December 02, 2008

Build a Kit

I've just started a new job in public health preparedness. What is preparedness you ask? Is that really an English word?

Well, yes it is. And here's what it means:

pre·par·ed·ness (pr-p├órd-ns), n.
The state of being prepared, especially military readiness for combat.

Anyways, I am taking an online training on the topic, and wanted to share how you, as a private citizen, can be ready for a major disaster. The Government recommends that everyone have a Disaster Kit at home, and in their car:

Build a Kit
Modified from Source: Seattle Red Cross

-As a general rule, you should store three days worth of supplies. If room and resources allow, store more.
-Replace emergency food and water supplies every six months unless otherwise noted on the packaging
-Make sure your kit is easily accessible. When a disaster hits, you don’t want to dig in the back of the attic for your supplies.
-Keep smaller versions of your disaster kit in your family vehicles and at work.
Prioritize. Don’t get overwhelmed by the need to get everything on the list. Kits don’t have to take up a lot of room and you may already have a lot of the supplies around your house. Focus on the essentials (water, food and medications) and build from there. Some people find it helpful to have a disaster calendar and add one or two items to their kit every time they go to the grocery/hardware/discount store.


Store at least one gallon of water per person per day (two quarts for drinking and two quarts for sanitation and food preparation. Children, nursing mothers and ill people will need more). Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using anything that may decompose or break. Water should be replaced every six months.

Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that are compact and lightweight, require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water. If you must heat food, pack a can of sterno, but use outside and away from flammable objects.

-Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables.
-Emergency food bars
-Canned juices
-Staples (salt, sugar, pepper, etc.)
-Food/formula for infants
-Food for family members with special dietary requirements
-Comfort/stress foods to lift morale (chocolate)
-Remember to pack a non-electric can opener.

-(20) adhesive bandages, various sizes
-5" x 9" sterile dressing
-Conforming roller gauze bandage
-Triangular bandages
-3 x 3 sterile gauze pads
-4 x 4 sterile gauze pads
-Roll 3" cohesive bandage
-Germicidal hand wipes or waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizer
-Six (6) antiseptic wipes
-Pair large medical grade non-latex gloves
-Adhesive tape, 2" width
-Anti-bacterial ointment
-Cold pack
-Scissors (small, personal)
-CPR breathing barrier, such as a face shield
-Purchase a Red Cross First Aid kit or get trained in First Aid.

Keep enough essential medications on hand for at least three days (preferably seven days).
Keep a photocopy of your medical insurance cards or Medicare cards.
Keep a list of prescription medicines including dosage, and any allergies.
Aspirin, antacids, anti-diarrhea, etc.
Extra eyeglasses, hearing-aid batteries, wheelchair batteries, oxygen tank.
List of the style and serial numbers of medical devices such as pacemakers.
Label any equipment, such as wheelchairs, canes or walkers that you would need.
Instructions on personal assistance needs and how best to provide them.
Individuals with special needs or disabilities should plan to have enough supplies to last for up to two weeks (medication syringes, colostomy supplies, respiratory aids, catheters, padding, distilled water, etc.).

Keep some of these basic tools:

Battery operated radio and extra batteries
Flashlight and extra batteries
Cash or travelers checks
A copy of your disaster plan and emergency contact numbers.
Map of your city and state (to evacuate the area and/or to find shelters)
Utility knife
Non-electric can opener
Fire extinguisher: small canister ABC type
Pliers and wrench
Waterproof matches
Paper, pens and pencils
Needles, thread
Plastic sheeting
Aluminum foil

Toilet paper, towelettes
Soap, liquid detergent
Feminine supplies
Personal hygiene items
Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses)
Plastic bucket with tight lid
Household chlorine bleach
Hand sanitizer

Include at least one complete change of clothing and a pair of sturdy shoes per person. You also want to consider packing blankets or sleeping bags, rain gear, hats and gloves, thermal underwear and sunglasses.

Keep copies of important family documents in a waterproof container.
Will, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds
Social security cards, passports, immigration papers, immunization records
Bank account numbers
Credit card account numbers and companies
Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
Medical insurance and Medicare cards

Deck of cards
Portable music device
For children, include a small toy, stuffed animal or coloring book and crayons
For more information view our disaster kit brochure, family disaster plan brochure and food and water in an emergency brochure.

Wow, I can't help but feel (a) excited by this list as it makes me think that a Zombie apocalypse is upon us, (b) wary of it too, as I also had a kit in Congo for those many times I had to stay at home during civil unrest.

Also, when looking at this list, I wonder if a sports bag is enough to contain all this equipment. A large closet would be more appropriate!


Burt Cancaster said...

Pretty good advice. I actually cam across your blog while looking for blogs about bandaging. I have some ulcers on my legs (gross) and I was looking to see if anyone had some helpful tips about them. Currently, I get my bandages from When you are building your emergency kit, check them out. They have great prices and free shipping for purchases over $100. Not to be a commercial, I'm just saying I get my stuff there because they deliver and there isn't a medical supply within 50 miles of where I live.

007 in Africa said...

Burt, where do you live? In a toxic swamp? That would explain both the ulcers and the lack of medical supplies... But more seriously, thanks for the advice!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I can't believe they actually have a section for entertainment :)

Astrogirl said...

I think you just want to get me more paranoid than I already am:)

Good luck with your new job!

Draffish said...

That sounds unpleasant.. sorry.

As one who works in a similar field, I agree, good kit. Besides the likelihood of Zombie infestation is getting higher by the minute if you ask me. .

007 in Africa said...

Thanks for the encouragement Astrogirl, sorry about the paranoia.

Draffish, I know, I can't wait for the zombies! Wait, do I know you? Your blog is oddly anonymous...

Draffish said...

It is anonymous, for now and nope I don't think you do but that’s ok, I don't know a lot of people. As long as you not a zombie!
Kidding, anyway it's always better to be prepared.

Kate said...

Hearing aid batteries? I'll get right on that.

And new job? Do tell!