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How to Build a Home Disaster Emergency Kit

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With several weeks left in this year’s hurricane season, Hurricane Florence has already provided us with a grim reminder of just how unforgiving mother nature can be. While natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and others are unpredictable and unavoidable, there are ways you can prepare yourself and your family to increase chances of safety and comfort when disaster strikes. All homeowners and renters should have a home emergency kit stocked with supplies to help them survive and stay safe during the unthinkable. Read on to learn what items to keep in a home disaster emergency kit so you can be prepared.

Water and Fluids
Water is of course the most important item to have in an emergency kit, but many people are unaware of just how much water is necessary. In general, you should plan for one gallon of water per person per day for drinking, washing and other needs. While water may still be functioning after a power outage (unless you have a well), flooding can cause water supplies to become contaminated, necessitating the use of stored water. In addition to your water supplies, you should also include fluids with electrolytes, such as sports drinks and healthy juices. These will not only keep you hydrated during an emergency, but also provide another source of calories and nutrients during a disaster.

Non-Perishable and Pre-Cooked Food
Natural disasters such as hurricanes can bring power outages that can last for days or even weeks. With no electricity, it is important to have food on hand that you can eat without the use of heat or cooking methods. In your home disaster emergency kit, be sure to include canned proteins like tuna and chicken, or vegetarian protein options like beans and nut butters—and don’t forget a can opener! You can even spring for single-serve fully cooked premade meals and be sure to include canned fruits and vegetables as well as nutritious grains like whole grain breads and crackers. Remember to think about dietary needs and restrictions for all family members and include items that each family member can eat for at least three days.

Medical Supplies
Many families already have a first aid kit, and if you don’t, you should invest in one. However, during a natural disaster, you may need medical supplies that go beyond what a traditional first aid kit will include. In addition to bandages and other convenient items, you should also ensure that you have moist towelettes, garbage bags and other items for sanitation, personal hygiene items, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer and other hygiene items that can help keep germs at bay. Before disaster strikes, also make sure that you have an extra supply of necessary medications and a proper way to store them.

Don’t Forget Your Pets
If you have pets in your household, they need your help to ensure that their emergency needs are handled, too. Make sure you have plenty of food and extra water available for them, and include comfort items such as toys and beds. It might be helpful to have a few newspapers and towels for sanitation as well as any medications they might need.

Other Items
Other items that are important to include in your emergency kit are:

  • A tool kit for emergency repairs or to turn off utilities
  • Battery-powered weather radios, flashlights and other items with backup batteries
  • Cash
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Non-electronic games and activities like books, puzzles, playing cards and board games

When you have all the items ready for your home disaster emergency kit, be sure to store it in one or more plastic bins with lids. This will not only keep the items in your kit together, but also provide some protection from water and the elements. Keep your kit in a designated place in your home and tell all family members where to find it, so if disaster strikes, your family can be ready.

If you were affected by Hurricane Florence, North Carolina has resources that may be able to help. For more information, visit