8 Things You Need in an Emergency Kit in the Face of a Pandemic

Do you know why you should have a manual can opener in your emergency preparedness kit?
Marcia Wendorf

It is possible that the Covid-19 virus will force the suspension of work and schools in the U.S. There may also be shortages of essential supplies and services.

Hospitals and clinics may not be able to provide care to everyone due to increased demand, or if they are short-staffed due to illness. Store shelves may be bare due to supply issues or panic buying.

You can mitigate the effect of these shortages if you plan ahead. There are things that everyone should have in an Emergency Preparedness Kit, and we've listed them for you.

What to include in your kit?

1. Water

Store 1 gallon of water per person per day, and keep at least a three-day supply of water on hand. You don't necessarily need bottled water, just fill up a clean bathtub or sink, and you can boil the water for added protection.

Preparedness mavens recommend LifeStraw products, but you can also use iodine water purification tablets.

2. Food 

Try to have a two-week supply of food at hand. You want foods that can be stored at room temperature in case the electricity goes out. These include canned foods, such as tuna, meats, vegetables, fruits, soups and beans, and dry foods.

Dry foods include flour, cereal, pasta, dried beans, rice, crackers, ramen noodles, dried fruit and nuts, and snack bars. Also, include comfort foods, such as candy bars and cookies. Have salt, pepper, and sugar in hand to flavor your food.

3. Kitchen supplies

You'll need large plastic garbage bags, food storage bags, dishes, bowls, cups, several cooking pots, mixing bowls and eating utensils. You'll want to have a manual can opener because your electric can opener won't be of much use if the power goes out. 

Also plan to have on hand liquid dish soap, spatulas, ladles, paper towels, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and chlorine bleach and a dropper. Nine parts water to one part bleach can be used as a disinfectant, and 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water can be used to disinfect water. Don't use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.

4. Baby supplies

Have baby bottles, formula, baby food, diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream.

5. Pet supplies

Have a leash or pet carrier, pet food, litter, any pet medications.

6. Emergency supplies

Make sure you have two flashlights with batteries, candles, waterproof matches, a battery-powered or hand-crank portable radio, a battery-powered lantern, and a headlamp. A headlamp will allow you to work hands-free in the dark.

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In case you need to signal to emergency workers, have a whistle on hand, and to display information to emergency workers, have a permanent marker, such as a Sharpie, on hand. Also have on hand a rope, which can double as a clothesline, duct tape, a sewing kit, safety goggles, dust masks, different sized plastic buckets, pliers, a utility or pocket knife, insect repellent, sunscreen, screwdrivers (Phillips and slotted), a hammer, strapping, plastic ties, work gloves, and non-latex gloves.

Assemble your family's cell phones with chargers, a backpack or large duffle bag, scissors, tweezers, a wrench, and paper and pens because our electronic devices won't be available without electricity.

It's a good idea to include laundry soap, rain ponchos, towels and a sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Mylar blankets are a lighter alternative, and they are both windproof and waterproof.

Solar chargers, such as the Anker PowerPort Solar Lite, can charge small electronic devices, and rechargeable battery packs can keep your devices going.

You'll also want to have a plastic bucket with a tight lid that can be used for toileting and plastic tarps. The tarps and duct tape can be used to seal off rooms or to create a shelter. 

7. First-aid supplies 

You should have a two-week supply of necessary medications, sterile adhesive bandages, an antiseptic such as rubbing alcohol, disposable hand wipes, anti-diarrhea medication, glasses and contact lens supplies, tissues, an antibiotic salve, fluids containing electrolytes, a pain reliever, a thermometer, vitamins, and petroleum jelly or a lubricating lotion.

8. Toiletries 

Have a good supply of toilet paper, soap, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, and razors. Be sure to include feminine hygiene products.

Important Tasks

1.  Make sure someone knows where the gas and water meter shut-off valves are located in your home, and how to turn them off. This is where the wrench will come in handy.

2. Place all your important family documents, such as copies of insurance policies, mortgages, passports, birth certificates, identification, bank account, and tax records, in a waterproof and portable container.

3. Write a list of all of the people residing in your home and list any medical conditions or drug allergies they might have, and include any medications they are currently taking, including dosages.

4. Write down the name, address and phone number of an out-of-state contact, and assemble paper copies of local maps so that you can plan an escape route if you need to.

5. Develop a family disaster plan that includes where to meet in case family members get separated.

6. Keep cash, coins or traveler's checks on hand, and assemble an activity box containing books, board games, puzzles, playing cards, games, and toys.

7. While you can prepare food on propane gas or charcoal grill, or a camp stove, be sure to use it outside due to dangerous carbon monoxide. The same goes for using a generator to create electricity.

Last but absolutely not least: Antibiotics

During a disaster, pharmacies and hospitals may run out of certain medications. While we aren't recommending that you do so, you can purchase antibiotics on the internet without a doctor's prescription. Amoxicillin is used to treat strep throat, dental infections, sinus infections and bronchitis. Cephalexin is used for skin infections, sinus infections, bladder infections and bronchitis. Ciprofloxacin is used to treat bladder infections, Anthrax, plague, and pneumonic plague.

Most antibiotics are still safe to use five to 10 years past their expiration date.

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