Emergency Survival Preparedness

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Make a plan today. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect your area.  Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.


Step 1: Put together a plan by discussing these 4 questions with your family, friends, or household to start your emergency plan.

  1. How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  2. What is my shelter plan?
  3. What is my evacuation route?
  4. What is my family/household communication plan?

Step 2:  Consider specific needs in your household.

As you prepare your plan tailor your plans and supplies to your specific daily living needs and responsibilities. Discuss your needs and responsibilities and how people in the network can assist each other with communication, care of children, business, pets, or specific needs like the operation of durable medical equipment. Create your own personal network for specific areas where you need assistance.  Keep in mind some these factors when developing your plan:

  • Different ages of members within your household
  • Responsibilities for assisting others
  • Locations frequented
  • Dietary needs
  • Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment
  • Disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment
  • Languages spoken
  • Cultural and religious considerations
  • Pets or service animals
  • Households with school-aged children

Step 3: Fill out a Family Emergency Plan

Fill out a family emergency plan or use them as a guide to create your own.

  • Emergency Plan for Parents

Step 4: Practice your plan with your family/household

Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with the items on the checklist below. Most of the items are inexpensive and easy to find, and any one of them could save your life. Headed to the store?

Once you take a look at the basic items, consider what unique needs your family might have, such as supplies for pets, or seniors.

After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours.

A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

Basic Disaster Supplies Kit

To assemble your kit, store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

  • Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation. SEYCHELLE WATER FILTRATION BOTTLE
  • Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. EMERGENCY FOOD KIT
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert.
  • Flashlight.
  • First aid kit. FIRST AID KIT
  • Extra batteries. BATTERIES AND CHARGER – SPECIAL $10 OFF
  • Whistle to signal for help.
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
  • Manual can opener for food.
  • Local maps.
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery.

Additional Emergency Supplies

Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:

  • Prescription medications
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
  • Glasses and contact lense solution
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Cash or traveler’s checks
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children


Maintaining Your Kit

After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:

  • Keep canned food in a cool, dry place
  • Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers
  • Replace expired items as needed
  • Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.

Kit Storage Locations

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and vehicles.

  • Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
  • Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
  • Vehicle: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.

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Suggested Emergency Food Supplies

Consider the following things when putting together your emergency food supplies:

  • Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
  • Choose foods your family will eat.
  • Remember any special dietary needs.
  • Avoid foods that will make you thirsty.

The following items are suggested when selecting emergency food supplies. You may already have many of these on hand.

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and a can opener
  • Protein or fruit bars
  • Dry cereal or granola
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried fruit
  • Canned juices
  • Non-perishable pasteurized milk
  • High energy foods
  • Food for infants
  • Comfort/stress foods

Food Safety & Sanitation

Without electricity or a cold source, food stored in refrigerators and freezers can become unsafe. Bacteria in food grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140 °F, and if these foods are consumed you can become very sick.

Thawed food usually can be eaten if it is still “refrigerator cold.” It can be re-frozen if it still contains ice crystals. To be safe, remember, “When in doubt, throw it out.”


  • Keep food in covered containers.
  • Keep cooking and eating utensils clean.
  • Discard any food that has come into contact with contaminated flood water.
  • Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more.
  • Discard any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.
  • Use ready-to-feed formula. If you must mix infant formula use bottled water, or boiled as a last resort.



  • Eat foods from cans that are swollen, dented or corroded, even though the product may look safe to eat.
  • Eat any food that looks or smells abnormal, even if the can looks normal.
  • Let garbage accumulate inside, both for fire and sanitation reasons.



Alternative cooking sources can be used in times of emergency including candle warmers, chafing dishes, fondue pots or a fireplace. Charcoal grills and camp stoves are for outdoor use only. Commercially canned food may be eaten out of the can without warming.

To heat food in a can:

  1. Remove the label.
  2. Thoroughly wash and disinfect the can. (Use a diluted solution of one part bleach to ten parts water.)
  3. Open the can before heating.


Managing Food without Power

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
  • The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened.
  • Refrigerated or frozen foods should be kept at 40° F or below for proper food storage.
  • Use a refrigerator thermometer to check temperature.
  • Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4 hours.
  • Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40° F for two hours or more.

Using Dry Ice:

  • Know where you can get dry ice prior to a power outage.
  • Twenty-five pounds of dry ice will keep a 10-cubic-foot freezer below freezing for 3-4 days.
  • If you use dry ice to keep your food cold, make sure it does not come in direct contact with the food.
  • Use care when handling dry ice, wear dry, heavy gloves to avoid injury.


