Severe Weather Awareness Week: What every family should have in their emergency kit

CREATED Apr 15, 2013

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Scroll through the slideshow for some photos of the app

MILWAUKEE - Severe Weather Awareness Week is underway and we're getting your family ready with a series of reports. As part of your emergency preparation plan, the American Red Cross recommends having an emergency kit in case a disaster hits.

Every emergency kit should include the basics, like water, non-perishable foods, a weather radio, and a first aid kit.

In addition, Red Cross Communications Officer Barbara Behling says you should have copies of important documents.

"If your house is blown away in a tornado, chances are your insurance company or bank will need some documentation and if you have a copy of that, it'll help you recover even faster," said Behling.

Behling says you can also include some games to pass the time. And don't forget about your pets.

"Pets are so important; they're a part of our family," she said. "We need to have food, a leash, extra ID tags, those sorts of things."

Behling keeps an emergency kit in her home and in her car, but she also keeps copies of important documents at a friend's house.

"Because if my house is gone, my car may be gone as well, and my friend's home may be fine being several miles away," Behling pointed out.

Another tool in an emergency is your smartphone. The Red Cross just launched a new tornado app.

"The tornado app can give you an alert if there's a tornado watch or warning in your area."

The app tells you what to do if there is a tornado.

"If you are caught in the storm, there's an application where you can have an emergency light straight from your phone and you can even call 9-1-1," said Behling.

The app can also help you find shelter if your home is damaged. But Behling says by far, the Red Cross's most popular app is the first aid app.

"We've heard stories of people who have saved a life because they knew what to do when they read it on their app," she explained.

Behling says being prepared for a disaster is fairly easy, but most people don't take the time to do it.

"There was a study a few years ago that talked about only 17 to 23 percent of households as being prepared. And that's way too low in our estimation. We can do better," said Behling.