ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Take your disaster preparedness plan to the next level by adding these items to your kit.
(1) Hand-crank radio
When the power goes out after a disaster, it doesn't take long to appreciate just how much we use electricity. Hand-crank radios allow you to receive emergency alerts and listen to news reports no matter how long the power is down. Some models even include flashlights.
(2) Solar charger kit
Another way to create electricity is to tap into the power of the sun. Solar technology is getting better and better every day, and you can get a solar-powered charger for less than $50.
(3) Hand-crank power generator
A third option for powering cell phones, radios and other critical tools is a hand-crank generator. All you need is the power you generate by winding the crank to keep emergency equipment charged.
Using a generator? Here's how to use it correctly
(4) Powdered sports drinks
We all know water is life. You should already plan to have seven gallons of drinking water stored for each person in your home or business. But keeping powdered sports drinks on hand can help provide essential electrolytes and calories when food and resources can be scarce.
(5) Manual can opener
You went to the store and stocked up on non-perishable canned food items for when a disaster hits. GREAT JOB! Just don't forget that power will most likely be down for days or longer, and it would be a serious bummer trying to open that can of beans with your fingers.
Sure, the power is out, but there's a chance cell phone towers might be damaged or destroyed as well. We have come to rely on GPS technology and phone navigation systems to get where we're going. However, if the cellular infrastructure is down, you may need an old-school folding map to navigate and find your evacuation route.
(7) Video/pictures of home & vehicles
You already know to secure all your important documents, but taking photos or recording a quick video on your cell phone of your home, vehicles and other property before evacuating can help make insurance claims easier after the fact.
(8) Board games
No electricity or Wi-Fi needed. If your family has a favorite board game, bringing it along during an evacuation can help pass the time and keep children occupied, plus it offers a familiar comfort of home in a stressful situation. Miniature chess and checkers kits can also help pass the time.
(9) Card games
Let's face it. Not everyone like Monopoly. A deck of cards is as versatile as it gets. War, Gin Rummy, Bridge, Spades, even Poker – the possibilities are endless. If cribbage is your thing, you can get small travel boards that are easy to pack and don't take up much room in your kit.
Unfortunately, there will always be people who use a disaster as an opportunity to prey on the vulnerable. With electricity down and law enforcement maxed out, criminals can take advantage. It's a harsh reality, but when the worst happens you'd rather have something to defend yourself and your family than not have it. If your disaster plan includes evacuating to a shelter, find out what that shelter's policy is. Many shelters prohibit bringing weapons.