Prepare an emergency kit for your family

Karen Caffarini

The earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in March is a stark reminder that disasters can occur anywhere.

Whether it comes in the form of an earthquake, flood, tornado or fire, the key to survival is to be prepared, including having an emergency kit in place, says John Drengenberg, consumer safety director for Underwriters Laboratory.

A five-day supply of non-perishable food and bottled water. “Make sure your kids know they shouldn’t drink just any water. It could be contaminated,” Drengenberg said. Don’t forget a can opener for the canned foods.

A list of phone numbers for relatives, neighbors, your schools (in the event your children are at school during the disaster) and utility companies, and photos and descriptions of your family should you be separated.

A five-day supply of prescription medicine. In major disasters such as an earthquake or hurricane, drugstores won’t be open, Drengenberg pointed out. He said five days should be sufficient until they do re-open.

Don’t forget your pets. Drengenberg said to make sure to have five days’ worth of canned pet foodand water, sturdy leashes, harnesses or carriers, current photos of the pets and a litter box with litter.

A flashlight in the event power should be off. Don’t forget to have plenty of batteries on hand, and make sure they work.

A first-aid kit that includes bandages and antiseptic.

On its website,, the Federal Emergency Management Agency says to obtain information after a disaster by watching TV, listening to the radio or checking the Internet often for information or official instruction as it becomes available. Drengenberg said his own emergency kit includes a hand-cranked radio in the event the power is out. Solar-powered or battery-operated radios will work, also.