During a disaster, you need to have supplies on hand to help you and your family cope with the danger and inconvenience that result. We have seen large events overwhelm the infrastructure in our cities and towns. Often basic services are overwhelmed for many days after a disruption. You should get prepared so you can provide your own disaster preparedness kit for those first days after an emergency. Get a good first aid kit, basic survival gear and some non-perishable food gathered together. This will protect your family from the worst problems brought by a disruption in society. The devastation that results from hurricanes such as Andrew and Katrina is extremely severe. Even a tornado has the ability to knock out the available services in a large area. Electrical black outs can happen at any time and they affect millions of people. These are all emergencies that could strike your family. Get started now. You can organize a preparedness kit in time for the next emergency. You can control the cost of your kit. By preparing early, you won't have to pay the high cost of supplies that are common during the wait period for services to be restored. If you don't have a kit yet, or you have an old kit, you should really get busy now, well before a major event happens.

What you need in an disaster preparedness kit
From recent tornado and hurricane events, we know that regular city infrastructure services are overwhelmed and unavailable for 24-72 hours after a severe emergency. In some emergencies, such as Hurricane Katrina, services can be unavailable for even longer periods. You need enough supplies to meet your family's needs for at least 72 hours. You should consider evacuating the area if the restoration of utilities last longer. You should identify family members' homes that are medium and long distances away that you might use for evacuation relief. For a 4 person family, a supply kit should have enough food for about 30 basic survival meals. The food should be high in carbohydrates and protein to provide energy enough to sustain each person. Water is a critical part of a life kit. A family should have a gallon of water available per person per day. Your supply should have 12 to 15 gallons of water for drinking and sanitation needs. You need a first aid kit with a whistle in your kit. Electricity, gas, water, and other normal utility services are likely not available during an emergency event. Your collection of supplies needs to be of use without access to the normal utilities. Even cooking will be time consuming and difficult so get ready to eat items, or easy to prepare items, when possible.

Your emergency kit should contain:
Non-perishable food: granola bars, cereal, dried fruit, peanut butter, canned food, high energy bars, vitamins
A first aid kit: tape, tensor bandages, regular bandages, rubbing alcohol, gauze, peroxide, sizzors, saline, splints for fingers
Emergency flashlight: an emergency type with a crank and rechargeable batteries. Regular batteries quickly die in storage.
Emergency whistle
Water: three 5 gallon containers from a water service. Get a hand pump to match. Keep water from freezing.
Garbage or other plastic bags
Tools: hammer, wrenches or pliers to shut off gas supply, knife, etc.
Dust masks for each person in the family
Rain protection, (tarps or plastic from the building supply store)
Can opener if needed for canned food
Emergency radio: get a disaster perparedness hand crank type
Cash: a supply of small bills. Electronic payments are impossible during a disaster.
Extra clothes
Baby formula if needed
Sleeping bags or blankets for each person
Camping equipment such as candles, matches, pots and a camping stove with fuel

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Where to Store Your Supplies

Make sure that your emergency supplies are in an accessible location. Near an outside door in the garage is good. A disaster might wreck your house so it may be impossible to get items from a basement or an inside room. If your kit is located in an easily accessible spot, you can retrieve it quickly. You may need to live outside your house and use the contents of your kit for survival. Make sure they are as safe as possible from debris.

How to Maintain Viability of Your Supplies

Keep your supplies dry and safe from rodents and insects. Preserve the quality of the ingredients. While you should keep non-perishable items in the kit, they can degrade in time. Put all foods in plastic bags that are air tight. Keep everything in a tightly secured storage bin. Replace any canned food every year or so. Keep all of your disaster supplies well protected. The contents of your emergency kit are important for your family during a crisis. Check and replenish the kit materials as necessary. A recreational vehicle makes an excellent location for your storage. The RV can be stocked with supplies and equipment, even in the off season.

Have your family and friends to organize their own emergency response plans
When you have gathered a good collection of supplies to help your family in the first 72 hours after an emergency, you have done what you can to get ready. Unfortunately, most other families are not going to be prepared enough. When you are safely protected with items in your garage, check with family and friends to see if they have a kit of their own. If they don't, let them know how you organized yours. Tell them of the importance. They should organize a plan for emergencies of their own. Help your elderly family members put together supplies or do it for them. Find an easily accessible spot for their items.

Hurricane Katrina was a disaster that struck the United States and it affected millions of people. While many people were killed during the hurricane, more people died later, after the storm had gone. By having adequate resources, you help your family boost the chances of survival. The huge disasters are unpredictable. Another hurricane could come at any time with the devastating effects of Katrina. Such massive storms are becoming stronger and more common with the changing climate. Let your family and friends know that you have taken preparation steps. You have done it in advance, to be ready. Emergency preparations are quite easy to prepare during peaceful periods. The supplies become extremely important during a disaster, especially during the first 72 hours. 

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