Make Your Own Preparedness Kit

By Staff

How to be ready for “the big one” (or even a small one).

The best thing anybody ever got out of being a Girl Scout was the wisdom of the slogan: Be Prepared. (The Boy Scouts’ tag, Do a Good Turn Daily, is a nice adjunct, but mostly necessary because of so much lack of preparation.)
Like Californians, most Utahns know we’re living on a powder keg. The 1989 Bay Area quake left 12,000 residents displaced permanently or temporarily, according to the San Francisco Chronicle; of those whose homes remained intact, many were temporarily without water, electricity and phone service.
Here’s a list of supplies to have on hand, adapted from the San Francisco Chronicle, American Red Cross, Disaster Preparedness Handbook, City of Berkeley, and Erin Geesaman’s article on “The Holistic Medicine Chest” which ran in CATALYST last year.
(Do tell all the family members where you’re stashing this stuff, just in case you’re not around when “the big one”—or even an inconvenient “little one”—hits.)

Store water in high-quality plastic containers. Avoid using plastics that will break down or puncture, or glass bottles.
Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person: two quarts for drinking, two quarts for each person in your household for food preparation/sanitation. Don’t forget your pets!
Change this water every six months. Treat water with household liquid bleach, nothing else, to kill microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25% sodium hypochlorite (normal Clorox bleach). Do not use scented bleaches, colorsafe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners. Add 16 drops (1/4 tsp.) of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes.
Other chemicals, such as iodine or water treatment products sold in camping or surplus stores that do not contain 5.25% sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient, are not recommended and should not be used.

Ready-to-eat canned fruits, vegetables, meats
Canned or boxed juices, milk, soup
Protein powder and greens-based powder to mix with liquids (pack a container with a tight lid for mixing)
Seasonings, sweetener
High-energy foods such as nut butters, crackers, granola bars, trail mix
Foods for infants, elderly, persons with special dietary needs
Comfort/stress foods: cookies, hard candy, coffee (instant, or pack a spare French press or filter), tea bags, powdered hot chocolate
Pet food, at least one ounce per animal pound per day
Avoid foods like rice, pasta and dry beans that require a great deal of water to prepare. Remember to restock your food once a year.

Sterile adhesive bandages in various sizes
Safety pins (assorted sizes)
Cleansing agent/soap
Latex gloves (2 pairs)
Sterile gauze pads, 2-in. and 4-in. (4-6 each)
Triangular bandages (3)
See “Homeopathic/Holistic Options” below, or pack these non-prescription drugs: pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medicines, antacid, syrup of Ipecac (used to induce vomiting with the advice of a Poison Control Center), laxatives, activated charcoal (used with advice from the Poison Control Center).
Prescription drugs: Check with your doctor and pharmacist about obtaining a supply of essential (non-narcotic) prescription medications you need.
Various roller bandages
Moistened towelettes
Homeopathic/holistic options:
Traumeel ointment for aches and pains
Charcoal capsules for poisoning
Calendula-based herbal salve and/or aloe vera for burns, sunburns and rashes
Echinacea for immune support
Vitamin C for nutrition and immune support (plus, who knows when fruit will be available again—nobody wants scurvy)
Marshmallow root for upset stomach
Cascara sagrada for constipation
Skullcap for pain relief
Tea tree oil for cuts and scrapes (prevents infection)
Zinc for anxiety/depression

Paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils
Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
Flashlight and extra batteries
Instead of battery-operated radio and flashlight, you can substitute ones powered by cranking or shaking. Ace Hardware sells the Nightstar Magnetic Force Flashlight (waterproof, shock resistant, shake & shine) for $43 and the Vector Storm Tracker Weather Alert Radio Flashlight with Universal Cell Phone Charger (hand-crank to charge built-in batteries) for $30.
Cash or traveler’s checks, in case banks are closed in the days following an earthquake
Non-electric can opener or a utility knife
Small fire extinguisher
Matches in a waterproof container
Aluminum foil
Plastic storage containers
Signal flare
Notebook, pencil and pens
Needles, thread
Medicine dropper
Wrench, to turn off gas and water
Digital recorder, with spare batteries, so you can document what you see for posterity

Try to choose recycled and biode­gradable items, as well as items with less packaging: who knows when the next time trash collection could occur.
Toilet paper
Soap, liquid detergent. A biodegradable soap such as Ivory or one from a natural foods store is a good idea; whatever you use in an emergency may very well get into the ground.
Feminine supplies. OB tampons have no applicator, so less waste.
Plastic garbage bags and ties
Large plastic bucket with tight lid
Household chlorine bleach
Poop bags and scooper for pet waste

Sturdy footwear (keep a pair near your bed in case of a nighttime quake, to avoid broken glass)
Rain gear
Blankets or sleeping bags
Warm clothing
Sunglasses (keep spare eyeglasses or contacts in the emergency kit, too, including reading glasses)

Include PHOTOCOPIES of the following documents in a waterproof plastic bag:
Will, insurance policies, contracts deeds, stocks and bonds
Passports, social security cards, immunization and other medical records
Bank account numbers
Credit card account numbers and companies
Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers
Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)

Store items in plastic bins with tight-fitting lids. Keep them in a cool, dry place that will be relatively easy to access, for example, in the basement but not in the corner farthest from the stairs.
Remember to include items for special needs of family members such as babies or elders.
Being prepared will make any disaster is a bit less disastrous. And stash a bit more than you need, so—like the Boy Scouts—you can easily do a good turn, at a time when it will be most needed.

This article was originally published on June 7, 2010.