Emergency Kit for the Car

In case you are stranded, keep an emergency supply kit in your car with the addition of these automobile extras:

  • Jumper cables
  • Flares or reflective triangle
  • Ice scraper
  • Car cell phone charger
  • Cat litter or sand for better tire traction


Prepare Your Vehicle for Emergencies

Have a mechanic check the following on your vehicle prior to an emergency:

  • Antifreeze levels
  • Battery and ignition system
  • Brakes
  • Exhaust system
  • Fuel and air filters
  • Heater and defroster
  • Lights and flashing hazard lights
  • Oil
  • Thermostat
  • Windshield wiper equipment and washer fluid level


Vehicle Safety Tips

  • Keep your gas tank full in case of evacuation or power outages. A full tank will also keep the fuel line from freezing
  • Install good winter tires and ensure they have adequate tread or any jurisdiction-required chains or studs
  • Do not drive through flooded areas. Six inches of water can cause a vehicle to lose control or possibly stall. A foot of water will float many cars.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  • If a power line falls on your car you are at risk of electrical shock, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.
  • If there is an explosion or other factor that makes it difficult to control the vehicle, pull over, stop the car and set the parking brake.
  • If the emergency could impact the physical stability of the roadway avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards

Determining Water Needs

Store at least one gallon of water per person for three days, for drinking and sanitation. A normally active person needs about three quarters of a gallon of fluid daily, from water and other beverages.

However, individual needs vary, depending on age, health, physical condition, activity, diet and climate.

Take the following into account:

  • Children, nursing mothers and sick people may need more water.
  • A medical emergency might require additional water.
  • If you live in a warm weather climate more water may be necessary. In very hot temperatures, water needs can double.

Water Tips

  • Never ration drinking water unless ordered to do so by authorities. Drink the amount you need today and try to find more for tomorrow. Minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool.
  • Drink water that you know is not contaminated first. If necessary, suspicious water, such as cloudy water from regular faucets or water from streams or ponds, can be used after it has been treated. If water treatment is not possible, put off drinking suspicious water as long as possible, but do not become dehydrated.
  • Do not drink carbonated or caffeinated beverages instead of drinking water. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol dehydrate the body, which increases the need for drinking water.

Water Storage

Buy commercially bottled water and store it in the sealed original container in cool, dark place.

If you must prepare your own containers of water, purchase food grade water storage containers. Before filling with chlorinated water, thoroughly clean the containers with dishwashing soap and sanitize the bottles by cleaning with a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water.

Water that has not been commercially bottled should be replaced every six months.


Water Treatment

If you have used all of your stored water and there are no other reliable clean water sources, it may become necessary to treat suspicious water. Treat all water of uncertain quality before using it for drinking, food washing or preparation, washing dishes, brushing teeth or making ice.

In addition to having a bad odor and taste, contaminated water can contain microorganisms (germs) that cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis.

There are many ways to treat water. Often the best solution is a combination of methods. Before treating, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom or strain them through coffee filters or layers of clean cloth.


Boiling is the safest method of treating water. In a large pot or kettle, bring water to a rolling boil for one full minute, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking.

Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers. This also will improve the taste of stored water.


You can use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, color safe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners.

Add 16 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight bleach odor. If it doesn’t, then repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes. If it still does not smell of chlorine, discard it and find another source of water.

Other chemicals, such as iodine or water treatment products sold in camping or surplus stores that do not contain 5.25 or 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient, are not recommended and should not be used.



While boiling and chlorination will kill most microbes in water, distillation will remove microbes (germs) that resist these methods, as well as heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals.

Distillation involves boiling water and then collection of only the vapor that condenses. The condensed vapor will not include salt or most other impurities.

To distill, fill a pot halfway with water. Tie a cup to the handle on the pot’s lid so that the cup will hang right-side-up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not dangling into the water) and boil the water for 20 minutes.

The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.

Methods Kills
Removes other contaminants (heavy metals, salts, and most other chemicals)
Boiling Yes No
Chlorination Yes No
Distillation Yes Yes

Pets and Animals

Get Informed

  • Know what disasters could affect your area, which could call for an evacuation and when to shelter in place.
  • Keep a NOAA Weather Radio tuned to your local emergency station and monitor TV, radio, and follow mobile alert and mobile warnings about severe weather in your area.
  • Download the FEMA app, receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States.


Make a Plan

Remember, during a disaster what’s good for you is good for your pet, so get them ready today.

