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Be prepared with a home emergency kit

By: Mary Beth Almond | C&G Newspapers | Published March 18, 2020

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METRO DETROIT — There’s no way to tell when an emergency will hit — whether it’s a power outage, tornado, flood, storm, or even a pandemic — so the best way to make sure you’re prepared is by building a home emergency kit.

After an emergency, Rochester Fire Chief John Cieslik said, you and your family might need to survive on your own for several days, so having a 72-hour supply of your own food, water and other items is a necessity.

“We would like (everyone) to be as self-sufficient as they can be for the first two days of an emergency, only because resources could be spread thin. Each person needs to make sure that their family is taken care of,” Cieslik said.

A great place to start, according to experts, is to stock an emergency supplies kit — a collection of basic items that your household may need in the event of an emergency.

“Emergencies or disasters can happen at any time, so it’s best to be prepared,” said Dale George, the public information officer for Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security. “Having an emergency kit in your home allows your house and your family to be self-sustaining for at least 72 hours.”

A basic emergency supply kit should include a 72-hour supply of water, which is at least 1 gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation needs; at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food per person; a manual can opener to open canned goods; a first aid kit; moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation; and household chlorine bleach and a medicine dropper to disinfect water.

The kit should also contain some basic tools and equipment, including a multi-tool, wrench or pliers to turn off utilities; a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio or a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert; extra batteries; a flashlight; local maps; paper and pencils; a whistle to signal for help; matches in a waterproof container; a fire extinguisher; a dust mask to help filter contaminated air; and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place.

Because every household is different, additional items can be added to your kit based on your individual needs, including prescription medications; glasses and contact lens solution; infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream; pet food and water; feminine supplies and personal hygiene items; a complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate; sturdy shoes; and maybe even some activities for children.

“At emergency management, we have an all-hazards approach, so whether that is the potential for a pandemic or a natural disaster, these are the things to purchase,” George said.

Cash or traveler’s checks and important family documents — such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container — are other suggested items to have on hand.

Once you’ve assembled your kit, your family should decide where to store it, so everyone knows where it is in the event of an emergency. Canned food should be stored in a cool, dry place, and boxed food should be stored in tightly closed plastic or metal containers.

It’s also important to maintain your kit so that it’s ready when needed. That means rethinking your needs every year, replacing expired items as needed and updating your kit as your family’s needs change.

For more information on how to prepare before, during and after an emergency or disaster, visit www.michigan.gov/miready.