Jul11

Creating a Home Emergency Kit

As the saying goes, “better safe than sorry.” And in the case of a home emergency, that means having a disaster kit on hand.

A home emergency kit is easy to put together, and it’s one of the most important things you can do for your family. Should an earthquake, blackout or flood strike, the proper kit could end up being a life-saver (literally).

What should you include in yours? This list will get you started.

1. Flashlights. Keep two or three on hand and remember to also stock up on batteries.

2. First aid kit. You can purchase a ready-made kit or cobble together one of your very own. If you opt for the latter, be sure to include necessities like gauze, bandages, ointments, pain medication, a cold compress, and alcohol cleansing pads.

3. Water. FEMA advises storing one gallon per person per day. You’ll need it for drinking and sanitation.

4. Canned foods. Try to coordinate at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food items for each member of your family. If you have a baby, stock up on plenty of infant formula as well.

5. Can opener. This easy-to-forget item is the one thing standing between you and your non-perishable food items. Make sure it’s the manual kind — a power outage means an electric opener is rendered useless.

6. Whistle. This is a simple, easy (and loud) way to call for help.

7. Garbage bags. Yes, they can double as a carry-all. But you’ll also need a box or two of these on hand for trash as well as personal sanitation (translation: a make-shift toilet).

8. Moist towlettes. No running water? These babies can substitute for both a shower and toilet paper.

9. Battery powered radio. In an event of a disaster, your cell phone, TV, and tablet will most likely be rendered useless. This throwback item is going to be your go-to way to keep informed.

10. Matches. Unless you know how to rub two sticks together, you’ll need these to start a fire. Keep them in a waterproof, airtight container so they don’t get soaked.

11. Household bleach. According to FEMA, regular household bleach not only serves as a disinfectant, but in an emergency you can use 16 drops to treat a gallon of water. Skip bleaches that are scented, color safe, or contain extra cleaners.

12. Dust masks. You’ll need one per family member.

13. Family documents. Place birth certificates, passports, bank account records, and insurance policies in a waterproof container or plastic envelope.

14. Multipurpose tool. The Center for Disease Control recommends having a multipurpose tool on hand. This handy itemtypically contains a knife, pliers, a wire cutter and a small wrench.

15. Blanket. We’re not talking about a pretty throw in cotton or wool. You want an actual emergency blanket made of plastic that will not only keep you warm, but shield you from water and wind.

When you’ve assembled your kit, make sure you keep it all in one place that everyone in the family can access. You’ll be happy to have it, and even happier if you never need it.

Have we missed anything? Tell us what’s in your emergency kit in the space below.

Megan Mostyn-Brown

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Megan Mostyn-Brown

is a writer for Bed Bath & Beyond. She's obsessed with mid-century modern furniture, wallpaper, and any item that will get her organized. Someday she'd like to own a claw foot tub and more than one pan.

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