According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, every American should have an emergency plan ready to go in case things take a turn for the worse. Being prepared means having enough food, water and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours.
You and your family may encounter a range of emergencies in the future–and, no, we’re not talking about the zombie apocalypse or a hostile takeover of the federal government. We’re focusing on everyday emergencies, such as floods, wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, blackouts and even health emergencies like a global pandemic. You and your loved ones may have to hunker down for days on end until help arrives or it’s safe for you to leave your home. Be sure to have your under-the-seat storage ready to go with emergency essentials.
The Most Important Home Emergency Tools
Statistics from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) suggest that America will be unprepared for the next emergency. Sixty percent of Americans are not practicing what they will do in the event of a disaster. Here are the most important tools to have on hand for any home emergency.
Axe, Saw, or Chainsaw
High winds, tornadoes and other violent storms could leave you and your family trapped inside your home. You may need help getting through or around certain obstacles when disaster strikes. That’s why it’s important to keep some kind of durable cutting tool on hand, such as an axe, saw or chainsaw.
If a tree smashes into the side of your house, you may need to saw your way out of a mess. If the power goes out, you may have to build a fire instead of cozying up to the heater.
Crowbar or Jaws of Life
Speaking of being trapped inside your home, keep a crowbar or pry bar on hand to make sure you can access hard-to-reach areas in the event of an emergency. You may even need what are known as the Jaws of Life to rescue someone from a vehicle that’s been totaled in an accident. First responders typically use these tools to bite through pieces of metal so they can rescue anyone who may be trapped inside. They tend to be on the more expensive side, so most people will find a crowbar to be the more reasonable buy.
You may need these tools to get through collapsed doorways or to get someone out of a confined space. Time will be of the essence so you’ll need to work fast. Oxygen may be scarce when you’re trapped inside your car or home.
Bolt cutters will also help you get past some otherwise difficult obstacles. Use them to cut through all types of wires, including fences, padlocks and anchor bolts. You may need to use bolt cutters to cut through obstructions when traditional controls prove ineffective.
You never know when a shovel may come in handy when you’re faced with a home emergency. Strong storms could leave you trapped inside your home, forcing you to dig yourself out. You may need to dig through snow, dirt and other debris to get out of a sticky situation.
It might be a long time since you’ve had a paper map, but these simple guides can come in handy when power is out and there is no GPS to depend on. Make sure you have an emergency exit plan and then come up with one or two back-ups. Downed trees, floods and fires can block roads in a flash, and a map can help you figure out alternate routes.
Radio or Emergency Contact System
Don’t depend on your smartphone in the event of an emergency. You may lose access to a signal or the power could cut out at any moment, leaving you without a way to charge. Keep an old-fashioned wave radio on hand to stay connected to the authorities during times of crisis, especially if you live in a rural area with scattershot cellular coverage. You may need to find your way to a local safety zone or hospital for medical assistance.
Keep several backup sources of light on hand, including a flashlight and several lanterns and candles. Stock up on batteries to make sure you can see in the dark if you need to respond to an emergency in the middle of the night.
Living Essentials: Food, Water and Medicine
You’ll need enough food, water and medicine to last for several days in case local stores go dark when you need them most. Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit on hand to treat minor scrapes, burns and other wounds at home. Make sure your supplies have not expired, including over-the-counter medications.
If you or your loved one suffers from any preexisting medical conditions, make sure you have enough medication to last for the foreseeable future. You may not be able to visit your local pharmacy for days on end.
Vehicle Accessories for When You Need to Relocate
Your vehicle may be your last resort in the face of an emergency. If your house is no longer habitable or you need to move in search of safer ground, you may need to pack up your car at a moment’s notice. Make sure your vehicle is well-stocked for the road ahead. You should have all the tools to fix minor issues along the way, such as an extra tire, spare battery, electrical cables and a jack.
Floods, storms and other natural disasters may do a number on your vehicle. Do your best to protect your ride from further damage by installing all-weather floor mats. They’re made with durable rubber and fit the exact specifications of your vehicle so you don’t have to worry about the floor getting damaged beyond repair.
If you need to take off in your car in a flash, make sure you have room for all these essentials. Invest in some under seat storage to clear up some extra space in your vehicle. Keep your supplies organized so you can find what you need quickly when every second matters.
Preparing for a home disaster all depends on where you live and the kinds of dangers you may encounter. Come up with a contingency plan that works for you and your loved ones. Think about what you would do if you didn’t have access to electricity, running water and other luxuries you’ve come to depend on every day. It’s all about preparing for the worst-case scenario and hoping for the best.