The best time to put your emergency supplies together is before disaster strikes. A basic supply kit, or go kit, should include enough food, water and supplies for each member of your family for three to seven days.

Keep one at home, at work and in each vehicle. Check them periodically to ensure items are not expired.

1. Water

You and your family will need water in an emergency, especially if you need to shelter in place or evacuate. Your home emergency preparedness kit should include a three day supply of water per person, in plastic containers that will not break.

It is also a good idea to prepare a grab-and-go bag with emergency supplies for your home, work and vehicle. This will be handy if you need to leave quickly, such as in the event of a tornado warning.

Make sure your emergency supplies kits have a minimum of a three day supply of water per person in food grade, clean, plastic containers (two-liter bottles are best). Include bleach to help purify additional water for drinking if needed. Be sure to include water for pets, as they will need it as well.

2. Food

During a disaster, food supplies may be limited. Keep a two-week supply of nonperishable food on hand to ensure your family will be able to survive until help arrives.

Include snacks that are high in protein, like crackers and jerky, as well as dehydrated foods that take up less space in your emergency food kit. You should also have a manual can opener and eating utensils in your kit, along with shelf-stable drinks.

Avoid high-salt foods, as they increase thirst. Having an emergency supply of water on hand is also important, and it’s a good idea to have a water purification method, such as boiling or bleach, in your emergency kit. Store a few bottles of water in your go bag as well. This is especially important if you will be evacuated from your home during an emergency.

3. Shelter

Some disasters will require you to shelter in place rather than evacuate. In this situation, it could be days before rescuers are able to reach you or basic services like electricity, gas and water are restored.

Your disaster supply kit will provide your family with the supplies they need to stay safe until help arrives. This may include items such as blankets, pillows and sleeping bags to keep everyone warm, flashlights and battery-operated or hand-crank radios, first aid supplies and personal hygiene products.

You can buy pre-made emergency supply kits but experts recommend assembling your own kit to best meet the needs of your family. Check your kit regularly and replace items that have expired. Having extra water bottles and food is also a good idea.

4. First Aid

A disaster can cause injuries, and having the right first aid kit is essential. Include medical items for each family member, including infants and people with special needs. Consider adding items like a dust mask, which could be helpful when escaping from contaminated areas.

Pack a first aid manual, assortment of sterile gauze pads and adhesive bandages, sanitizer wipes, gloves, nitrile gloves, and a multi-purpose tool. Also include a medical-grade respirator and an extra battery for the mask.

Pack prescription medications and some over-the-counter drugs, as well as a list of family physicians and important medical information. Keep a manual can opener in your kit, as well as a flashlight and radio to stay informed. Keeping these supplies in an easy-to-carry bag or tote will ensure that you can easily get them to safety if you need to leave home during a crisis.

5. Communication

During an emergency, accurate information is essential to survival. Make sure to include reliable information sources in your go kit (home, work and vehicle).

Have a family plan prepared and discussed ahead of time that includes evacuation areas, shelters and means of communication. Create a contact card for each member of your household that includes an out-of-town contact and neighborhood meeting place. Make sure family members have these cards in their purses, wallets or backpacks and that cell phones are programmed with emergency contacts and important information.

Encourage your neighbors to participate in the Community Emergency Notification Program by keeping paper cards or flags with a green, yellow or red message on their front windows or doors so that emergency responders or neighbors can see at a glance who needs assistance.

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