When you begin to piece together an emergency kit or survival pack, you may be struggling to decide on which supplies to include inside of it. Conveniently enough, there are many different organizations who set fourth very specific guidelines as to what an emergency kit should have in it for things like natural disasters. While these checklists include all of the essentials, there are also many other supplies you may be forgetting or fail to think of. Below we will go over in, full detail, what each survival kit should have in it.
What Type of Bag Should I Use?
The first step in building a survival kit is choosing the bag to store your supplies in. This can differ depending on the type of natural disaster or scenario you are preparing the kit for. There are generally three main types of bags; duffles, backpacks and buckets. The option you choose for storing your supplies will depend on the type of situation you are making the kit for, which we’ll go over in the next section.
Backpacks & Bags vs Buckets
When selecting a storage option, you will want to pick a bag/bucket that is both durable and also has enough space to fit all of the supplies you are packing. The main difference between packs, duffle bags and buckets is found in the versatility that comes with owning one. If you are preparing for something like an earthquake, you may want a kit that is easy to transport in case you have to leave your home. This generally requires a backpack or duffle bag, as they are both easier to transport during an emergency versus a bucket.
On the other hand, natural disasters like blizzards and other forms of severe weather that can leave you trapped in your home, may be better suited for something like a bucket. Buckets will generally hold a larger amount of supplies, and can be stacked on top one another if you are storing a lot of supplies. They are also generally better at keeping water out if flooding is involved (assuming you have a lid).
Storing Water & Non-Perishable Foods
The first two types of items that many experts recommend for including in a survival kit for natural disasters are food and water. Without these, surviving for even just a few days is nearly impossible. The food and water you include in your kit should have an extended shelf life (generally 5 years or longer), and the meals should require little to no preparation. Organizations like the Red Cross recommend having 3 days worth of food and water per person for scenarios requiring evacuation or two weeks for scenarios that leave you stranded in your home.
The most common types of food that are found in survival kits include freeze dried meals and food bar rations. In general, the reason they are used is due to their extended shelf life. For example, freeze dried meals will have a shelf life of 15 years or more while food bar rations will last for around 5 years past the manufacturing date. This makes them ideal for storing over long periods of time until they are needed.
Like emergency food bars, drinking water pouches also have a 5 year shelf life, which makes them ideal for disaster preparedness. Other means of acquiring water can be used in addition to pouches. This will greatly depend on the types of naturally occurring water in the area you live. For example, if you live by a stream, you could also include water filtration systems or purification tablets for added peace of mind.
Communication & Electronic Supplies
The next class of items that we’ll talk about is in the area of communication. You may have thought of all the necessities for your survival kit, but what about the devices that you carry with you every day? Packing an extra phone charger into your kit is a commonly forgotten item, but can come in handy especially if you are preparing for a scenario that requires evacuation. Having the supplies necessary to charge your phone can increase your chances of calling for help, or staying in contact with family and friends. Even if you do not have cell service, you should still be able to access other important data including phone numbers, emergency contacts.
Aside from extra phone chargers, you should also have a few other communication related items including a flashlight, AM/FM radio and extra batteries (if necessary). Having a hand crank AM/FM radio in your it will enable you to receive weather reports, listen for disaster-related updates, get information on local shelters, or just listen to music to relax and pass some time.
Sanitary, First Aid and Medical Supplies
Maintaining sanitary conditions during an emergency is a vital part of preventing disease while also providing a little bit of normalcy to your life during stressful times. Packing some basic hygiene supplies into your kit, like a toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, soap and shampoo will enable you to stay clean while away from home. Other related supplies include a first aid kit to treat minor injuries and at least one week of any medications you take regularly.
Staying warm and dry is also important during a natural disaster or emergency, especially if you are forced to be outdoors or left without heat. Packing supplies like an emergency blanket, body warmers and a rain poncho will ensure you stay warm if you are subjected to less than favorable conditions. This becomes especially important if you live in an area with colder weather.
Other Miscellaneous, But Important Supplies
Now that we have covered most of the basic essentials, we’ll go over some other miscellaneous supplies that every survival kit should contain. Including some extra cash in your pack is recommended. This can come in handy if your area loses power and credit/debit cards become useless.
A simple multi-purpose tool should be placed in your kit as well. This will help you complete basic daily tasks and can be one of your most important supplies. You can also include other supplies to keep yourself, or your kids, occupied. Though this is something that isn’t 100% necessary, items like a simple deck of playing cards, kids toys or a board game can actually go a long way in helping to pass the time and relieve stress.
Additional Supplies to Consider
Below we have listed some additional supplies recommended for consideration by the Red Cross.
- Medical supplies like:
- Extra batteries for devices like Hearing Aids
- Glasses/glasses case
- Contact lenses
- Baby supplies like:
- baby food
- Games/Board Games
- Pet supplies
- Two-way radio(s)
- Extra set of car keys and house keys
- Manual can opener
- N95 or surgical masks
- Rain gear
- Work gloves
- Tools/supplies for securing your home
- Extra clothing
- Sturdy shoes
- Plastic sheeting
- Duct tape
- Household liquid bleach
- Entertainment items
- Additional blankets
- Sleeping bags/pillow