What to Include in an Emergency Kit
Emergencies come in many forms, but all of them have the potential to eliminate your access to the resources you and your family need to survive. A rogue tornado, a devastating fire, an unexpected electricity outage, or a major road accident could all jeopardize your health and safety—which is why it’s so important to be prepared.
Putting together an emergency kit is one of the most important steps you can take for your family, and it doesn’t take much time or money to do it.
Your All-Purpose Emergency Kit
This emergency kit is relatively easy to put together, shouldn’t cost much, and will only take up a small amount of space. However, it has the potential to keep your family safe and give you access to resources during almost any kind of emergency situation.
- A tarp. First, get yourself a tarp. A tarp can help you keep just about anything dry, which is important if you need to set up an impromptu rain shelter or keep your supplies dry during wet conditions. Tarps can also provide shade, and be used to gather and carry items from place to place.
- A functioning radio. If other forms of communication are not available, your only hope to get news about what’s going on is a functioning radio. Tune to a local station in event of an emergency, and listen for instructions on what to do next.
- A flashlight (or two). Keep at least one, and preferably two flashlights in your emergency kit. You’ll need these to see in the dark if your electricity is disabled. Two flashlights can enable multiple people to search your surroundings and protects you in case one is lost or damaged.
- Extra batteries. Of course, make sure you have extra batteries as well. Your radio and flashlights will consume electricity over time, so always keep more batteries than you think you need.
- Distilled water. Water is going to be your most important resource for survival, so keep distilled water on hand for everyone in your family. A normal adult will drink at least a half gallon of water every day; those in hot climates will need even more. It’s a good idea to include at least a week if not two weeks’ worth of water for your family, which amounts to roughly 7 gallons per person.
- Non-perishable food. Of course, you’ll also need to think about food. Store non-perishable foods like canned fruits and vegetables, canned and cured meats, and boxed foods in amounts that could feed your family for up to two weeks. You’ll also want to include all the tools necessary to prepare this food, including a source of fire, a manual can opener, and cutlery.
- First aid items. Your first aid kit almost requires a separate article of information. Make sure you have bandages of varying sizes, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, aspirin, gloves, gauze, tweezers, and more supplies if you have room. Be sure everyone is trained on how to use these items properly as well.
- Dust masks. Carry a dust mask (or two) for each member of your family, so you can avoid breathing in dangerous fumes or debris from a collapsing building.
- Plastic bags and ties. Plastic bags are useful for many situations, including keeping your environment sanitary.
- Personal hygiene items. Speaking of sanitation, you’ll want to store feminine hygiene products, soap, toothpaste, and other important hygiene items.
- GPS may not be available, so make sure you have updated maps of your local area.
- If anyone in your family is reliant on prescription medications or medical devices, be sure to store extras in your emergency kit.
- Credit cards and debit cards may not get you far in an emergency situation, but cash may still be viable. Keep a few hundred dollars of currency on hand (and secure) in case you need it.
- Sleeping bags. If you have the extra room, keep a few extra sleeping bags in your kit so you have reliable bedding.
Maintaining Your Kit
Once your emergency kit is initially put together, you’ll need to adopt a plan to maintain that kit. For example, you’ll want to store your kit in a cool, dry place where it’s out of the way but still accessible if an emergency should arise. Depending on what food products you have, you’ll probably want to store it in a tightly closed metal or plastic container.
Every six months (or at least once a year), take inventory of your kit. There may be additional family needs you hadn’t accounted for previously (such as a new child, or a need for a different medication), and some of your food items may be close to expiration. Be sure to replace and/or update these items as needed.