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Grab-and-Go Emergency Kit

By Dimity McDowell Davis
Emergency kitFrances Janisch

Prepare a mini emergency kit that you can grab in a hurry. Keep it in the trunk of your car or under your desk at work. “Think about what you want to have on hand when you travel, and pack at least those basics,” says Keith Robertory of the American Red Cross. For most people, that includes:

The Basics

  • Eating and drinking. Three days’ worth of nonperishable food and water.
  • An extra supply of essential medication (for example, insulin, antidepressants, and other prescription medicines). “Nothing’s worse than going through a stressful situation without your blood-pressure pills,” says Robertory.
  • One region-specific change of clothing. In addition to the basics, pack a jacket if you risk being out in the elements and a hat if you are sensitive to sunlight.
  • Important papers. Make photocopies of your driver’s license, credit cards, and other important documents, and jot down important phone numbers for your bank, insurer, and other service providers. “Some people are cautious about writing or photocopying account numbers, but if you have your bank’s phone number and can relay to them your pertinent personal information, they won’t even need your account number,” says Robertory.
  • An NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) Weather Radio. “Preferably one with a hand crank, so you’re not dependent on batteries,” says Robertory. An NOAA radio broadcasts National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day and can be found in many electronic and sporting-goods stores.
  • A flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Cash. “Have enough cash and coins on hand for one or two weeks, based on your spending habits,” says Robertory. “Remember that ATMs and credit-card machines may not have power, and banks will be empty if areas have been evacuated. Also, don’t put just $20 bills in the kit, as things like pay phones and laundry machines require change.”
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