Be Prepared: Must-Have Emergency Items for Home

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When disaster strikes, being prepared for the unexpected can be a vital factor in keeping yourself and your loved ones safe. Life can be unpredictable, but preparing for a variety of potential disasters, such as fires and storms, can give you some peace of mind.

Stocking your home with items that can come in handy in case of an emergency is a great step toward preparedness. According to Ready.gov, the national emergency awareness and preparedness campaign from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), your emergency kit should contain these essentials to help you get through at least three days:

  • A hand-crank or battery-powered radio, as well as a weather radio. After natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes and floods, power outages may last longer than a day. A manually powered or battery-operated radio can help keep you abreast of developments in your area.
  • A flashlight with extra batteries. Similarly, a flashlight with spare batteries is an essential tool in an emergency. Hand-crank flashlights also are available.
  • A fully stocked first aid kit
  • A gallon of water per family member for a minimum of three days.
  • Non-perishable food, such as energy bars, dried food and canned goods. 
  • A manual can opener.
  • A whistle. Pack a whistle for each member of the family to signal for help.
  • Dust masks. Dust and debris can compromise breathing during a disaster. Wear well-fitting dust masks to filter the air and allow you to breathe properly.
  • Sanitary wipes, as well as garbage bags and ties. If all your utilities go out, your restroom won’t function properly. Use these supplies to maintain good hygiene and help prevent anyone from getting sick.
  • Pliers or a wrench. After an earthquake or other disaster, you might have to turn off some of your utilities, like the water main or the natural gas, and these tools may come in handy. (In addition to keeping the tools in a convenient place, you also should know how to turn your utilities off.)
  • Up-to-date local maps. Don’t fully rely on an app on your smartphone, as it might run out of power. Make sure you have hard-copy maps that are up-to-date and list all local emergency services.

In addition, it’s a good idea to make sure you have these items in your home:

  • Copies of vital documents. While it’s important to keep significant records such as car titles, property deeds and insurance policies in a safe place away from your home, it also can be beneficial to keep copies in your home. That way, you can easily access them following a disaster.
  • A list of emergency contacts.
  • A functioning fire extinguisher. Fire safety should be every household’s priority, and a well-maintained home fire extinguisher can be a powerful, life-saving item.
  • Cash, change and traveler’s checks. This can help ensure that if banks in your area are not open or if the electricity in your area is out–preventing you from using the ATM or buying necessities with a credit card–you still will have the ability to buy needed items.
  • Blankets or sleeping bags for every member of your family.
  • Eyeglasses, contact lenses and prescription medication. If anybody in your family needs special items or medication, make sure to include those in your emergency kit.

When disaster hits, you’ll be happy to have these emergency items readily available. Be sure that all of these items are kept in a safe place that’s easily accessible. If anyone in your household has any special needs, don’t forget to add these necessities to the list.

This post comes from the editors of The Allstate Blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on August 31, 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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