Basic Disaster Preparedness: Keeping You and Your Family Safe

Disaster Preparedness

Nobody wants to think about the next big storm, flood, or the many emergency situations that could happen, leaving you and your family without power or trapped within your home for a considerable period of time. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared for anything and everything– even the zombie apocalypse! Yes, we know the chances of the walking dead happening is pretty much zero, but when it comes to any disaster it never hurts to be over-prepared.

Here are some tips to get started on prep kits:

Power Outages

One of the most common issues during a bad storms or heat waves is a power outage. Consider investing in a portable generator. Portable generators can power most, if not all, of your home’s power needs and for people with health issues that rely on electric powered machinery, it could be a life saver. However, we should mention that during a zombie apocalypse it could be risky to run the generator, as the noise may attract the walking dead. Learn more safety tips for using a portable generator here.

If you don’t have a generator, or your residence doesn’t permit the use of one, there are other supplies that will aid you when the lights go out. Below is a list of the basic supplies you should have in your home in case of a power outage:


We know that losing power can be frustrating, but the more prepared you are the less stressful the situation can be. Learn more about how to prepare for a power outage here.

First Aid/Medication

Regardless of a disaster, it’s important to always have a well-stocked first aid kit. You may not always be able to get medical attention quickly and will need to address accidents/injuries on your own until you can access help. Minor injuries could become worse if not properly taken care of immediately. Below is a list of basic supplies that you should have in your first aid kit.


Dressings and Bandages:

  • 25 adhesive bandages of various sizes
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 3 inches)
  • Gauze roll
  • Eye shield or pad
  • Roll of adhesive tape
  • Elastic bandage for wrapping wrist, elbow, ankle and knee injuries (3 to 4 inches wide)
  • 2 triangular bandages for wrapping injuries and making arm slings
  • Sterile cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs


  • 2 pairs of latex or non-latex gloves
  • Instant cold pack
  • 5 safety pins to easily fasten splints and bandages
  • Turkey baster or other suction device to flush out wounds
  • Aluminum finger splint
  • Syringe and medicine spoon for giving specific doses of medicine
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers to remove ticks, insect stingers and small splinters
  • Scissors for cutting gauze
  • Breathing barrier for giving CPR
  • Blanket
  • Hand sanitizer (liquid and/or wipes)
  • First aid manual
  • List of emergency numbers

Medicine for Treating Injuries:

  • Antiseptic solution or wipes, such as hydrogen peroxide, povidone-iodine or chlorhexidine
  • Antibiotic ointment that contain ingredients such as bacitracin or mupirocin
  • Sterile eyewash or saline, such as contact lens saline solution
  • Calamine lotion for stings or poison ivy
  • Hydrocortisone cream, ointment or lotion for itching

Other Medicines:

  • Pain and fever medicines, such as aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Antihistamine to treat allergies and/or swelling
  • Decongestants to treat nasal congestion
  • Anti-nausea medicine to treat motion sickness and other types of nausea
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine
  • Antacid to treat upset stomach
  • Laxative to treat constipation

Keep in mind the special needs in your household, such as children or an elderly person. Does anyone in your household have specific allergies or an illness? Add supplies specific to these conditions. Be sure to check your supply kit monthly, refill as needed and check expiration dates on medication.

72 Hour Packs or Kits

A 72 hour pack/kit is a grab-and-go emergency pack if you and your family need to evacuate your home quickly. It is important to make sure that what you pack you can actually carry, especially if you need to be agile in a flood or run from zombies. Below is a list of what you will need to build your own 72 hour pack.


  • Quality Back Pack – You need 1 for yourself and 1 for each member of your household. Don’t forget your pets! This is where you will store 72 hours worth of supplies for each individual.
  • Water – FEMA recommends 3 gallons to last 72 hours, but that recommendation includes cleaning water as well as drinking and weighs 25 pounds, that’s a lot to carry. Consider purchasing a 2 gallon water carry bag, making it less weight and easier to store. You may also want to consider something with electrolytes and carbohydrates like Gatorade or Powerade to pack in your kits as well.
  • Food – You will want to pack items with lengthy expiration dates such as peanut butter, whole wheat crackers, nuts and trail mix, cereal, granola bars and power bars, dried fruit, canned tuna, salmon, chicken or turkey, canned vegetables, and canned soups. Make adjustments to the food you pack in these kits for each individual. Maybe you have an infant that requires formula, or a child that has specific allergies to certain foods, or you are packing food for your pet. Remember to check expiration dates every 6 months on food you packed and replace as needed. You may also want to consider packing some multivitamins, as these supplements will help replace the nutrients you would have consumed on a normal diet.
  • First Aid – All your kits should have small individual first aid packs that include the basic first aid supplies and a first aid manual. Check out small camping first aid kits for purchase or an idea of what you should put in your small first aid kits if you would like to assemble them yourself.  Remember to think of the individuals in your household. Does anyone require specific medications? Be sure to add that to their kit.
  • Equipment – We’re going to stick to the basics here, but know that you can always add to your preparation later on.  See more on 72 hour packs/kits here.

