This hurricane season, we have seen three major hurricanes — Hurricane Elsa in July, and both Hurricane Henri and Hurricane Ida in August, all without pause. As global warming worsens, we need to start taking natural disaster kits more seriously. What was once a seemingly useless task on the back to school checklist is now an inevitable necessity as we see natural disasters ravage the country from coast-to-coast. While terrain-specific natural disasters call for specific kit considerations, there are always basics that are a safe call to carry in your disaster relief bag.
1. First-aid kit
I know that this one is painfully obvious and it shouldn’t be a surprise that this is listed at the top. That being said, make sure that your first-aid kit is not only fully stocked with the works but stocked for the duration of at least a week. What are the works? I’m talking everything — gauze, antibiotic ointment, burn cream, ice packs, tweezers, scissors, band-aids (in a variety of sizes), antiseptic wipes, aspirin, nitrile gloves, you get the picture.
This seems obvious but a mistake that is commonly made is carrying the wrong flashlight. You don’t want to carry anything too bulky or heavy like a large camping lamp or a Mag-Lite. Your best bet is carrying around a flashlight that not only has a variety of light settings but is also lightweight. The less weight in your disaster kit, the better. Also, don’t forget to stock up on batteries. They’re a small item that easily gets missed on the disaster kit checklist.
3. Hand-crank radio
No one really listens to the radio anymore, but you’ll definitely catch yourself hanging onto every word that’s coming out of your radio post-disaster. If the power is out and you can’t get real-time updates on your phone, the hand-crank radio is going to be your best source for information via the NOAA Weather Radio. Powered manually, you don’t have to worry about it dying on you. If you happen to forget batteries or lose your flashlight, most hand-crank radios come with a built-in flashlight that is also manually powered.
4. Personal sanitation items (baby wipes, garbage bags, etc.)
During times of distress, organization and cleanliness can bring a small amount of peace. If you find yourself without running water, be sure to keep baby wipes on hand for quick body wipe downs (in place of showers) and as wet toilet paper for your bathroom trips. Make sure that you buy baby wipes that are mostly made up of water to avoid any stickiness. Garbage bags are good to keep on hand as they can minimize the smell as opposed to just leaving trash around and make post-shelter clean-up a lot easier.
5. Manual can opener
There’s a good chance that you will forget this item, so consider this a gentle reminder. You can stock up on all the food that you want, but without a can opener you may as well have packed nothing at all. If you have more than one disaster bag, it wouldn’t hurt to pack an extra one just in case the other one gets lost in the mix.