Severe weather can truly strike at any minute. Growing up along the Florida Gulf Coast, I have my fair share of stories about storms that seemingly come out of nowhere. One minute it’s a beautiful day. The next minute the sky is covered in storm clouds. In the event of a severe weather threat, are you ready? Do you have an emergency kit prepared? If so, where is it? When is the last time you checked it?
What is an In-Home Emergency Kit?
I recently put together our in-home emergency kit. I am calling it the “in-home” emergency kit because it is for the disasters that we would stay in the home for. We get a lot of tornado threats in the winter and spring here in the Houston area, and those have almost no warning at all. Another danger anywhere along the coast is always hurricanes. At least with hurricanes, though, you usually have some warning. If you are in a hurricane-prone area, it’s good to check the tropics often during the season. With proper preparation, you can have days, sometimes up to a week’s notice that the storm may be heading your way.
Why Do You Need an In-Home Emergency Kit?
Your in-home emergency kit is everything you should need in the event of severe weather. Tornados are the second deadliest severe weather hazard, second only to heat. If you are under a tornado warning, seconds count! You need to focus your attention on getting your family to your designated safe room in your home. You should NOT be worried about making sure you have any necessary supplies in there with you.
Where Should You Keep Your In-Home Emergency Kit?
This is where the planning phase starts to come into effect. Do you know where you need to go in your home in the event of severe weather? Does everyone in the family know where your safe room is? In our home, the boy’s bathroom is the safest place for us. It has rooms on all four sides (playroom, laundry room, hallway, and entryway). There is only the one door. The bathroom doesn’t have any windows or skylights. And one of the most important aspects for tornados is that the bathroom is on the lowest level of the home.
Now that you have in mind where you would go, think about where you can put your emergency kit in that room. Your in-home emergency kit won’t do you any good if it is on the other side of the house. Since we use the bathroom, I cleaned out underneath one of the sinks, and our emergency supplies are under there. I still have a few things I need to add to ours, but the major items are in there.
What Should You Put In Your Emergency Kit?
So now you know what an in-home emergency kit is, why you need one, and where to put it…. but what goes in it? Some of this will vary depending on your family and any special circumstances or needs you may have. But this should give you an overall idea of what is best for your kit. I may have some ideas you didn’t think of, and some of mine may spark other ideas for you!
Food & Water Needs
Probably the most important need you cover is your food and water. You may not need it during the storm, especially if it is a fast-moving storm. But what if you lose power and can’t cook after the storm? If a severe storm goes through, you may not know if your water is safe to drink. You should have at least 4 gallons of water, per person, for at least 3-4 days. I know that’s a lot of water, but it’s for drinking as well as any sanitary needs. And don’t forget about your pets, they also will need their water supply.
Second to water is your food. If you can get some Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), those are perfect because they last a long time and don’t need to be cooked. If not, go for some canned goods. It may not be the most tasteful food, but in an emergency, any food is better than none. And don’t forget a manual can opener for any canned items since you may not have power. If you have a baby in the house, make sure you store some formula or dry milk or whatever they may need for food. Again, don’t forget about food for any pets you have too.
Buy a decent first aid kit, or put your own together, and keep it with your emergency kit. You never know when one may come in handy for minor cuts and scrapes that may occur. (I also keep a small first aid kit in the vehicle for when we are out and about.) A good first aid kit should have most of the medical items you may need during severe weather. The only other thing you will want to have a supply of is any prescription or over-the-counter medications. Again, enough for 3-4 days is usually good. Our first aid kit has some Tylenol and Advil in it. Otherwise, I would put some of those in there too.
During severe weather, you can almost guarantee that you will lose power. Be prepared for this. Even if severe weather strikes during the day, your safe room doesn’t have windows so it will be dark in there no matter the time. I have a flashlight for each of us in the cabinet along with enough extra batteries to put another set in each light. To save on batteries, candles are a good option, especially for night time after the storm when you still may not have power. I’ve heard that you can also burn crayons, so I have a box of those too. Maybe they would work as candles, and if not then they are entertainment for the kids.
If you don’t already have one, get yourself a crank radio. We had one, but the boys were playing with it and broke the crank, making it useless. For Christmas, we were given a new one. I tested it out and put it right in the cabinet with our emergency kit. As I’ve said before, you will most likely lose power, so the crank radio is a good way to be able to listen to the new for any updates on the weather. The crank radio we have (this one) also can charge a phone and has a flashlight on it.
After the Storm
Some of the supplies I mentioned already would be useful for after the storm. But a few items in my kit specifically for after the storm threat is over include a small tool set, sunscreen, work gloves, and ziptop bags. The toolset is used for any minor repairs you may need to do to your home. If the storm passes during the day, you may find yourself outside a lot to clean up, so you want to make sure you have some sunscreen. The work gloves are also meant for clean up to protect your hands. And ziptop bags are good for so many things; I wanted to make sure to have a few on hand.
These are a few additional items that don’t fit into a category but are good to have. I created my emergency binder with copies of all our important documents. I have copies of birth certificates, identification, our homeowner’s insurance, information for utility companies, and so much more. Check my next post for more information on my emergency binder. An emergency blanket can be used for a variety of things. We had two sitting in the garage, so I threw those in the kit, just in case.
A sharpie marker is great for if you have children or someone with a major medical issue. If we need to, I can use the sharpie to write the boys names, dates of birth, and emergency contact info straight on their arm. It will wash off after a few days, but if they get separated from us, that’s important information for someone to know. It could also be used for someone who has a medical condition that would need to be known to first responders, or major medical allergies.
Last, I am going to get a collar for our cat with a tag that has our information on it. I know most people with a dog have one already, but cats typically don’t. Our cat is microchipped, but this would be a quick way for someone to identify her. And even if you already have a collar for your pet, if they don’t wear it in the home, you may want to put one with your emergency kit to have close.
Download Your FREE Checklist
To help you put your kit together, I created a pdf that you can download with a checklist of all the items here and room for you to add your own. Don’t hesitate to get your emergency kit together; you never know when severe weather will strike. Even if you don’t have everything you need, start gathering what you have. Anything is better than nothing. This goes back to my Girl Scouts roots: Be Prepared!