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6 items you might forget for your disaster kit

Water and nonperishable food are obvious needs after an emergency. Some other essential items may not be so apparent during the planning stage.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 23, 2011 7:29PM

This post comes from Chris Birk at partner blog Wise Bread.


Disaster preparedness has again jumped to the forefront following the highly unusual 5.8 magnitude earthquake on the East Coast.


Emergency management officials and others have long urged Americans to prepare for the unknown, from natural disasters to terrorist attacks. The heart of that preparation is typically a three-pronged approach: building an emergency kit; creating a family emergency plan; and gaining an understanding of potential emergencies and how to deal with them. (See also: "Do you need a disaster survival kit?")


While each step is important, the emergency kit is especially vital. Depending on the nature of the disaster, there's no telling how long people would have to go without basic necessities like food and water. Homeland Security officials suggest that every American have basic supplies on hand to survive for at least three days in the wake of an emergency.


The standard emergency supply kit is loaded with staples like safe drinking water (one gallon per day per person for at least three days), nonperishable food, a first aid kit, flashlight, batteries, and additional clothing. But it's difficult to prepare for an emergency that you've never encountered, which means it's easy for items that could be important to get left off the list. Post continues after video.

Given that, here's a look at a half-dozen items that might be worth adding to your own emergency preparedness kit:

  • Cash and change in a waterproof container. There's no guarantee that ATMs will be operational. Having cash or even travelers checks on hand can help families secure goods and services without the aid of technology.
  • Prescriptions, glasses and other medical needs. Check the expiration dates and then stockpile prescription medications in an emergency stash. The last thing you want to do is scramble to scrounge up the necessary medications in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Putting a spare pair of eyeglasses in the kit is a good idea, too.
  • Documents. Make photocopies of important documentation, from insurance records and identification to bank account information, and seal them in a watertight container.
  • Matches. You can buy waterproof matches or simply store some everyday kitchen matches in a waterproof container.
  • Basic tools. Keep a wrench or pliers in the kit in case you need it to turn off utilities after a disaster. A couple of screwdrivers and a hammer may also come in handy.
  • Bleach. Regular household chlorine bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Homeland Security also says it can be used to treat drinking water by using 16 drops per gallon of water. Make sure it's not scented, color safe or has other added cleansers.

It's also important for families to remember that there isn't always a one-size-fits-all when it comes to emergency kits. Climate can dictate clothing necessities. So can medical conditions and other unique needs.


Having more than one emergency kit is also a good idea. Keep one at home and assemble a smaller, more portable kit for work or the car.


What other items should readers consider adding to their family emergency kit?


More on Wise Bread and MSN Money:

Aug 24, 2011 3:16PM
Toilet paper. A bar of soap or a bottle of liquid soap. Hand sanitizer. Wet wipes. A comb or brush - it really can be amazing what feeling like you're presentable can do for your outlook!
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