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  • Preparing Your Car for Winter Weather

    via Denver Post via Denver Post

    In many parts of the United States, the first snow has already fallen. In some places the storms were doozies: Parts of Reno, Nevada received 10 inches of snow on November 11 and Denver saw its first blizzard in five years on November 16.

    So, isn’t it time prepare your car for winter?

    First, make sure the car is running well, said Rolayne Fairclough, a spokesperson for AAA Utah.

    “Take it in and have a mechanic prepare it for the winter,” she said.

    Make sure the battery is fully charged, because it’s weaker in cold weather. Mechanics can test it or some car parts stores will test it for free, according to an article in Kiplinger.com, a financial planning site. If you know your battery’s powering down, you can replace it at your convenience and at a better price, the site said.

    Make sure hoses and belts aren’t cracked, Fairclough said. Winter can increase cracks and cause breaking. Also make sure the exhaust system is leak-free so carbon monoxide doesn’t fill your car.

    Whether you choose all-season or winter tires, make sure they’ve got enough tread, Kiplinger.com said. The web site for The Tire Rack, a tire vendor, demonstrates a coin-based way to check the tread.

    Its site points out that at 1/16 of an inch, the minimum tread required by law in most places, “resistance to hydroplaning in the rain at highway speeds has been significantly reduced, and traction in snow has been virtually eliminated.”

    Winter TireYou may have been told to under-inflate tires to give them more surface area. That only helps if the snow is deep and soft, said the Kiplinger.com story. On a normal drive, under-inflated tires act more like hydroplaning tires because they don’t grab the pavement as well as fully inflated tires. Also, remember tires lose a pound of pressure for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit temperature drop.

    Make sure your brakes are in good condition.

    Check windshield wipers and wiper fluid too. Windshield wiper blades have a lifespan of about a year, according to the Kiplinger.com story. In places that get especially cold, put an antifreeze solvent in windshield washer reservoirs, according to the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

    Putting windshield wiper fluid in a car. Don't forget the antifreeze!

    Make sure all the fluids are full and clean, especially antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid. If you live in a really cold area, make sure the antifreeze solution is good for temperatures 40 degrees Fahrenheit below zero, according to the North Dakota Department of Transportation site. Car parts stores carry an antifreeze tester that’s less than $10, according to Kiplinger.com.

    Check to make sure leaves and debris haven’t filled the opening below the hood and windshield: they can block water flow, according to Kiplinger.com. Also make sure nothing under the car is loose or hanging down so it doesn’t get torn out if you drive over deep snow. Finally, clean and wax headlights.

    The second step is to make sure you’ve got an emergency kit, Fairclough said.

    Keep cold weather gear like blankets or a sleeping bag, boots, a coat, and gloves in the car, she said. Aluminum “space blankets” can fit in a glove compartment.

    Bring a power source for cell phones, a radio, and a flashlight with extra batteries.

    Believe it or not, a candle can heat a whole car’s cabin, Fairclough said. Carry matches too, because extreme cold can freeze some lighters.

    Add water and a metal container for melting snow or drinking. Also bring high-energy food like candy, raisins, nuts, dehydrated fruit and jerky. Don’t forget toilet paper.

    Auto Kit Keep an auto emergency kit in your vehicle, just in case.

    Finally, take tools and equipment for the car: signaling equipment like bright cloth or flares, chains, booster cables, a nylon rope, and a shovel, and sand or kitty litter for traction.

    In a pinch, you can use the car’s floor mats for traction, Fairclough said.

    “A lot of people just don’t put a shovel in their cars,” she admitted.

    Third, take a few minutes to prepare before you go anywhere. Dress for the weather. Carry a cell phone and charger and make sure to tell someone your departure time, route and expected arrival time, suggests the North Dakota Department of Transportation. Check road conditions before you leave.

    Keep the gas tank more than half full, Fairclough said.

    “If you’re detoured, you have some flexibility and don’t have to worry about running out of gas,” she said.

    Finally, drive for the conditions. Although winter months see fewer fatal crashes, they see more small ones, Fairclough said. Typically they’re from people driving too fast and too close together.

    You can find detailed hints for what to do if you get stranded in winter at the North Dakota Department of Transportation’s web site.

    Have a safe winter!


    How is your car prepared for winter weather?



  • Earthquake Survival Kit for People with Mobility Issues

    With just a week since the annual Great ShakeOut (when millions of people around the world practice Earthquake preparedness, especially how to drop, cover and hold on), and while these three tasks may seem simple for those of us who are able-bodied, they aren’t simple for people with mobility issues. The issue is that earthquake preparedness is substantially different when it comes to people with mobility issues, so let’s take the time to go through how people with disabilities should protect themselves during an earthquake.

    1 - Wheelchair - Mobility


    Earthquake Preparedness Differs for Disabled People

    Emergencies are never planned, so mobility problems, as well as other disabilities, including hearing loss, seeing disabilities or learning disabilities may further complicate an already grave situation. That’s precisely why you should plan in advance for any unforeseen event, such as an earthquake.

    Getting to safety, evacuating and conducting yourself during such a disaster differs greatly for disabled people. For one, you’ll have to ask yourself whether you have a manual wheelchair that can be used instead of your electric one.

    2 - Drop Cover Hold On - Mobility

    “I know you are supposed to drop, cover and hold on and things like that but if I drop on the floor, I'm not going to be able to get back up on my wheelchair,” Deserie Ortiz, a spinal cord injury sufferer explains.

