Science - Nature
By: - at May 6, 2013

Preparing for a Disaster Checklist

Hurricane Sandy Destruction

Natural disasters seem to be occurring more frequently than in past years.  Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and snowstorms can all have a devastating effect on the areas they impact causing extended power loss, the inability to access clean water, and shortages of food.  Although the government tries to respond quickly to these events, they cannot respond immediately or with sufficient supplies as evidenced by recent events in New York and New Orleans.  Therefore, you must be prepared to survive these events should they strike your hometown.

Now, I know what youíre thinking -ďThis sounds a little crazy.  Iíve seen those preparation shows and those people are nuts!Ē Granted, most of those people are preparing in massive ways for large scale events, but they are far from crazy.  In fact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has run several preparedness commercials on TV, strongly recommends preparing at least a 3 day survival kit and has setup a website called to educate the public on the importance of disaster preparedness.  You donít have to stockpile years of food and water like the disaster preparers on TV, but there are several key things you should have ready.

What You Need in Your Disaster Survival Kit

  1. Hurricane SuppliesWater - You need 1 gallon per person for a minimum of 3 days. This water is used for drinking and hygiene purposes.
  2. Non-perishable food - Canned goods and military MREs (meals ready to eat) are excellent for this purpose.  You need enough food for everyone in your family for 3 days.  Pay attention to the calorie content and make sure your meals provide at least 1200 calories per person, per day.
  3. Can opener - (the manual kind).  If thereís no power you need to be able to access your canned food easily.
  4. Radio - battery or crank powered.  When the power is out, a radio may be your only source of emergency information.  Make sure you have extra batteries.
  5. Flashlights and extra batteries
  6. Dust masks - to keep contaminate and debris filled air from being inhaled.
  7. Whistle - this can be used to signal for help and is much easier on the body than screaming.
  8. Wet wipes, toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags - These are used for hygiene and sanitation purposes.  If your toilet isnít functioning you need a way to dispose of your waste safely.
  9. Temporary shelter - this can be plastic sheeting and duct tape or a collapsible tent.  If your home is destroyed or unsafe to remain in, you will need an alternative means of shelter.
  10. Maps - local maps of your area.
  11. Compass
  12. First-aid kit
  13. Identification - driverís licenses, birth certificates, passports, etc.
  14. Cash - at least $100.00.  You may not be able to access your bank account
  15. Alternate cooking source (camping stove, grill, etc.)
  16. Alternate heat source - a generator is a good investment and can heat your home and power essentials if disaster strikes during the cold winter months.

The above is a check list of basic supplies needed in the event of an emergency.  However, it may be difficult if not impossible, for one person to carry all of these items and personal items are not included in the main kit.  I have found the easiest way to distribute the supplies is to make what is known as a Bug Out Bag, or BOB, for each family member.  We use backpacks for our Bug Out Bags.

What is a Bug Out Bag?
Also know as a "Get Out of Dodge Bag", a Bug Out Bag is to be designed for just that; to get out of town or out of a desperate situation as quickly as possible with the important items you will need to survive for at least three days, if not longer.  Under distress it would be hard to remember everything to put in the bag, so you should prepare these bags and have them ready in case of emergency.  Even with a clear mind, coming up with a complete list of "essentials" is hard to do without giving it alot of thought.  Below I've listed the items you should start your bag with.

What Goes in Your Bug Out Bag

Remember:  these must be made for each family member.

  1. 2 complete changes of clothing.  Make sure these are appropriate to the time of year.  We change our clothing out in the winter and summer.  Pack jackets and gloves as needed.
  2. Extra pair of shoes
  3. Flashlight
  4. Whistle
  5. Personal hygiene items - toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, small towel, hand sanitizer, deodorant etc.
  6. Matches - as age appropriate.
  7. Pocket knife - as age appropriate.
  8. Canteen or water bottle.
  9. Food - a 3 day supply.  To eliminate weight, use freeze dried packages of food or MREs removed from their packaging.
  10. Snacks - protein bars etc.
  11. Small Blanket
  12. Personal medications
  13. Water - at least 3 liters
  14. Water purification tablets - these are necessary if you must leave your home and cannot take your water supply with you.
  15. Tornado DisasterDust masks
  16. Mess kit - for eating and preparing food
  17. Sanitation items
  18. Money
  19. Shelter
  20. First-aid kit
  21. Radio
  22. Candles

NOTE:  Shelter, money, first-aid kit, radio and age inappropriate items should go in or on an adultís bag.

This list could go on and on but these are the essentials you will need should you have to leave your home.  Based on your familyís requirements, you can add to this list as needed.  In order to save room in your Bug Out Bag, buy trial sizes of hygiene items, use a larger pack with exterior pockets, and roll your clothes instead of folding them.  Your Bug Out Bags should always remain packed and ready for use in an easily accessible area of your home.

A natural disaster may never strike your home.  However, if one does, and you are caught unprepared your family may suffer until help arrives.  Planning and preparing for a natural disaster will provide your family with the essentials needed for survival and give your family a sense of security in a time of uncertainty.





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