If you leave your pets behind, they may be lost, injured – or worse. Never leave a pet chained outdoors. Plan options include:

  • Create a buddy system in case you’re not home. Ask a trusted neighbor to check on your animals.
  • Identify shelters. For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept pets.
    • Find pet friendly hotels along your evacuation route and keep a list in your pet’s emergency kit.
    • Locate boarding facilities or animal hospitals near your evacuation shelter.
    • Consider an out-of-town friend or relative
  • Locate a veterinarian or animal hospital in the area where you may be seeking temporary shelter, in case your pet needs medical care. Add the contact information to your emergency kit.
  • Have your pet microchipped and make sure that you not only keep your address and phone number up-to-date, but that you also include contact info for an emergency contact outside of your immediate area.
  • Call your local emergency management office, animal shelter or animal control office to get advice and information.
  • If you are unable to return to your home right away, you may need to board your pet. Find out where pet boarding facilities are located.
  • Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need your pet’s medical records to make sure all vaccinations are current.
  • If you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take, but remember that leaving your pet at home alone can place your animal in great danger!

Tips for Large Animals

If you have large animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats or pigs on your property, be sure to prepare before a disaster.

  • Ensure all animals have some form of identification.
  • Evacuate animals whenever possible. Map out primary and secondary routes in advance.
  • Make available vehicles and trailers needed for transporting and supporting each type of animal. Also make available experienced handlers and drivers.
  • Ensure destinations have food, water, veterinary care and handling equipment.
  • If evacuation is not possible, animal owners must decide whether to move large animals to shelter or turn them outside.

Take extra time to observe livestock, looking for early signs of disease and injury. Severe cold-weather injuries or death primarily occur in the very young or in animals that are already debilitated.

Animals suffering from frostbite don’t exhibit pain. It may be up to two weeks before the injury becomes evident as the damaged tissue starts to slough away. At that point, the injury should be treated as an open wound and a veterinarian should be consulted.

Make sure your livestock has the following to help prevent cold-weather problems:

  • Plenty of dry bedding to insulate vulnerable udders, genitals and legs from the frozen ground and frigid winds
  • Windbreaks to keep animals safe from frigid conditions
  • Plenty of food and water

Build a Kit

Include basic survival items and items to keep your pet happy and comfortable. Start with this list, or download Preparing Makes Sense for Pet Owners to find out exactly what items your pet needs to be Ready.

  • Food. At least a three day supply in an airtight, waterproof container.
  • Water. At least three days of water specifically for your pets.
  • Medicines and medical records.
  • Important documents. Registration information, adoption papers and vaccination documents. Talk to your veterinarian about microchipping and enrolling your pet in a recovery database.
  • First aid kit. Cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Including a pet first aid reference book is a good idea too.
  • Collar or harness with ID tag, rabies tag and a leash.
  • Crate or pet carrier. Have a sturdy, safe crate or carrier in case you need to evacuate. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.
  • Sanitation. Pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach.
  • A picture of you and your pet together. If you become separated, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you. Add species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
  • Familiar items. Familiar items, such as treats, toys and bedding can help reduce stress for your pet.



Get Informed

  • Know what disasters could affect your area, which could call for an evacuation and when to shelter in place.
  • Keep a NOAA Weather Radio tuned to your local emergency station and monitor TV, radio, and follow mobile alert and mobile warnings about severe weather in your area.
  • Download the FEMA app, receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States.

Make a Plan

Next, determine any special assistance you may need, and include in your emergency plan.

  • Create a support network of family, friends and others who can assist you during an emergency, and share your disaster plans with them. Practice your plan with them.
    – Make sure they have an extra key to your home, know where you keep your emergency supplies and how to use lifesaving equipment or administer medicine.
  • If you undergo routine treatments administered by a clinic or hospital, find out their emergency plans and work with them to identify back-up service providers.
  • If you have a communication-related disability, note the best way to communicate with you.
  • Don’t forget your pets or service animals. Not all shelters accept pets, so plan for alternatives.
    – Consider loved ones or friends outside of your immediate area
    – Prepare an emergency kit for your pet
  • For related information visit our page on Individuals with disabilities


Get your benefits electronically

A disaster can disrupt mail service for days or weeks. If you depend on Social Security or other regular benefits, switching to electronic payments is a simple, significant way to protect yourself financially before disaster strikes.

It also eliminates the risk of stolen checks. The U.S. Department of the Treasury recommends two safer ways to get federal benefits:

  • Direct deposit to a checking or savings account. Federal benefit recipients can sign up by calling (800) 333-1795
  • The Direct Express prepaid debit card is designed as a safe and easy alternative to paper

Source(s): www.ready.gov

by Meryl M