Being prepared is the first step in weathering a disaster. A disaster might be a hurricane, tornado, flood, or fire, among other things. No matter what the disaster, emergency supplies are essential and by making your own disaster supply kit, you’ll have everything you need. Already assembled disaster kits are available for purchase, but they can be made more economically and personally if you do it yourself. Disaster supply kits include emergency food, water, first aid materials, and extra things that you may need in the event of a natural disaster. Many items included in a supply kit may already be found around your home; you use these items every day. Stocked with items essential to our well-being, these supply kits ensure that whatever happens and wherever you are, your most basic needs can be met.

Building Your Disaster Supply Kit on a Budget

Before heading to the store, look around your home for extras of essential items that could be included in your disaster supply kit. You might already have an extra package of batteries, a spare flashlight, an unopened package of garbage bags. Prepackaged dry goods and bottled water may also be in your pantry. For items that you may not have on hand, you’ll likely be able to find them at your local drug store and most big box stores. Remember, you don’t have to get all of your supplies at one time; you may save money if you keep an eye out for coupons or deals on emergency essentials. You can also take advantage of buy-one-get-one (BOGO) sales on everyday items; add the free one to your emergency kit and you’re all set. Dollar stores or similarly prices stores are also great options when buying items for your supply kit.

What is a Disaster Kit?

Items commonly found in a disaster preparedness or emergency kit include:

  • non-perishable, dry and canned foods
  • Manual can opener
  • Mess kits (plate, bowl, utensils)
  • Water – either by the gallon or in single-serve bottles.
  • First aid kit
  • Prescription medication
  • Flashlight with backup batteries
  • Extra batteries in a variety of sizes
  • A signal whistle
  • Matches in a waterproof match container
  • Dust masks or medical-grade face masks
  • Duct tape
  • Emergency blankets
  • Wet wipes
  • Plastic tarp
  • Rope
  • Pliers or a wrench
  • Local maps
  • A cell phone with at least one backup battery, fully charged.
  • Copies or vital documents: insurance policies, IDs, etc.
  • Cash

More Information on Disaster Supply Kits

Have a Disaster Preparedness Plan in Place

Planning is also an important part of disaster preparedness. While emergency crews and rescue teams work to assist those within their communities, it is important that you have a plan in place to keep as safe as possible until assistance is available. Staying informed in the event of an emergency by listening to the radio and emergency broadcasts can help you get ahead of a disaster. It is also important to have emergency contacts both close by and further away. Establishing an evacuation plan with your family beforehand is also vital and helps to ensure that everyone is accounted for, safe, and ready to move at a moment’s notice. Have emergency plans in place for several different scenarios, including plans for school and at the office. It can be uncomfortable to think about, but having important preparedness conversations with your loved ones ahead of time may help to minimize the panic that an emergency can bring about.

Disasters by Area

Different types of disasters impact different areas of the country and it is important to understand the risks of an area before your family creates a home there. Whether the disasters are floods, hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, or earthquakes, it is important to be prepared and, when necessary, evacuate.

Florida and Louisiana are among the most susceptible to hurricanes. Texas, South and North Carolina are also hard hit during hurricane season. Florida and Louisiana are also among the states that experience the most catastrophic flooding.

In the mid-west and southern U.S. regions are among those who are most likely to experience tornadoes. Most tornadoes touch down east of the Rocky Mountains. The Great Plains and Mississippi Valley also experience highly active tornadoes.

California, Arizona, and Colorado are among the western states that sacrifice the most acreage to wildfires. However, the eastern U.S. actually experiences a higher number of individual wildfires than the west.

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