At STEP, we often focus on what businesses should do in case of an emergency. Whether that involves developing a client’s onsite procedures or providing training sessions based on their existing ones. However, it is important to be prepared at home too. Many of us now live in areas where storms are prevalent due to shifting weather patterns. This could mean that power is knocked out for days at a time, or you could even be prevented from leaving your home. That’s why it’s always important to keep a home emergency kit, well-stocked with the things you’ll need if something ever goes wrong.
The American Red Cross has a list of basic supplies you should have in a good home emergency kit; let’s take a look at them individually:
Safe-to-drink water; you should have enough for each person in your household to drink about a gallon per day.
Non-perishable and easy-to-prepare food; consider items such as canned goods.
A flashlight, in case of losing power for an extended period of time; if possible, find a rechargeable one that does not require batteries (can be purchased online on websites such as Walmart.com)
Either a battery powered or hand-cranked radio, for weather updates or other important information
Extra batteries, for your flashlight and/or radio
A first aid kit; this should contain items such as adhesive bandages, gauze dressings, wipes, thermometers, and aspirin.
Personal hygiene and sanitation products, like hand sanitizers
At least one cell phone with chargers; a good idea may be to find a charger you can use without having power, such as a rechargeable power block (solar-powered chargers can also be purchased online at Walmart.com)
Emergency contact information (numbers such as 911) and family contact information
Extra physical cash, in case credit or debit cards cannot be used in your area due to power or internet outages
An emergency blanket
A map of your local area, in case you need to move to another area outside of your home (again, in case the internet or cell signal is out in your area and you cannot access this on your phone)
You should also make sure that you have access to important personal documents, like birth certificates and insurance policies. If any member of your household is on any prescription medication, make sure you have enough of it in your home emergency kit to last them at least 7 days, just in case. The Red Cross also has recommendations for extra items you can keep in your kit, such as masks, matches, towels, extra clothing, and entertainment (aside from your phone, so you can make sure your battery stays charged).
While we are mostly discussing emergency kits, it is also good to stay informed. Your local news station will alert you to inclement weather; however, there are some areas that have emergency alert systems in place that you may be able to subscribe to. Our local area offers Hyper-Reach which allows you to get immediate emergency alerts directly to an app on your phone or tablet. You can do a Google search for ‘Hyper Reach Anywhere’ followed by your county and state, and if it is available in your county, you may see a link pop up to register. For our local readers, the link to sign up for Calloway County (where we are located) is here.
Emergencies can be nerve-wracking and scary, but if you keep a general home emergency kit, and stay informed, you can hopefully stay safe, and give you and your family some peace of mind.