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7 things to include in your emergency supply kit

7 things to include in your emergency supply kit
February 26
11:00 2018
An emergency supply kit sometimes seems like a ridiculous thing to have in the house. It never gets used. It just sits there taking up space and making you feel like one of those paranoid people on TV who have the equivalent of a nuclear bunker in their basement. Even if your “supply kit” is just a box in the corner, it taunts you every time you see it. Do you really need to have a container that is constantly filled with supplies?
Contrary to popular belief, emergency supply kits are not reserved for either the paranoid planners or the unfortunate souls who live on a major fault line. Every household should have a fully-stocked emergency supply kit regardless of where you live. Living in an area that is away from fault lines, never floods, is outside tornado alley and has mild weather does not guarantee that your home will always be safe. If they could be predicted, they would not be called “emergencies.”
Emergencies are not limited to natural disasters either. A cold winter can freeze or burst even the sturdiest city pipes, and a normal thunderstorm is more than capable of knocking out power and dropping trees across roads. In such instances, it is good to have some supplies to last you and your family until the normal amenities, such as water and electricity, are restored. Here are seven things to include in your emergency supply kit.
Water
One of the first things you probably learned in elementary school science is that “water is necessary for life.” Just because you are now driving your own kids to elementary school does not make this maxim any less true. Water is essential for survival, but contaminated water can be deadly. If the power is out, a pipe bursts or a water main is somehow contaminated, you need to have drinkable water on hand. According to FEMA, an emergency supply kit should have water for at least three days and allot one gallon or four liters of water each day per person. A family of four, then, should stockpile at least twelve gallons or 16 liters of water.
If you know a serious storm or other potential emergency is approaching, you can also add to your emergency water supplies without leaving home. Fill up any empty water bottles or stock pots, and fill the bathtub. These last minute additions could make a great deal of difference in an emergency.
Dried Fruit

When preparing an emergency supply kit, most people remember to pack food. They know to fill their kit with shelf-stable and non-perishable items, and they may or may not know to ensure that they have rationed 2,000 calories per person per day. What many people forget, however, is to make sure they have food that represents all the basic food groups. The food in your emergency supply kit might have plenty of calories to last you for several days, but you are going to have problems if your kit is full of 2,000 calories worth of granola bars and Twinkies. Nutrition matters, especially when you might need to ration your food. Dried fruit is shelf-stable and is a good source of vitamins that you might otherwise miss in an emergency. Raisins, dried mangos, dried pineapple and craisins can all be found at most grocery stores. Pick up a box or bag of dried fruit the next time you go shopping, and add it to your kit.

Can Opener
Canned goods are one of the first things that comes to mind for many people when they think of non-perishable foods. This makes sense. A wide variety of foods come in cans including soups, vegetables and fruits. Cans are easy to store and have no real expiration date. In the event of a complete power outage, you can eat straight from a can instead of having to find a plate. Many canned soups or meals are also large enough to act as an entire meal. Unfortunately, however, many people stock up on canned goods but forget one crucial item: a can opener.
Without a can opener, that pile of canned goods is useless. Do not count on being able to use your normal can opener either. If something should happen to your normal can opener, you need to have a back up in your emergency supply kit. An emergency can opener does not have to be fancy or expensive. You can get a perfectly functional can opener for your emergency supply kit at the local dollar store.
Medicine
During an emergency, you are unlikely to be able to get to the pharmacy if you run out of medication. If you take prescription medications, look into obtaining an emergency supply. If you are unable to keep an emergency supply or do not take prescription drugs, you should still keep a supply of over the counter medications on hand for emergencies. Basic emergency supply medications include both acetaminophen and ibuprofen because acetaminophen and ibuprofen have slightly different properties. Both act as pain killers, but acetaminophen also works as a blood thinner and an excellent fever reducer.
Antihistamines and cough or mucus control are also a good idea to keep in an emergency kit. No one wants to be snowed in with a sinus infection and no medication.
An emergency kit should also include a number of digestive “helpers” such as laxatives, antacids and Pepto-Bismol. In an emergency situation, you are unlikely to be eating the sort of food your body is used to digesting which can lead to any number of unpleasant digestive issues. You should keep a stock of vitamins in your emergency supply kit for a similar reason. Depending on how long you are effectively trapped, you could be at risk of a vitamin deficiency. Keep a bottle of basic multivitamins in your kit as well as bottles of vitamins that are less likely to be found in non-perishable foods such as vitamin B-12.
Pet Supplies
When you are preparing your emergency supply kit, do not forget about the furred, feathered or scaled members of your family. Keep several days worth of food in your emergency kit, and a few extra treats. Emergencies are just as stressful on pets as they are on people, so be sure to have some tasty nibbles to help keep your pet calm.
Your pet also needs to have water during an emergency. Small dogs, large dogs, cats, kittens, birds, lizards, rabbits, snakes and hamsters all need differing amounts of water. Do some research online or ask your vet how much water your pet needs every day. Larger animals like dogs and cats will need more water than small animals like hamsters, and mammals will require more water than reptiles.
Take the other needs of your pet into account as well, such as medication and entertainment. Keep extra medication on hand when possible and keep a few indoor toys tucked away to keep your furry friend entertained should you both be trapped inside. For reptiles, be prepared to deal with a power outage. Have a backup plan should the electric heat gradient in the terrarium fail, especially in the winter. Extreme temperatures can easily be fatal for a reptile.
Batteries or Matches
Most people who have an emergency supply kit know to keep some sort of backup light in their kit. Some people prefer to store candles while others like to have flashlights, LED lanterns or another sort of battery powered light. Regardless of which you store in your emergency supply kit,  you will need to have some way of “turning on” that light. Candles do no good without something to start the flame. You can store a couple boxes of matches in your emergency supply kit, or you can keep a lighter inside. Cigarette lighters can be found at almost any store, and larger lighters are widely available. If you choose to use a larger lighter, be sure to occasionally check the level of fluid in the lighter. The last thing you want is to run out of lighter fluid when you need it.
If you prefer battery powered lights, be sure to keep several extra sets of batteries in your kit. Make sure you have at least one extra full set of batteries per light. If you have two lanterns and they each need three batteries, keep at least six batteries in your kit.
Entertainment
If you find yourself more or less trapped in your home for a lengthy period of time, you are going to need something to keep yourself occupied. Entertainment will keep you calm and help you keep control of the inevitable stress that comes during an emergency situation. All of your entertainment needs do not have to be physically kept with your emergency supplies, but a few basics would not go amiss. Keep some paper and crayons in the kit so you know your children will have supplies to keep them entertained with a few hours of coloring. If your children are older or you do not have children, make sure your emergency supplies include a deck of cards and the rules to a few card games such as 500 Rum or Rummy, Gin Rum, Poker, Egyptian Rat Screw, Scum and Crazy Eights.
In addition to what you keep in your emergency kit, know what other entertainment options you have in the house. Board games and books make the best choices, but make sure the books are paper and ink. Tablets, phones, computers and other electronic devices should be left turned off during an emergency except for when they are needed for necessary communication purposes. Make sure your teen understands that talking, texting or SnapChatting their friend does not count as “necessary communication.”
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