How to Prepare a Grab and Go Emergency Preparedness Kit
Having a specific pack stocked and ready to go in case of an emergency or sudden evacuation is valuable advice. Peace of mind comes from knowing you have a pack set up for each member of the household that you can ‘grab and go’ if the times comes to make a hasty departure. Here are some tips for things to remember when planning your own family’s emergency packs.
Who should have a pack?
Each member of your household should have his/her own pack with essentials, plus any specific items they need. Don’t forget your pets, too.
What kind of pack should you use?
A durable backpack is the best way to go. Backpacks are made to distribute the weight evenly over the back and shoulders and allows the hands to be free, making it a good choice for all ages. Also, considering you may have to walk a distance, it’s important to plan for this comfort. You’ll also find the various pockets are handy to separate and store specific items.
What should you pack?
- Water - FEMA recommends that each person have 1 gallon of drinking water per day. It’s important to be sure everyone stays properly hydrated. Dehydration can cause fatigue, confusion, low blood pressure, delirium, unconsciousness, and even death. One gallon of water is 128 ounces, which is about 6 to 8 store-bought bottles depending on the size of the bottles. If you are unable to carry that much water, plan ahead how you will obtain drinking water from clean sources.
- Food - Pack nonperishable airtight packaged food. This can be in the form of granola, trail mix, snack and protein bars, beef jerky, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, peanut butter, or individually canned meat (such as tuna, sardines, salmon, and chicken.) Pack a manual can opener. Plan to pack enough food to last for several days.
- Clothes - The most important thing to pack in the event of a disaster is plenty of clean socks, underwear, several thin layers of shirts, a windproof and/or waterproof jacket, and a hat. In a disaster situation you may have to walk for long distances, so, if your budget allows, pack an extra pair of good walking shoes.
- Shelter - This item can include many things, but, at the very least, pack some sort of tarp and rope so you can string up a makeshift shelter if needed. If you have a small pop up tent, that is even better. Include one small roll of plastic sheeting in each person’s pack to form a waterproof layer on the ground for sitting and sleeping just in case you do need to sleep outdoors.
What else should you pack?
Besides water, food, and shelter, there are essentials that everyone should have access to when an emergency situation occurs. This is a short list of items that shouldn’t be forgotten:
- Waterproof matches
- Flashlight, extra batteries, or a hand crank flashlight
- Prescription medications and over the counter medications
- Rain poncho for each person
- First aid kit
- Copies of identification, or any other important papers you may need, in a ziploc plastic bag or waterproof container. Also, write out and laminate one card for each person with important information, including address, phone, work address, school address, health information, parents’ names, kids’ names, other family names and addresses, etc.
Space with be at a premium, so carefully pack all of your items into each backpack. Clearly mark the packs with each household member’s name and the date it was packed. As time passes, the family’s needs will change, so it’s a good idea to mark your calendar to evaluate your packs routinely. Some items, such as food and medication, will need to be checked and rotated periodically. Even identification information may change, such as schools, phone numbers, etc.
Designate a family meet-up place in case of evacuation and store the packs in that location, if possible. In the event of an emergency evacuation, each person can easily see which pack is theirs and will be able to grab it and go. Remember to practice your evacuation procedures each time you update the packs. This will keep this safety procedure fresh in everyone’s minds. You may never need to put these packs to the test, but isn’t it better to know that they are ready if you do?
Do you have an emergency pack prepared? If you have any suggestions for others, leave a comment below!
*First published at North Texas Kids Magazine