GREENFIELD – Setting aside supplies for an emergency should be a priority for every family, local officials say, and it should also be personal.

Hancock County Emergency Management hosted a meeting last month on what it’s like to prepare for a worst-case scenario– a hazardous spill, for example, could send families to a shelter for days.

And with tornado season approaching, it’s just as important as ever to get ready for the unthinkable.

While the basics are the same – nonperishable food, weather radios, extra batteries and copies of documents – a box or backpack of supplies for a disaster situation should also include supplies that each family deems useful.

 A kit for an emergency situation could look like this, with nonperishable food items, first aid kits, maps, and entertainment for children like books or games.

“It doesn’t have to be hard and you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars,” said Joe Fitzgerald, deputy director of Hancock County Homeland Security.

A kit for a young family might include card games, picture books or art supplies.

And don’t let the effort overwhelm you: start building emergency kits a little bit at a time, or save money by finding deals on radios or batteries.

Fitzgerald will speak next month at a special event at the Hancock County Public Library, teaching about the importance of being prepared and how to pack supplies for a disastrous event.

Think of it this way, he said: A mother of a young infant always carries around a diaper bag with food, change of clothes, wet wipes and toys. In that regard, all families should have supplies at the ready in case they find themselves without cellphone service or even temporarily without a place to live.

George Boaz, warning coordinator for Homeland Security, said being ready provides peace of mind.

“If you’ve thought it through, done your plans, done your preparation and something does happen, you don’t have to panic,” he said.

Bags of supplies can be placed in your home, inside your vehicle, and even in the safe spot your family has designated to go in case of a tornado warning. A tornado safety site should be a basement or interior room with no windows, said Jim Peters, coordinator for Hancock County COAD, and could even contain bicycle helmets to protect families from debris.

“With kids, you can make a game of it and practice it beforehand,” Peters said.

To learn more, check out the Emergency Pack Workshop set for 6:30 p.m. March 14 at the Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road, Greenfield. Visit to register or call 317-462-5141.

 Basic supplies in preparing for an emergency include weather radios, walkie talkies, candles, flash lights and batteries.