Spring has sprung in many parts of the United States, and severe weather has been all over the country.  That means it’s a perfect time to begin preparing or updating your emergency kits.

You may be asking yourself “why do I need emergency kits?”  The answer is quite simple: anything can happen and you should be prepared…you could get stranded in your car, have to evacuate your home, or be unable to return home due to a disaster or other issue.

In this article you will learn about daily emergency kits, travel emergency kits, and family emergency kits, what should be in each kit, and why you would want each kit.

A daily emergency kit should be small and easy to carry in your briefcase or backpack and contain only the items you will need in the event you are unable to return to your home or need to seek shelter elsewhere.  This kit should include a small first aid kit, three days’ worth of prescription medicine (including pain reliever), moist towelettes, lens cleaners, and a charger for your cellular telephone.  You may also want to include a small flashlight with extra batteries, a small tube of sunscreen, extra cash along with a credit card for a hotel room and a meal or two, and a small two way radio such as a Family Radio Service (FRS) radio, Global Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), or amateur radio handheld.

The second kit you should consider having or updating is a travel emergency kit.  Stored in the trunk of your car, this kit could be used if you are stranded in your car, so it should contain a first aid kit, flashlight, blanket, gloves, a hat, socks, water, heat packs, and jumper cables.  Other items to consider are a small shovel, non-perishable food, a family radio service (FRS) radio, a battery operated AM/FM/Weather radio, and batteries.  You should also consider adding water too, just in case you need it for drinking or for your radiator.

You may run into an emergency at home and may not be able to leave for a variety of reasons.  A family emergency kit will help in this situation.  Think of these as multiple personal emergency kits and make one bag for each person and pet in your family.  Each bag should contain the same items as a daily and travel kit plus enough food and water for five days.  You should also consider including plans for “meet up” in the vent you get separated, essential phone numbers, and other important family information/procedures.  The golden rule is of thumb for water is one gallon per person per day, so each bag should have five gallons.  Non-perishable food items can include canned soups, and dried fruits.  C. Edward Harris, Assistant Emergency Coordinator with the Fairfax Amateur Radio Emergency Services team recommends staying away from processed meats as they are hard to digest because of their high salt and fat content.  Remember to store the bags somewhere in the second floor of your home in an easily accessible area.

The items in your kit, and the type of kits you prepare, will vary depending on where you live, what you do, and how large your family is.  www.ready.gov recommends that you include a whistle to signal for help, a dust mask, garbage bags, plastic ties, local maps, a can opener, and a wrench for turning off utilities.  If you have children or pets you need to consider items for them too….formula or baby food; pet food; blankets, dog booties, and other items they may need.

Once you have your emergency kits prepared, you need to maintain them.  Food items should be replaced every six months, batteries and clothing should be replaced with the change in seasons, and you should ensure that any electronics still work as expected.  Creating and keeping emergency kits will help keep you prepared in the event of an emergency….wherever you are.

For more information about being prepared visit www.ready.gov.