Mother Nature can be wildly unpredictable, whether you live in an area prone to storms or not. With that said, the climate you live in should be used as guidance for customizing an emergency kit. For example, people who live year round in warm climates hardly need to prepare for a raging winter blizzard, but you most definitely should when you live in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.
When creating a storm kit, you’ll also need to consider all household members (e.g. babies, seniors, people with specific health issues, and pets). In addition to kits, experts recommend having a contingency plan in place. It’s important to identify a safe place to go if power or heat goes out during storms, as well as a few people you can rely on. This is even more important for individuals with chronic health and mobility issues. Establishing a personal network is as integral to surviving severe weather as keeping all the right supplies in a convenient place.
You likely already have most of these items in your house, but when a storm hits, you certainly won’t have the time to gather all of them. A portable generator isn’t a basic necessity, but it can come in handy during power outages. If you own one, it’s crucial that you follow all safety precautions.
If you lose power for more than two hours, food inside your refrigerator will start to spoil. Bacteria can grow rapidly at temperatures between 40° and 140° F. If you eat spoiled foods, you are putting yourself at risk of contracting a food-borne illness. That’s why it’s vital to store a supply of nonperishable food that will last three to five days. Choose foods your family will eat, avoid those that increase thirst, and remember the special dietary needs of all family members.
If properly made, packaged, and stored, dehydrated food can last a year or two, while freeze-dried foods can last as long as 30 years. These foods weigh 50 to 75% less than their non-dried varieties, don’t require refrigeration, and retain their nutritional benefits. And with proper storage, powdered milk has a 25-year shelf life, is versatile, provides a healthy dose of protein and calcium, and is ideal for an emergency food kit.
A 2012 study found that nearly one in six adults aged 50 and older would need help evacuating their homes in an emergency, and nearly one in 10 would require outside help to do so. Despite these risks, a 2014 study found that less than 25% of seniors had created emergency plans for natural disasters. Seniors are especially vulnerable to natural disasters, for the following reasons:
If your older relative lives in a retirement or nursing home facility, ask the administrator about their disaster and evacuation procedures. If your loved one has mobility issues, these needs must be incorporated into an emergency preparedness plan. And if they require wheelchair-accessible transportation, make sure you know how to access these services in their community.
If they don’t live with you, keep an extra set of residential keys, copies of relevant emergency documents, evacuation plans, and health insurance and physician information for senior family members. In addition to the items listed in the emergency essentials kit, here are other items to include, if applicable:
You adore your Labrador Milo and tabby cat Luna and treat them like members of your family, but have you considered how to protect them in a natural disaster? Although pets don’t need nearly as much water as you, keeping an extra gallon on hand is useful in case they’re exposed to chemicals or flood waters and need to be rinsed. Here are pet essentials to include in a kit:
Bottom line, knowing what to do in a storm can be lifesaving, and in addition to creating emergency storm kits, this includes how to properly handle power outages. If the outage is storm-related, make sure you’re sheltering in a safe place, then report the outage by calling us at (800) 227-9187.