Recent disasters across the United States have demonstrated the need for individuals, families, organizations and businesses to have a disaster response plan. Unlike hurricanes, winter storms and severe weather outbreaks, some disasters like fires, floods, and earthquakes strike with little or no warning. Regardless of the disaster, it is necessary to prepare for the unexpected by building a disaster supply kit to make it through what might be a week or more of no power, running water, or additional aid from emergency responders.

Mark Misczak, Tidal Basin’s Chief Operations Officer and former FEMA Deputy Director for Individual Assistance, says when preparing for any disaster, there are some recommended items to have on hand.

“Individuals and families can take several actions to improve their ability to respond to disasters. First, to inquire now into evacuation routes and changes in shelter plans. Second, gather critical documents and information that you would need to travel with you, account information, social security cards, insurance information, and income documentation. Third, I would suggest having a ‘go bag’ which includes making sure you bring your essential clothing, medications, and I would add to that in this particular environment, in a pandemic environment they would also bring with you additional PPE for your family bring masks, hand sanitizers, masks, and gloves,” says Misczak.

In some disasters, you may be required to evacuate with little or no notice. The current wildfire emergency unfolding on the West Coast is a reminder of why you need to be prepared for the unexpected. Many communities have had to evacuate in the middle of the night with very little notice. Misczak says having an Evacuation Plan is also imperative to ensure you and your family are safe in a disaster.

To learn more about building a disaster supply kit and how to pack a “go kit”, download Tidal Basin’s Personal and Family Preparedness Guide. In the guide, you will also find checklists for home and evacuation preparedness, pet preparedness, financial preparedness, and more.

To learn more about National Preparedness Month, visit FEMA’s National Preparedness Month page.