Emergencies can arise rapidly and seemingly out of nowhere, so being prepared is a great way to mitigate the problems that may arise during one. While it may seem like a no-brainer that you'll need food and water, there are some other items that may be less obvious but also very important. For instance, whistles can make all the difference when trying to attract help. Also, what's the good of canned food if you don't have a can opener? Small details like hand warmers and matches can become significant in a state of emergency. Read on to see what other items can increase your preparedness.
Water Is Vital To Life
It seems obvious that you need water to live, but in the event of an emergency, your Brita won't cut it. You'll want to have one gallon of water per person in your household for each day that the emergency lasts.
When counting the people in your household, don't forget to count pets! The last thing anyone wants is to have a pet who got sick from drinking non-treated water. You won't want to carry a million little bottles either, so the bigger the container the better.
Non-Perishable Food Will Keep You Going
Canned food is a must during an emergency since it lasts for extended periods of time and doesn't require refrigeration. Remember that whatever food you keep around won't only need to last, but will also need to be able to survive in varying temperatures.
This also includes pet food, which is generally non-perishable anyways. If you're someone who only makes their pet food, be sure that you have some canned or dry pet food when worst-case-scenario planning.
Batteries May Be Your Only Source Of Power
During an emergency, you may experience a power outage for an unknown amount of time. There are multiple things on this list that will require power, all of which should be battery-operated so that you can use them regardless of the electricity situation.
That being said, an extra pack of AA batteries may not be enough. You'll want to take inventory of the battery size requirements of everything in your emergency kit and make sure that you have enough to last even longer than your other items, like food, so that you can communicate if you're in need of help.
A Cordless Radio Can Be Vital For Communication
As cheesy as it may sound, what do people in the movies often do when all else fails? They try to radio for help. While we have a few other items on this list to help ensure your access to a phone, when lines are down radios are the ultimate backup plan.
Many cordless radios are battery-powered, but some have additional powering options like solar panels and hand cranks. When you're without things like a television or internet access, a radio will also keep you apprised of vital news updates.
If Problems Arise, A First Aid Kit Is Your Best Friend
During an emergency, tiny problems can become exacerbated without the proper tools to squash them immediately. No one wants to deal with an infected cut when basic needs are hard enough to cover.
A first aid kit should be equipped with things like gauze, ointments, bandages, and more to ensure that everyday nuisances don't become all-out travesties in the case of an emergency. It also should have some handy tools like tweezers, sticky tape, and sterile gloves that may come in handy in more ways than one.
Medications Can Make A Huge Difference
Modern medicine has made a huge impact on human longevity and quality of life, and you don't want that to change the moment a crisis hits. Having over-the-counter medicine on hand like pain relievers or antidiarrheals can help you push through a difficult situation.
Additionally, prescription medications like insulin or an inhaler should be a top priority when experiencing an emergency. Having these sorts of medications on hand can help to mitigate the problems that may arise.
A Flashlight Can Help Minimize Danger
While candles can be helpful during a momentary blackout, they aren't as realistic when it comes to an emergency. They are added weight, don't last as long, emit little light, and are rendered useless with a simple gust of wind.
In an emergency, a flashlight may end up being one of your only light sources. This is vital since you are far more vulnerable in the dark. Even menial tasks like opening up a can of food can become dangerous if you can't see what you're doing.
Cash May Be The Only Allotted Tender
During an emergency, stores may become unable to accept credit cards due to the system being down, a power outage, issues with the bank, and a variety of other reasons. This is why having cash on hand is crucial.
It's best to consistently keep some cash around in case something goes awry. Whether it's an extra $20 bill in your wallet or a wad of cash kept in a safe, having a form of payment during an emergency can provide you with things you may have forgotten or run out of.
Whistles And Flares Can Signal For Help
In case of an emergency, you'll want to have a way to alert others that you need assistance. Flares are great for getting attention to faraway places, but you only have one opportunity per flare.
Whistles are great because they are ever-lasting so long as you or someone else can must up the breath, but they can't reach the distance that a flare can as they require someone to be within earshot. That's why having both forms of signals can be an ideal combination.
Plastic Sheeting Can Help Block Air Contamination
If you find yourself in the kind of emergency where you need to shelter-in-place, plastic sheeting and duct tape may help. The material can be used to seal airways like windows, air vents, and door jambs when the air is contaminated outside.
