Although Hawaii’s 2012 Hurricane season is now officially over, organizing and keeping on hand a home emergency kit is always a good idea. From past disasters, it has become clear to us that we all have to be prepared to take care of ourselves for at least several days in the event of a disaster.
Make sure all your important papers are in order
If a disaster struck today, would you be able to quickly access all the important documents that you need? It is crucial to have backups of important papers, including the following: deed to your house, proof of insurance, medical records, passports, social security cards, and a list of personal contacts.
Keep one copy of these documents at home in a portable case and another offsite in a safe place. At the same time, check that your insurance is up to date and that you are protected by hazards that face the area you live in.
Your Emergency Kit
In addition to the basic guidelines for an emergency kit, tailor what you need for your particular situation/lifestyle, such as medications you may need or extra blankets if you live in a colder area. Also, know where the main electrical and water shutoffs are for your home and that you have the right tool to help you shut them off if you need to.
The following kit is recommended by FEMA:
- Water: One gallon per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation; Double this amount if you live in a very hot climate, have young kids, or are nursing. Bottled water is best, but you can also store tap water in food-grade containers or two-liter soda bottles that have been sanitized. Consider your pet’s water needs, too.
- Food: At least a three-day supply of nonperishables and a can opener. Pack protein, fruit, and vegetables in a form you actually like. Include treats like cereal bars, trail mix, and Tootsie Rolls. Store food in pest-proof plastic or metal tubs and keep it in a cool, dry place.
- Flashlights and extra batteries: “Candles are not recommended because there are many house fires caused by candles left unattended,” says David Riedman, a public affairs officer with FEMA.
- First-aid supplies: Two pairs of sterile gloves, adhesive bandages and sterile dressings, soap or other cleanser, antibiotic towelettes and ointment, burn ointment, eye wash, thermometer, scissors and tweezers, petroleum jelly, aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever, and stomach analgesics such as Tums, Pepto-Bismol, and a laxative.
- Sanitation and hygiene supplies: Moist towelettes, paper towels, toilet paper, garbage bags, and plastic ties. Travel-size shampoo, toothpaste/toothbrush, and deodorant are also a good idea.
- Radio or TV: Keep a portable, battery- or crank-operated radio or television and extra batteries to remain connected in case the power goes out, as well as an extra cell phone charger.
- Plastic sheeting, duct tape, and dust masks.
- Extra items: A whistle to signal for help, a favorite toy or other comfort items for kids.
Pick a specific time each year, such as the month before hurricane season, to update your kit. Tailor it as your needs change, and replace food and water as it approaches its expiration date.
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