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Financial Watch | September 2020

Financial Watch | September 2020

September 18, 2020
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4 Things to Add to Your Family Emergency Kit in 2020

Since its inception in 2003, National Emergency Preparedness month has been observed in September to promote family and community disaster planning. This year, in the weeks leading up to Labor Day weekend alone, the U.S. experienced back-to-back hurricanes in the Southeast, a derecho that traveled from South Dakota to Ohio, a series of devastating wildfires in the western United States, and a record-breaking heat wave across much of the Southwest.

While it’s often hard—and in some cases impossible—to predict disastrous events, according to the American Red Cross, the best way to protect yourself and cope with an emergency is by planning ahead. Yet, FEMA reports that 78% of Americans are underprepared for a disaster, such as a hurricane, flood or fire.1 The COVID-19 pandemic has only added to concerns about preparedness, from shortages of cleaning and disinfectant supplies, to heightened safety protocols for first responders, hospitals and emergency shelters.

What should you add to your family emergency kit in 2020?

The first step in planning for unexpected events is to build a family emergency preparedness kit. The Red Cross actually recommends two kits: one for home and one to “grab and go” in the event you are evacuated. Your stay-at-home emergency kit should contain two weeks of emergency supplies, including items such as non-perishable food, water, household cleaning and disinfectant supplies, soap, paper products, and personal hygiene items. Your second kit should be a lightweight, smaller version that you can take with you if you’re required to leave your home quickly. The Red Cross recommends that your grab-and-go evacuation kit includes:

  1. Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  2. Food: non-perishable (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  3. Flashlight
  4. Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  5. Extra batteries
  6. Family first aid kit
  7. Medications (7-day supply)
  8. Multi-purpose tool
  9. Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  10. Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies
  11. Family and emergency contact information
  12. Cell phone with chargers
  13. Extra cash (in small bills)
  14. Emergency blanket(s)
  15. Map(s) of the area

Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the CDC has recommended people include several additional items in their kits to help prevent the spread of coronavirus or other viruses and the flu, including:

  1. Cloth face coverings (for those age 2 and above)*
  2. Soap
  3. Hand sanitizer
  4. Disinfecting wipes (for surfaces)

*Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unable to remove it without help.

Know the location of shelters in your area

Due to COVID-19, it’s likely that if a disaster occurs, the location of designated shelters in your area may change—or new locations may be added—to accommodate social distancing and other virus safety requirements. That makes it more important than ever to get the latest news and updates from your local public health and safety authorities.

Consider downloading mobile apps, if available, for your state and local emergency authorities, and be sure to follow them on social media for the latest news. Write down or print out the latest shelter information and locations (including those that take pets, if applicable) so you have a backup in the event of a power outage.

For more information on emergency planning, including checklists for building your family emergency kit, visit Ready.gov or the Red Cross for tips, tools, and videos.

1 https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/poll-78-of-americans-arent-prepared-for-a-disaster-when-it-comes-to-food-and-water-301071339.html