The material can even be used to block electrical outlets from allowing in potentially harmful contaminants. According to Emergency Ready, it can also offer protection against hazardous materials, bad weather, fire, and biological, chemical, and radiological attacks.
Portable Cell Phone Chargers Are A Huge Help
While you can't guarantee that you'll have service during an emergency, it would be wise to keep your cell phone as an option for as long as possible. Especially if you have a smartphone, you never know when you'll find a connection.
To ensure that you can use your mobile for as long as possible, be sure to have portable cell phone chargers that are already powered up. Battery-powered or solar chargers offer an additional line of defense in an emergency.
Moist Towelettes Can Keep You Clean
For anyone who has ever been camping, you know how much moist towelettes matter after even just a couple of days without a shower. During an emergency, it's important to have several on hand since you may not have access to a bathroom.
These towelettes will also help you cut down on how many items you bring with you as they can act as a basic supplement for your hygiene needs. They are especially handy since they don't require water, and the last thing you want to do is waste your supply on bathing.
Keep Warm With Blankets
During an emergency, it's important to consolidate by grabbing only the most necessary items. Blankets are absolutely on that list, more so than sheets or a pillow, since blankets provide not only comfort but also safety.
Particularly in colder climates, you'll need the warmth of a good blanket or sleeping bag just to survive a night away from home. Use your best judgment, starting with one blanket per person in warmer climates.
Important Documents Can Help Get You From A To B
Many of us have experienced the frustration of not having a needed document at the doctor's office or the DMV. During an emergency especially, you'll want to have all the important documents you may need to minimize any confusion or complications.
Keep copies of insurance policies, identification, bank records, etc. in a waterproof bag as an added backup to what you have in your wallet. This precaution will help to ensure that you can prove who you are at any given time.
Matches Can Provide A Heat Source
Getting a fire started is challenging enough without lighter fluid and ideal conditions, let alone when you don't have a fire source to get things going. During an emergency, fire is one of the most important commodities as it can provide warmth and a way to cook.
That's why matches can be such a useful resource. Ensure that you not only have them on hand in case of an emergency but also that you keep them in a waterproof container so you can use them when you need them.
A Fire Extinguisher Can Keep Things Under Control
It's always good to have a fire extinguisher on hand just in case, but especially during an emergency. Whether its a fire that caused the emergency or not, a fire extinguisher could help mitigate future problems that may arise during trying times.
If you have a large portion of the public-facing a dilemma together, it will likely be more difficult to receive help from the authorities if they are busy with several other problems. The more self-sufficient you can be during an emergency, the better.
One Change Of Clothing Is All You Need
If you have to leave your home due to an emergency, you may be tempted to either race out the door or grab your entire closet. A happy medium is to throw one change of clothing into a bag to take with you.
The reason one change of clothing is the ideal number is that it enables you to wash one outfit while you're wearing the other. Any more clothes will just take up that much more space in your bag.
If Your Town Floods, Get A Life Raft
When you think of life rafts, you probably imagine boats and cruise ships. Particularly in an emergency, sinking ships aren't the only places you may need a life raft.
If you've seen the news lately, then you know that it's possible for homes to become overrun by water, to the point that the streets turn into rivers. If you live in an area that is at risk for extreme flooding, a life raft could save you and your belongings from becoming completely submerged.
Hand Warmers Are A Must In Freezing Weather
If you live in an area that reaches freezing temperatures, hand warmers can make a tremendous difference in the cold. These are little packets that contain substances, such as iron and activated carbon, that have a chemical reaction that produces heat.
To activate the hand warmers, all you need to do is remove them from their packaging and give them a good shake. Slip them into a glove or mitten and they will keep your hands warm for much longer than your body could do on its own.
Order Ready Emergency Preparedness Publications
Ready.gov has a variety of free publications that you can order online. These forms are broken down into the categories "General Preparedness," "Community Emergency Response Team Materials," "Financial Preparedness," and "Youth Preparedness."
The pamphlets are full of checklists and advice that may be helpful to review prior to an emergency or to at least have on hand in the event of one. Uncertainty can make difficult times feel worse, so being as prepared as possible is your best defense.