Being prepared for a disaster is just as much mental work as it is physical. A mindset of preparedness is one that is less likely to panic, because obstacles have already been anticipated. However, it’s not enough to “think” your way to being Red Cross Ready – there are some significant actions you can take right now to “organize your disaster” and have that peace of mind.
The first big piece of “preparedness” is “Make a Kit.” Every family has its own unique needs in a time of crisis, but there are some constants that are recommended for every household. Your Kit should be stored someplace secure and accessible, and should provide for your household for a minimum of three days. You can buy a kit to get started, or just use this as a shopping list, adding any additional items that might pertain to you:
Water – can be scarce in the aftermath of a disaster. Store one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days – this can be used for drinking, food preparation and hygiene. (Four people = 12 gallons.)
Food – Three days of non-perishable, nutritious food that you don’t have to cook to prepare. (If you’re relying on canned items, don't forget a manual can opener.)
Medications – Extra prescription and over-the-counter medications. Keep a list of dosages, allergies, doctors' names, and phone numbers for nearby hospitals. A small pill organizer can pack a lot in a small space. Also keep an extra set of eye glasses, contact lenses, a cane, hearing aid batteries, or any other personal items you may need.
Portable Radio – Either battery-operated or hand-cranked, a radio can be your first link to information about where you can find additional assistance. Don't forget to include extra batteries.
First Aid Kit – Sometimes in a disaster, help is delayed. A first aid kit can help you tend to injuries until help arrives.
Personal Documents – You might have to leave your home for days or more – keep copies of necessary records like your drivers’ license, passport, birth certificate, and insurance policies in a waterproof container.
Contact Info – A list of family phone numbers and addresses as well as a copy of your out-of-area emergency contact card.
Map – A detailed map of the surrounding areas with highlighted evacuation routes. Road closures might block your first choice of route.
Money – Banks and ATMs may be closed. Keep small bills and change on hand to buy necessary supplies.
Clothing – Nothing extensive – think comfortable and protective. A set of sweats for each family member, sturdy shoes, and a raincoat can make the first days more comfortable.
Sanitary Supplies – Include extra toilet paper, feminine supplies, personal hygiene products, bleach, and any other personal products you may need.
Pet Supplies – Pets are part of the family too. Remember food, leashes, medicine, etc.
Tools – Keep an adjustable wrench in your preparedness kit to turn off your gas if necessary. Other tools may include a manual can opener, plastic sheeting, garbage bags with ties, and duct tape.