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How To Be Ready for the Worst

From the COVID-19 pandemic to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the past few years have caused tremendous uncertainty. We’ve experienced supply chain issues, rising gas prices, empty grocery stores, an overwhelmed healthcare system, and now the threat of World War III. It’s normal to feel worried and scared and to wonder what you can do to prepare to keep yourself and loved ones safe if disaster strikes close to home.

Having basic medical and survival supplies and a family emergency plan ready can help you feel more equipped to handle an emergency situation that may arise.

Here are some steps you can take to make sure you have what you need at the ready if an emergency occurs.

• Create a safety plan: Discuss with your family and loved ones how you’ll contact each other in the event of an emergency and where you will plan to meet if phone or internet contact are not possible. A landline phone that does not require electricity is likely to still work if power and cell service are down, so make sure that all close friends and family have that number.
• Identify local safe spaces: Find out if any public buildings in your area have been designated as shelters. If not, identify safe gathering places such as local schools, churches, and stadiums. Make sure you know how to get to the nearby hospitals without relying on a cellphone or GPS.
• Prepare a survival kit: You may want to have a larger supply kit at home and a “go bag” that is more portable to keep in your car or a backpack in case you have to leave home quickly.

Here are some recommendations for what to have ready in your home survival kit:

• A supply of drinking water (1 gallon per person per day for 3-5 days)
• Two water purification methods (bleach, purification tablets, filter, method of boiling)
• A supply of shelf-stable foods (canned goods, granola bars, jerky, camping or military meals, nuts, etc.)
• A can opener
• Hand sanitizer, alcohol, and/or bleach
• Large bags of staple foods like rice, dried beans, oats, flour, oil, sugar, and salt
• Lighters and matches
• A camping stove and fuel
• Multitool or pocket knife
• Flashlights and/or a solar-powered lantern
• Hand cranked or battery powered radio
• Batteries
• A whistle
• Face mask
• Fire extinguisher
• Sleeping bags
• A tarp
• A cord or rope
• Garbage bags
• Local maps
• Solar powered phone charger
• Rain ponchos or jackets
• Baby wipes, formula, and diapers if appropriate
• Menstrual supplies if needed
• Board games and books
• Markers
• Duct tape
• Extra pet food
• A mug or bowl and spork or utensils
• Eyeglasses or contact lenses and solution
• A medical kit (see below)

Here are some suggestions for “go bag” supplies to keep in a backpack or your car:

• Several liters of water
• A small supply of food (and pet food if needed)
• water purification tablets or filter
• matches and/or lighter
• radio
• solar cell phone charger
• rain coat
• emergency blanket or sleeping bag
• tarp, rope, and duct tape
• Large garbage bags (can be used to keep kit waterproofed in the bag)
• Sturdy shoes and a change of clothes
• Cash
• Copies of important documents such as insurance policies, bank statements, medical information, and identification
• A local map
• Pocket knife or multitool
• Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
• Paper and pen or pencil
• Face masks
• Hand sanitizer
• Eyeglasses or contact lenses and solution
• A mug or bowl and utensils
• Diapers and diaper wipes if needed
• Books and board games or activities for children
• A medical kit (see below)

Your medical kit

You’ll want to be prepared with any needed prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and first-aid supplies. Here are some basics to include:

• A supply of any prescription medications you need to take daily
• A multivitamin
• Over-the-counter pain relievers: ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin
• Allergy mediations: cetirizine, loratadine, and diphenhydramine
• Cough/cold medication
• Anti-diarrheal: loperamide
• Antibiotic ointment
• Antifungal ointment
• Oral rehydration solution
• Antacids
• Stool softeners
• Basic wound care supplies: band-aids, medical tape, gauze
• A pulse oximeter
• A first aid handbook
• Consider maintaining a small a supply of emergency prescription medications such as an epinephrine injector for allergic reactions, nausea medication, and antibiotics- your primary care provider, a travel clinic, or Duration Health can help you set this up.

Being prepared to care for yourself and loved ones if the worst does happen can help reduce some of the anxiety and uncertainty in these unsettling times.