As Hurricane Florence stares down the eastern seaboard and wildfires continue to rage in California, it would seem remiss to ignore that a natural disaster will likely touch all of us in some way at some point in our lifetime. Disaster preparedness is a major issue for everyone, but particularly for those of us with small children. Infants, pregnant/nursing mothers, and young children have particular needs that may not be covered by your standard emergency kit or checklist.
To save a lot of googling, anxiety, and time (we know you already don’t have any…), we’ve compiled some of the best official disaster preparedness resources and thrown some emergency prep essentials from our own professional and parenting experience in the mix too. Some of these items are simply for comfort, while others could truly save lives.
Basic Disaster Survival Kit
According to experts at the American Red Cross, a basic disaster supplies kit should include the following items:
- A supply of water (one gallon per person per day). Store water in sealed, unbreakable containers. Identify the storage date and replace every six months.
- A supply of non-perishable packaged or canned food and a non-electric can opener.
- A change of clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes.
- Blankets or sleeping bags.
- A first aid kit and prescription medications.
- An extra pair of glasses.
- A battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.
- Credit cards and cash.
- An extra set of car keys.
- A list of family physicians.
- A list of important family information; the style and serial number of medical devices such as pacemakers.
- Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members.
You can view and download the complete American Red Cross emergency preparedness checklist here.
Extras for pregnant moms-to-be, infants and children:
While the Red Cross checklist is a great place to start, “special items for infants” doesn’t exactly help the stressed-mom-trying-to-pack-everything mode we all enter when trying to provide for the safety and welfare of our children in the face of disaster. Luckily, the March of Dimes created an emergency checklist specifically for pregnant moms and parents with small children. They suggest adding the following items to your family’s disaster preparedness supplies.
If you’re expecting, your disaster preparedness kit should include basically what you plan to pack in your L&D hospital bag, along with some (admittedly rather scary-sounding) emergency birth supplies, as follows.
- Emergency birth supplies (such as clean towels, sharp scissors, infant bulb syringe, medical gloves, two white shoelaces, sheets, and sanitary pads)
- two blankets
- closed-toe shoes
- maternity and baby clothes
- prenatal vitamins and other medications
- nutritious foods, such as protein bars, nuts, dried fruit and granola
- extra bottled water
For baby & child:
If you have an infant/toddler/small child, think about adding the following supplemental items to your emergency supplies to keep baby happy and healthy.
- Baby food in pouches or jars and disposable feeding spoons
- Extra baby blankets, clothes, and shoes
- a thermometer
- copies of vaccination records
- antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer
- dish soap
- a portable crib
- baby sling or carrier
- diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream
- medications and infant pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- small disposable cups
- ready-to-feed formula in single serving cans or bottles
For more information, you can access the full March of Dimes emergency preparedness checklist here.
Additional Real As A M*ther Essentials
From our collective Real M*ther experience, the following items can also be invaluable for baby, child, and parent during extended power outages and temporary lodging situations that often accompany storms and natural disasters.
Anker cell phone charger
This rechargeable cell phone charger can provide you with extra hours of phone battery life when the power is out. Given all that we rely on our cellular devices for these days, it’s smart to have a way to access important information stored on your phone.
Nursing supplies for breastfeeding moms
Nursing pads, lanolin ointment/coconut oil, breast pump (with batteries and/or manual!) and bottling supplies, nursing pillow and extra blankets. Extra pacifiers.
Battery powered lanterns
Candles are too dangerous, and flashlights become play-things in our house full of little ones. These waterproof Energizer lanterns are functional, bright, and provide hands-free illumination for a whole room. They also have a nightlight setting for which is great for kids’ rooms at night, and a 350 hour run time. We have three and use them almost constantly for one thing or another.
Non-perishable kid’s protein sources
Getting your kids to eat is hard enough in perfect weather. When conditions may be challenging (OK, basically anything that involves the refrigerator not working is challenging with kids, but hangry kids won’t help) keep their bellies full with healthy, non-perishable protein sources. Some of our favorites are:
- Earth’s Best baby yogurt pouches;
- Nut butters like these Justin’s single-serve almond butter pouches (and don’t forget the Nutella!);
- Larabars (natural ingredients, but soft enough for little ones to munch);
- Horizon organic milk boxes (no refrigeration required); and
- Snap Pea crisps (5g of pea protein per serving!)
Additional medicines for baby & child
Children’s Benadryl, Allergy/Asthma medications (as required), Simethicone drops or Gripe Water for little tummies. Band-aids, peroxide, and Neosporin for slips and falls and bumps.
Battery operated fans
In the hot summer months of hurricane season, the air circulation provided by even a small fan can go a long way to help kids and adults sleep comfortably during power outages. These O2Cool portable fans can be battery operated, no cords required.
Battery powered sound machine
A little sleep goes a long way for everyone. A comforting song or white noise is a great way to help little ones (and adults for that matter) sleep in cramped, loud, or new environments, and when the electricity is out these battery powered machines can be a big help keeping little ones asleep without draining your phone.
Comfort Objects and distractions
Stuffed teddy, puzzles, favorite books. Whatever makes your kids feel comfortable, along with a few activities to keep their minds active and away from potential disaster-related anxieties.
If you are concerned about damage to your home or potential evacuation, you can avoid a lot of potential hassle by bringing your child’s birth certificate along. Many times, we forget that children need ID in several situations too!
Remember that no matter what your circumstances, no one experiences a natural disaster alone. Reach out to neighbors, school groups, church groups, and shelters. Get out of your comfort zone and connect. You’ll be surprised how many people are willing to help, and how many you can likely help as well. At the end of the day, we are all the village.
Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone recovering from, and preparing for a natural disaster. Be safe y’all.
Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe & wine explorer.