By Alan Stein

The potential for an unanticipated emergency to wreak havoc on our lives is a constant threat. Floods, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and a host of disasters can strike suddenly, putting your home, yourself and your family in danger. However, by planning now and creating an emergency preparedness kit, you can be equipped to respond to and recover from a disaster.

Preparing for a Threat

Recognizing which threats pose the most danger is the first step in strengthening your preparedness plans. Our geographic locations often force us to prepare for certain natural disasters. For example, if you live near the coast, hurricanes should be a major concern, while forest fires may be a fear if you live in a wooded region that experiences dry spells. Accounting for a palpable threat will greatly increase the odds of successfully protecting your family.

Emergency Preparedness Kit

No matter what type of emergencies are common in your area, it’s essential to maintain an emergency preparedness kit with resources that will adequately support your family through a shelter in place situation or an evacuation. Here are some tips for effectively safeguarding yourself during an emergency.

Water – Water is perhaps the most basic necessity for survival. Depending on the challenges you’re facing, drinkable water may be restricted in a disaster. It is recommended that you store at least one gallon of water per person for three days. However, depending on age, health, physical condition, activity, diet and climate, individual needs may vary.

Food – When a disaster occurs, access to food can be limited. Having an adequate supply will help alleviate those concerns, and you’ll appreciate knowing you can keep your family nourished until services and supplies can be restored. No matter what you stockpile, make sure it’s nonperishable. Canned foods, salt-free crackers and whole grain cereals are some of the best emergency food supplies that don’t require any preparation material. In addition, a can opener and pocket knife are essential.

First Aid Kit – In a situation where professional medical attention is not available, a first aid kit becomes invaluable. Some basic over-the-counter items will allow you to manage common injuries or ailments. In addition to bandages, sterile dressings, pain-relievers, antibiotic ointment and cleansing agents, make sure you have a supply of any necessary prescription medications.

Other Supplies – Each family must recognize their unique needs and challenges. If you have children, their age will often dictate the supplies needed. Climate also plays a major factor in your emergency preparations. If you live in an area where cold weather is frequent, keep warm clothes, jackets and blankets at your disposal. You should also plan for power outages – have a transistor or all-weather radio and flashlights with extra batteries. Also, in the event of an evacuation, you should have cash as you may not be able to get to an ATM.


One of the most important aspects of an emergency preparedness planning involves communication. As a family, discuss potential emergency situations, review how you’ve prepared and what should occur. Resources such as can help you prepare. Every family should establish a meeting point. Our constant reliance on technology – including cell phones – creates daily conveniences but in an emergency, power and cellular outages are common. It is important to plan for where to go if your family can’t access your home; as well as where to meet if your primary meeting spot isn’t available. In addition, keep a written list of phone numbers in your wallet or purse so that the information is available. These contingency plans provide peace of mind now and a firm plan for action if the unthinkable occurs.


About the Author: Alan Stein is the Vice President of Marketing Services & Product Development at AlliedBarton Security Services. Alan is also the Vice Chair of the BOMA International Preparedness Committee.