Emergencies and disasters are handled easier when you are prepared. The reduction of stress and anxiety alone can be priceless. One of the best ways to be prepared for an emergency or a disaster is to have items set aside, ready to use or take when a disaster strikes. In the midst of chaos and uncertainty, having emergency items in a bag, ready to go can help alleviate the pressure of having to pack and rush out the door. The question may arise, what items should I take? For every household, the items in your go-bag may vary. However there are several emergency supplies (items) that every person should have.
- Flashlight (with extra batteries)
- First aid kit
- Non-perishable snacks
- List of medications
- Change of clothes
- Personal needs items (i.e. toothbrush, toothpaste, soap etc.)
- Entertainment (i.e. cards, books, board games)
If you have pets or children, you will want to expand upon the list of emergency supplies above to include items for them. For example, if you have small children, diapers and formula may be needed. If you are a pet-owner, you will want to include pet food, water, and an extra collar with ID. After you have the essential items, the goal is to personalize the items to fit your needs. Perhaps you have someone in your household who has a special diet, those are items you want to consider adding to your bag. Don’t be afraid to add a few sweet items like chocolate which can be comforting during those times.
The idea behind having a go-bag full of emergency supplies is to keep it in a place that is accessible. You may want to leave it in a closet near the front door or an entryway. Go-bags aren’t just for household items that you need in a rush. You can also make a go-bag for your car. Items to include in your car:
- First aid supplies
- Light or LED sticks
- Cell phone charger
- Nonperishable food/snacks
You can also make a bag to leave at work or school. Emergency supplies at those locations can come in handy if you have to evacuate directly from work or school. You will want to include similar items. Additional things that can be added include an emergency whistle or a sign that reads “help” or “all clear”. To be more creative, host an office challenge among colleagues for creating their own go-bags for the office. Be sure to go through your go-bag once a year to make sure the items are not expired.
It is easy to take for granted the things we use, the routes we take to work, and the places we visit frequently. Disasters change things. Plan for unexpected things to happen. Do your children know what to do in case of an emergency? What about the people who count on you regularly? Another good idea is to stash some cash in your go-bag in case you can’t get to an ATM or they are not working. Money can be used to buy additional personal needs items, fuel, or pay for a hotel. Roads may be blocked off, do you have an alternate route to evacuate? Sit down with family, friends, and neighbors to let them know what your plans are.
Do you know someone in your neighborhood that may need help? Check with them beforehand to find out if they have emergency supplies ready to go. You can also ask them what their emergency plans are in case they may need help during an evacuation. Do you live in a high-rise building? Find out if there are or can be floor captains to can help with evacuations during emergencies. If you have the opportunity, take advantage of neighborhood community groups by having a meeting focused on preparedness. By engaging the community, communities can become more disaster resilient.
It is important to know the emergency plan and the evacuation route for your workplace and/or school. Encourage employees or employers to do drills that will help everyone stay prepared. Ask your employer to offer trainings for the entire staff that will help everyone stay up to date on policies and procedures related to emergencies and disasters. For additional training and information, research conferences in your area that focus on emergency preparedness.
Preparing for emergencies and disaster can seem like a huge task. Most people don’t know where to start or what to do so they never do anything at all. It is important to take small steps at a time to prepare. Preparedness is like a tool box. It is better to have a few handy tools in it than to not have anything at all when you need it. Start by focusing on one thing or one area each month to build your complete plan. Learn how to prepare in small steps at www.do1thing.com