I had the pleasure of recently connecting with my college roommate, who now lives in southern Florida. In addition to catching up on jobs, relationships and children, I asked her if she had an emergency preparedness kit, knowing that we are entering the height of hurricane season.

She looked at me, laughed and said, “I haven’t looked at that thing in years.”

Don’t be like my friend.

Ever since 9/11, the government has recommended that each household in the country prepare an emergency kit containing survival supplies and a plan. We all need to think about the unthinkable—whether that critical event is a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. As it’s been said, it’s not a matter of if it will be needed but when.

For those who aren’t sure about what to include in an emergency kit, here is a quick reference list of my top five items:

  1. Water. The recommendation is a three-day supply at minimum. Many people choose to keep a case of water handy.
  2. Flashlight. Power is one of the first things to go in many emergencies, so it’s helpful to keep a flashlight and extra batteries on hand.
  3. Food. Ready-to-eat meals are the most efficient, but nonperishable items will also work. Again, pack at least a three-day supply. The Red Cross suggests a two-week supply if an individual is homebound.
  4. First-aid kit. In case someone gets hurt or injured, it’s always important to have basic first-aid necessities. This is also an opportunity to make sure you’ve included any required medications.
  5. Personal hygiene products. This can include toilet paper, paper towels, soap and wipes—whatever you think is needed to take care of yourself throughout the emergency.

Regardless of whether you live in hurricane zone, being prepared is your best defense when staying alive in the wake of a critical incident.

So dust off your kit, create a plan and stay safe. And if you don’t have a kit, don’t wait—now is the time to make one.