National Emergency Preparedness: Build a Kit

Dear Colleagues:

Every household needs to be ready for an emergency.  But, every household is different. has a simple plan:  Assemble the items you would need to survive on your own in quantities to last for 72 hours.   That’s your kit.

Could “Build-a-kit” provide a thematic lesson for your adult English language learners?  Major tasks of the lesson might include:  (1) identifying the types of emergencies most likely to occur in your area; (2) discussing a picture of items students might include in an emergency kit, (3) developing a picture dictionary of new vocabulary words (how could students picture: natural disaster, non-perishable foods, hygiene items, evacuation?); (4) creating and practicing short dialogues about the contents of a personal/family kit; (5) completing a brief emergency communication plan; and, (6) sharing cellphone photographs of students’ kits.

While starts with a simple plan, they do provide many, many lists and suggestions.  See Build a Kit for more details.

Have you developed lessons on disaster preparedness for your students?  What did you cover?  What did students think and learn?

Cynthia Zafft

Health Literacy Moderator


Dear Colleagues:

Okay, so it turns out that putting aside three days of non-perishable food and hygiene items is harder, bulkier, and more expensive than I thought. So, now I'm on to Plan B.  I have the base list of food items and hygiene products for three days but they are in my cabinets.  If one of the items falls below the amount needed for three days, I will purchase it.  There are a couple of items I couldn't get around purchasing, like powdered milk, but really not that many.  The big problem now is water.  Since my soda drinkers left home a long time ago, I don't have a convenient supply of empty bottles and am looking for suggestions.

Cynthia  Zafft

Health Literacy Moderator

You don't have to stock pile a bunch of bottled water.  They make field water purification systems.  You can purchase these and then use the water that is available.  Remember that plastic bottles will leech chemicals into the water over time.  Water also gets stale.  Just like other products you need to rotate the stock.  While the purification tablets/system may be a bit expensive, if you are not used to drinking bottled water regularly this may be the cheaper and more convenient option.  These purification systems are NOT water filters, but designed to be used with contaminated water.  They go above and beyond the water filter on your tap.  Remember that during a boil order you can't use the water filter.  You can use the water purification.

I admire you for getting so much together.  It is a bit daunting to just think about, and you actually did it.  Great Job!  I always teach my students to choose the most important because they are low income and the financial strain.  Your Plan B is a good option for those families also.

Dear Alies:

Good to hear from you and thank you for the idea.  I was concerned about bottled water because last time I put water aside, it tasted like plastic and Mountain Dew (yuck...on both accounts).  Let me look into the tablet idea.  I want to say that last winter in Boston cured me for sitting back -- even though we didn't have power issues there were days that we could hardly get the front door open.