You can’t escape the terrible news coming from Japan these last few days. Also, the first day of spring is just around the corner. March winds will bring April showers and for most of the country storms including tornados. Do you have the tools to help you survive the first few days of a storm or natural disaster? Can you find what you need in the clutter of your garage or basement? Why take a chance? Prepare in advance so you would be able to just grab and go.
A disaster supply kit isn’t just for a hurricane or earthquake prone area. An intense tornado or severe electrical storm can cause damage or a loss of power for several days. Most hunters and outdoor enthusiasts have the equipment around their house. The problem is that it can be scattered around in a dark basement or hall closet. Find a central location and a large container for all your gear. Develop a family plan be ready for a natural disaster or summer storm. We have some suggestions of essential items for your storm preparation kit that won’t break the bank.
First Aid Kit - A good kit should include sterile gloves, sterile dressings, cleansing agents, antibiotic ointment, burn ointment, and adhesive bandages of various sizes. Don’t forget an eye wash solution, thermometer and any prescription medications you take every day. It is good to have acetaminophen or ibuprofin to help with pain or fever. An antacid shouldn't’t be left out either as well as anti-diarrhea medicine. Scissors and tweezers should make the list. The easiest solution for a well stocked first aid kit is to purchase one. You might want to pick up a couple – one for the house and one for each car you own.
Check out a kit like the Adventure Medical Kit Sportsman. For less than $30 you can get a complete kit that contains all the components and information needed to handle everything from gunshot wounds to fish hook removal as well as bleeding. The kit has reflective piping on the outside to help you find it in the dark. From blister care to aspirin for a headache this kit is complete and a great example of a compact kit for car or home.
Blankets – A hunter or hiker may have an emergency thermal blanket in their home or car. You can purchase one for about two bucks. If you don’t have a compact blanket make sure you have something on hand. Think twice before you throw away on old quilt. If your heat goes out during a winter snow storm you will be happy to have an extra blanket on hand.
Flashlights / Batteries / Candles - A good flashlight is a must in your kit and don’t forget the extra batteries. Speaking of batteries you will need more than just for the flashlight. Make sure you have extras of all the assorted sizes. Got a lantern you use for camping? Get an extra one and store it in your kit. A great option is a small LED lantern by Coleman. These are great economical lanterns that give out 140 lumens of bright, long-lasting light. It can run 18 hours on high on four D batteries and is cased in weather-resistant housing. Jar type candles that aren’t a risk for falling over should be your first choice. You don’t have to use one with a scent. And don’t forget matches and a lighter.
Radio – With iPhones and other types of smart phones many people have long packed away their radios. But what happens in a storm when you can’t charge your cell phone? Have a small, portable radio on hand. You can even get a hand crank radio. You can’t beat the Eton American Red Cross Microlink. This three in one device is a mobile phone charger, emergency NOAA/AM/FM weather radio and survival light. It is a bargain at $24. This little hand held device can even be charged by solar power. Other companies make similar models for under $50.
Moisture Wipes – The easiest way to clean your hands and more with no water? A baby wipe! You can even get antibacterial wipes. Keep a container packed away. Just keep periodic checks to make sure they haven’t dried out. You can find wipes at your local dollar store or grocery store. Cheap and sanitary!
Food – Some websites say you need at least 7 days supply for each member of the family. A minimum would be enough to last 3 days including water. You can choose from MRE’s (meal, ready to eat) to prepackaged, nonperishable food. Canned foods are a great pick and pack a non electric can opener. Add in some paper plates and plastic utensils for easy clean up. Dried fruits and nuts, juice, granola bars, energy bars – there are so many nutritious picks.
Water - Water is cumbersome and hard to store. There are options for water filtration. The most popular might be the Katadyn filtration systems. The Katadyn Hiker Pro is the number one selling outdoor micro filter system. It is compact and light. Backpackers use it to remove bacteria, Giardia and other organisms from their water. Another way to disinfect water is the use of a water purification tablets. You can get 50 of these for less than $5 on Amazon.com. Each tablet purifies one liter of water. The water might not taste like Dasani but it will be safe.
There are many more items you can have on hand. Most people agree that a small set of tools is a necessity. To help ease boredom add a deck of cards. If you have pets make sure you have a leash as well as food for your furry friends. Duck tape can fix so many problems. Throw a roll into your kit.
Emergency preparedness is no laughing matter. With the terrible news these past few days everyone should take a few moments to set a plan for their home and family. It only takes a few short minutes to gather the supplies and make sure you have the required items to keep your family safe. A great resource is www.fema.gov/plan/index.shtm This FEMA website can help you prepare for any type of disaster from a Tsunami to a flood.