency situations is usually something we don’t think about until danger is knocking on our door. For all of us who need to get started on our emergency kits and gather preparedness resources, I’ve put together a guide to help us out.
I’m an emergency preparedness newbie, so I researched and pulled from the resources that were most helpful in my planning. Here’s what I’ve gathered so far, as well as plenty of resources to build your plan above and beyond what I have been able to accomplish.
You’ll find tips for building a plan and making your emergency kit along with local and national emergency preparedness resources.
Emergency Kit Guide and Preparedness Resources
Have a Plan
First things first, establish an emergency preparedness plan for your household. It’s best to start your planning well before you are faced with an impending disaster, but these are basic steps that anyone can take in preparation for evacuation.
It’s nice to imagine that we all have a plan in place months or years ahead of time. Yet, for this post I want to take a realistic approach to what you can do even days before needing to evacuate your home.
Here are some basic steps you can take today to start on your emergency preparedness plan:
- Have an emergency plan for your family/household. Know where to go, what to do and how to reconnect if you are separated by work or school.
- Know your evacuation routes from your home and your work.
- Get your emergency kits ready to go. Consider what each person in your household will need.
- If you have pets, make sure you have a plan for them. This will include supplies and a list of shelter resources. Not all emergency shelters let people bring their pets. Make sure you have a list of contact information for pet-friendly accommodations or pet boarding facilities at the ready.
The most important things for all of us are food, water and shelter. When it comes to an emergency, you won’t know when you can return home or if you’ll have anything to return to. Ready.gov has a full list of essential supplies for your emergency kit. Below I have listed some of the most important items you need to pack.
For packing, try a large plastic storage container, preferably with a secure lid to keep the contents of your emergency kit dry. This will also make it easy to load right into the back of your car when you need to hit the road.
You’ll also want to choose a place to keep your emergency kit. Options may be your garage or the trunk of your car. Some people even have a separate emergency kit at their work.
Essential emergency kit items:
- Water. You will need one gallon of water per person and pet per day. I know this sounds like a lot, but do consider the non-drinking purposes for this water, such as cleaning and toilets.
- Food. Have at least a three day supply of nonperishable food items for each person and pet. Plan for no cook or easy-to-fix items. Stick with foods you and your family already enjoy. Have smaller snacks such as granola bars, dried fruits and nuts. Pack a can opener and a few utensils and plates as well (opt for paper/plastic or reusable). You may not have access to normal kitchen appliances for several days so plan food items accordingly.
- Medications. If any members in your household require prescription medications, make sure you have extras on hand.
- First aid kit. You may already have one in your house. If so, check to make sure it is stocked and put it in your kit. If not, pick one up at your local drugstore. You may also consider adding in a few masks in case the air quality is poor.
- Personal hygiene. Even in the best situations, we’ve all forgotten our toothbrush. Have travel size toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, body wipes or towelettes, deodorant, and sanitary products.
- Flashlights and batteries.
- Battery pack. I am including this as an essential item, because of the digital world we live in. With mobile updates readily available through emergency alert systems, it’s important to keep your devices charged so you are aware of the latest emergency news happening in your area. I recommend getting a multifunction battery with car jump starter capabilities.
- Documents. Think about your passports, birth certificates, title papers, insurance and any documents that may not be readily available to you digitally.
- Misc. Garbage bags, moist towelettes, paper towels all come in handy for multiple uses, especially personal sanitation.
And this is only the start to it, folks. I encourage you to check Ready.gov‘s full list of items and build your kit according to your unique household needs.
We tend to think of emergency kits as just one big box of goods, but you also need to consider what each individual in your home needs beyond the standard kit. This includes clothing, keepsakes or any items that are essential. You may end up with just one large emergency kit or one main kit and one for each member of your household.
Keep track of when items need to be replenished in your kit. Plan on checking it once every 6 months, including recharging battery packs.
If you have pets, you need to pack enough supplies for them. One way you can do this is by taking your pet’s carrier and placing inside it a bag filled with food, water, blankets or towels, bowls and a backup supply of any medications your pet may be taking.
If you are looking for an appropriate carrier for your emergency kit, consider getting one that is big enough for your pet to be in for an extended period of time. Or have a foldable, self-contained playpen to accompany these supplies. If you end up at an evacuation site or a home with other pets, you’ll need a safe, comfortable space for your pets to stay.
Emergency Preparedness Resources
Multnomah County and Oregon
These resources can help residents in Multnomah County and Oregon prepare for emergencies and get help during disasters.
- Multnomah County Emergency Preparedness has a bunch of resources to develop family communications and emergency plans, stay informed during an emergency and get information about the various natural and man-made disasters that could occur in our area.
- Following Multnomah County Emergency Management social platforms is a great way to get up-to-date information on what is happening throughout the county. You can follow on Facebook and Twitter. If you live outside of Multnomah County, you can use this list of county resources.
- Emergency alert systems are available for Multnomah County as well as other counties and cities in the metro area. These public alert systems are free. All you have to do is sign up online to receive emergency alerts via text, email, or voice message.
- Oregon Wildfire Resources is a hub for information about fires in our state. As we’ve seen the threat that wildfires pose to our state in recent years, this is an important resource for up-to-date information and preparing your home for a possible fire evacuation.
National resources offer helpful emergency planning and preparedness information.
- Ready.gov has resources that cover which types of disasters could affect your area and how you can create a plan with your family. The Make A Plan page has step-by-step emergency preparedness instructions and printable plans of action.
- American Red Cross has information about where you can get help when facing a disaster or emergency. The organization also has emergency preparedness resources for households, families with kids and businesses.
There are so many great resources to choose from. What is most important is being prepared for whatever may come your way. Get started on your emergency preparedness today and be ready for whatever tomorrow may hold.
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