Would you and your family be prepared in the event of a hurricane or other disaster? If the answers is no, then the time to prepare is now as the 2012 Hurricane Season officially begins on June 1st. Everyone who lives in vulnerable areas needs to make an emergency preparedness kit. Additionally, even if you live thousands of miles from the coast, it’s still prudent to prepare a kit. According to the National Hurricane Center/NOAA, an emergency preparedness kit should include the following items:
Water: You will need at least 1 gallon per day per person for 3 to 7 days. Don't forget about extra water for your pets.
Food: You will need enough food for at least 3 to 7 days. Make sure you have non-perishable packaged or canned foods, special food for infants, a non-electric can opener, cooking tools, paper plates, and plastic utensils.
- Money-Saving Tip: Do not wait until a hurricane watch or warning is posted to stock up on these items. Price-gouging, although illegal, is far too common in the face of an impending disaster, and you're also likely to find the store shelves heavily picked over, if not barren.
Clothing: You will need seasonal clothing, rain gear, as well as sturdy shoes and work gloves in case you have to clean up debris or make repairs to your home.
Toiletries, Hygiene Items, and Moisture Wipes: You’ll need at least a 1-week supply of your toiletries and hygiene items. Keep in mind that if your water supply becomes contaminated after the storm or emergency, you will be taking sponge baths. As such, you should include lots of washcloths, moisture wipes and dry shampoo.
Tool Set: You’ll need a tool set containing a small hammer, nails, screwdriver, screws, wrench, a coil of wire, wire cutters, scissors, and heavy-duty tape. Also, if you used specific tools and hardware to install your metal hurricane shutters or cover your house windows with plywood, include extras of such items so you can either repair or take down the shutters as necessary.
First Aid Kit, Medicines, and Prescriptions Medications: You should have at least a 10-day supply of any over-the-counter medicines or prescription medications that you or your family take.
- Money-Saving Tip: Save the receipts for the purchase of items for your first aid kit as you’ll typically be able to claim these items as tax-deductible medical expenses on your tax return. Also, while you can buy pre-made first aid kits, it is often cheaper to create your own. For a list of items to put in your first aid kit, check out the American Red Cross’s recommendations here.
Flashlights, Lanterns, Candles, Batteries, and other Camping Equipment: Remember, you may be without power and other creature comforts for weeks following a disaster. Think of it like an extended family camping trip and make a plan to acquire outdoor and camping equipment accordingly.
- Money-Saving Tip: You're in luck–the end of May is the exact time of year many stores put their camping and outdoor equipment on sale. One potential place to buy significantly discounted camping equipment and survivalist gear is at an army surplus store. Another way to save is by purchasing used equipment on Craigslist, eBay, or at the niche, peer-to-peer market sites GearTrade and LowerGear.
Battery Operated NOAA Weather Radio
- Money-Saving Tip: The cheapest battery operated NOAA weather radio I found online was the Kaito Electronics Inc. KA001 Portable Hand-Crank AM, FM, NOAA Radio available at Amazon.com for $14.00 plus $2.99 for shipping. At Sports Authority, battery operated NOAA radios cost between $29.99-$59.99 depending on the model. If you sign up your email address at SportsAuthority.com, the store will immediately email you a 10% discount code for online shopping and a printable coupon good for $10.00 off your next in-store purchase of $50.00 or more.
Cash: You should have enough cash on hand (including small bills) to cover at least one week of spending.
Important Documents: In a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag, keep copies of your insurance forms, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc. You should also consider uploading scans of these documents to your email account or a photo-hosting site so that you will be able to remotely access this information in the event the documents are destroyed.
- Money-Saving Tip: Prior to hurricane season, it’s prudent to take extensive pictures of your home and personal property. Print out copies of these pictures and then store them with your other important documents. Also, upload digital copies of the photos to your email account or a photo-hosting site that you can access remotely. If you need to make an insurance claim after the storm, these photos can help you get the maximum reimbursement and save you a significant amount of money.
Phone: Make sure you have a fully charged cell phone with an extra battery and a traditional (not cordless) telephone set.
Gas: Fill up your vehicle with gas, and if you have an outdoor gas grill, make sure it has a full tank of gas.
Pet Care Items: Make sure you have copies of your pet's identification and immunization records. You will also need a 1-week supply of food, water, and medications for your pet.
Toys, Books and Games: Say goodbye to your iPad and DVR recordings and say hello to Scrabble and that 5,000 piece puzzle that's been sitting in your attic for the last decade.