Get a Kit
One of the most important things that you can do to prepare for an emergency is to have an emergency kit that includes water. People can survive for weeks without food, but only a few days without water, which is why water is such a key element to any well-stocked emergency kit.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, your kit should be able to sustain your entire household (pets too!) for 14 days. This is because experts predict that the region is overdue for a major earthquake that will severely damage water systems and other infrastructure. When this occurs, it will probably take about two weeks for emergency supplies to reach the greater Portland metro area, and you will need to rely on your own resources until help arrives.
Amount of water to include in your emergency kit
The general rule is to include one gallon of water per person per day in your emergency kit. That assumes about half a gallon for drinking and another half-gallon to meet sanitation and food preparation needs. You may need to include more water in your kit if your family includes people with special needs (e.g. pregnant women or infants) or if you have pets.
|Number of people||7 days||14 days|
|1||7 gallons||14 gallons|
|2||14 gallons||28 gallons|
|3||21 gallons||42 gallons|
|4||28 gallons||56 gallons|
|5||35 gallons||70 gallons|
|6||42 gallons||84 gallons|
If you can’t store all the water you’ll need, store what you can. With a little creativity, you may find your home has more storage space than you initially thought (e.g. place storage containers under beds, in closets, under stairs, and around your home).
Other ways to ensure that you have safe water to drink during an emergency
In an emergency, you may also be able to find alternate water sources in and around your home, or you may need to make water safe to drink by treating it. Including a personal water filter, water purification tablets, or a bottle of unscented liquid household bleach in your emergency kit will ensure that you have the tools to treat additional water if needed.
What else to include in your kit
Being prepared means having the right supplies and being able to access them easily when you may need them. There are many online resources that outline the types of supplies to include in your kit, and generally they break these items into three categories: essential, useful, and personal.
Essential items to include in your emergency kit:
- Water: One gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 14-day supply for home)
- Food: Non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 14-day supply for home)
- First aid kit and manual
- Tools: Manual can opener, Multi-purpose tool, or basic tool kit
- A flashlight or head lamp for every member of your household (include spare batteries or alternate way to recharge them)
- Communication devices and information: Portable, multifunction radio (battery operated, solar, or hand cranked), Cell phone and a way to recharge it (e.g. battery operated or car plug-in), key people’s contact information
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Comfort items: Blankets, sleeping bags, extra clothing, hat, and sturdy shoes
- Other specialty items that your household will need (e.g. medications, formula, glasses, pet supplies)
- Copies of important documents (e.g. driver’s license or other photo ID, deed/lease to home, insurance policies, and financial information)
- Extra cash in small bills
Regardless of what is in your kit, be sure to keep essential items in something that is easily accessible and easy to carry - a backpack or carry-on suitcase with wheels works well!
Looking for more detailed information of what to include in a well-equipped kit? Here are a few resources to get you started:
- American Red Cross Prepare Guide: English, Spanish
- City of Gresham’s Neighborhood Ready Booklet
Start small, and build up your supply
If the idea of putting a kit together has you overwhelmed, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. And, your kit doesn’t have to be either. The good news is that you have already taken the first step by learning about what to include in your emergency kit!
The next step – actually getting your kit together – isn’t rocket science, and you’re probably more prepared than you think. First, take stock of what you already have around the house. You’re likely to have at least some of the items outlined on the above checklist. Gather those items together and place them in an easy-to-carry bag or container. Next, add the remaining items to your shopping list and pick up an item or two each time you go to the store in the coming weeks or months.
Keep it fresh and ready to use
Once you’ve gathered your supplies, clearly label the containers they are in and store them where you can easily access them. Make sure to check expiration dates on food, water, medicine, and batteries throughout the year. Or, use a set time such as daylight savings to check them.