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Take a Step to Prepare for Emergencies: Build a Kit

September 08, 2021 02:00 PM
By: PEMA

Image of items in an emergency kit

​Building a kit may seem overwhelming. How do you start? And how do you know what to include? You may already have parts of a kit and don’t even know it. For example, you may have flashlights and batteries or an extra blanket and water in your car.

Building a kit is similar to developing a plan. It involves figuring out what you would need and making sure it’s where you need it, when you need it. Have emergency supplies at home, in your car, and if you need to leave your home quickly.

Something as simple as a power loss during the cold weather months or hot summer days can affect your safety. During Hurricane Ida, many lost power or had to leave their home with very short notice. If you lost power in your home, what would you need?

Protecting the ones you love is about helping to make sure they have what they need when they need it.

Here's help to get your kit started during National Preparedness Month!

Start with These Two Questions

Question 1: Who is this kit for?

Consider who you are building your kit for. Having supplies for a young, single adult will look different from an emergency kit for a family with little kids, or an older couple. Supplies to address basic first aid needs.

Question 2: Do you have basic first aid supplies?

Regardless of who the kit is for, the very basics will help to avoid infection or reduce a fever at a time when you may not be able to get medical care.
Did you know that Band-Aids were included in emergency kits for the astronauts on the Apollo missions? That would have been a heck of a trip if they needed one and didn’t have a basic kit.

Learn what you can include in a basic kit. You may already have some of these items ready.

A Kit for Here...

Think about a basic emergency kit to keep at home. It should include enough supplies to support your loved ones living in your home for at least three days.
Why three days? That may be how long it takes to get your power restored or for first responders to get to you. But before you start to gather supplies…
What would you need to be able to sustain yourself and your loved ones for up to 72 hours, especially after any significant event? Write down things like batteries, flashlights, water, and nonperishable food.

Having the basics doesn’t need to be expensive either. Start with water – have one gallon per person per day for at least three days. Take a look at the Home Emergency Kit Checklist and add two items a time to the grocery list and start building your kit.

A Kit for There...

Remember Gilligan’s Island? It was only supposed to be a 3-hour tour. When you are traveling in your car, even if it’s for a 3-minute tour, make sure you have basic supplies.
Accidents happen. You may be stuck in traffic. And it could be for a lot longer than you planned. If it’s snowing or during a heatwave, the time that you’re stranded could be catastrophic.

Pick three items from the PennDOT travel emergency kit list and make sure you are prepared for your 3-hour tour.

A Kit for Anywhere

Keep your emergency kit in a designated location in your home and in an easy-to-carry container in case you need to evacuate. Make sure that all family members know where the emergency kit is kept.

Since Spring of 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended people include additional items in their kits to help prevent the spread of coronavirus or other viruses and the flu.

Take a look to see what else you should include. It may seem like quite a long list. Start with picking one item you think you’d most need and then add to it.

A Kit for Furry & Not-So Furry Friends

Remember the kit for the people in your home? Think about items you would need to care for your pets for three days as well. Remember, anything is “pawsible” if you plan ahead (sorry, we had to).

Assemble a separate kit for your pet or include pet supplies in your own emergency kit. Keep in mind these items:

  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that they can’t escape.
  • Food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan, and a manual can opener if your pet eats canned food.
  • Medications and copies of medical records stored in a waterproof container.
  • A first aid kit.
  • Current photos of you with your pet(s) in case they get lost. Since many pets look alike, this will help to eliminate mistaken identity and confusion.
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets
  • Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.

Purrfect Planning

Find out where you can take your pet, write it down and stash it with your other emergency items.

For any number of reasons, you may need to leave your home. And you may not know when you will be able to return. If it’s not safe for you to stay in your home during an emergency, then it is not safe for your animals, either.

Take your pets with you if you evacuate. However, be aware that pets (except service animals) are not permitted in emergency public shelters for health reasons. Prepare a list of family, friends, boarding facilities, veterinarians and ‘pet-friendly’ hotels that could shelter your pets in an emergency. Some emergency shelters cannot house animals so, figure out where you can take your pet before disaster strikes.

  • Contact hotels and motels outside your area to check policies for accepting pets in an emergency. The CDC lists resources to find pet-friendly hotels.
  • Identify boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might shelter animals.  Keep a list and call ahead for reservations as soon as you think you might need to evacuate.
  • Check with friends or family members, if you plan to stay with them, to make sure you may bring your pets.

Planning for Older Adults

Everyone’s needs are unique. There are situations that may require additional planning and considerations.

Older adults and people with disabilities can have a wider variety of functional limitations and some additional challenges to consider, including medical equipment, accessibility and transportation issues, and access to prescription medications. By evaluating your own personal needs and making an emergency plan, you will be prepared for a disaster.

Is it easy as 1, 2, 3? Getting started is when you download the Getting Started Guide.

Learn More

Learn more about National Preparedness Month and sign up for Pennsylvania's 30 Days/30 Ways to be Prepared.

Follow along and join the conversation by using the hashtag #PreparedInPA with us on Facebook and Twitter!


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