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Primer: Making an Emergency Preparedness Kit

Hurricane season is in full force, and here in California, there's always the chance of an earthquake. Even if you don't live in storm or quake country — but especially if you do — you should have an emergency preparedness kit stashed away.

The American Red Cross recommends having enough food and water on hand to support every member of your household for at least three days. They've also got a great list of other must-haves you may not have thought of, including bleach and a non-electric can opener. Tune in tomorrow, when I'll feature some ready-made kits you can buy. Until now, here's a checklist of everything you should have on hand.

  • Water. The Red Cross recommends one gallon per day per person, including pets. If you don't have any stored, why not make a habit of picking up a gallon or two every time you go to the supermarket?
  • Food. Concentrate on ready-to-eat canned fruits, veggies, juice, and meat, as well as protein-rich snacks like trail mix and granola bars. Don't forget vitamins and special supplies for any elderly family members, babies, and pets.
  • A first-aid kit with Band-Aids, latex gloves, gauze pads, a thermometer, over-the-counter drugs, and necessary prescription medications.

For the other essentials,

  • Tools such as scissors, tweezers, a sewing kit, a manual can opener, a knife, and a wrench to turn off gas and water.
  • Moist towelettes and antibacterial hand gel
  • Sunscreen
  • Paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils
  • A hand-crank or battery-operated radio, with batteries
  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • Candles and matches
  • Cash
  • Small fire extinguisher
  • Toilet paper, feminine products, and garbage bags
  • Dish soap
  • Bleach
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Rain gear
  • Important documents, such as wills, deeds, passports, family records, and a bank account numbers.
  • A list of important phone numbers


