Create a Home Emergency Preparedness Kit

by Name of President
Local Board of REALTORS

Preparing and keeping a fully stocked home emergency preparedness kit could be the key to your family’s safety if disaster strikes.

Natural disasters can’t be prevented, but you can take charge of how you respond.

Preparing a home emergency preparedness kit, you hope never to use, may seem like a waste of time and money. But when disasters happen that are beyond your control, you can take charge of how you respond. According to a recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) survey, more than half of all U.S. households have some sort of disaster preparation in place. If yours isn’t one of them, here’s what you need to do.

First, make sure important papers are in order
If a flood destroys your home, you could spend weeks or even months just trying to re-create the essential documents you’ll need to get back on track. That’s why it’s critical to have backups of important papers, including the deed to your house, proof of insurance, medical records, passports, social security cards, and a list of personal contacts. Keep one copy at home in a portable case and another offsite in a safe place. And while you’re at it, use the opportunity to check whether your insurance is up to date.

Tailor a preparedness kit to your personal needs
Humanitarian organizations and government aid agencies offer guidelines for creating an emergency preparedness kit. But along with the basics like food and water, it’s important to have what you need for your particular situation. Make sure you have escape ladders in case of a fire. And you’ll want extra extra blankets to survive a winter power outage.

Think about what you need for the safety of your house, too. Knowing where to find the main electrical and water shutoffs—and having the right wrench to turn them—can make the difference between a house that weathers the storm and one that experiences catastrophic flooding or fire.

A basic emergency preparedness kit
FEMA recommends you keep a “grab and go” bag with these items in case you need to evacuate:

  1. Water: One gallon, per person, per day, for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation; double in the summer. Bottled water is best, but you can also store tap water in food-grade containers or two-liter soda bottles that have been sanitized. Factor in your pet’s water needs, too.
  2. Food: At least a three-day supply of non-perishables and a can opener. Pack protein, fruit, and vegetables, but make sure they’re in a form you actually like—it’s bad enough not to have access to fresh food without also having to subsist on nothing but canned tuna. Include treats like cereal bars, trail mix, and Tootsie Rolls. Store food in pest-proof plastic or metal tubs and keep it in a cool, dry place.
  3. Flashlights and extra batteries: FEMA does not recommend candles because there are many house fires caused by candles left unattended.
  4. First-aid supplies: Two pairs of sterile gloves, adhesive bandages and sterile dressings, soap or other cleanser, antibiotic towelettes and ointment, burn ointment, eye wash, thermometer, scissors, tweezers, petroleum jelly, aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever, and stomach analgesics such as Tums, Pepto-Bismol, and a laxative.
  5. Sanitation and hygiene supplies: Moist towelettes, paper towels, toilet paper, garbage bags, and plastic ties. You might also want travel-size shampoo, toothpaste/toothbrush, and deodorant.
  6. Radio or TV: Keep a portable, battery- or crank-operated radio or television and extra batteries to remain connected in case the power goes out, as well as an extra cell phone charger. You can buy a good emergency radio online from the Red Cross.
  7. Plastic sheeting, duct tape, and dust masks: In case you need to seal your home or shelter from airborne contaminants.
  8. Extra items: A whistle to signal for help, a favorite toy or other comfort items for kids.
    Cash.
  9. Update your kit as your needs change, and replace food and water approaching its expiration date. Pick a specific time each year to check.

Don’t forget, when it’s time to buy or sell your home, contact a REALTOR, a member of the ____________ Board of REALTORS.