    Knowing what you can and cannot do for yourself will help you better plan for such a situation. According to Red Cross guidelines, here’s what you need to do:

    • Have a personal support network (PSN): they must be in walking distance of your home, have access to your home and must be able to offer immediate assistance;
    • Assess your personal situation: are you able to move (even in a wheelchair) enough to eat and drink, do you need tub-transfer benches when showering, is your wheelchair electricity-dependent, is your building wheelchair friendly, are there exits nearby, do you use service animals and if yes, will you be able to care for your animal during such a disaster?
    • Make a plan that involves rendezvous points, contact people, a communications plan, escape routes, as well as a plan on how to take care of pets. Also, think about a possible evacuation: are there any safe locations nearby, are you able to get there and are they wheelchair accessible?
    • Have an earthquake survival kit ready.


    Assembling your Earthquake Survival Kit

    3 - Emergency Kit - Mobility

    Disaster experts recommend that you have at least seven days’ worth of supplies. Some components of your survival kit are standard and include:

    • Nonperishable food (packaged, dehydrated or canned food);
    • Sufficient water: as a general rule of thumb, aim for at least a gallon of water per person per day (you’ll have to account for pets);
    • First aid kit (including essential medications and the prescription medication you regularly take);
    • Sleeping bag;
    • Blankets;
    • Manual can opener;
    • A flashlight (with extra batteries), a battery powered radio, a multi-purpose tool;
    • A great quality knife and a knife sharpener as knife blades tend to get dull;
    • Copies of personal documents, including birth certificates, insurance policies, home lease, passports, medication list, medical device information (for pacemakers for instance);
    • Cash;
    • A map of the area;
    • Warm clothing including sturdy shoes and rain gear;
    • Toiletries and hygiene items;
    • Water purification kit (if your water runs out);
    • A face mask.

    This survival kit will contain additional items, as needed:

    • Batteries for your wheelchair;
    • A manual wheelchair (if you own one);
    • Food and water for your service animal (and medication if required);
    • Brands and serial numbers for your equipment and medical devices;


    What to do During an Earthquake

    For those who are confined to a wheelchair, identify a safe spot inside your house (ideally, a doorway or a corner). Get to that particular safe spot, lock your wheels, cover your head with your arms and wait for the shaking to stop. If there’s no possibility of seeking shelter, protect yourself with your arms, pillows, or blankets and wait for the earthquake to stop.

    After the shaking has stopped, check whether you are injured, then try to call for help or get in contact with your PSN. Be aware though, that aftershocks may occur so remain aware and stay in safe spaces. If necessary, evacuate the building. Here’s an exhaustive guide on how to prepare for, conduct yourself during, and resume your life after an earthquake.


    Do you have mobility issues? What are some ways you prepare?


    Disaster_Blog_Banner - Mobility

  • Home Necessities to Help You Be Prepared for Any Natural Disaster

    By guest contributor Katherine Oakes

    Family - via Modernize via Modernize

    At Modernize, we believe your home is your sanctuary and your shelter. In the chance that a natural disaster or unforeseen emergency should occur, it is important to know that your home is still that safe space. Even though imagining those worst-case scenarios can be difficult at first, knowing that you and your family will be safe despite the extreme circumstances will be enough to give you peace of mind.
    Making sure that you and your loved ones are prepared for any sort of situation can seem like an overwhelming task. Where do you even begin? Start by narrowing it down and consider what items would be necessary to have stored in your home in case of an emergency. Since many of the incidents that occur and leave people stranded are due to natural disasters like hurricanes, storms, floods, earthquakes, or tornadoes, it’s more likely that you may be stuck in your home without power or access to clean water. Think about what kind of items and products you use on a daily basis and then make it more specific by asking yourself what you would actually need in order to survive?

    To help you get started, we’ve outlined some of the most important things to consider storing in your home in case of an emergency.



    At least half of the human body is comprised of water, and since dehydration can easily be one of the first things to seriously affect you when you are without it, it’s extremely important for keeping your area and yourself clean and hydrated. So as you are creating your plans, make sure that water is at the top of your list. FEMA recommends storing at least one gallon per person per day for two weeks at minimum, and it will be even better if you have the space to store more.


    via The Emergency Food Assistance Program via The Emergency Food Assistance Program


    If you are following the two week rule, then you’ll want to include enough food in your emergency storage to adequately sustain you and the other members of your household for that amount of time. It is, of course, wise to store non-perishable items like canned food or packages that require water and to consider how many calories they will provide per person per day. However, if you have the means to store food that needs to be slightly cooked, you can use cooking equipment that doesn’t need electricity and is battery-powered to do so.


    First Aid Kit

    Having a well-stocked first aid kit can make all the difference. There are plenty of kits for sale that come with all the essentials you might need. However, you can always create your own first aid kit by buying products individually and customizing it to your liking. Keep it nearby your food and water for convenience.


    Other Functional Necessities

    Add things like several flashlights, batteries, and matches, and candles to your storage as well. It’s also important to keep a hand-crank or battery-powered radio in your collection so that you can stay well informed throughout the process and know how to safely move forward with your loved ones. Also consider what daily medications you or others might need to have in case you cannot get more. Do your best to stock up and keep them in your first aid kit or in a safe place.


    What are some other home necessities you have on hand for an emergency? Let us know in the comments!

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