Families looking to be prepared for any emergency should have six basics in their homes at all times: Water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies.
Store these things in a convenient place known to all family members, with a smaller version the trunk of your car.
Keep items in airtight plastic bags and change your stored water supply every six months so it stays fresh, and replace your stored food every six months as your needs change throughout the year.
Update your kit every year, and don't forget during your yearly update to replace batteries, update clothes to correct sizes, and ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications.
Water: Store water in soda bottles, water jugs or other plastic containers that won't decompose or break. Avoid using milk cartons or glass bottles, as they decompose and break. A normally active person needs to drink at least half a gallon of water each day. Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people will need even more.
Store one gallon of water per person per day. Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person (a half gallon for drinking, and additional water for each person in your household for food preparation and sanitation).
Food: Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water. If you must heat food, pack a can of Sterno. Select food items that are compact and lightweight. Include a selection of the following foods in your disaster supplies: ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables; canned juices; staples (salt, sugar, pepper, spices, etc.); high-energy foods; vitamins; food for infants and comfort or stress foods.
First Aid Kit: Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car.
Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
Triangular bandages (3)
2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
Tongue blades (2)
Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
Assorted sizes of safety pins
Cleansing agent or soap
Latex gloves (2 pair)
Non-Prescription Drugs: Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever; anti-diarrhea medication; antacid (for stomach upset); syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center); laxative and activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center).
Tools and Supplies: Mess kits or paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils; emergency preparedness manual; battery-operated radio and extra batteries; flashlight and extra batteries; cash or traveler's checks, change; non-electric can opener, utility knife; fire extinguisher: small canister ABC type; tube tent; pliers; tape; compass; matches in a waterproof container; aluminum or plastic storage containers; signal flare; paper, pencil; needles and thread; medicine dropper; shut-off wrench to turn off household gas and water; whistle; plastic sheeting and a map of the area (for locating shelters).
Sanitation: Toilet paper or towelettes; soap, liquid detergent; feminine supplies; personal hygiene items; plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses); plastic bucket with tight lid; disinfectant and household chlorine bleach.
Clothing and Bedding: Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person. Sturdy shoes or work boots; rain gear; blankets or sleeping bags; hat and gloves; thermal underwear and sunglasses.
Special Items: Remember family members with special requirements, such as infants and elderly or disabled persons.
For Baby: Formula; diapers; bottles; powdered milk and medications.
For Adults: Heart and high blood pressure medication; insulin; prescription drugs; denture needs; contact lenses and supplies and extra eyeglasses.
Entertainment: Games and books.
Important Family Documents: Keep these records in a waterproof, portable container: will, insurance policies, contracts deeds, stocks and bonds, passports, social security cards, immunization records, bank account numbers, credit card account numbers and companies, inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers, family records (birth, marriage, death certificates).
For more information, check out www.redcross.org or stop by your local fire department for additional materials and information.