o   Flashlights– small water resistant flashlight in everyone’s pack

o   AM/FM Radio – Either battery operated or hand cranked. You do not need to store a radio in everyone’s pack, if you plan to be together. For example it’s you and your spouse and two children. Put a radio in your bag and your spouses.

o   Pocket Knife – always good to have and once again does not need to be stored in everyone’s packs

o   Can opener – If you packed can food you will need this.

o   Pen and Paper

o   Shelter – You want to invest in an instant pop up shelter or tube tent, if not, at the very least consider space blankets.

  • Personal Supplies

o   Extra pair of clothing – seasonal/rain gear/sturdy shoes. Consider special items for babies and elderly.

o   Toiletries – toilet paper (remove the center tube to easily flatten into a zip-lock bag), feminine hygiene, folding brush, soap, mini hand sanitizer, tooth brush etc. Think travel size.

  • Miscellaneous

o   Extra cash

o   Emergency numbers

o   Map of local area

o   Garbage bag

o   Important documents: insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.

We hope this guide will help you get started with preparing you and your family for a possible disaster. In emergency situations local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in a few hours, or it might take days… and that is why it is so important to be prepared.

For more information about being prepared and keeping your family safe during an emergency check out the American Red Cross ‘Plan & Prepare’ page and you can also follow our board ‘Emergency Preparedness and Prevention’ on Pinterest for tips and tricks.


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How to Prepare for Power Outages


prepareWeather can be unpredictable, and we need to keep ourselves and loved ones as safe as possible during a bad storm. There are basic things you can do to prepare your home for loss of power in either the summer or the winter months.

Don’t get caught in the dark

o   Keep a few emergency automatic power failure night lights plugged in. Plug in emergency night lights in dark hallways, bedrooms, common areas, basements, and garages.  Emergency lights can last from 6-20 hours depending upon what you purchase. These can come in handy the first couple of hours during a power outage, especially when you are trying to make your way around a dark house.

o   Always keep a number of flash lights and an emergency lantern with fresh batteries in your home. Make sure to keep your flashlights, lantern and additional batteries in a location that you can get to easily with little or no light.

o   Have candles and plenty of matches as well.  Make sure you keep your candles away from anything flammable, such as drapes.

Food Safety – What to do when power remains out for over 4 hours

o   Invest in a cooler and ice packs. Keep the cooler in a convenient location inside your home and ice packs in the freezer.  When power is out do not open your refrigerator if you do not have to, unless the power outage lasts longer than 4 hours. After 4 hours get your cooler and ice packs and pack items from your refrigerator into your cooler. Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

o   If your freezer is half full, it will hold safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold safely for 48 hours – do not open freezer door if you can avoid it.

o   Get the right foods before you lose power. Keep at least a 3 day supply of nonperishable foods such as crackers, whole-grain cereals, and canned food. Don’t forget a manual can opener!

Things to do before a power outage:

o   Be prepared for injuries. You should have an emergency kit at your home that is fully stocked with bandages in various sizes, sterile dressings and gloves, hand sanitizer and antibiotic towelettes, a thermometer, pain medicines, tweezers, and scissors. Make sure you purchase or build your own first aid kit that is large enough for your family

o   Stock up on bottled water. Water purification systems may not be working when the power goes out.

o   Purchase a battery operated or hand cranked radio to stay tuned in to news and emergency information when power is out.

o   Fill up all your vehicles’ tanks in case gas stations lose their power as well. Remember if you are using a generator they require roughly 12-20 gallons of gas per day. Store all fuel away from the house.

o   Have car chargers for cell phones and keep a corded phone as well. Cordless phones require AC power. Keep in mind cell phones may be more reliable than landline phones when local service is disrupted.

o   Be prepared for special needs. Tell your utility and local fire department before a storm if someone in your home uses an oxygen concentrator, ventilator, or medical bed, as power may be restored to you sooner. Always keep a one month supply of medication on hand.

It is important to plan ahead and be prepared you never know when a bad storm will hit. Sudden power outages can be frustrating and troublesome, but being prepared can eliminate some of that stress. For prolonged power outages, it may be wiser to seek shelter with friends, family, or a hotel.  Stay safe!


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