It’s been quite a year so far in the natural disasters department, from hurricanes and floods to blazing wildfires. You may have thought about putting together an emergency plan – but have you done it?
There are three important steps to take in disaster preparedness: have an emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan, and be informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses. You can learn more about planning ahead for disasters from Ready.gov (“Be informed. Plan ahead. Take action”).
The FEMA website says, “After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.”
FEMA recommends including the following items in your basic emergency supply kit:
- Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
To assemble your kit, store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag. FEMA recommends having a second emergency kit at your workplace, school, or in your car – anywhere outside the home where you spend a lot of time.
Additional items you may want to include in your kit:
- Prescription medications and glasses
- Important documents (in a waterproof, portable container)
- Sleeping bags or blankets
- Changes of clothes
- Matches (in a waterproof container), fire extinguisher
- Paper and pencil
- Paper or plastic cups, plates, utensils, paper towels
- Personal hygiene and feminine hygiene items
- Books, puzzles, cards, or other games or activities
For those with infants, add formula and diapers to the list.
For those with pets, Arlington Animal Control Officer Katie has a separate list, from the ASPCA:
- Pet first-aid kit and guide book (ask your vet what to include)
- 3-7 days’ worth of canned or dry food
- Litter and disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
- Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
- Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
- Pet feeding dishes and water bowls
- Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
- Photocopies and/or USB of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires.
- At least seven days’ worth of bottled water for each person and pet
- A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
- Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters; bring photos that contain both you and your pets for easier identification)
- Especially for cats: Pillowcase, toys, scoop-able litter
- Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week’s worth of cage liner
Katie advises keeping your pet’s emergency preparedness kit next to your human kit, and adds the important reminder that both kits need to be updated – especially food, water, and medication! Read more about disaster preparedness for pets from the ASPCA; in addition to an emergency kit, they recommend getting a rescue alert sticker, arranging a safe haven, choosing designated caregivers, and using the free ASPCA mobile app. The Humane Society has even more tips, including an obvious one – make sure your pets are wearing collars with ID tags!
Copies of these emergency kit checklists will be available all month on the Disaster Preparedness display table in the lobby area of the library. Come pick one up, and make this the month you get prepared!
Do you have any helpful tips for emergencies, Arlington-specific advice, or suggested items for emergency supply kits? Let us know in the comments!