We all have rainy days, and some of us have hurricanes. You can prepare now for an emergency, large or small, by creating a kit. Write down all the needed information and store it in a safe place, so you’ll have it when you need it.
An emergency kit is a type of umbrella. Sometimes you don’t need to do much to prevent a small problem from turning into a big one. For example, if you lose your power in a storm but have a flashlight, you’ll be able to find your keys, your meds, and other important things. Without that light, your power emergency could quickly get out of hand.
Crisis plan: Expect the unexpected
Here are a few things to find now—before you need them—so you can prepare your own crisis plan:
- Medical information. Make a list of your doctors and service providers. Write down the drugstores you use, your meds, and renewal numbers. Also make note of any allergies, disabilities, or diet restrictions. Write a few words about your most serious health problems.
- Important phone numbers. Keep numbers handy for your medical and mental health doctor. Also write down the local police, fire department, and utility companies (in case of a natural disaster).
- Contacts. Write down names, addresses, and phone numbers of close relatives, neighbors, or other people who might be able to help you if you are having a hard time. Ask one or two if they would take you to a doctor or hospital, if you needed urgent care.
- A health care agent. Ask someone you trust to take over your health care and make decisions for you, if you can’t make them yourself. You can ask a family member, a neighbor, or anyone you trust to make good decisions. Ask a social worker or any medical office for a health care agent form.
- Crisis information. Think about this: what do you consider a crisis? What would you want people to know about you, if you are “in crisis”?
- Your preferred care. Decide what care you want or don’t want, in case you are seriously injured or ill and can’t speak for yourself. You’ll put this information in special forms called advanced directives. Check with your state or county health department, or look on this website for a sample.
- Loved ones. If you have children or pets at home, find someone to care for them if you are suddenly sick or injured. Include their contact information in your kit. Be sure to write out instructions that person can follow to care for your loved ones.
Natural disaster kit: Before the storm
Here are some items you’ll want to keep on hand, in case of a big storm or other natural disaster:
- Keep a few gallons of water, toilet paper, and a flashlight (with batteries) handy. You can store tap water in clean gallon jugs.
- Leave a small blanket and some basic first aid supplies (bandages, cleansers, and aspirin) in your car or home. You should do this no matter what the season.
- Buy a battery-operated radio in case the power goes out.
- Put a can opener in a water-resistant container with a few canned meals, fruit juices, and other canned food.
- Include a small amount of cash in your kit, just in case.
Financial emergency kit: Money matters
Here are some things you can put in a financial emergency kit:
- Start saving for an emergency now. A little bit each week can add up fast, and will be here for you when you need it.
- Keep a record of account numbers. Make a list of any credit cards, debit cards, bank accounts, and pension or disability accounts. Put that list in a safe place.
- Keep all important receipts in a folder, shoebox, or large envelope. Be sure to label it so you can find what you need.
- Keep a copy of your health insurance coverage information in your kit. Include your account number.
- Make copies of documents you wouldn’t want to lose. This includes your Medicare or Medicaid card, driver’s license, and Social Security card. Also your marriage or divorce information, birth certificates, child support papers, or other legal papers. Keep these copies in your financial emergency kit.
- Keep the name and contact number of someone who might be able to help you if you have a money emergency.
With some luck, you’ll never need any of these kits, but if you do, you’ll be glad you have them.
Mental Health America