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Whether a tornado in the Midwest or an earthquake on the West Coast, disasters leave you with little warning or time to get ready. The Salvation Army wants to make sure you and your family are not left unprepared in the face of storms this severe weather season.
Making sure you’re prepared is as easy as putting together an emergency disaster kit, something Emergency Disaster Services Director John Callahan says not nearly enough people take the time to do.
“You need to be prepared for these things,” Callahan said, referring not only to a lengthy list of disasters that can strike anywhere, but also the wait for help that will surely follow.
“People think, ‘Oh, a fire truck or an ambulance or police officer is going to come right to my house.’ There just aren’t enough resources to do that.”
Rather, Callahan says, it’s the first three days after a disaster hits that prove to be the most critical for a person or family waiting on emergency crews to respond.
“They’re trying to control chaos, help people who are injured. Those are going to take priority. You have to be prepared to take care of yourself for at least that 72 hours.”
So what goes into a well-stocked emergency kit? You’ve probably thought of many of the items already: water, non-perishable food, a flashlight and batteries. But what about a whistle to signal for help? Water and food for your pet? And, if you packed canned food in your kit, how will you get it open when you need to it?
Callahan says he does see more people starting to think about and prepare themselves for the possibility of disaster striking. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey caused an estimated $125 billion dollars in damage, most of that thanks to torrential rain and flooding in the Houston, Texas metro area, proving disasters can strike any community, urban or rural.
The Salvation Army knows those first three days after a disaster occurs are critical so it always recommends using the guidelines provided by FEMA. The agency provides a comprehensive list of everything your kit should contain, as well as a list of additional items you may need personally or want to include, such as prescription medicine and cash.
Just click this link to download or print a copy of FEMA’s official emergency supply list and use it to get your emergency kit ready, so you and your family aren’t caught unprepared.
Once you put your disaster kit in a spot where you can reach it should the time come, don’t forget about it. While the FDA considers bottle water to have an indefinite shelf life, so long as you store it out of direct sun light, plastic is gas permeable and it is possible for the water to develop strange aromas and flavors.
Your kit should also include a change or two of clothes for each family member, and Callahan points out that you should change that with the seasons. You don’t want to need your kit in January and find it full of t-shirts and shorts.