Millions of Filipinos send millions of Balikbayan boxes home every year. But they rarely include any emergency supplies to help their kabayan in the next inevitable disaster. The boxes are loaded with cosmetics, perfume, toys and electronics gizmos, but hardly anything to help survive the next Philippine disaster. Whether it’s a typhoon, earthquake, volcano, or the next “brown out”, every family needs to be prepared.
I realize it’s too late to send emergency supplies in your Christmas Balikbayan box this year. But it’s never too early to start filling next year’s box. Here’s what to send – and what NOT to send!
What Emergency Supplies NOT to Send?
Water and food are important things to have if an emergency happens. Each emergency kit should include needed medications. It should also include important family documents. These are things that your kabayan will have to supply for themselves, but you can send collapsible water containers and watertight containers for these items. Have them purchase a large storage bin to put it all in. You shouldn’t send the items in the lists below that are marked with an asterisk (*) because they could be dangerous to ship. Some items marked (*) are more easily obtained in the Philippines, like food and water.
Emergency Supplies to Include in a Basic Kit:
- Water*, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation – Send containers
- Food*, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food – Send freeze dried
- Solar or hand cranked AM/FM radio
- Water purifier or purification tablets
- LED flashlight and batteries
- First Aid kit
- Bar soap
- Whistle to signal for help
- Infant formula* and diapers*, if you have an infant
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Dust mask to help filter the air
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Multi Tool or pocket knife
- Can opener for canned food
Clothing and Bedding:
- Long pants
- A long sleeve shirt
- Sturdy shoes
- A hat and work gloves
- A blanket for each person
- Emergency reference materials such as a first aid book ,or a print out of the information on www.ready.gov
- Rain gear
Miscellaneous Emergency Supplies
- Mess kit: cooking pot, cups, plates and utensils
- Cash and change
- Paper towels
- Plastic tarps for temporary shelter or roof repairs
- Matches in a waterproof container (Or a lighter*)
- Paper, pencil
- Personal hygiene items including feminine supplies
- Household chlorine bleach* – You can use bleach as a disinfectant(diluted nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to treat water. Use 16 drops of liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
- Medicine dropper
- Important Family Documents: copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank accounts in a waterproof container
This is not a complete list. If you think of something useful we may have left out, please leave a comment. Nor should you feel you need to send everything on the list. Anything is better than nothing, after all. Send in advance, so that when your family needs these things, they are ready. Don’t wait and send things afterwards – by then it is too late. And if you send money after a disaster, all the disaster supplies needed are expensive and in short supply.
So next year, don’t just send your loved ones just perfume and cosmetics in your balikbayan box. Send emergency supplies that could save your family’s lives!
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