You never know when disaster will strike. My husband’s family encountered some rather difficult situations as a result of the hurricane Irene, which sent the floods through their homes in the Catskill mountains. Indeed, my husband’s grandmother’s entire, historic town is considered a loss. His parents, even though they weren’t flooded out, were without power and telephone for three days. This has me thinking about the importance of emergency preparedness. If you want to be ready for an emergency, here are 7 things that you should consider getting:
1. Emergency Fund
One of the best things you have in a tough situation is an emergency fund of some sort. It’s a good idea to have a liquid fund somewhere. And, even though your credit card isn’t the best emergency fund, an emergency card that you can use in a tight spot, might not be amiss. Many people also find it useful to have a stash of cash at home, kept in a waterproof, fireproof container (a fire safe can work well), just in case it is impossible to access your bank account or use your credit card.
2. 72-Hour Kit
It’s usually a good idea to have a properly prepared 72-hour kit. This is a kit that includes non-perishable food items, water, basic first aid supplies, toiletries and other necessary items, as well as a crank radio or battery run radio. You can purchase 72-hour kits, but I find it can help to build your own, or add to a kit that you buy. A change of clothes and underwear, as well as small activities for children, or a game that the whole family can play, can be helpful. Make sure supplies of medications family members need are kept in the 72-hour kit. Your 72-hour kit should be somewhere you can grab it quickly, just in case you need to evacuate.
3. Emergency Car Kit
You should also be prepared for emergencies that require you to drive somewhere, or that strike while you are driving. Keep your car properly maintained. I like to keep blankets in my car, as well as a first aid kit. We also have our flat tire kit in the car, as well as flares. And, so that we are ready to go if we need to, we keep our tank half full. It means avoiding the long lines at fueling stations in an emergency situation. Before we leave on a long trip, we also pack a few food items, and make sure to have water.
4. First Aid Kit
The emergency first aid kit you have in your home should be different from the kit you keep in the car, or the kit you have with your 72-hour kit. This should be an expanded first aid kit with plenty of bandages of all types, splints, gauze, medical tape, disinfectant, ointment and other items.
5. Home Food Storage
When you end up in an emergency situation, where you are stuck at home, it is a good idea to have home food storage. This can also be a boon during times of financial hardship. When my husband and I had a few lean months a few years ago, we relied on our food storage to help get us through. A huge stockpile isn’t necessary, but some non-perishables, water and other items can be a big help.
6. Personal Care and Household Items
You should also consider making sure you have a few extra personal care and household items. Toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, soap, and other hygiene items can come in handy in an emergency.
7. Heat, Light and/or Power Sources
You might also want to make sure you have a heat source for an emergency. We would like to buy a generator at some point, but, for now, we have a house-safe propane heater designed to warm up our family room. We also have crank lanterns and flashlights, as well as candles. We have a camp stove, and a grill, both of which can be used to cook for and provide warmth in a pinch.
Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.