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If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that emergencies happen even unexpectedly. Crisis can happen close to home at any time, so let’s take a look at how to prepare for emergencies ahead of time.

“I definitely keep a generator at home and recommend others to do the same” said Ethan Wilson, a Washington-based mortgage specialist with Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation “You should also consider building out an emergency kit in your home, and maybe one for each of your cars, incase there is a natural disaster near you.”

Sudden storms, floods, or power outages, wildfires and more can create panic, and it can be difficult to think about the essentials when they happen. Having an emergency preparedness kit ready beforehand will help you act quickly, and it can alleviate stress and allow you to stay calm when you have to make tough decisions.

Why home emergency preparedness matters

The old saying is true here, better safe than sorry. “Disasters can happen to anyone at any time, and it gives you and your family a peace of mind knowing you are prepared with basic first aid needs,” said Natalie Graver, vice president and emergency manager at The Olson Group in Alexandria, Va.

“You want to have enough supplies packed and in a go-to spot for everyone in your family, including pets. In the event of a sudden storm or wildfire, you may not have time to run to the pharmacy for medication refills or to stock up on certain foods, which is why you want to have an emergency stash ahead of time.” said Casey Morris, a home.com editor.

“I definitely take emergency preparations seriously in my home, and so does my husband,” said Chelsea Stanton, a team member of team VA the Fairway. “We have a family of four, plus pets, and we have prepared bug out bags and trauma kits ready to go.”

A “bug out bag” contains essentials for a few days of travel that you can grab quickly if you have to evacuate your home. It can include food, water, clothing, shoes suitable for walking long distances or hiking, a portable radio, and first aid supplies, among other basic necessities. You can purchase bug out bags online or prepare your own.

In addition to being prepared to bug out- and evacuate at a moment’s notice, you’ll want to prepare your home for weather, storms, power outages, fires and natural disasters.

Home Emergency Preparedness: How To Stay Safe in a Crisis. Plan to keep your home and family safe.

Here’s what to include in your home emergency preparedness kit, according to Ready.gov.


  • Water
  • Non-perishable food
  • A can opener
  • Flashlight
  • Clothes
  • Daily medications for family members and pets
  • Rescue inhalers, for those with asthma
  • Battery-powered cell phone chargers
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Dust masks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Face masks
  • A whistle you can use to signal for help
  • Sleeping bags or warm blankets
  • Sanitary items and toiletries
  • Wet wipes for personal hygiene if the water is turned off
  • A wrench for turning off utilities
  • Games and activities to stay occupied while waiting for help or the utilities to be turned back on
  • A basic tool kit

Stanton said she and her family keep a two month’s supply of non-perishable food for everyone in the home, including their pets. In addition to food, water, and other essentials listed above, the Stantons also have a water filtration system and portable stove, along with matches or another implement to start a fire, and emergency thermal blankets.

Their bug out bags contain many of the same items as their at-home emergency preparedness kit, with some additions. “We also have a kit ready to go that has a survival knife, tarps, ponchos, boots, socks, duct tape, paracord, and a multi-tool,” Stanton said. Her and her family are prepared, they aren’t dooms day preppers, they are just ready to go.

“Weather can be crazy in California, and wild fires are common,” said Stanton. “Everyone in my family keeps their emergency kits either in their basement, their car, or garage and ready to go.”

How to choose emergency food

“It can seem tempting to simply buy a 3-month supply of emergency food that comes in a big bucket at your local warehouse store. But think twice before you do.” wrote Morris in her home.com article.

Unless you’ve opened up the kit and tried that specific item, you may find out the hard way that your family can’t or won’t eat the food for a variety of reasons.

Food kits often contain high amounts of sodium and preservatives and are not tested for taste and enjoyability. The high sodium content and preservatives is how they can last for years or decades on the shelf. The ingredients are different from what you’re used to eating, and you may find the taste to be harsh.

“A better plan is to compile a list of foods you already eat – ones with great shelf life like canned foods, dry cereals and pasta. Do a big shopping trip and store these in a safe place. Then create a rotation system to work these items into your regular meal planning, while replacing them with newer items.” wrote Morris.

You’ll save money compared to buying a big kit that you may throw away someday, and you’ll actually use the products you’ve bought. Buying all of this at once can be expensive, try buying a few extra items every time you shop, and building up your storage over time.

Consider your location when preparing your home emergency kit

What you need to prepare for your bug out bag, home storage or home emergency kits will depend on where you live.

“I went to University in Kansas and tornadoes were common. As students we always had a plan of where to go if there was a storm, and kept a radio and deck of cards in our basement just in case.” said team VA the Fairway Marketing Executive, Maile Cabral.

Midwesterners at high risk for tornadoes may want to identify a spot in the basement likely to be safest during bad storms and make sure that area is stocked with emergency materials at all times. Contact your local city and ask if they have places for the community to go. Many schools, and public places have basements available to the public as well.

Homeowners in parts of California or the Pacific Northwest that have a high wildfire risk will want to ensure they have a bug out bag prepared, with plans for how they will evacuate and where they’ll go if a fire comes too close to their properties. Often times local governments will require mandatory evacuations during these times and you’ll need to be ready to leave, quickly.

“Wherever you live, think through all the potential threats — tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, or other circumstances that could create emergency conditions in your area. Then build your emergency preparedness kit, and your contingency plans, based on those.” wrote Morris, “Think, too, about your daily routines and needs — how might they be disrupted and how can you prepare for that?”

“The unknown can be scary, but being prepared is essential,” said Stanton. “You have to think, what if there is a disaster and you don’t have access to cell phones, telephone lines, power, or the television.”

Be sure to discuss with your family what you’ll do if you need to leave your home due to an evacuation. If you have kids, be sure to make clear a designated meeting spot. Make sure they know, where you are going, what you will do and what you will bring with you. It’s also a good idea to communicate with extended family or friends about your plans so they know how or where to reach you in an emergency.

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Be safe later by preparing now

Day to day, it can be difficult and frightening to think about worst case scenarios. Preparing for them now is critical to weathering a crisis safely when it happens for you and your loved ones.

Having a plan, and the supplies you need, to protect yourself and your family in an emergency will give you peace of mind and enable you to act swiftly and smartly of disaster strikes. Every second matters, and yo’ll be prepared and ready.

Some references sourced within this article have not been prepared by Fairway and are distributed for educational purposes only. The information is not guaranteed to be accurate and may not entirely represent the opinions of Fairway. Original article appeared on home.com.

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