Emergency Survival Kit Buying Guide
An emergency survival kit should have everything your family needs to survive for 3 days during an evacuation. It should supply all basic human needs (food, shelter, and clothing), plus everything needed to supplement these basics. In the aftermath of a disaster, supply of power, water, and gas may not be available for 2 weeks. The stores may not be open to buy fresh supplies. Supplies at home should be able to last at least a couple of weeks.
Here’s What You Need to Prepare an Emergency Survival Kit
Water: Buy 1 gallon of bottled drinking water for each family member. Make sure to keep them sealed and unopened until you need them. For baths and toilet flushing, store tap water in clean, disinfected plastic containers. Cover tightly. Store these in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight.
Food: Store non-perishable, ready-to-eat food. Best to keep are canned meat, vegetables, fruits and soup that can be consumed cold right out of the can. Do not store foods that need hot water before consuming like dehydrated noodles and oatmeal. Avoid keeping salty food like pretzels. These make you thirsty and will only compromise your water supply. Other suggestions are boxed cereal, soda crackers, dehydrated fruit, and peanut butter.
Utensils: With all the canned food you have in storage, make sure you have a manual can opener. Disposable sporks (combination of spoon and fork) and plates should be in good supply. Include a small pot, charcoal, and a lighter or matches for heating food.
Flashlight and Portable Radio: Lights are important especially when the power goes out. You will also need a radio to keep updated with the weather news. Keep battery-operated ones and make sure they are in working condition. There are available combination equipment of a portable radio with light, and some even with a port for charging cellphones. Store them without their batteries in, but make sure the batteries are in the same storage area. Keep another flashlight with batteries within easy access in the house.
Extra Batteries: Since power supply may be cut off during a disaster without assurance when it can be returned, make sure to store a lot of batteries in the correct size.
Two-way radios. Always keep them charged to allow communication, news and updates.
Sleeping Bags: Tents may be too expensive to buy and too heavy to lug around during an emergency evacuation. A sleeping bag for each member of the family is enough to ensure a warm place to lie down at night when forced to abandon your house. Include blankets and small pillows.
Extra Clothes: Keep an extra change of clothes stored in a water-proof bag. Do not forget underwear and socks. If you live in cold climate, warm pants, jackets and boots should be included.
Towels: Have towels of all kinds and sizes: bath towels, face towels, hand towels and dish towels. If you are hit by storm, hurricane, flood, snow or hail, you will need towels to dry.
First-Aid and Medication: The kit should be a water-proof easy-to-carry case with bandages and antibiotic ointments for treating minor wounds. Put in supplies of OTC drugs for treating fever, headache, diarrhea, spasms, and allergies. If anyone in the family takes regular prescription drugs, these should always be in ample supply in case the drugstore is not available. For other emergencies, put in supplies of N95 masks, syringes and catheters.
Sanitary and Hygiene Items: To ease survival during a disaster, stock up on toilet paper and paper napkins, toothbrushes and toothpaste, feminine napkins and diapers, and soap and shampoo. Include chlorine bleach for use as disinfectant. If anyone needs contact lens solution or denture cream, put these in too.
Tools: Keep some important handy multi-purpose tools. At the minimum, choose one that has scissors, screwdriver, knife, and pliers. There are also multi-purpose hardware tools that include hammer, wrench, axe, and saw. Include a whistle, duct tape, working gloves and a map of your area among these.
Cellphones, Chargers and Family Contact Information: Make sure your cellphones are always charged and call 911 if necessary.
Important Documents: In the case of abandoning your house during an emergency, it would be good to have your important documents with you when you leave. Make sure these are in ziplock bags for protection and stored in a bag ready to be carried any time. Important documents to consider: deed or lease of your house, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies, proof of address, medical information and prescriptions.
Extra Cash: Your credit cards might not be of any use in a disaster-stricken area. Have ready cash in case there is a chance to buy supplies.
Extra House and Car Keys: In case you need to abandon your house temporarily during a disaster, lock everything and keep extra keys amongst the family. It will not be practical to rely on one set when it can easily be lost while hiking during evacuation. Do the same for your car keys.
Special Supplies for Baby, Elderly, or Disabled Member: If you have a baby or toddler, make sure you have your baby supplies like bottles, milk formula and baby food. For elderly or disabled members, do not forget to pack their walking cane, hearing aid, dentures, food or medication.
Entertainment Items: If you have young children, bring something for their entertainment that is small enough to squeeze in your bag. These may be anything like: a small box of crayons and coloring or activity book, a small portable version of a board game like Snakes and Ladders, or a small toy like a car or doll.
Pet Supplies: Pets are part of the family too. If your pet is lucky enough to be able to evacuate with you, bring your pet’s supplies. Pack a bag with food bowl, pet food, leash or carrier and identification.
An emergency survival kit should always be a water-proof container with a handle or handles that make it easy to carry around. The list looks long and may seem too many to bring. Packing them should be done with care to make sure they fit in bags and containers the family can carry while walking.