Planning ahead: Your weather emergency preparedness kit

April 14, 2023

Learn how to build your emergency preparedness kit so you’re ready when disaster strikes!

Emergency preparedness kit

When disaster strikes, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and uncertain of what steps to take next. Although forecasting can give advanced warning, severe weather often leaves little time to prepare. That's why it’s important to discuss disaster preparedness with your family, have a plan in place, and be ready for weather emergencies.

Survival preparedness begins with knowing your basic needs for dealing with a weather-related disaster in the hours or days that follow. It also requires you to have a comprehensive plan and disaster kit that will accommodate your family's unique needs.

Read on to learn more about how you can make sure your family is prepared for a weather-related emergency!

Making disaster plans

When it comes to survival preparedness and being ready for a weather-related emergency, your first step is to have solid plans in place before the storm arrives.

Who will you contact?

If you're creating a survival preparedness plan for your family, you'll want to have a point of contact in place in case you are not all together when disaster strikes. Whether that's you, your spouse/partner, an aunt or uncle, etc., make sure everyone within your household knows the primary person to contact. This person is who everyone in your family will contact to alert them to where they are and what their plans are for reuniting with the family.

Whether you're creating this plan for your family or just yourself, it can also be helpful to have a point of contact with someone out of state, or at least in a different part of the state. They'll often be in a much more controlled environment, which will ensure that you can reach them easier than someone who may be experiencing the same disaster you are.

This also ensures that a third party who is removed from the situation has up-to-date information about your whereabouts and safety. Because they are outside of the emergency area, they can focus on finding help for you if needed, giving you the ability to focus on the more immediate needs around you.  

Where will you go?

Knowing where to go to ride out a dangerous situation is important, and there are two parts to this plan. First, you'll want to have a designated safe place or meeting place in mind. Again, because your family may not be together when disaster strikes, it's a good idea to have a place in mind where everyone can meet up.

Whether this is at home (commonly known as shelter in place) or a county-wide shelter, make sure everyone in your family is familiar with the address and directions on how to get there so they can navigate to the destination when needed.

Next, it's always a good idea to consider what might happen if your home - or town - are not longer safe. Major disasters and emergencies often leave your home, and sometimes the larger area around your home, unsafe or at the very least, temporarily uninhabitable. That's why it's also essential to include an escape route and destination in your emergency planning. 

This can be as simple as a relative's home in the next town over or an easily accessible hotel off an interstate outside of town. It doesn't have to be especially far, but it does need to be far enough away to be reasonably removed from the types of disasters your area may be subject to. 

For example, you don't likely need to get very far out of town if your area is hit by a tornado, but if you live near the coast, you'll need to travel a good distance to escape a hurricane.

For both your designated safe place and evacuation destination, make sure you have the opportunity to practice navigating there beforehand and discuss alternate routes if possible.

Financial Plans

Last but not least, when planning for survival or emergency preparedness, it's also important to keep financial plans in mind.

Because many weather-related disasters often cause power outages or, in extreme cases, can destroy belongings, it's essential to make sure you make copies of all pertinent financial and personal documents—before bad weather hits.

This can include things like home deeds, insurance policies, banking information, etc. Having this on hand will make things easier in the aftermath of a disaster if you're able to provide information to necessary parties as soon as possible to can get the help you need.

Note: It is also helpful to review all active insurance policies to ensure that your home, car, belongings, and other assets are well covered in case of a disaster.

Emergency survival kits

With plans in place, the next thing you'll need to get in order is your emergency survival kits.

What is an emergency survival kit?

Emergency survival kits (also known as a home disaster kit or survival bag) are a collection of items and disaster preparedness supplies meant to help individuals or families survive in an emergency.

Many major weather-related events, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, snowstorms, flash floods, etc., cause such harsh weather conditions that first responders may have to wait before being dispatched to help you.

Having an emergency survival kit on hand will give you the necessary or essential things you need to survive or help your family survive until more help can arrive. (Remember, it can be anywhere from a few hours to a few days before help gets there, depending on the severity of the situation.)

Basic items needed for emergency preparedness

While it won’t take you too long to put together the items you need for your emergency supply kit, it's something you'll want to do well before disaster strikes - not the day before! While you may be able to buy an emergency preparedness kit in a store, you can also make them yourself. According to Ready.Gov, every emergency preparedness kit should have these basic items:

Water. Collect a minimum of one gallon per person in your household per day for several days (a two-week supply is optimal). This gallon will cover both drinking water and sanitation water for that individual.

Food. You'll want a supply of non-perishable food that equates to about 2,000 calories per adult per day. So you'll want to stock up for several days.

A battery-powered or hand-crank radio. Having up-to-date information in an emergency situation saves lives. There are plenty of great apps available now days, such as the American Red Cross Emergency app, but cell service can be interrupted and phones run out of batteries.

That's why some families or individuals opt for an NOAA Weather Radio, which provides you a toned alert whenever there is an updated warning from your local weather station. Radio signals are far more reliable than even cell service and many weather radios have multiple ways to recharge without power.