The-City-Girl The-City-Girl 10 years
Because of this post I ran to Walgreens and stocked up on everything, packed it all up in a black duffle bag, and stored in an easy-access point. I feel so grown-up and responsible, now! Hahaha :-D
MamaD MamaD 10 years
We are not free of problems where i live....we have taken the time though to pick an area to live in that has minimal natural disasters!!! I'm NOT in the boonies! The way I look at could live in the middle of a metropolis and have a short ride to a more natural surrounding OR live in the middle of a lush green place with a short ride to the city! I used to live right outside of NYC for alot of years. I put up with the floods, the tornadoes and the effects of hurricanes coming up the coastline.I also spent many sweltering summers in the city environment. I made a life choice to move and I highly recommend it!! But if you have nothing to compare your lifestyle to then you'll have no idea what I'm talking about! To each his own....
spygirl658 spygirl658 10 years
Great post, Casa. I moved to Texas recently and survived my first tornado season, but we didn't have a sufficient emergency kit put together. That's on our short list of projects. Also, we have to develop an emergency plan/kits for our pets - 3 dogs and 4 cats.
minaminamina minaminamina 10 years
I was in Buffalo, New York when we got a freak blizzard on October 13th - a Friday, no less - for those of you who don't know, Buffalo is also known as the City of Trees because of all the ancient and gorgeous trees around the city. Well, unfortunately, the trees hadn't yet lost their leaves because the weather hadn't been cold enough, so all the heavy, wet weight of the dozen feet of snow that fell ended up causing hundreds of these old trees to break... right onto power lines, traffic lights, roads, and houses. We were in a state of emergency for over a week - hundreds of thousands of homes without heat or electricity for as long as three weeks (which, in Buffalo, means that people literally died from the cold). Generators had gone too long without use or upgrade, and there were very few grocery stores able to open... people were stuck without clean water for a few days... it was terrible. Anyway, long story short, besides the horrifying and sad sight of trees knocked down all over the city (which now, in the summer, seems even more depressing), it made me wish I had one of these kits ready. I don't think I've ever felt the cold so severely as when I'm craving nothing but hot food and some clean water.
Neural Neural 10 years
Yeah, I occasionally think this is something I need to put together but then I wonder where the heck I would put all of it. Don't forget prescription medications!
cravinsugar cravinsugar 10 years
Wheren I live now, I gues i can get the rain from a hurricaine, but that's all, however, my parents are on the east coast...hurricane, flood, tornado....they have a propane run generator that will run the whole house...We got hit with hurricaine Isabel (when i lived there) and we didn't have power for 10 days! Thank goodness for that precious generator. One year, during an ice storm, we lost power for 2 weeks, and my mom said she would move out and leave us alone if dad didn't buy the generator. haha, we have had one ever since. :-P
KathleenxCouture KathleenxCouture 10 years
I live in northern Illinois so we only really have to worry about Tornados, Blizzards, and Floods haha. But this is a great and very helpful idea! thanks Casa!
Molly Molly 10 years
Thanks so much for this casa, every little earthquake we get around here (fairly often) reminds me how much I need to do this. Hopefully this will be my final reminder. :)
beingtazim beingtazim 10 years
great tips! i was cursing myself when we were without potable water for almost a month in Vancouver, last November! I hated having to buy bottles of water.
Daisie Daisie 10 years
Thanks for the post, Casa! Also, just a note from another person in Pennsylvania. We do not ALL live in the boonies! Where I live we are susceptible to power outages from storms, hurricanes, and flooding.
MamaD MamaD 10 years
This is exactly why I live in Pennsylvania!!! No hurricanes, no earthquakes, and no flooding or tornadoes either. I live at a very high altitude for the area. We have our own well and a propane fueled generator that will run the entire house in the event of a power outtage. No I'm not the "Unibomber"....just love the country and nature and a place with a lower population!!!!!! The trees outnumber the people here but civilization is just a short car ride away!
The-City-Girl The-City-Girl 10 years
When we had the big earthquake here in San Francisco in 1989, the electricity was out for three days, so I would concur that it's VERY important to include flashlights and some candles and matches.
libs1dlab libs1dlab 10 years
How long can you keep jugs of drinking water stored? I have several and wondered if I should replace them every 4 to 6 months or if they last longer. They are sealed, but still, I wonder how long they will stay fresh?
ReverendZelda ReverendZelda 10 years
Oh, and to go along with cash you should make sure you have paper money and coins in different demoninations
ReverendZelda ReverendZelda 10 years
I researched survival kits last Halloween for a friend and I've yet to make one. Can't wait to see your list of pre-made ones. By the way, some of the web sites with survival kits can be pretty... um... scary, just to warn you.
llj llj 10 years
I've been living in San Francisco for over three years now and occasionally I get nervous I'll be caught off guard with a huge earthquake. I'm grateful that it hasn't happened yet, but this is something I think more people should know. Thanks for posting!
books-and-shoes books-and-shoes 10 years
Great tips!
karisaamy karisaamy 10 years
I always think I need to get this all together, but then ever do it. I think I would be more apt to just buy a premade kit than to do it all myself. Up in WA we have less to worry about, but their are still earthquakes and such.
cravinsugar cravinsugar 10 years
I am going to buy some granola bars, some water, and some batteries. everything else i sort of have, esp ready to eat mom made me stock up on chicken noodle soup incase i get sick haha, so i have plenty. I live outside of DC, but ever since 2001, you can never be sure, better dsafe than sorry!
haze1nut haze1nut 10 years
I'm from Houston and we're pretty prepared over here but still no one can be fully prepared for anything. It's always scary living by the Gulf and close to possible hurricane hits. I would say Electric Generators are a must if you're planning to stick things through the storm. But if you know something bad is coming (ie Hurricane) then evacuation is always the safest bet. Remember to always have a full tank of gas before somethings about to hit and also having a disaster route planned (how to get out of the city) and prepared will help you...oh yeah! if you're leaving don't forget to take your med bottles so you can refill them i could talk for hours about this but I guess not everyone has to worry about Hurricanes and flooding.
bcn bcn 10 years
where should we put all this ??? how can we reach if there is an earthquake???
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