Chapter 3: Emergency Preparation For Your Family
For many of us, emergency preparation involves a lot more than just buying an emergency kit and securing our home. For those of us with families, we have to help plan and prepare for our children, pets, or aging family members.
We touched on useful items for dependents and pets in the last chapter, but we know how important it is to be informed and prepared for our families, and it warrants covering in detail.
Babies and Toddlers
The youngest members of our family often require the most resources and assistance. Because they grow at such a fast rate, it can be difficult to store their supplies for long. We recommend keeping their emergency kit stored with their diaper bag, and updating both on a monthly basis. This will ensure diapers are always the correct size and none of the food or drinks are expired.
Food & Water
Younger children, particularly infants, have unique nutritional needs. Here are a few notes to consider when storing their food.
- Formula comes in two options: ready-to-feed or powdered formula.
- Ready-to-feed requires no water or heating and, despite its short shelf-life, is a better option when water may be scarce. If you buy ready-to-feed formula, keep in mind you must refrigerate unused formula within two hours upon opening the package. The refrigerated formula must be used or discarded within 48 hours of opening, and any formula you feed to your child can't last more than an hour in the open without being consumed.
- Powdered formula has a shelf-life of about a year and is more cost effective, but does require clean drinking water.
- Clean water is also imperative for breastfeeding mothers to stay hydrated - they may need up to an additional quart of water per day.
- Include shelf-stable baby food, as babies may not be ready for the non-perishable foods already in your emergency kit.
First Aid, Hygiene, & Comfort
Feeding, bathing, and diapering babies are half the battle. Because babies are often very sensitive, keeping them comfortable is equally as important. Consider adding these items to your child’s kit, which can help keep them comfortable and make caring for them easier on you.
- Disposable diapers
- Access to laundry services will be unlikely in an emergency, so disposable diapers are a must.
- Medications or supplements
- Vaccination records
- Toy or comfort item
- Manual breast pump: while not a necessity, a nursing mother may wish to pack this to keep her milk supply up
- Thermos to keep expressed milk warm for a short period of time
- Baby wrap or carrier - this will be especially useful if there is rubble or debris to navigate a stroller over and will give you use of both your hands
Children Ages 5-18
School-age children can a wide array of unique needs. Whereas you’re most likely to be at home, work, or in your car, your children are most like to be at home, school, or perhaps on a bus. Your child may not be with you in the case of an emergency or natural disaster. To mitigate that, many schools actually require a child safety emergency kit (often called an Emergency Comfort Kit) be kept at the school for your child.
Emergency Comfort Kits usually include:
- A change of clothes, typically including a warm hat and mittens
- Non-perishable food and water
- Antibacterial hand sanitizer
- Small flashlight with batteries
- Tissues or Wet Wipes
- Notepad and pencil, deck of cards, or other small entertainment
- Family photograph
- Comfort letter
In addition to the comfort kits, we recommend a few extra items in your child’s backpack in case of an emergency while on the bus or a field trip. These items can be stored in a plastic storage bag to keep them safe and dry.
- ID cards and family communication plan
- Emergency whistle
- Emergency Contact Card with a list of priority phone numbers
- First aid kit
- Emergency blanket
- Emergency poncho
- Body Warmers
Family Members with Unique Needs
All of our families have unique needs. From allergies to differing abilities, an aging loved one, or a wheelchair user. Keep these extra items in their emergency kit will give you all peace of mind.
- Whistle, bell, or battery-powered alarm signal will help those with mobility restrictions signal for help.
- Extra medication and medical supplies (bladder pads, catheters, EpiPen, hearing aid, batteries, etc.)
- Pen and paper can be useful for those with communication restrictions
- Check the ingredients in your emergency kit food supply for allergens, and adjust as necessary for people with severe allergies.
Make sure your furry family members are safe by packing supplies for them!
Food & Water
Emergency kits for pets carry food and water pouches that last up to 5 years. We also encourage you to store an additional supply of water purification tablets. Clean water may be hard to find, these tablets can be a great resource for your pet.
- Blanket and body warmers
- A wool or mylar blanket and bodywarmers can help your pet stay calm when you need to take them out of their element.
- When you need to move quickly with your pet (in seconds, not minutes), you’ll need an extra collar and leash on hand. It’s also important to have something to secure them when necessary. Consider including a metal stake to attach your leash to.
- Crate or Carrier
- For smaller dogs and cats, a backpack you can carry them in for quick transport will keep them close to you, and keep your hands free. Most small pets feel much safer in an enclosed space and will calm down considerably.
- Pets often hide and may hesitate to leave the house in the aftermath of an emergency or natural disaster. You may need to carry them in a backpack to bring them to safety.