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The essential items to have at home in case of an emergency

Emergencies don’t come with advance warning, they occur in a random and unexpected way and it is important to be prepared beforehand to safeguard the security of your family. Therefore, I would like to give you a list of essential products to have in your home in case of any kind of emergency, be it a natural disaster (earthquake, hurricane), a medical matter, or routine situations that can become a catastrophe if they aren’t handled properly and quickly.

Being prepared is important because in extreme cases it can help you to save a life while waiting for professional medical assistance to arrive. Therefore, my first piece of advice is to take a basic first aid course which includes examination and treatment of severe and minor wounds and burns, allergic reactions, and viral and bacterial illnesses. Also, it should include the Heimlich maneuver, a procedure involving abdominal thrusts, which is used when someone chokes on a piece of food or any other object that prevents them from breathing, and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation or mouth-to-mouth breathing) which is used when the person has stopped breathing or the heart has stopped beating. These procedures should only be used in the case of an emergency and while awaiting the arrival of specialized medical help.

So, we should have certain essential items at home to use when there is an emergency and the occasion warrants it, be it a power or gas outage, a hurricane or any other unforeseen event.

One of the most important items is liquid. You should have at least two liters of drinking water per day stored for each person who lives in the house, and for at least 3 days. You will also need water for cooking and for personal hygiene, so calculate another two liters of water per person for this purpose. This water should be firmly sealed and stored in a cool, dry place, preferably in the basement. If there are children or babies in the house, this quantity should be increased and also add diapers, baby bottles, formula, and other products for the baby. Also, you should store powdered milk, chocolate and juice to mix with the water.

When you buy food to store, choose non-perishable food that needs little or no cooking. Canned foods are the best as they have longer expiration dates and they can last for years in perfect condition. Examples of these foods are: meats (canned tuna, sardines, chicken), vegetables (canned corn, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms), and fruits (compotes, marmalades, dried fruits), and also dried goods like wheat or corn flour, biscuits, rice, pasta, nuts, salt, pepper, etc.

Apart from food, you should keep in mind that you will need kitchen utensils for cooking, like deep pots and frying pans, can openers, plates, cutlery and glasses, and a portable gas stove in case there is no electricity. Also, you should store items that provide light, like flashlights with enough batteries, and also candles and matches. Don’t forget personal hygiene items like toilet paper, soap, toothpaste and tooth brushes, deodorant, shampoo, etc., and cleaning products like bleach, disinfectant and powdered soap.

If there is a natural disaster and you have to take shelter in the basement, you should have blankets, inflatable mattresses or sleeping bags available, and also jackets and other items of clothing that protect against the cold, including durable boots, waterproofs, and two or three changes of clothes. It is recommendable to store some kind of entertainment like board games, jigsaw puzzles and books for adults and children. This is particularly important if you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes or tornadoes.

If you have pets, you should think of them too. A bag or tins of dog or cat food can last for up to a year if they are stored correctly and, although it isn’t essential, you can store a few snacks or treats to calm them. Store extra water for them.

Also, store a first aid kit that contains painkillers, antacids, bandages, antiseptics, Band-Aids, cotton wool, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, an antibiotic cream, and other medication that is used for chronic illnesses like diabetes or high blood pressure. If anyone in the family suffers from severe allergies (to some food, or insect bites), also store the medicine that is administered to avoid anaphylactic shock.

Have the spare keys of the house and the car at hand, together with cell phones, laptops and tablets with their respective chargers, and also credit cards and some money in cash.

Personal identification documents (passports, identification cards, driving licenses) should all be kept in the same place, preferably in a security box or envelope and near at hand so you can take them and leave quickly if necessary. In this group, important documents like insurance policies, property and investment documents, bank account numbers, medical records, marriage certificates, birth certificates, school records, etc. should be included. The idea is to have them organized and in one place in case it is necessary to evacuate the house in a hurry.

Have the most common emergency numbers at hand, where they can be seen clearly like the emergency center, civil defense, hospitals, police, fire brigade, the electricity, telephone and gas companies, etc.

So, here is a list of essential items you can get and begin to store today:

  • Drinking water – 4 liters a day per person and 2 liters per pet
  • A way of purifying water (tablets or chlorine)
  • Non-perishable foods – canned meats, vegetables and fruits (a minimum of around ten cans per person is recommended)
  • Manual can opener or multi-purpose knife
  • Personal hygiene items – soap, shampoo, tooth paste, tooth brushes, razors, moisturizing creams, hair brushes, toilet paper, antibacterial gel, wet wipes, sanitary towels
  • Diapers and items for babies like formula, compotes, blankets
  • Cleaning items – bleach, disinfectant, powdered soap
  • Food for pets and items like sand for the litter box or treats
  • Candles
  • Matches
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Whistle to call for help
  • Tools – adjustable wrench, pliers, cables to pass electricity
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Extra chargers for laptops and cell phones
  • Medicines – for possible use like painkillers or habitual use for chronic illnesses
  • An extra pair of glasses
  • First aid items – Band Aids, alcohol, cotton wool, bandages, antibacterial cream, mosquito repellent
  • Sleeping bags, blankets, pillows
  • Durable boots
  • Waterproof clothes and clothes that protect from the cold
  • A portable gas stove
  • A portable cooler
  • Spare keys of the house and car
  • Pots, frying pans, bowls, plates, cutlery, paper napkins
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Plastic rubbish bags
  • Board games and entertaining games, books for adults and children

At the beginning, taking all these precautions might seem like a lot of work, however, your security and that of your family is worth it. Therefore, organize your space so you can easily accommodate all of these items, which in some particular moment could save you and your family.