Our government (READY.GOV and EMERGENCY.CDC.GOV) recommends that every American should have at least a three days supply of food and water in case of emergency. I heartily agree with this suggestion, but I say you should take it a step further and make preparations to shelter and be self reliant for a minimum of up to two weeks.
This can be accomplished very easily and it will not cost you anything more than a few minutes out of your day with what I call a Quarter-Hour Kit©. It is my belief that you can cover the basic preparedness needs for your family using simply the items that you already have in your home. In fifteen minutes or less, or about the time it takes to brew a pot of coffee, you can go from a state of disorganization and unpreparedness to a condition of readiness and peace of mind that will allow you to navigate virtually any unexpected disaster situation. This will not be the final version of your home disaster kit, but rather a starting point for you on your road to personal preparedness.
To start, find a container you already have in your home. This can be a cardboard box, a plastic tote or an oversized duffle bag. Considering the Basic Tenets of Preparedness that we will look at below, just walk around your home and collect the items that cover each of the areas of preparedness and put them in your container. When you finish, you will have a well rounded, basic kit that is ready to go when you need it.
Your home is your shelter, so you’ve got that covered. Let’s move on to water, food, fire, communications/defense and psychological.
Water – Find a container to store your water in. This can be bottled water that you have already purchased and have in your home, a few two liter soda bottles that have been cleaned or a few one liter water bottles that you might take to the gym or carry with you every day. An easy way to collect water for cleaning and possibly cooking is by putting collection barrels at the corners of your house and have the rain water drain into them. This water can be purified and used as needed. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts (a half gallon) of water each day. You will also need water for food preparation and hygiene. Store at least an additional half-gallon per person, per day for this. Having an ample supply of clean water is a top priority in an emergency. Store at least a 3-day supply and consider storing a two-week supply of water for each member of your family. If you are unable to store this much, store as much as you can. You can reduce the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool.
Food – You do not need to go out and buy foods to prepare an emergency food supply. You can use the canned or dry goods, dry mixes, and other staples on your cupboard shelves. The key is to pull those items out of your cupboard and designate them for your kit, then replace them on your next visit to the market. You can cook or heat your food using an outdoor grill, a small camping stove or even your fireplace.
Fire – Fire is elemental. You need it to cook your food, boil your water for purification and heat your home. Locate the fire starting materials you have like matches and personal lighters and add them to your kit.
Communications/Defense – Having a line of communications to the outside world to gather information is crucial during a time of emergency. In addition to your land line or cell phone, find a battery powered radio that you already own and the batteries that power it and add those items to your kit. Defense is an area that each of us must sort out for ourselves. If you believe as I do that it is your responsibility as the leader of your family that you must have the ability to defend your home and your family should the need ever arise, select the item(s) that you are comfortable with and store it with your final kit.
**Whatever you choose to use for self defense, it is your responsibility to become proficient with this tool and its capabilities. If this requires training, get it and TRAIN. It is your responsibility.**
Psychological – The ability to remain calm during a time of crisis is vital to the success of any disaster plan. If you have books that bring you piece of mind and help you find your center, the Bible is a great example, make sure you know where they are located or add them to your kit.
Finally, don’t forget to take your pets and service animals into account! They are members of our families, they are our friends and they cannot build their own kits, so help them out. They are depending on you.
Following this simple plan you will be ready for any routine short term disruption and you will be well on your way to completing your two week kit or any higher level of preparedness you want for your family.