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:
- 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
Storing Water In Plastic Soda Bottles
Follow these steps for storing water in 2 liter plastic soda bottles.
Thoroughly clean the bottles with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap.
Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Mix the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.
Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water. If the tap water has been commercially treated from a water utility with chlorine, you do not need to add anything else to the water to keep it clean. If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water. Let the water stand for 30 minutes before using.
A slight chlorine odor should be noticeable in the water, if not, add another dose of bleach and allow the water to stand another 15 minutes.
Tightly close the container using the original cap. Be careful not to contaminate the cap by touching the inside of it with your finger. Place a date on the outside of the container so you can know when you filled it. Store in cool, dark place.
Water can also be treated with water purification tablets that can be purchased at most sporting goods stores.
Water that has not been commercially bottled should be replaced every six months.
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
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.)
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