September is National Preparedness Month: Week 1 - Get a Kit

Friday, 05 September 2008

As demonstrated by the recent flooding, high winds, heavy rain, and tornadoes in the south, we need to be diligent in preparing for disasters. The Department of Homeland Security’s Ready campaign provides information to help you, your family, and your community prepare for all types of emergencies. Fire Corps teams can assist by encouraging citizens to take the steps necessary to get prepared.

National Preparedness Month 2008 focuses on four steps to encourage citizens to be prepared; Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Informed, and Get Involved. Each week during September, Fire Corps will release tips about one of these steps that you can use to better educate yourself, your family, your community, and your fire/ EMS department about preparing for unexpected situations. The focus of week one is Get a Kit.

Get a Kit.

When preparing for a possible emergency situation, it's best to think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air, and warmth. All tips courtesy of

Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit:

  • One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation

  • At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both

  • Flashlight and extra batteries

  • First aid kit

  • Whistle to signal for help

  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air

  • Plastic sheeting

  • Duct tape

  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation

  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)

  • Local maps


Additional Items to Add to an Emergency Supply Kit:

  • Prescription medications and glasses

  • Infant formula and diapers

  • Pet food and extra water for your pet

  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account records, sealed in a waterproof, portable container

  • Cash or traveler's checks and change

  • Emergency reference material, such as a first aid book or information from

  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.

  • Complete change of clothing including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.

  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper. When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water for drinking by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe, or bleaches with added cleaners.

  • Fire extinguisher

  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items

  • Mess kits, paper cups, paper plates, plastic utensils, and paper towels

  • Paper and pencil

  • Books, games, puzzles, or other activities for children

What Fire Corps Can Do

Fire Corps teams can play an important role in assisting their community in preparing for emergencies. The information below offers ideas for how Fire Corps teams can better serve their local citizens and help them prepare for natural or manmade disasters.

  • Join together with your local CERT team. Have your Fire Corps members complete the 20-hour CERT training to better educate themselves in the event of a natural disaster, and have the CERT members become a part of your local Fire Corps. Together, you will be able to work together on a more frequent basis before an emergency happens. Learn more from the Fire Corps guide CERT and Fire Corps: Working Together to Build Stronger Communities.

  • Start a fundraiser to help raise funds for weather radios to be placed in daycare centers, senior facilities, and schools

  • Start a canteen unit for the fire department members to assist them during an emergency.

  • Install hearing-impaired smoke alarms where needed.

  • Work with your department and other emergency organizations within the community to create an evacuation plan for those with disabilities.

  • Create and distribute disaster supply kits.

Additional resources:

For more information on National Preparedness Month, visit the Fire Corps National Preparedness Month Resource Center and the Ready campaign. Additional resources include:

Federal Emergency Management Agency: Are You Ready? A Guide For Citizen Preparedness

This comprehensive guide walks the reader through a step-by-step approach to getting informed about local emergency plans, how to identify hazards that effect their local area, and how to develop and maintain an emergency communications plan and disaster supply kit. Other topics covered include evacuation, emergency public shelters, animals in disaster, and information specific to people with disabilities. Are You Ready? also provides in-depth information on specific hazards including what to do before, during, and after a hazard.

American Red Cross: Make a Plan for Your Pet Before Disaster Strikes

Our pets enrich our lives in more ways than we can count. In turn, they depend on us for their safety and well-being. Here's how you can be prepared to protect your pets when disaster strikes. Visit for more information on becoming prepared.

Home Safety Council

The Home Safety Council (HSC) advises families to have both a “Ready-to-Stay” and a “Ready-to-Go” Kit to ensure they are prepared for emergencies that require sheltering in place as well as for events that require evacuation. The “Ready-to-Stay” and “Ready-to-Go” Checklist is also available in Spanish. Visit for more information.

Fire Corps and the HSC have also partnered to develop a Fire Safety Module that can be used to implement a comprehensive fire and life safety public education program at the local level. Based on the HSC’s All-Ways Fire Safe at Home program, this module is comprised of four fire safety education programs that Fire Corps teams can use to promote fire and life safety to community members in different stages of life, including preschool, elementary school, middle school, and older adult. It can be ordered free-of-charge from the Fire Corps national office at 1-888-FC-INFO1 (324-6361) or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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