Prepare your survival kits: Commissary, Exchange patrons can save money on their critical supplies

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The Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif., community had no clue before the Independence Day holiday that their celebratory fireworks would be overshadowed by two earthquakes on consecutive days, July 4-5.

Although the commissary reopened in less than a week, and electricity and water were restored to most of the base shortly after the second earthquake, it would be weeks before any sense of normalcy returned to the sprawling desert base.

In September, National Preparedness Month highlights the importance of being ready for emergencies. It’s a message service members and their families should take to heart, said Tracie Russ, the Defense Commissary Agency’s director of sales.

“It’s not a question of ‘if’ bad weather will strike or an unplanned event will leave you without electricity or water,” Russ said. “So apply the lessons of Preparedness Month and take advantage of your commissary and exchange benefits to save money as you prepare your survival kits.”

From April through Oct. 31, DeCA’s severe weather preparedness promotional package is offering various items for those survival kits at reduced prices. This package includes: beef jerky and other assorted meat snacks, soup and chili mixes, canned goods, powdered milk, cereals, batteries, airtight bags, weather-ready flashlights, tape (all-weather, heavy-duty shipping and duct), first-aid kits, lighters, matches, lanterns, candles, hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes. Specific promotional items may vary from store to store.

The theme for this year’s National Preparedness Month is “Prepared, Not Scared.” The month is separated into four activities: Sept. 1-7 — save early for disaster costs; Sept. 8-14 — make a plan to prepare for disasters; Sept. 15-21 — teach youth to prepare for disasters; and Sept. 22-30 — get involved in your community’s preparedness.

Generally, emergency preparedness officials suggest having a disaster supply kit that includes the following items:

• Water: At least one gallon daily, per person (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)
• Nonperishable foods: Canned meats, fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, raisins, cereal, crackers, cookies, energy bars, granola, peanut butter, and foods for infants and the elderly (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)
• Paper goods: Writing paper, paper plates, paper towels and toilet paper
• Cooking items: Pots, pans, baking sheets, cooking utensils, charcoal, a grill and a manual can opener
• First-aid kit: Including bandages, medicines and prescription medications
• Cleaning materials: Bleach, sanitizing spray, and hand and laundry soap
• Specialty foods: Diet and low-calorie foods and drinks
• Toiletries: Personal hygiene items and moisture wipes
• Pet care items: Food, water, muzzle, leash, carrier, medications, medical records, and identification and immunization tags
• Lighting accessories: Flashlight, batteries, candles and matches
• Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA weather radio, if possible)
• Duct tape, scissors
• Multipurpose tool
• Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates and insurance policies)
• Cell phone with chargers
• Family and emergency contact information
• Extra cash
• Emergency blanket
• Maps of the area
• Blankets or sleeping bags

Commissary patrons can access a variety of online disaster preparedness resources at https://commissaries.com/our-agency/disaster-preparedness.

For more information about National Preparedness Month, go to Ready.gov where there are also links to more resources such as the Hurricane Seasonal Preparedness Digital Toolkit. Military families can also find information on emergency procedures specific to their service.