Are You Prepared? Assembling a Basic Survival Kit for Peace of Mind When S*^t Hits the Fan

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As responsible adults, and especially if we are parents, it’s nice to assume that you’d know what you do in a crisis. It’s comforting to convince yourself that in the event of an emergency, you’d be ready to take action and keep yourself and your family healthy, safe, and ready for any disaster that might strike. But are you ready? Like, really ready? 

Especially considering the harsh reality of 2020 — with coronavirus running rampant throughout the world, the flu putting people of all ages at risk, and weather-related disasters at an all-time high thanks to climate change, not to mention the destructive and deadly tornado that took people in the Nashville area by surprise — it’s more important than ever that we all master preparedness and are all ready for whatever emergency may come our way. As it turns out, being truly prepared for an emergency situation requires a lot more than a positive attitude and a desire to protect. You need to not only know what to do in any scenario, but you also need to have the essential tools and supplies necessary to be equipped to handle any weather-related disaster or other type of emergency. 

March is Red Cross Month, a month when the American Red Cross is asking everyone to be a hero in their community through any action or effort to help others. This month of recognition launched over 75 years ago, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed March as Red Cross Month as a way to raise awareness of the organization and its humanitarian mission. Today people across the country are encouraged to participate and help by becoming a volunteer, learning lifesaving skills, donating blood, or starting simple and preparing your home and your family with a survival kit that could help the people you love in the event of an unthinkable emergency.

So, where do you begin? How do you know if you’re truly prepared for a worst-case-scenario, and how do you take action today to protect yourself and the ones you care about in the future? It starts with small steps to assess your current level of preparedness, and it continues with actions to stock your home with essential items to keep you safe. 

Start by Taking This Quiz to Assess Your Preparedness

To be clear, the act of preparedness is not an overreaction to the state of our world (even though the world is pretty freakin crazy right now) or the behavior of alarmists who are preparing for doomsday. We should all be prepared for anything, and while that does not mean you should live in fear or expect the worst, it does mean you should be ready just in case. And as it turns out, being ready will make you feel more secure not only in the face of tragedy or turmoil, but also in the everyday experiences when things are fine. 

The only way to make sure that you are prepared and armed with the survival tools you really need is to first assess just how unprepared you are. We swear, it’s not to make you feel bad about how little you know. You need to identify vulnerabilities and insufficiencies if you want to then fix those issues and stock your survival kit with the right goodies. A great place to start is by taking this quiz, which will pretty simply help you identify how much you know and how prepared you are. The American Red Cross quiz asks three basic questions like “How long should the food and water in your evacuation kit be able to sustain your family for?” Once you complete the quiz, then you can start to build your supply kit with the essential safety supplies and survival necessities. 

Create a Survival Kit With Basic Essential Supplies

The American Red Cross provides a pretty extensive list of what you need (and also important, it guides you on what you don’t need) to help you navigate this process. Because let’s be honest, preparing for an emergency is an overwhelming and somewhat terrifying task. Aside from the fact that it forces you to address the very real possibility of a disaster, it also requires a decent amount of effort to gather, organize, and manage a lot of essential survival items. The list is not short, and it includes several obvious items and several less-obvious must-haves. Think a three-day supply of water and food in your home (or ideally have a two-week supply stashed away), extra batteries, a first aid kit, important medications (prescription and non-prescription), cell phone chargers, extra cash, and flashlights. The less common items you might overlook include written down contact information, a battery-operated radio, paper maps of your neighborhood, a warm blanket, and extra house keys, etc. 

And while building the perfect survival kit is important, it’s equally crucial to maintain that kit, check it regularly, and ensure you store it in a safe and convenient place. The Department of Homeland Security suggests that you make sure to keep all canned, non-perishable foods in a cool, dry place in tightly closed containers, that you replace expired items as needed and update you kit yearly as your family needs may evolve. In addition, it’s smart to have a survival kit not only in your home (ideally in a designated place where you can access it easily in case you have to leave your home quickly) but also your place of work and your vehicle.

Hope for the Best, But Prepare for the Worst

Remember, this survival kit is a way to prepare your family for a worst-case-scenario, and there’s a good chance that you’ll never need to dig in to your supplies. But in the chance that disaster of any type does strike, at least you’ll be ready. That said, the supply kit itself is only a small piece of the survival puzzle.

You also need to be informed, be smart, be ready, and be responsible. The supply kit might arm you with the tools you need, but if you’re not familiar with the types of emergencies that might affect your family or your community, and you’re not aware of how your survival supplies need to be used, then it will be extra challenging to stay safe. 

The American Red Cross suggests that you identify how local authorities will notify you during a disaster (and sign up for alerts), know what actions to take in response to different kinds of weather and safety alerts, and know what actions to take to protect yourself during disasters. It is also highly recommended that at least one member of your household is trained in first aid and CPR and knows how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) because in the event of an emergency it’s highly likely that emergency response could be delayed, so it’s best to be prepared to handle anything.

Remember, being prepared for a disaster or emergency is not a sign of weakness or an indication that you’re an alarmist. All you’re doing is getting ready for anything so that you can have peace of mind and feel equipped with the essentials and skills you might need should the sh*t hit the fan. We’re all hoping it never does, and the worst outcome of this whole exercise should be that you wasted some time packing up a survival kit you’ll never use. But heaven forbid you do need it, at least you’ll be ready and safe, and at the end of the day that’s what matters the most.