Disaster can strike at anytime. In fact, a study conducted by livescience.com reported that the number of natural disasters has been on the rise since 1970. Some attest that the increase is due the fact that technology has advanced; so actually reporting their occurrence has become much easier. Others believe that the increase is directly related to man made factors such as global warming. Regardless of the reason for this increasing number, it is important that parents prepare themselves for the worst, especially when there are kids and babies in the picture.
There is a reason that flight attendants instruct parents to put on the oxygen mask before they put it on their children in the event of a plane disaster. The reason is very logical - if mom or dad passes out, there is no one to help baby. The same applies when packing an emergency bag. Parents need to first consider their needs to ensure that they are able to care for their children. You can find a list of supplies recommended by Ready.gov, a partner organization of FEMA, here.
After you have taken the time to thoroughly plan for yourself, planning for the kids should be the next step. The needs of newborns and infants are a lot more demanding than the needs of toddlers and younger children, so a separate pack will be needed for parents of newborns, while what is included in a pack for toddlers and young children can mirror that of their parents. Newborns and infants, on the other hand, will require some unique and specific items:
- Water for formula & washing bottles and nipples (At least 96oz for drinking - 32oz per day x 3 days. If you are breastfeeding, you might need less, but you still want to be prepared for the possibility that your milk supply might decrease with a limited diet. Also, while carrying extra water may not be possible due to the weight, having extra gallons of water for cleaning/washing purposes at home may be extremely helpful, in case you are able to stay home but the water supply is cut off.)
- Formula – Powdered formula x 3 days worth
- Bottles and nipples (Bottles with disposable inserts may be a more convenient and water-saving choice)
- Diapers (However many diapers your baby goes through in a day x 3, plus extras) and wipes
- Diaper rash cream
- Wash clothes (for wiping down baby in lieu of a warm bath)
- Baby soap and lotion
- 3+ onesies, 3+ footed pajamas, 3+ pants, and 3+ pairs of socks (depending on how much space you have in your bag, bring extras of each and pack for the appropriate season)
- Infant Tylenol or Advil (consulting a doctor is a must for newborns before administering any medication, but it is good to have it on hand in case you need it)
- Any prescription medication
- Sanitizing gel & wipes
- Sunblock lotion
- A blanket
- A baby sling
- Ziplock bags or trash bags (for soiled clothes and diapers)
- A small portable stove for boiling water, if you have room (for sterilizing nipples and wiping down baby)
You never know where you will be when disaster strikes, so have the emergency kit ready at home and in the car, and at work. Preparing the emergency kit in a roller bag may be a better choice for some since you may have to carry the baby as well.
Thinking about surviving a disaster can be scary for new parents, but actually being put in a position to survive one can be a lot scarier. It may seem like something that can be pushed to the back burner, but don't’ let it. Taking the time to prepare will surely go a long way in increasing the odds of the entire family surviving.