- Have a 72 hour kit. This should include enough food, clothing, medication, saline solution, etc. to last you for 72 hours should you lose all power. Include a copy of credit cards, driver's license, etc., just in case in the emergency you were unable to grab yours. Keep this kit in a safe (so your information isn't stolen) and easy to access place.
- Update your kit often. I have started a tradition of assessing my kit every 6 months. Use daylight savings as a good reminder, a good time to check smoke alarm batteries as well. If you live in a warm area and store your kit in a warm place, be aware the batteries and other items may need replacing more often.
- Include in your kit a book or magazine to read or game to play. We live in a fast-paced society and when there is silence for long stretches of time, it can be boring. Have an activity ready (especially if you have kids).
- Have a flash light per person and back up batteries that match. This I discovered the hard way today. I had just updated my kit at the beginning of April and was feeling pretty prepared. When tonight's blackout hit, I went for the flashlight in the drawer and it was dead. I went to my 72 hour kit and the batteries were barely working. My back up batteries were the wrong kind for my flashlight. I went to my car and the moral of the story is it took three flashlights and many set of batteries to produce two working flashlights. ***NOTE: Also, as an aside, have lots of back up batteries or an extra flashlight if you are particularly nervous in storms or darkness. I consider myself a tough cookie but in the pitch black of night with noises I am not used to hearing, I scare more easily than I would like to admit. It has helped me to have two flashlights so I can leave one where I am sitting and take one with me as I move outside or throughout the house. Something feels more comfortable about having more light than less and if you feel the same way too, be prepared for that. (This especially applies to children or animals who are skittish as well.)
- Remember your pets. They typically have good eyesight and darkness from a loss of power won't always affect them. But animals are usually very sensitive to the emotions of their humans and if you or someone in your family is nervous, they will feel it. It's easy to neglect animals in emergencies because people are the #1 priority. But, make sure your animals are in a safe place and when things calm down, take a moment to comfort your pet. It'll also lower your blood pressure. :)
- Tonight as I was digging for flashlights and batteries, I realized how hard it is to find something with just a flashlight. My purse was downstairs but my 72 hour kit was upstairs. I had only the slightest clue where my shoes were and where did I leave my keys?? In a true emergency, I would have been toast. It can be helpful to practice what to do and grab in an emergency in the light and darkness, especially with young kids. The more practice, the more prepared people feel in a true emergency. The more prepared someone is, the better the outcome, the stress is lower, and the individual is safer.
- Be prepared to organize a neighborhood watch. As homes lose power (and security systems) burglary and rioting are more common. Talk with your neighbors that you trust about keeping an eye on each other in such an emergency.
- Finally, follow your gut. Stress can make us second guess ourselves. In emergencies, it is important to be able to make clear decisions. Pray for guidance and trust your gut. After the storms came through the Dallas area a few weeks ago, I chatted with friends about the experience. I cannot tell you how many people started off by saying something to the effect of, "I was planning on going to the grocery store but then I had the thought I should wait." Those that followed that thought were better off than if they hadn't.
I hope this helps. If you have tips you have found helpful, please post them. The goal is for everyone to be safe! I have posted some websites and blogs below that have other helpful hints for preparedness. Good luck!
Food Storage - LDS Website
Prepared LDS Family Blog
Tactical Intelligence - Building food storage on a budget
Home Storage FAQs