SAN DIEGO — As Hurricane Hilary is anticipated to head towards Southern California, officials are urging residents to prepare for emergency situations. Part of that preparedness, officials say, includes having an disaster kit in your home.
Disaster kits, also known as emergency kits, are a collection of supplies for basic items your household might need in the case of an emergency — whether that’s a storm like Hilary, a wildfire or another extreme event that might leave you surviving on your own for several days.
Here’s how to put together a disaster supply kit:
According to U.S. Department of Homeland Security, every household’s disaster kit might look a little different based on their unique needs. However, there are several basic items that every household should look to put into their emergency supply kit.
To assemble a kit, officials suggests putting together a disaster supply kit using one or two easy-to-carry containers, such as plastic bins or a duffel bag. Each item inside the kit should be put in airtight plastic bags, officials say.
DHS recommends a basic supply kit should include the following items:
- Water and food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle (to signal for help)
- Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape for a shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a back-up battery
Additional supplies that DHS encourages households include based on individual needs inlcude:
- Soap, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes for surfaces
- Prescription medications
- Non-prescription medications individuals need, such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids, etc.
- Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution
- Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, etc.
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Cash or traveler’s checks
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance polices, identification and bank account records, etc.
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket
- Complete change of clothing and sturdy shoes
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
A full emergency supply checklist from the Federal Emergency Management Agency can be found here.
Additional suggestions from emergency officials:
Bottled or other non-faucet water supply
Emergency officials recommend households have at least one gallon of water per person to use for several days in case of a disaster situation, covering both drinking and sanitation.
According to DHS, a normally active person needs about three quarters of a gallon of fluid daily from both water and other beverages. In emergency situations, household’s regular source of water could be cut-off or compromised through contamination.
To ensure members of your household have enough water for an emergency situation, prepare a water supply either through purchasing bottled water to store in its sealed container or purchase water storage containers that you can fill in advance.
More about how to prepare a water supply during an emergency situation can be found on DHS’s Ready.gov website.
Food is another important necessity that DHS suggests households prepare for in case of an emergency with a disaster kit.
Following a disaster, there might be power outages that could last for several days. In the event that this happens, refrigerated foods or items that need cooking might not be usable for households. DHS suggests households stock canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require special preparation or storage.
Here are other things DHS encourages people consider when buying emergency food supplies:
- Store at least a several-day supply of non-perishable food.
- Choose foods members of your household will eat.
- Remember any special dietary needs.
Suggestions for items in a disaster kit include ready-to-eat canned food items, protein or fruit bars, dry cereal or granola, peanut butter, dried fruit, canned juices, non-perishable milk, high-energy foods, infant food and comfort snacks.
According to DHS, all foods should be kept in covered containers and any food that comes in contact with contaminated flood water should be thrown away. Emergency officials also suggest households to throw away any food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more, as well as any items that have an unusual texture or odor.
Storing and maintaining the kit
After assembling the kit, DHS encourages people keep it in a cool, dry place that can be easily accessible, in case members of your household might need to leave quickly.
Officials suggest maintaining separate kits in places that would be accessible in both of these situations.