6 Surprise Disaster-Kit Essentials

By By: Natalie Gingerich Mackenzie, This Old House magazine
6/1/2012 2:02:58 PM

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Emergency Know-How

Even if you don't live in an area usually affected by severe storms, the start of hurricane season offers a good reminder to give your emergency kit a once-over. To ensure you've got what you need, check with a relief organization like the American Red Cross for their approved must-haves. Then read on to discover some handy supplies you may not have thought of that can help you safely ride out an emergency.

Fishing Line

"You can tie almost anything with it-it's the Swiss Army knife of string," says Bill Begal, president of Begal Enterprises Inc., a disaster-restoration company in Rockville, Maryland. In a pinch, use this super-strong, waterproof filament to tie a flapping door closed or secure a tarp over a broken car window.

Vinyl Tablecloths

Cheaper than tarps, these water-resistant spill-catchers can provide an instant island of clean, especially after a disaster where dirt and debris litter the floor, says Abby Harrison, a Hurricane Ike survivor who teaches emergency prep classes in Houston.

Triple-Duty Weather Radio

A hand-crank radio is a standard emergency item, but one that also charges small gadgets and serves as a flashlight packs three vital services in a single package. Try the Rover by Eton ($50; brookstone.com), which has a USB cell-phone charger and an LED light—brighter and more impact-resistant than an incandescent, says the Red Cross's Keith Robertory. Just 90 seconds of cranking buys you 15 minutes of power.

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