First aid kit. The Red Cross recommends first aid kits include things such as absorbent compress dressings, adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment packets, aspiring, emergency blankets, and much more. Click here to read their complete list.

Other supplies. Other basic emergency supplies can include:
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
  • Local maps
  • Extra batteries
  • Flashlight (consider adding solar-powered ones for additional precautionary measures)
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items such as moist towelettes, toothbrushes, garbage bags, etc.
  • Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
  • Manual can opener
  • Masks (to protect from illnesses or potential debris/smoke) 
  • Whistle (so that you may signal for help if you're in a hard to locate area)
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape (in the event that you need to seal off a room or broken window)
Once you've collected all the basic items for your emergency supply kit, put it in a safe place. Some individuals and/or families opt for jumbo plastic waterproof containers that can house all the necessary items, while some opt for things like duffel bags. No matter which you choose, make sure your items are stored in a place that is easily accessible to you.

Unique disaster preparedness kits

Aside from gathering the basic items needed for emergency preparedness, make sure that you're also creating unique disaster preparedness kits that align with the needs of your particular situation. Here are some special family circumstances that can impact what you put into your disaster preparedness kit:


If you have children under the age of 18 or are the legal guardians of anyone under 18, you'll want to have items in your kits that can aid in their survival. This includes things like:
  • Identification for each child
  • Activities to keep them distracted (this can include board games, coloring books, cards, etc.)
  • Comfort items such as a favorite blanket, stuffed animal, pillow, etc.
  • Any necessary prescription medication
If you are caring for a baby, you'll want to make sure you have backup baby supplies such as bottles, milk, diapers, wipes, etc.


If you are caring for an elderly person during a weather-related event, you'll also want to include some of the following things in your disaster preparedness supplies:
  • Identification for the person
  • Their prescription medications or copies of prescriptions for their medications
  • Any necessary medical equipment
  • Written information about their unique needs (i.e., medication times or any ongoing medical complications to be aware of)


If you own a pet, you'll also want to take into consideration different preparations that may be needed for them. You can include things such as:
  • A traveling bag or crate for each pet
  • Grooming items such as shampoo, toothbrushes, etc.
  • Hygiene/sanitation items such as a litter box or pee pads
  • Spare collar with an ID tag
  • Spare harness or leash
If you own a pet, you should also consider including copies of your pet's registration information or any other relevant veterinarian documents along with your own personal and financial documents.

Additionally, as you prepare for a weather-related emergency, this is a good time to consider microchipping your pet if they aren’t already chipped. Doing this gives you peace of mind in knowing that your pet can be returned to you if you’re separated. If your pet is already microchipped, make sure your information is up to date.

Update your kits regularly

The needs of your family or you as an individual are likely to change over time. For this reason, you should update your kits regularly.

You can do this once a year by reviewing and updating any financial documents that may now have renewal paperwork, as well as updating plans on preparedness should the locations of shelters change or you move to a new address.

As your family grows, you'll also want to update the amount of sanitation/drinking water or food you have on hand.

Lastly, be sure to make updates as needed for seasonal changes. For example, as you approach the winter months, it's a good idea to consider what emergency items you might need to deal with the winter elements. 

Homeowners insurance considerations for emergency preparedness planning

During an emergency and the hours or days immediately following, your personal possessions are likely some of the last things on your mind - you're concerned with the health and safety of you and your loved ones. 

However, once your life has been turned upside down, insurance is an important tool for helping you turn rightside up again. Incorporating a few insurance-related items into your emergency preparation before disasters can help you make this process as smooth and quick as possible. 

Home Inventory Checklist. As you may know, homeowners insurance not only covers your home, but also the personal belongings within. Keeping an accurate home inventory checklist can go a long way to help this process along and ensure that nothing is left out. You can download Germania's Home inventory checklist here! 

Check coverages ahead of time. It's always a good idea to speak with your insurance agent to ensure that you have the right coverages and enough coverage. You can do this at renewal, but it's also a good idea any time you make any major changes or additions to your home. Just to be safe, you may also want to do it before the onset of severe weather season. 

If you are involved in some sort of disaster or emergency, such as a fire or tornado, of course the safety of you and your family comes first. Once everyone is safe and accounted for, you'll want to contact your insurance claims department to file a claim ASAP. So, make sure that you include that information in your preparedness kit. 

As the saying goes, "Don't be scared, be prepared!" There are many uncertainties in life and we can't control when or where a disaster will strike. However, we can take action ahead of time and prepare so that should we find ourselves in the face of such an event, we know that we're in a position to do the most we possibly can to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. So, talk to your family about emergency planning and put together your emergency preparedness kit today!

Want more information on how to be prepared? You can visit for more details on building your disaster preparedness kit or for a downloadable disaster preparedness kit checklist.

A family creating an emergency preparedness kit 
Since 1896, Germania Insurance has helped Texas families like yours repair and rebuild after disaster strikes. For more information on our products and services, request a free quote online or reach out to your local Authorized Agent today! 

by Geoff Ullrich

About the Author

Geoff Ullrich is a writer and Content Marketing Strategist at Germania Insurance.

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