Emergencies happen when you least expect it. Whether it’s a natural disaster or a medical emergency, it’s important to be prepared for the worst. Having the right tools, skills and plans can literally save your life.

Here are four ways to get your home ready for an emergency.

1. Build a First Aid Kit

Every home should have a first aid kit. You can purchase a pre-made kit, or you can build one yourself.

Many people prefer to build their own kits because they have more control over the quantity and quality of the supplies.

Regardless of which route you take, your home first aid kit should have the following supplies:

  • Gauze (small, medium and large)
  • Bandages in different shapes and sizes
  • Scissors
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Sterile eye dressings
  • Tweezers
  • Sticky tape
  • Thermometer
  • Painkillers
  • Safety pins
  • Disposable gloves
  • Crepe and triangular bandages
  • Distilled water
  • Eye wash
  • Blanket

Feel free to add more items you think you’ll need in an emergency. If, for example, someone in your family has an allergic reaction to food, insect bites, drugs or other allergens, you might add an EpiPen to your kit.

2. Build an Emergency Water Supply

When natural disaster strikes, it’s important to ensure that you have an ample supply of clean drinking water.

Plan to store at least one gallon of water for each person for three days. Most people need three-quarters of a gallon of fluid each day, from water and other beverages.

If you have the space, you can continue building your supply to prepare for more severe emergencies. Ideally, your store should have at least a week’s supply of water per person.

3. Create an Action Plan

It’s difficult to stay calm and focused in an emergency situation, but having a plan to follow can help. A plan ensures that every family member knows what to do when things get chaotic.

Keep a copy of the plan near the emergency kit. If your plan includes meeting places (it should), hang a map near your kit with the designated locations circled.

It’s also important to create a plan for medical emergencies. Make sure everyone understands what to do – i.e. call 911.

4. Have a “Go Bag” Ready

Some emergencies require you to leave your home in a hurry. Having a “go bag” ready will save you time and keep you from having to pack while rushing out the door. When you have the essentials already packed and ready to go, you reduce the risk of forgetting something important.

Here are some important things to put in your “Go Bag”:

  • First aid kit
  • Manual can opener
  • Three days’ worth of food and water
  • Battery powered radio and flashlights
  • Regional maps
  • Whistle
  • Extra batteries
  • Pliers or wrench
  • Trash bags
  • Dust mask
  • Duct tape
  • Cell phones with chargers
  • Personal sanitation supplies
  • Pet supplies
  • Cash

Ideally, you want to have enough cash on hand to cover your basic needs for five days (gas, food, extra water, etc.). If ATMs are down, you’ll need cash to buy the things you need.