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Affected by May 26 tornadoes? Find relief resources here.

A go bag is an essential tool during natural disasters and other emergencies

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Whether you live in the countryside or in town or in the center of a city, you're never really immune from a natural disaster. They can happen with no warning, as happened with fires in Maui. That's why both the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency encourage you to prepare an emergency go bag. Here's Red Cross spokesperson Sherri McKinney.

SHERRI MCKINNEY: Being prepared for any type of emergency or disaster can make the difference between life and death. We can't stress that enough. Have a plan, have a kit, and know how to evacuate your area.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

McKinney says a go bag should be something like a backpack to easily grab and go. I always had one of these ready when I lived in Iraq during the war. On this advice, I'll repack one, she says. A go bag should include a seven-day supply of medications, a first aid kit, copies of your personal documents and your family's contact information. She also recommends packing a three-day supply of food and one gallon of water per day for each member of your family, plus more if you live in a remote area and maybe other...

INSKEEP: That's a heavy backpack, Leila. But go on, go on.

FADEL: I know. It's true. I was thinking, how do I carry all these gallons of water? Lea Crager directs FEMA's Ready campaign.

LEA CRAGER: What you need in your bag, what my mom needs in her bag or what your coworker needs are all going to be different things. It goes back to, do you have a pet? Do you have children? Do you have prescription medication? Everyone's going to be different, so look at what your needs are and what you're going to need to be able to leave your house.

INSKEEP: Crager says the more prepared you are as a community, the safer you'll be.

CRAGER: Take a CPR class. Have a first aid kit. And know that if something happened in your neighborhood or community, you may be having to help some of your neighbors, or they may be having to help you.

FADEL: Experts say you also need a plan. So talk to your family about how you'll reconnect if you're separated. You can find a full list of the basics you'll need to build your go bag on the Red Cross website and on npr.org. Meanwhile, Steve and I will use the next break to pack ours.

INSKEEP: Yes. Go, go.

FADEL: (Laughter).

INSKEEP: No, we're fine. Everything's OK. Everything's OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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