Natural disasters are the last thing that any of us want to think about. The havoc that hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes or other natural disasters reek upon us is daunting. We all need to be prepared for the many situations that Mother Nature can throw our way. An all purpose survival kit is the only way to be prepared for the unexpected, because we can never know when a disaster will enter our lives.
A kit should be made to prepare for any type of disaster and for every season. We need to be careful to not limit ourselves to one type of disaster because we might end up in a situation that we have not been in before. Also, while we are preparing for a variety of situations, make sure that the kit is still portable. This kit will be your life line, and you need to be able to move it anywhere that you will have to be. Many times, evacuation may be required, or you might be sequestered to the basement or a certain section of your home for your own safety.
The first resource that is normally lost in a natural disaster is electricity. With the lost of electricity, many factors need to be considered. You will lose the ability to light and heat your home, cook or refrigerate your food, and even take a hot shower. Your kit should contain the following for combating the effects of lost electricity:
1. An alternate light source. There should be a portable, safe light source for each member of the family. The best choice is an LED glow rod. The rod will run on long life batteries, but spares should also be on hand. The bulb is durable and has the longest shelf life available. It will give off clear, bright white light, and normally will also include a necklace attachment so that it can be worn to leave your hands free. An LED glow rod can be purchased for a few dollars at Walmart. Another, but far more expensive option, is a kinetic flashlight. Kinetic flashlights are charged by shaking the flashlight to build up a charge, which makes them completely battery free. However, the light is less bright and while it is water resistant, it will cost in the range of 25 dollars and up.
2. Blankets. You should include enough blankets so that while sitting together, every member of the family will be covered. The loss of heat in cold temperatures can be life threatening. Your home will hold heat for a small amount of time, but it is necessary to be prepared for extended time with out power. Also, if you are forced to evacuate, you need to be prepared for being out in the cold temperatures.
3. Non perishable food. Since you will not be able to refrigerate the food or cook it, it necessary to have rations that are ready to eat and not likely to easily expire. A good food stuff is cereal. Unopened cereal will not expire quickly, so it will not go bad while being stored in the kit. Also, cereal contains many vitamins that we need, and will help to prevent the loss of nutrition. Crackers that are unopened are also a good bet. Peanut butter, sunflower seeds, and a variety of nuts could also be included. This is a choice that you will need to make depending on your family’s needs. If you are in close proximity to an army/navy store or a military installment, MRE’s are the best survival food. MRE stands for meals ready to eat, and they are specially made to be kept for long periods of time, and contain many nutrients that our bodies require.
Another situation to consider is water contamination. During a disaster, water mains could rupture or the water could be contaminated by other sources. Since you may be unable to boil water, you should have fresh sealed drinking water. One gallon jug per member of the family is an adequate amount of water to have on hand.
It is important to have an full first aid kit. This means more than Band-Aids and alcohol wipes. Your first aid kit should include the following:
1. Self adhesive bandages. Include several different sizes, from the smallest to large 3X3 bandages. Also, make sure they are waterproof with non stick pads.
2. Gauze. Include at least three different size squares and at least one roll of all purpose gauze.
3. First Aid tape. It should be at least an inch wide and waterproof.
4. Butterfly Sutures. These are very important, as they can be used in emergency situations as a replacement to stitches.
5. Burn gel.
6. Triple antibiotic cream.
7. Wooden tongue depressors. Sounds like a strange item to include, but they are perfect for making splints.
8. Iodine, or cleaning solution. Pre-moistened wipes will work, but a bottle of iodine or peroxide and a supply of applicators, such as cotton swabs, is the preferred option.
9. A 10 day supply of Penicillin or Cipro. Antibiotics are important in case of infection from a wound. Both are very strong, and work against a variety of bacteria. However, both will require a prescription from a doctor, and will need to be replaced yearly, as they will expire.
10. Splinter remover.
11. SPF 45 sun screen.
12. Surgical Scissors. Regular scissors will suffice, but surgical scissors will more efficiently cut tape and gauze. Plus, surgical scissors will have a plastic covering for the tips which is much more sterile than regular scissors.
13. If you take medication that you absolutely cannot go without, make sure that you keep a spare supply in your first aid kit if possible, especially in the case of Albuterol inhalers, Epi-pens, fast acting Insulin (the type that does not have to be refrigerated), or Nitroglycerin.
All these things should be stored in an container that is waterproof or water resistance. A container that also has a snap lock lid or carrying handles is helpful.
These are the very basics that a survival kit should have. Many people choose to take this one step further and include copies of important papers and a spare passport. Also, you may wish to develop an emergency plan, including instructions and routes for evacuation. The best way to prepare for the unexpected is to think things through, and be as prepared as possible for any situation that may develop. There is no way to predict what will happen or prepare for every situation that may occur, but a well planned survival kit will give you the piece of mind that you can handle whatever may come.