An emergency can strike at any time. Thinking about your emergency preparation plan and having it in place can save stress and lives if and when a disaster happens. A vital part of your emergency plan is an emergency kit. The emergency kit contains necessary items for you and your family to survive for a few days until help arrives.

Ten Essential Items for Your Emergency Kit

There are many essential items to keep in your emergency kit. Here are ten things you should make sure your basic emergency kit has:

1. Water

Water is essential for survival. A person can only last a few days without it. Make sure to have at least one gallon of water per person per day. This will be a supply for drinking and personal hygiene. Stock enough water for a minimum of three days. We’d recommend canned water rather than bottled water because it lasts longer and doesn’t expire. If you choose to go with bottled water just watch the dates and rotate it out every so often.

blue can water

2. Food

The next thing to include in the emergency kit is non-perishable food items. This can be a variety of things. There are freeze-dried foods that can be kept easily for long periods, in some cases up to 15 years. Other items to put in would be canned fruits, vegetables, and meats. Other non-perishable items like crackers and granola bars can be included as well. Make sure to have three days worth of food for the whole family. 

3. Radio and NOAA Weather Alert Radio

Include a hand-cranked, solar, or battery-operated radio with extra batteries as well as an NOAA weather alert radio in your emergency kit. If the power goes out due to severe weather you will still want to know what is going on in your area. Having a radio will allow you to listen to reports and get information about obtaining help. The NOAA radio will keep you aware of any further severe weather that might be on the way.

4. Dust mask

A dust mask protects the airway from debris due to damaged building materials. Dust from the drywall and even fiberglass insulation can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs causing breathing problems and even cancer. Having a dust mask for each person in the family helps protect from these hazards.

5. Flashlight and batteries

During an emergency, the power to your home may go out. Power lines can get knocked over during earthquakes, severe thunderstorms, earthquakes, blizzards, ice storms, and more. If you lose power you will want a way to see what you are doing and where you are going. 

Having a wind-up flashlight or a flashlight with extra batteries can get you through until power is restored or you are able to get further help. You can also find a flashlight and radio combined that is hand-cranked if you don’t want to have separate devices and a bunch of batteries. One other option would be a solar-powered flashlight. Just make sure it remains charged and ready to go.

6. Household tools

You don’t need to keep a great big toolbox in your emergency kit. Just make sure you have a couple of essentials in it as you do your emergency preparation. A manual can opener is vital. If your emergency food is canned you need a way to get into it. Also, keep a wrench in the kit so you can shut off utilities (make sure you know how to do this before the emergency arises). Then just some basics like a couple of screwdrivers (with different heads) will suffice. 

7. First Aid Kit

Keep a deluxe first aid kit in your emergency kit. The kit should include things like bandages, gauze, tape, scissors, instant cold packs, and more. This isn’t the full list as several other things should be in your first aid kit. Don’t forget to check it annually and rotate out supplies like medications as they have expiration dates and restock if you use something. Finally, have at least one member of the family get trained in first aid and CPR.

8. Garbage bags with moist towelettes and twist ties

Even in emergencies, mother nature will still continue to call. Not having a sanitary place to “go” will make your temporary arrangement even more unsafe due to potential bacteria and viral contaminants. Having a garbage bag and towelettes may not be ideal but it will give you a sanitary place to go. 

9. Local maps

Having hard copies of maps of your local areas is vital in case you lose power. You’ll want to conserve your phone battery. It’s also not a guarantee you will have WiFi or phone service depending upon the disaster at hand. Landmarks you are used to navigating by might be destroyed so having a map is key.

10. Whistle

Include a whistle. If the emergency has you trapped in your home the whistle will be a way to signal rescuers that you are there, thus allowing them to help you.

Final Thoughts on Essentials for Emergency Kits

There are other things to consider putting into the emergency kit depending on your specific situation. If you have pets make sure to put pet food, extra water, bowls, leashes, and any other essentials for them. If you have glasses, contacts, or take medications, put those in your kit as well.

Pack these things in a bin and pick a location to store them depending on the area you live and disasters that can affect you. Packing a well-stocked kit and keeping it updated is one of the best things you can do to prepare for an emergency.

emergency kit essentials