One of the most important ways to prepare for an emergency is to create a personal, 72-hour emergency kit. This kit should be customized to you and your family’s personal needs, and should contain supplies that will carry you for 3 full days. Your kit should be checked and updated every 6 months. Expired food should be replaced, as well as dead batteries, damaged items, clothing that no longer fits, etc. Your kit should be stored in a cool, dry place, in a waterproof container.
The seven types of recommended items for your kit include:
- First Aid
- Family Supplies/Tools
- Personal Items
One gallon of water per person per day is the minimum needed (pregnant/nursing mothers will need more).
Store-bought bottled water can stay drinkable for up to 6 months. After 6 months, it should be rotated out.
Water can be stored in old bleach bottles, but rotated every 7-9 months. The residue left from the bleach is enough to disinfect the water, so don’t wash out the bottles.
To Purify Water
Boil for 10 minutes. After cooling, pour back-and-forth in containers to aerate, which will improve flavor.
To chlorinate water, add 4 drops of bleach (it should contain 5.25% Sodium Hypochlorite), mix and then let stand for 30 minutes. You should be able to smell/taste chlorine.
Food suggestions include: granola, canned soup, jerky, trail mix, cereal, crackers, juice and canned food such as tuna, fruit cocktail, etc. Although this is an emergency kit, and should not contain unneeded items, it’s a good idea to pack some “comfort” foods.
Foodstuffs should be non-perishable, high in protein, not past or near the expiration date and require little-to-no preparation. The simpler, the better.
Remember to pack appropriate food for someone who has a special diet (infants, young children, seniors, etc.)
Don’t forget about pet supplies and a can opener!
When buying or putting together a first aid kit, it’s important to remember how many people you will be staying with, as this will determine your needs.
A basic kit typically includes: gauze pads, gauze bandages, adhesive tape, gloves (watch out for latex allergies), Bactine or other disinfectant, tweezers, scissors and instant cold packs.
Recommended items to add to your kit include: non-prescription drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin, antacid, cough syrup, etc.), prescription medicines, thermometer, needle and thread, hydrocortisone cream, eye drops and safety pins.
At a minimum, everyone should have a complete change of clothing and footwear.
In addition, the following is recommended:
- Long/short sleeve shirts, pants, socks, jacket, etc.
- Rain gear
- Hat/gloves/scarf (depending on season)
- Extra blankets/sleeping bags
- Cloth sheet
- Plastic sheet
Family Supplies and Tools
Below is just a brief sample of what you may want to include:
- Waterproof matches
- 2-plate gas burner and gas
- Frying pan
- Flashlight and spare batteries
- NOAA radio
- Small axe
- Adjustable wrench
- Garbage bags
- Plastic bags w/ties (for personal sanitation)
- Duct tape
Personal items provide a sense of comfort and well-being, and will maintain morale in a time of emergency. Other items, such as prescription medicine and hygiene products, will help keep illness at bay.
- Prescription medicine
- Soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Shaving items and mirror
- Feminine hygiene
- Diapers/other infant needs
- Stress management items (books, board games, personal electronics, etc.)
Documents and Money
Everything should be stored in a watertight container:
- Drivers’ License
- Insurance policies
- Credit card
- Change for pay phone
Special note about preparedness for pandemic influenza:
Pandemic influenza (flu) occurs when a flu virus changes to a form that spreads and kills more quickly than a normal, seasonal flu outbreak. Because so many people may be sick during a flu pandemic, normal supplies and services may be difficult to obtain. The MIT Influenza Information website is a good resource for information about staying healthy during a normal flu season as well as the Institute’s response plan in the event of an influenza pandemic.
Information Provided by MIT