Disaster Preparedness

Disasters can happen without warning. Damage to roads, bridges and power lines, or even because of continuing bad weather could mean that emergency services and personnel may not be available for up to three days after a major disaster. You could be on your own, and you need to be prepared.

Putting Together an Emergency Kit

Run down the following list and build your Emergency Family Kit to use in any serious situation.

And please remember to rotate out any batteries, water, and canned goods every few months to keep things fresh. 

Life Essentials

  • Emergency water – As a good rule of thumb, store at least three gallons of water for each person and pet in your household to cover 72 hours of drinking, washing and cooking, as emergency situations and power outages may interrupt your utility services.
  • Drinking water tablets – Helps to purify water when a trusted source is inaccessible.
  • First aid kit – A 50-piece kit is perfect for a family of four.
  • Canned food/manual can opener/disposable plates and utensils – Keep on hand enough non-perishable food for a few days. Also, remember to rotate the food out of your emergency kit and replace it after a few months. You wouldn’t want to be stuck in an emergency with spoiled food!
  • Emergency blanket – Also called a space blanket, this reflects heat and helps keep you warm without taking up a lot of space.
  • Warm clothes Sweaters, heavy-duty jeans, insulated socks, gloves, etc.
  • Sturdy shoes – Work boots or steel-toed shoes are good to walk over dangerous terrain or debris. 

Medical Needs

  • Medication – If you or your family takes any prescriptions, keep a week’s supply in your emergency kit along with a list of them.
  • Eye glasses – If you or your family needs prescriptions eye glasses, keep an extra pair in the kit.
  • Dust mask – Helps to reduce smoke or dust inhalation.
  • Bleach – A good thing to have on hand for simple and effective disinfecting.
  • Essential infant and / or pet care items – Include vaccination records.
  • Hygiene products – Tissues, wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.
  • Toilet chemicals and plastic bucket – In some situations, proper sanitation and plumbing may be unavailable. 

Tools

  • Battery-powered radio – If your electricity, phone lines, and Internet are down, this may be your only link to rescue information and news.
  • Flashlights – Keep packs of batteries for your most used items (typically AA and D batteries).
  • Candles – For instant light and heat, keep a few candles in your emergency pack.
  • Matches / lighter – Waterproof matches and a lighter will come in handy for lighting candles, starting a fire, or lighting a burner to cook food.
  • Light sticks – Use light sticks or flow sticks to provide some light if you suspect there might be a gas leak in the area.
  • Clock – Battery-powered.
  • Fire extinguisher – Keep a small household fire extinguisher in your kit. Make sure to read the directions and understand how to use it in an emergency.
  • Trash bags – A box of trash bags are a good add to your kit and have many applications.
  • Small tent – For emergency shelter.
  • Cooking stove w/ propane fuel – To heat food if power and gas lines are down.
  • Heavy gloves – For moving debris and broken glass.
  • Duct tape – It’s got almost endless uses.
  • Shovel / broom – For moving debris, digging out areas, and cleaning.
  • Rope – Help secure items and move things.
  • Wrench – Something large enough to shut off your gas valve if necessary.
  • Pry bar – Something to lift and move debris if someone is trapped or an exit is blocked.

Essential Documents

  • Currency – It’s a good idea to store some emergency money in your kit, especially small bills, as local ATMs may not be working.
  • Copies of important documents – Important papers like deeds, birth certificates, insurance policies, etc., should be copied, with the originals stored in a safe place like a waterproof container or bank safe deposit box.
  • Copies of important phone numbers – Keep a hard copy of family and emergency phone numbers.
  • Map of area – Helps to identify evacuation routes and shelter locations. 

Download a PDF – Disaster Recovery Guide

This Mom’s Trouble “Sounded Like a Million Trains Coming” 

Her family’s Central Texas home was considered outside of the danger zone, then back-to-back disasters changed everything.

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Information provided by the Institute for Business & Home Safety. The Institute for Business & Home Safety’s mission is to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other property losses by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.

The information and suggestions presented range from simple weekend tasks to involved projects that may require professional assistance. Before starting on any activity, make sure you are comfortable with the required skill level. If you are uncertain, contact a professional. Report any property damage to your insurance agent or company representative immediately after a wildfire or other natural disaster and make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.

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