Preparing for disaster: What to put in an emergency kit

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - When it comes to severe weather, being prepared is key and that means more than just knowing the forecast.

When the EF4 tornado started hammering down on Perryville, many homeowners knew what to do. They were watching the alerts, and quickly got to their basements or safe place.

Many of them walked out to destruction beyond anything they could imagine.

Luckily, those families had a great community to rally around them, helping them with everything they needed to survive after the storm.

But, what happens when it's a widespread disaster like an earthquake, or a larger tornado that wipes out miles and miles of homes and businesses?

In that type of scenario, you may not get help as soon as your family needs it.

"We recommend you have a plan," said Jim Watkins.

Watkins is a CERT coordinator. CERT stands for, Community Emergency Response Team.

He teaches classes in Cape Girardeau about things like disaster management and home preparedness.

"We know from previous disasters that the individuals are on their own because all disasters start local," said Jim Watkins. "They are dealt with local and end local so it's up to the local people to be able to take care of themselves."

That's why Bill Brown is taking the class.

"Just prepare you for what could happen, you don't know until you cross that bridge," said Brown.

While having a disaster plan is key, so is an emergency kit.

"We definitely recommend saline solution because it's sterile water and you can pop the top and clean the wound," said Watkins as he describes some of the items the class should have in a kit.

He recommends putting all the items into a five-gallon bucket so you can close it up and store it someplace safe.

It should include, food, water, lots of batteries, hygiene items, baby wipes, and a manual can opener.

"You'll also want a packet of personal info and small bills," said Watkins.

He says these are items you'll have to update, so you can't just let them collect dust.

Hopefully you never need it, but our friends in Perryville never expected a tornado to impact them either.

"You won't know it until you need it," said Bill Brown.

Here are the items CERT recommends you have in your basic/disaster emergency bucket:

  • Medical Gloves, non-latex
  • Light sticks (different colors for each family member)
  • Emergency solar blankets
  • Flashlights (ones with batteries stored separately, or wind-up flashlights or shake lights)
  • Camp stove (could use empty metal can with holes)
  • Canned heat (Sterno)
  • Fire starters (waterproof matches, lighters, dryer sheets)
  • Roll of duct tape
  • Pocket/Utility knife
  • Manual can opener
  • Punch can opener
  • Bottle of Saline (contact lens cleaner) to irrigate/clean wounds
  • Bottle of hand sanitizer
  • Hand warmers
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Heavy duty trash bags
  • Roll of toilet paper
  • Combs
  • Toothpaste & tooth brushes
  • Baby wipes
  • N-95 Mask (face air filter)
  • First Aid Kit (Band-Aids, medical tape, antibiotic ointment, gauze, scissors, tweezers, instant ice packs, sanitary napkins {used for large wound dressings}, pain/fever relief medicine for infants and adults)
  • Mess kit (paper plates, plastic forks, plastic spoons, plastic knives, disposable drinking cups)
  • Packet of Copies of Important Papers (phone numbers, insurance information, pay stub, drivers license, cash)
  • Prescriptions (any your family may need to survive)
  • Pet supplies (food, leash)

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