Family Emergency Kit: How to Be Prepared for Natural Disasters

| |

Is your family prepared for the unexpected? With the flooding in Queensland and Northern NSW and a East Coast Low heading to the region, here, it made us realise how important is for families to be prepared. It’s not just flooding. We also face the prospect of unexpected emergencies such as storms, bushfires, power failures, earthquakes and even house fires. Being prepared for the unexpected and knowing what to do will give you confidence in dealing with an emergency. 

Ask yourself the following questions: Do you have a Family Emergency Kit in case you need to stay home for a few days? Have you prepared your family for an emergency evacuation?  Do you know what to do if disaster hits and you need to evacuate? 

So here are some things you need to do now to prepare your family for an emergency, whether you end up staying at home or are evacuated.

Stay up to date

Listen to ABC Newcastle radio station for the latest information. 

Check the Bureau of Meteorology for the latest rain, storm or flood warnings and river heights.

NSW SES NSW State Emergency Service – 132 500 – For general help in a flood or storm, call the SES on 132 500. NSW State Emergency Service website https://www.ses.nsw.gov.au

Follow the NSW State Emergency Services (SES) for advice for your community. SW SES (State Emergency Service) | 132 500 | www.ses.nsw.gov.au | Twitter – @NSWSES | Facebook

Triple Zero – In a life-threatening emergency, call 000 (triple zero) immediately.

NSW Live Traffic – Check this website for live updates on local traffic conditions and road closures.

Lake Macquarie FloodWatch – Register to receive emergency alerts for the Lake Macquarie area with Lake Mac’s Early Warning Network. Receive warnings for events such as severe storms, hail, damaging and destructive winds, heavy rain and flooding. The Lake Mac Early Warning Network app is free to download or you can sign up for SMS alerts.

City of Newcastle Flood Alert – Register for the City of Newcastle Flood Alert Service. There are eight flood alert areas in the City of Newcastle area and you can select the ones you would like to receive alerts for.

NSW School Closures – Check to see if your school is open. The NSW Education Department maintains a list of schools that are closed due to storms, bushfires or other natural disasters.

Create a Family Emergency Kit

In the event of a natural disaster or other emergencies, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for several days. Put together a Family Emergency Kit. This is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

  • Water – (Pack enough water for each family member for three days – guide is 10 litres for each person)
  • Food – (at least a several days supply of non-perishable food). Choose non-perishable food such as granola bars, biscuits, cereal, instant oatmeal, peanut butter, Vegemite, crackers, long-life milk, tinned food (tuna, salmon, fruit, soup, vegetables).
  • Manual can opener (for food) – These are handy if tinned cans don’t have a ring-pull on them.
  • Battery powered radio – Have a radio ready for updates in case mobile phone runs out of charge or there’s no phone service. Pack extra batteries.
  • Emergency lighting – Have torch, candles, matches and lighter in case power goes out
  • Medications & first aid kit – Have essential medications ready in case you or your family members have medical conditions. Also ensure you can locate a first aid kit including band-aids, bandages, pain relief, antihistamines, etc. Remember children’s medications like Children’s Panadol if you have small kids.
  • Whistle – to signal for help
  • Dust mask – (to help filter contaminated air)
  • Set of gloves – A pair of study work gloves will help prevent injury and infection when needing to handling rubbish and debris.
  • Tarps – Have tarps, duct tape and utility knife in case you need to patch up roofs or broken windows.
  • Rubbish bags – Have rubbish bags handy as well as moist towelettes, and sanitiser.
  • Wrench or set of pliers – These are useful to turn off utilities if necessary.
  • Mobile phone and portable charger – Keep a phone and a portable charger handy. If you have a power bank, make sure it’s fully charged before power goes out.
  • Spare cash – Have a small amount of cash (notes and coins) in case ATMs are inaccessible or not working due to power failure.
  • Barbeque or portable stove with fuel – Useful if you want to boil water or heat up meals if you are without power.

Prepare a Go Bag

If you think that there is a good chance you’ll be evacuated due to floods, bushfires or other emergencies, you’ll need to have a Go Bag. A Go Bag (aka Ready-To-Go kit) is an important step in preparing for an emergency. Use a suitcase or a duffle bag and start filling it with essential household items for about 3-7 days. Obviously, every family is different so customise it to what your family needs.

Everyone and every family should have a Go Bag. You can use a duffle bag or large backpack or a small wheeled suitcase and place it somewhere safe but easily accessible.  In reality, this is a bag that has some essentials to keep you safe if you have to leave your home quickly to head to emergency shelter or to family and friends. What goes into your Go Bag? Here are some things you can add to a Family Go Bag.

  • Food and water – Pack your go bag with non-perishable food such as granola bars, biscuits, cereal, instant oatmeal, peanut butter, Vegemite, crackers, long-life milk, tinned food (tuna, fruit, soup, vegetables) and a can opener. Pack enough bottles of water for your family. If you have room, pack plastic plates and cutlery. For those with babies, pack formula, extra bottles and packs of baby food. Aim to have enough food and water to last 72 hours in the event of a severe emergency.
  • Clothing – Pack extra clothing and footwear for each member of the family. With different seasons, choose clothes that can layer such as t-shirts, long sleeve shirts. Throw in plastic rain ponchos as well. If you have school-age kids, add in school uniforms. That way if you’re staying with friends and family nearby, your kids can be ready to go to school (if it’s open).
  • Money & keys – Include keys, cash and credit cards. Have some small denominations in cash as well as large notes in case a power outage knocks out EFTPOS facilities and you can’t use your card for purchases.
  • Personal Items – Pack essential items like toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser, wet wipes, brush, and comb. Pack nappies and feminine hygiene products in a ziplock bag and remove all the air to pack it smaller.
  • Sanitation items – Toilet paper, hand sanitiser, wet wipes, dust mask and rubbish bags. Large rubbish bags can also double as rain ponchos.
  • Mobile phone and portable charger – Bring a phone and a portable charger. If you have a power bank that is fully charged, bring that too,
  • Battery powered radio – Pack a radio in a waterproof bag for updates in case mobile phone runs out of charge or there’s no phone service. Pack extra batteries.
  • Torch – Always handy to have. Pack extra batteries.
  • Whistle – If you have a whistle, add this to your Go Bag. It’s handy to summon help or notify people where you are. 
  • Glow Stick – If you have glow sticks, add them to the bag too. You might need them if you need to signal for help in the dark.
  • Important documents – Pack important documents like birth certificates, passports, etc. For other documents like insurance papers, household inventory, wills, life insurances, mortgage documents, house deeds, have copies of the document stored on a USB or in cloud storage.
  • Medications & first aid kit – Pack essential medications in case you or your family members have medical conditions. Pack enough for an extended period away. Also pack a first aid kit including band-aids, bandages, pain relief, antihistamines, etc. Remember children’s medications like Children’s Panadol if you have small kids.
  • Comfort & entertainment – Bring some items to keep your kids occupied and comforted like pacifiers, a small stuffed animal, blanket, deck of cards or small travel games. You might be spending extended time in an emergency shelter. These small things can help comfort your kids through a stressful time.
  • Pet supplies – If you have pets, pack essentials for them as well. Pack at least three days worth of food for them as well as leashes, pet carriers and pet medication.

Share on: