Expect the best, but definitely prepare for the worst. Create an emergency kit with everything you and your family need so you are ready for any situation you find yourself in.

By Jenny Krane

The power is out and water is coming in through the basement window—now what? Natural disasters and unexpected emergencies can happen out of nowhere, and it’s important to always be prepared. With a little pre-planning and research, you can be sure you and your family will make it through any dangerous situation safely.

Related: Preparing Your Home for a Hurricane

Survival Food and Water

Clean, drinkable water is a must in any emergency preparedness kit. Stock up on water bottles and place them in your home and car so they are accessible wherever you may need to go. Survival food is another thing to always keep on hand. Get non-perishable foods that are well-packaged to prevent insects, animals, or water from contaminating it. It’s important to think through foods that will cover many nutritional needs: sodium, sugar, protein, and carbs. We recommend at least three days worth of food for each member of the household.

Communication

Communication is key, especially in the frantic events of a disaster. In your disaster kit, always include a battery-powered or crank radio and an NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert. If the power is out and your cell phone is dead, you still have a way to know what is going on in your area. Throw in extra batteries for both.

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It’s a good idea to throw an extra phone charger into your emergency supplies. If you still have cell service during a disaster, cell phones can be the best way to get in touch with friends and family in the area. In case there is a loss of power, choose a portable charger (at full charge) or a charging phone case to be sure you have a way to recharge. A dead cell phone doesn’t do you any good.

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When all else fails and you are in need of assistance, include a whistle in your emergency kit. Neighbors or rescuers will have an easier time finding you if you are trapped or cannot move if you have a whistle to signal for help.

Emergency First Aid Kits

First aid kits are easy to buy in stores or are easy to assemble yourself. Bandages, antibacterial ointment, an ice pack, and a thermometer are always good to have on hand in case of illness or injury. Gauze and tape are good for larger injuries. For sanitary reasons, also include hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes, a CPR barrier, gloves, and a mouth-covering mask. Scissors and tweezers are also a good addition to a first aid kit. An emergency blanket is also advised.

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Your personal medical needs may vary, and you need to make sure you and the rest of your household have everything they need. Make an emergency contact list for each person in the house that they can put in their pocket or wallet during an emergency. Also include prescription drugs, syringes, hearing aids, and contacts as needed. A seven-day supply of medications and medical items is recommended. Also, don’t forget hygiene products like toothbrushes, soap, and feminine products.

Survival Tools for Emergencies

In case of power outages, add a flashlight to your home emergency kit list (with extra batteries). Candles and matches can also help provide light, but won’t last in high winds or wet weather. Duct tape and plastic sheeting can help to temporarily repair leaks or cracks. Towels can help to soak up small amounts of flooding. A pair of work gloves will prevent cuts and splinters if you need to move fallen trees or branches.

Clean and dry blankets, sleeping bags, and warm clothes are good to add to your home emergency kit checklist. Staying in wet clothes can lead to hypothermia. If you have a backup generator, keep extra fuel with your emergency kit. Also, put a map of the area into your emergency survival kit.

Related: How to Make an Emergency Car Kit

Personal Items to Have on Hand in an Emergency

It’s always smart to have copies of personal documents in a safe place in case of an emergency. Insurance cards, passports, birth certificates, and medical information should all be a part of the disaster kit. It’s also a good idea to include an extra set of car and house keys if you need to evacuate quickly. Credit cards won’t work if the power is out—include some cash, too.

Baby Clothes and Supplies

If you have an infant, also make sure to think through what they need, aside from clothes. Bottles are important for both water and formula. Throw in a few empty bottles and baby dishes. Most types of formula are non-perishable, making them a great addition to an emergency kit. Jarred baby food also has a long shelf life. Be sure to include diapers, wipes and extra clothes as well.

Pet Emergency Kit

Pets are a part of the family and have specific needs as well. Pack food and medications your pet may need. Also include a leash, harness or kennel for each pet for easy transportation. Like with your personal medical records, also include a copy of your pet’s medical records. Every pet should have a tracking chip or a collar with your information so you can find them if you get separated.

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Related: How to Take Care of Your Pets During an Emergency

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