No matter where you live, there is a chance of a catastrophe occurring that may require you to leave quickly with little or no notice. Be aware of what types of catastrophes your area is prone to and what steps you can take to prepare in advance of the event. Are you prepared to leave in a moment’s notice?
Preparing ahead of time is the first step to keeping yourself and your family safe in a time of crisis. Along with your established family emergency plan, you should create several emergency “Go Bags” that contain essential items you may need if forced to evacuate. Keep in mind it could be several days before some sort of normalcy returns to an area affected by a catastrophe.
Because an emergency can strike anytime, anywhere, consider creating both a full supply emergency bag for your home, as well as portable bags for your workplace, vehicle or other places time is spent. Prepare bags for everyone in your family, including pets, and consider applying name labels on them. All bags should be easy to carry or pull on wheels. Condense the items within the bag with the items most often used placed on top for convenience.
The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA have provided the following recommendations on what to consider including in your supply bags.
Portable Supply “Go Bag”
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Whistle to call for help
- List of important phone numbers
- Handheld battery-operated or hand-crank radio
- Immediate medical information
- First aid kit
- Phone charging cord or solar-powered charger
- Local maps
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Water & non-perishable snacks
- Dust mask and duct tape to seal it to your face
- Prescription medication (week supply)
- Non-prescription medication (travel size)
- Hand wipes and antibacterial hand gel
- Matches in waterproof container or lighter
- Paper and pencil
- Copy of identification
Full Supply “Go Bag”
Everything listed above plus the following:
- Longer supply of prescription and non-prescription medication
- Eyeglasses, contacts, storage container and contact solution
- Sleeping bag or blankets per person
- Sealed copy of important documents such as insurance policies, ID and bank accounts
- Manual can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
- Longer supply of food and water
- Full change of clothing appropriate to climate, and closed-toe, comfortable and sturdy shoes
- Paper cups, plates, paper towels and utensils
- Fire extinguisher
- Water purification tablets or similar products
- Portable activities for children
- Baby necessities if applicable
- Pet food and supplies
Now that your “Go Bags” have been packed, they should be easily accessible — not tucked away deep in a closet or basement. All family members should know the location of the bags. The bags should be inspected annually to replace expired items as well as to update the kits as the needs of your family change.
Knowledge is the best defense against catastrophes, so share your preparedness and emergency awareness with extended family members and friends. Check on elderly or immobile neighbors at all times but especially during an emergency and assist them in proactively creating a supply bag if possible. Learn the actions and steps your local community will take in the event of a given crisis. Additional emergency information can be obtained from your community website or www.ready.gov.
Kelly Lespier is a Premier Account Specialist with Chubb Personal Risk Services’ Risk Consulting Group.