11 Things You Should Have Ready In Case Of An Emergency
Emergency situations happen all over the world, at all times of day and night, and to all sorts of people. If there is one thing that we have learned over the last year here in New York State is that you need to stay ready so you don't need to get ready.
That is something that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the New York State Office of Emergency Management, the American Red Cross, along with other organizations have been talking about for years.
Using the advice that is given by these and other organizations, there are approximately 11 things that we can think of that you should probably have on hand for the next time we have a once-in-a-lifetime winter storm, earthquake, severe ice storm, or other emergency situation.
Since a crisis can hit anything, not just during the winter, there are several things you should do and have on hand to be able to survive for a few days until emergency services can get to you.
Have An Emergency Plan
Before anything else, you need to have an action plan for what to do when a disaster or crisis hits. Your plan should start with the kind of emergency that's likely to happen, and then details who is responsible to do what and where you should meet if people are separated. You should also have a list of important numbers in case you have to call someone, and what to do if you need to leave home.
First Aid Kit
If a crisis hits, you may not be able to rely on EMS to get to you in time, so having a good quality first aid kit. You can check here on the Red Cross website for a good list of things that go into a quality first aid kit.
Communications Plan and Tools
One of the key parts of your emergency plan is having ways to communicate with people, and not just emergency services. So backup batteries for cell phones, walkie-talkies for short-range communication, and an emergency whistle, if there is an immediate emergency, having your communication tools at the ready, is key.
In a crisis, the water system may be disrupted. We see this happen from time to time with water main breaks which cause us to lose water pressure or to have to boil water to ensure it's clean. When that happens, it's important that we keep access to clean water. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security suggests that you store 1 gallon of water per person, to last at least 3 days. So for my family of 3, that's at least 9 gallons of water we should have on hand.
Just like with water, you should also store several days of non-perishable food in case of a crisis. During the Buffalo Blizzard of 22, stores were closed for nearly a week and luckily I had enough food and water to hold us over. One of the best practices is to store food that you will actually eat, so think of things like canned meats, fruits, vegetables, protein or fruit bars, dry cereal, granola. peanut butter, and other items.
My sons and I all carry around a good quality multitool with us and the Buffalo Blizzard reminded me why this is so important. During the height of the ice storm, our sump pump outflow pile broke off and then froze. It was too slippery and dangerous outside for me to get to the garage to get tools, but with our multitool, we were able to break the ice, cut part of the pipe, and reattach it to the house - which potentially kept our basement from flooding. A good multitool will have several tools in a compact form that you can carry with you at all times and will allow you to make quick repairs.
A real key item you may want to have on hand for an emergency is an Emergency Radio, especially one with has a hand crank for when the power goes out. That way you can always stay updated with the weather radio, or other information that is important to be aware of. You can grab one at a local hardware store or online for just a few bucks.
Flashlights and Batteries
Keeping a set of flashlights with extra batteries on hand is key. If you have an extended power outage having these items handy will go a long way to make sure you can find your way around the house, and the neighborhood.
Since we're talking about being prepared if you lose power, if it's cold outside, you want to make sure you have plenty of blankets, gloves, and extra warm clothes that will help you stay cozy until you can turn the heat back on.
Items For Some Temporary Shelter
Sometimes during a crisis, you find yourself needing to shelter in place, find somewhere to shelter yourself, or needing to make some emergency repairs to your place of shelter. Keeping some plastic sheeting, duct tape, sleeping bags, tents, and other emergency items like this can go a long way to help. During the last winter storm, a broken tree broke a window in my neighbor's house and my sons and I were able to help they stay warm by being able to cover their window with some heavy-duty plastic and duct tape.
During the Buffalo Blizzard, the city was essentially shut down, which included pharmacies. Making sure you keep an extra supply of those important prescriptions will go along way to help you survive during a crisis.
Remember that until help arrives, you are the help, so make sure you're ready. FEMA produces a pretty good emergency supply list, that includes a lot of these items, plus more. You can check that out here.