As hurricane season moves into full swing for the Gulf Coast region of the US, we at Golden Triangle Emergency Center want to make sure that our community and neighbors are well prepared for any natural disaster. We have put together an emergency supplies list covering core areas as well as additional tips and information in the event of a natural disaster.
Start with a Plan
The first place to start when preparing emergency supplies is with a plan. Fundamentally you need to ask yourself where you’re going, who’s going with you, and how long you expect to be gone. All family members should be aware of the plan and know where to go for safety and how to get in touch with each other. Remember you may not all be together when the disaster hits or you may not have time to get everything together before you have to evacuate or take shelter.
Prepare ahead of time and gather your supplies now, before there is a serious threat of a natural disaster. We’re fortunate to live in a time during which there often is advanced notice of a major natural disaster; however, remember that threat of an imminent disaster is likely to create panic and may result in emergency supplies being out of stock at the stores, stores closing early or having limited hours, and heightened traffic making it more difficult to take care of last minute preparations. Make sure to re-evaluate your emergency supply kit on a regular basis to ensure that nothing has spoiled, expired, or broken and that the kit still reflects your current needs.
Assess the Situation and Your Needs
Each natural disaster is different and depending on whether or not you are evacuating or preparing your home to ride out the natural disaster some things may be more important than others. For example in the event of a hurricane you may need to add flood-related gear to your supplies whereas if there is a wildfire in your area it might be important to have breathing protection. Every family and individual is different and what is truly essential for some – such as prescription medications, pet supplies, baby formula, etc. – is not a necessity for others.
The urgency of the situation and the time you have to prepare will even likely dictate what is considered an ‘emergency supply’ item. For example toys, games, and books are unnecessary to keep your family alive and safe; however, if you have ample time to prepare and aren’t constrained by packing space or weight considerations, you’ll probably want to include various items for entertainment or added comfort.
Basic Emergency Supplies
Thus, while everyone’s needs are a little bit different and vary based on the family, situation, and disaster, the following is an overview of key basic emergency supplies:
Water – Natural disasters may knock out the water supply, and leave you stranded somewhere without water, or make typical water sources temporarily unsafe. The CDC recommends stocking at least one gallon of water per person per day for emergency situations.
Food – Emergency food supplies should be non-perishable, require minimal preparation, be easy to open, and meet at least minimal nutritional requirements. Keep at least enough on hand lasting for three days and remembering to consider the particular dietary requirements of the people that will be present. For example diabetes, Celiac disease, food allergies, or high blood pressure may all alter the types of food you need to stock.
Clothing – Make sure to have extra clothing on hand that is sturdy and able to protect you from the elements in your area. This will typically include a long sleeve shirt and long pants, a jacket or coat, gloves and hats, and sturdy shoes. Golden Triangle Area residents may want to include some cooler, lightweight items as well, but remember even warm climates can get cold during the night.
Bedding and Shelter – Make sure to have an emergency blanket and pillow in your kit and consider whether or not sleeping bags or tents might be beneficial.
First Aid Kit and Medications – In addition to the first aid kit, make sure you have ample doses of prescription medication for anyone taking it as well as key over-the-counter medication such as pain relievers or allergy medicine. Also be sure to include antibiotic ointment, rubbing alcohol or peroxide, and any other medical devices or medical supplies specific to you and your family.
Flashlight and Extra Batteries – Remember, even if you’re used to using your cell phone for light your charge may die and you’ll be unable to recharge it, or you may need to keep it off to conserve its charge to make emergency calls. A flashlight with extra batteries is a must have part of emergency kits.
- Extra set of keys
- A radio for emergency updates
- Manual can opener
- Basic tools: wrench, pliers, hammer, screwdriver
- Toothbrush and toothpaste, hand soap, and other personal care items
- Backup glasses and/or extra contacts, plus related supplies
- Paper towels, toilet paper, facial tissues
- Paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils
- Moist towelettes
- Hand sanitizer
- Umbrella, raincoat and/or other rain gear
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches or lighters in waterproof container
- Important documents in waterproof container
- A compass and map of the area
- Paper and pencils or pens
- If there will be power, phone charger and other chargers
Stay Safe and Stay Healthy
Remember to make the health and safety of you and your family your top priority. Never ignore emergency warnings or mandatory evacuations. Don’t take chances staying in a home or shelter that may be unsafe. Always take extra care and preparations if you or a family member has a chronic illness or condition, is very young, is pregnant, elderly, or in poor health. Golden Triangle Emergency Center wants all Golden Triangle residents to stay safe and healthy this hurricane season and throughout all times of disaster.