Coliseum Health System - September 05, 2018

Putting together an emergency kit is an easy and inexpensive way to help ensure your family remains safe and healthy in the event of a tragedy. It can be overwhelming to know what to include. Follow these helpful hints!

Build your bag – the basics

The bulk of your bag should be made up of enough necessities to last your family at least 72 hours. One gallon of water should last an individual for one day, so stock at least three jugs for each member of your household, and more if you have pets.

You should also pack a three-day supply of non-perishable food that doesn't require heating or cooking. Nuts and granola bars are good options, as are canned foods like tuna, beans and vegetables.

Flashlights, wireless phone chargers and battery-operated weather radios are also essential during and just after a disaster, but don't get stuck without enough batteries. A first aid kit can't replace medical attention for major injuries, but it can be useful in caring for minor bumps, cuts and abrasions.

Other important items include:

  • a whistle to signal for help
  • dust masks to filter the air
  • garbage bags and personal sanitation supplies
  • a wrench or pliers
  • blankets
  • duct tape

Pack your emergency items first in clear plastic bags before organizing them in portable bins or bags with handles.

Stow specialty supplies

Customize your kit to fit the needs of your family, including any pets. You can also tailor what you choose to pack towards the natural disasters that may occur in your area.

  • Towels, rain gear and a change of clothes are necessities in areas typically hit with wet weather disasters.
  • Store baby formula, diapers, wipes and rash cream if you have young ones.
  • Extra water, canned or dry food, leashes and carriers are important for any household pets.

Prescription medications and non-prescription drugs like pain relievers and antacids should be packed in a waterproof container, along with a written list of doses and known allergies. A seven-day supply will likely suffice.

Pack important documents, including:

  • insurance policies
  • extra cash and bank records
  • birth certificates, social security cards and passports

Leave room for glasses, contact lenses, contact solution and feminine products and non-medical items, like paper, pencils, games, toys and puzzles to occupy young children.

Prepare your car

Keeping your car packed and ready to roll at a moment's notice is also a safe move. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends keeping a smaller emergency bag, stocked with survival-essentials, like:

  • food and water
  • first aid kit
  • jumper cables, an ice scraper and flares
  • a cellphone charger
  • warm clothes
  • a fire extinguisher

A well-tuned automobile is also safest for travel. Keep your gas tank full and ensure oil and washer fluid levels meet standard criteria. Many of the car's functions can deteriorate overtime and fail without warning, so periodic inspections of the brakes, battery, exhaust system and lights are encouraged.

Preparing your home and your car for an emergency is not a difficult task, but it's an important one - even if no natural disaster is on the horizon.

If in the unfortunate event that you need emergency care, seek help from your closest ER. You can check wait times at Coliseum Medical Centers or Coliseum Northside Hospital.