As the latest ice storm rolls through Southwest Michigan, it’s good to take a bit of time (especially if you’re stuck at home because of school and/or work closures) to review how ready your family is for emergencies. Of course, the best time to prepare for an emergency is during the good times when no emergency is around the corner, but the thing about emergencies is that you can really never be sure when one really is on its way. From ice storms to floods and earthquakes, economic problems, to health problems, being prepared is always a good idea.
Emergency preparedness experts recommend that every family start with a 72-hour kit. Ideally, this is a kit that includes the basic essentials that would keep your family healthy and safe during an emergency. While emergency response teams are usually out whenever there’s a problem, if the problem is wide spread enough, and a lot of people are affected, they may not be able to get to you right away. Being prepared not only gives you and your family a sense of peace when disaster strikes, but it will take some of the pressure off of the hard-working emergency response folks at the same time, making the emergency easier on everybody.
While you’re better off “sheltering in place” (staying at home) during many emergencies, there are some emergencies where local authorities may urge a short-notice evacuation, so it’s good to prepare a kit that can be thrown into the trunk at a moment’s notice in case a situation like that arises.
Of course, the basic things that you need to have on hand for a 72-hour kit are food, water, a first-aid kid, a means for communication and shelter. The following basic checklist is provided by Ready.gov, which is a very good place to start for ideas on preparing for emergencies:
- One gallon of clean drinking water per person, per day, for three days.
- A three-day supply of non-perishable food.
- A Battery-powered or hand crank radio with NOAA Weather Radio and a tone alert. Don’t forget to have extra batteries on hand!
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- First-aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust masks to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, toilet tissue, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
These are just the basics that you should start with when you are creating a 72-hour kit, but since you’re a single-mom, you will also need to think about the safety and sanity of your kids during an emergency. It’s not a bad idea to put some of the following items in sealed-zip top bags or backpacks for times when you may need them at a moment’s notice:
- Extra changes of clothing
- Diapers & Baby items (if needed)
- Personal hygiene kits (soap, toothbrushes, tooth paste)
- Non-perishable snacks that know your kids like
- Crayons and coloring books
- Comfort items like small stuffed animals
Ready.gov also has a family preparedness site with ideas for preparing for emergencies with kids. The Pack It Up matching game is something you can play together online while the kids are on home from school because of school closures to get them aware of emergency preparedness as well. Be sure to discuss an emergency communication and gathering place plan with your kids in case everyone is in different locations when the emergency strikes. Have kids memorize contact information and know how to get to the emergency meeting point. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, long renowned for their emphasis on emergency preparation also has a useful web site with even further long-term emergency preparedness ideas.
So while the snow and ice accumulate outside, take some time to take inventory about how well prepared you and your kids are for an emergency, and then make a plan to get even more prepared. Happy sheltering in place all!