Individuals & Families
What can you do to make your family better prepared for an emergency? Follow the three basic steps, “Make a Kit, Make a Plan and Stay Informed,” and you will be more ready for almost any disaster affecting your community.
You should assemble a kit that contains at least three days’ worth of emergency supplies for all family members. The kit should be stored in a cool, dry place in one or two rugged, water-resistant containers. Individual items within containers should be stored in plastic bags for added water resistance. The kit should be light enough so that a single adult or teenager can easily transport it. It is recommended that your family emergency kit include the following items:
- Water - One person generally requires at least one gallon of water per day for drinking and sanitation. People should determine how much water they can both store comfortably outside the home and be able to transport to another location.
- Food - At least a three-day supply of non-perishable foods
- Disposable cups, plates, and eating utensils or mess kits
- Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Hardwired telephone
- First-aid kit and guide
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust masks to help filter air after an explosion or building collapse
- Moist towelettes for sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener if your kit contains canned food
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape for sheltering in place
- Lightweight rain ponchos for each family member
- Sleeping bag or blanket for each family member
- Maps and compass to keep from getting lost if evacuating
- Pencil and paper
- Prescription medications in child-proof containers for each family member
- Reading glasses and extra eyeglasses
- Infant formula and diapers for infants and toddlers
- Toilet paper
- Feminine hygiene supplies
- Garbage bags and plastic ties for disposing of waste
- Important family documents such as insurance papers, wills and trusts, deeds, birth certificates, prescription forms signed by a doctor, and medical records (to include weights of children under 90 pounds so that health workers can administer medicines in the proper dosage for them if this becomes necessary. A completed Name, Address, Phone, Health History (NAPH) Form can be used for this purpose):
- Survival reference guides can be downloaded from Ready.gov and are available from various agencies
- Checklist of items included in kit
Additional Items to Consider for Emergencies
Cash or Traveler’s Checks
While it is not recommended that people store large amounts of cash in their home, traveler’s checks are a good option for ensuring that your family has enough currency on hand for at least three days. Adult family members should carry debit or credit cards with them at all times. Change may be necessary for paying highway tolls or can be used for making calls from payphones.
Mobile Phones & Chargers or Prepaid Calling Cards
Although phone service might not be available during an emergency, people who have mobile phones should carry these with them at all times and keep all phone numbers for each family member programmed. Each family vehicle should contain a charger for each person’s mobile phone. Prepaid calling cards are a good, low-cost alternative for helping to make sure that everyone is able to make a phone call during an emergency.
Extra Clothing, Toiletries & Cosmetics
Just as if you were planning to travel on business or pleasure, you might want to include these items in your kit. However, they will add bulk and weight.
Vehicles should always be kept as fully fueled as expenses allow in case it becomes necessary to evacuate. People should not store gasoline in their home, because this poses a fire hazard. Store an empty, approved gasoline container in your vehicle for getting gas in case you run out - do not keep it filled.
Matches in a Waterproof Container
This can be a small, low-cost source of heat and light for warmth and cooking in an emergency, but is a possible safety hazard for small children and probably not necessary for evacuating to a pre-determined location such as a hotel or a relative’s home (see Make a Plan, in the next tab).
Your family should have a well-thought-out plan for contacting one another during and after an emergency.
Establish Meeting Places
You should select two meeting places where everyone can meet if you must leave your home quickly. One of these places should be near your home but a safe distance away, such as the nearest major street or roadway corner. The second place is somewhere you would go if a disaster makes it impossible for you to return to the area where you live. This could be the home of a friend or relative in another part of town or a nearby town.
Establish a Contact Person
Next, you should ask someone to serve as a contact person, such as an out-of-town relative. Every family member should be able to reach this person by phone and should contact them as soon as possible if an emergency occurs. The designated contact person should be given contact information for all family members.
Ensure You Will Have a Phone
If family members have mobile phones, the number for the emergency contact person should be programmed into everyone’s phone, along with those of each family member. Each phone should have a travel charger or extra battery. Of course, there are costs associated with mobile phones and not all children may be responsible enough to carry them. Prepaid phone cards are a good, low-cost alternative to mobile phones. These cards can be purchased at almost any retail or convenience store. Important contact information can then be written down for family members to carry in their wallets or purses along with their cards.
Keep informed of world events and monitor your local television and radio stations to obtain official information during an emergency. Be alert and promptly notify law enforcement of any suspicious activity you might observe. Purchase a NOAA Weather Alert radio, which will provide information not only about weather emergencies, but any widespread emergency affecting your community.
- Questions and Answers about Immunization Recommendations after a Natural Disaster
- Prevent Illness After a Natural Disaster
- Interim Immunization Recommendations for Individuals Displaced by a Disaster
Joining a Medical Reserve Corps
The purpose of the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is to provide a community-based volunteer organization for health professionals and others who wish to engage in response and public health based volunteerism. If you are interested in joining the MRC, please download an MRC Application (PDF). Then print the application, complete it, and return it to the following address:
KDHE - Preparedness Program
Attention: Planning and Outreach Specialist
1000 SW Jackson, Suite 330
Topeka, KS 66612-1365
You also have the option to complete the application digitally and return it as an email attachment to Planning and Outreach Specialist, (please include the subject line: MRC Application).
If there is not a Medical Reserve Corps unit in your area, please check out the MRC website for more information on starting one!