Building a disaster kit is one of those items that linger at the bottom of the to-do list, but knowing what to do and having a plan in place in case of emergency is crucial in a situation where every second counts.
“It is incredibly important to have a disaster plan in both your home and car because you never know when a disaster will hit,” says Sharon Carlson, Director of Emergency Preparedness for Sharp HealthCare.
Carlson offers these six elements to a basic disaster kit, which should sustain you for 72 hours after an emergency:
- A source of light such as a glow stick or flashlight
- Plenty of drinking water (one gallon per person, per day)
- A first-aid kit with the essentials for any injury
- A portable radio where you can get the latest news if there is a power outage
- Nonperishable food
Both Carlson and Melyssa Jones, captain of humane law enforcement for the San Diego Humane Society, encourage you to include your fur family when building your disaster plan.
“I have three cats and a dog,” says Carlson. “It is important to have extra food set aside for your pet in case of a disaster. I put mine in a gallon zip lock bag alongside collapsible bowls and plenty of water.”
According to Jones, the Humane Society encourages you to include at least a three-day supply of food and water, leashes, bowls and the medical records of each of your pets.
“Get your animals used to their crates before a disaster,” says Jones. “Too often they have a bad association with their crate because it is only brought out when they are taken to the vet or the groomer.”
Jones suggests prepping your animal now by leaving the crate out and open all the time and putting a comfy blanket, a favorite toy or even a treat inside. This is helpful when a tragedy strikes and can actually keep you safer by reducing the need to run around the house to get your animal into their crate.
Another thing people often forget to add to their disaster kit is a list of animal-friendly motels or hotels for when there is an emergency that requires you to evacuate your house such as a fire or earthquake.
Learn more about disaster preparedness and how to build a plan.