If a disaster were to strike your community, would you be ready? One of the most important things you can do right now is to prepare an emergency supply kit or go kit. Unfortunately, people usually learn the importance of a go kit the hard way. The key is to have the kit ready before disaster strikes so that you’ll have the items you need to stay safe and healthy.
The content of go kits can change, depending on your personal needs and those of your family. Since you never know where you will be during an emergency, you should have go kits for your home, office, school, and vehicle. Most of the essential items remain the same whether they are used to survive the aftermath of a tornado, an ice storm or a man-made disaster.
The ideal kit should include items that are easily accessible, according to Bruce Jeffries, the acting deputy director for the Division of Health Protection for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). Jeffries says it’s best to plan to survive for seven days with the contents of your kit.
An emergency go kit should contain:
- Bottled water – an average of one gallon per person per day
- Flashlights – one per person with extra batteries
- Candles – the best varieties are slow burning and those that have plates or other non-flammable bases to catch dripping wax. Jeffries recommends having two or three candles per room.
- Matches and butane lighters
- Small pillows, blankets and an air mattress in case you are required to evacuate
- Extra batteries for your electronics
- Solar charger for electronics
- Solar or wind-up radio with the National Weather Service alert channel
- A variety of non-perishable canned goods, such as fruit, beans or soups, and other snacks like granola bars.
- Fill up your car’s gas tank if you know a severe storm is approaching that might result in power outages.
- Cash – keep about $50-$200 on hand in bills no larger than $20.
“Perhaps the most frequently overlooked item is cash,” said Betsy Kagey, in DPH’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Section. “Power outages usually mean ATMs won’t work, and many stores will only accept cash.”
If an emergency requires you to evacuate, you’ll likely need to take along extra clothing as well, Jeffries noted. Make sure that your go kit includes:
- Enough to wear without washing (except in a sink) for seven days
- Loose-fitting, comfortable clothes; even in the summer, consider bringing a light sweater or jacket, as shelters may be chilly
- Sleepwear, such as lightweight sweatpants or a sweatshirt to wear in a shelter
- Personal toiletries and personal care items
The recent winter storms in Atlanta were a good reminder of the importance of having the right things in a go kit, like extra clothes and warm sweatshirts. Many people were forced to abandon their vehicles on icy roads where traffic was at a standstill and walk for miles in the cold and snow to make it home.
And as you’re preparing your go kit, don’t forget about your pets. “People need to make considerations not only for themselves, but for others whose well-being depends on their actions,” said Ryan Deal, DPH communications director. “This means pets, too. People should include pet medications and pet food in their go kits.”