You are on your path to financial freedom, then suddenly the truly unexpected happens: an an emergency or natural disaster. Now you are completely caught off guard. First, don't panic. Second, use the tips below and try your best to be prepared before an emergency happens.
One of the best things you can do for your budget and managing debt is to prepared for all or at least most situations. A situation that many people are not prepared for is a true emergency. These include tropical storms, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis and many more natural disasters and other emergencies. Here is a preparedness guide from ready.gov to help you Build An Emergency Kit and be prepared in many way, particularly financially.
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? Download a printable version to take with you. 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
Food - at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
First aid kit
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
Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
Download the Recommended Supplies List (PDF)
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Additional Emergency Supplies
Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:
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 checksImportant 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
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.