Prepare yourself for a disaster with a home emergency kit

September is National Preparedness Month -- to make sure you're ready for severe weather, or any other disaster we may encounter.

There's a lot you can do to help keep your family safe, like having a weather radio. But a weather radio is just one piece of a home disaster kit -- which is easy for your family to put together.

Horrific flooding in the southeast, raging wildfires in the west. These deadly and destructive events have been in the headlines in just the past month. While Michiana may not be as prone to disasters as other areas, they can happen here. So what can we do to be prepared?

Derek Warnke is a paramedic and a ham radio operator, and takes preparedness very seriously.

"I see all these people not being prepared,” says Derek. “Maybe it's time we step up and be ready in case something happens."

Derek did something very simple, and very important.

"Basically our family put a kit together,” he says. “We went to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security's website and they have a recommended list of a home disaster kit."

That list includes non-perishable food items, First Aid supplies, a flashlight, radio, extra batteries, medications, blankets, and 3 gallons of water per person per day. It is recommended that your kit have enough supplies to last 72 hours, or 3 days.

Why 72 hours?

"72 hours, they figure that you may be stuck at home, unable to get away for 72 hours. But their hopes are that within 72 hours they're going to have help in the area enough that at least you can get out of your house and move to a shelter, or whatever the situation might be,” says Mike Jacobs of St. Joe County Emergency Management.

"In the event of a disaster, people think that you're going to call 911 and you're going to get help, but truth is, everyone is going to be calling 911 wanting to get help, and you might not see help for two or three days,” says Mike. “It could even be up to a week before help can get to where you're at, both because of lack of manpower, and unable to access the area."

And that's where the kit comes in -- to sustain your family in case you are stuck in your home until help can arrive. It doesn't cost a lot to put together, but the peace of mind that you have it if you need it is definitely worth the price.

"I would say we have less than 100 dollars invested in our kit. And that includes the bins, and all the items that are in the bins including the water and all the food," says Derek.

"This kit definitely didn't evolve overnight. It’s taken a lot of time to put stuff in our kit, and what not,” Derek says. “And we realize, we'll come across something and say, ‘hey, that might be something that might be good to put in our kit.’"

“Major natural disasters don't happen in this area that often, but for us, it's always the ‘what if?’ scenario,” says Derek. “And that's what we're trying to prepare for, is the ‘what if?’”

Remember to check your kit periodically to make sure all the items are still working, and replace them as necessary.

It's also a good idea to have a small emergency kit in your car.

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