Disaster Emergency Supplies
Experts from various government agencies, from the Department of Homeland Security to the Centers for Disease Control, advocate citizens putting together disaster emergency supplies to provide for their own needs during a crisis. The general school of thought is that in a major emergency, it can take up to three full days before the government is able to render aid to civilians impacted by the emergency. As seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina though, it can take far longer than just 72 hours.
What types of things should be set aside for your disaster emergency supplies?
The first would be potable water. This is often one of the hardest things to obtain after a crisis has occurred. Ruptured water and sewage lines can eliminate the ability to get clean water from your taps. Figure on one to two gallons of water per person per day of the crisis. So, for an average family of four, this equates to twelve to twenty-four gallons of water that should be stored at a minimum. You can buy several cases of bottled water and store that but you don't really need to spend that sort of money. You can do the job yourself by filling clean soda and juice bottles and storing them in a cool, dark place. You should also invest in the means to purify additional water, in case your supply begins to run low. Water purification tablets, filtration systems, and common household bleach will all do the job.
Next up is food. Store food items that require no preparation before consuming. There is no way to tell ahead of time whether you'll have the use of a stovetop, oven, or microwave so it is better to assume those will all be inoperable. Some suggestions would be things like crackers, peanut butter, dried fruit, granola bars, nuts, and protein bars. Remember, the idea is to fill bellies, not provide for gourmet meals. Of course, most disasters won't prevent you from using campfires or gas/charcoal grills to cook food so plan ahead and make sure you have the appropriate fuel supplies.
During extended emergencies, odds are pretty good you won't have electrical power. After sundown, lighting can become an issue. Be sure to have plenty of flashlights and lanterns, as well as batteries for those items. Head lamps are great to have while doing chores as you'll be able to have both hands free while still being able to see.
Put together a comprehensive first aid kit and keep it with your disaster emergency supplies. It should include adhesive bandages, alcohol swabs, antibiotic ointment, rolled gauze, elastic bandages, and over the counter medications for things like stomach upset and fever. If anyone in your family regularly takes prescription medication, be sure to have a supply of those meds included as well.
Don't forget toilet paper and feminine hygiene products. Both of those will go a long way toward keeping your family happy and healthy during an extended emergency.
Consider investing in self-defense items as well. People get desperate during disasters and their priorities tend to shift a bit. The "have nots" may decide to take by force what they feel they need.
Disaster emergency supplies are a common sense way to ensure your family's safety and well being in these uncertain times.