Saturday, April 9, 2011

Government Uncertainty and Disaster Supply Kits

The national media has been dominated with news of a possible government shutdown.  Whichever end of the political spectrum you fall on, there's one thing everyone can agree on: many people now find themselves in an uncertain situation over which they have no control.  This feels kind of like a disaster, right? Although it is certainly not of the magnitude of an earthquake or a tsunami, the current uncertainty and lack of control can leave anyone feeling vulnerable.   A good way to combat these feelings is it to take your own steps towards personal preparedness. 
Essential functions are the lynch pin of every agency or business continuity plan.  There is a lot of talk right now, particularly here in the DC Metro area, about which Federal functions are essential.  One question we should all ask ourselves is "What items do I consider essential?"  One answer, no matter what the disaster, is a disaster supply kit.  Maintaining a disaster supply kit will help you to ensure that you have the resources you need to remain self-sufficient in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. 
The items I have listed below are essential to any disaster supply kit.  Ideally, you should have these items stored in easily accessible, portable containers so that you can easily load the kit into your vehicle in the event of a mandatory evacuation:

Water: One gallon per person, per day (recommend at least a 3 day supply)
Food:  Non­perishable, easy to prepare items (recommend at least a 3 day supply)
Can opener
Moist towelettes and hand sanitizer
Extra batteries
Battery­ powered or hand­crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
Multi­purpose tool to turn off utilities
First aid kit
Medications and pertinent medical information
Personal hygiene items
Cell phone with chargers and/or solar chargers
Extra cash
Family and emergency contact information
Emergency blanket
Rain Poncho and change of clothes
Local Map
Personal Security Alarm or Whistle to signal for help
Copies of personal documents (proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates).
Trash bags and ties

I hope that the government will not shutdown and all of the recent preparations will be chalked up to another expensive exercise in "what if?"  We can look at the uncertainty of the current situation and think about our own vulnerabilities and what we can do to prepare.  Outside of casting a ballot and contacting our Members of Congress, we cannot control the political environment.  However, there are aspects of our own environment that we can control to include increasing our level of personal preparedness by building a disaster supply kit.  Take control and build a disaster supply kit this weekend.

Written by Kate Schweigart


  1. Any tips for those of us who are short on storage space?

  2. Good question! This may sound simple but start with buying small items. For example, you can buy compact emergency blankets, freeze dried food or high calorie bars.

    If it is convenient, you might want to consider a prepackaged kit; from Emergency Zone to Ready America, there are a number of brands out there. Even Costco has a kit! The kits typically come in a backpack or bucket that you can easily store in your closet or car.

    My only concern regarding the kits is that the water is often less than a gallon per person, per day, but they are great for an evacuation scenario. For shelter-in-place scenarios, stick to the 1 gallon per person per day rule, or as much as your space will realistically allow. Good luck!