Even in our modern world disasters of all kinds can strike suddenly leaving individuals, families and communities without food, shelter and other basic necessities. They often leave people without the basic items we rely on for survival, let alone for survival with a semblance of comfort. These disasters can be local in nature or come to entire region of the country.
Things such as hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods. We have even seen residential fires wipe out entire neighborhoods in California as of late. Widespread power outages often result in these situations causing shortages of food, water, and shelter. For this reason we believe it is important for people to create home emergency kits to help them and their loved ones not only survive but do so safely.
In this article we are going to go over specific items that should be included in every emergency kit, but first I would like to give you some important questions to consider so that you can plan for the most likely disasters for your area.
Okay let’s get going!
Important Emergency Questions To Ask Now
It is important do develop an emergency plan before emergency strikes. Since it is very possible that your family may not all be together at the time of disaster having a plan that everyone knows and has rehearsed can be the difference between life and death. Things such as evacuation, needed supply kits and ways to communicate with each other should all be prepared ahead of time. And finally do not forget to plan and prepare things like needed medications or for unique family health conditions such as bleeding disorders or diabetes.
To develop both your emergency survival family plan and kit, you need to be able to answer the following questions:
- Given the part of the country where you live, what are the most likely emergencies to face in your area?
- What disasters might cause your family to need to evacuate? In those conditions what would be the safest route to take (and what about alternate routes if needed)? Where would you all meet? Put a plan together for this considering all the most likely scenarios.
- What supplies will be the most important to be able to take with you if you evacuate? If you are able to shelter in place, what supplies will you need to have prepared? Do you have enough of these items?
- Are there any warning sounds or signals in your community (such as tornado sirens) to alert you to danger? Do you and your family members know what they sound like and mean?
- What emergency services, organizations and resources are there in your area that can help out during an emergency? (Don’t rely on these, always have a plan to survive on your own without them.)
- Do you have a plan for your pets and other animals if you need to evacuate? Will you have the ability to take them with you where you plan on evacuating to?
- Do you have a family member or friend out side of your area that can act as an emergency contact person for you and your family? Do those in your family know that person’s name and telephone number?
- Have you prepared a plan and practiced it with your family members?
- Do you have Emergency Survival Kits prepared that each of you can grab and take in a moments notice?
- Does each person in your family know where theirs is in the house?
- Have you all planned how to get and transport these kits should you all need to evacuate?
- Who is the person who is responsible to check everyone that they are with you and have their supplies before you evacuate?
- Do you have a plan for rotating the supplies in your emergency kits so that they do not expire?
- Is there anything that you thought of while reading this list, that may not have been included in it?
Now I recommend that you take the list above of questions very seriously and implement the answers you come up with in putting together your emergency plan. There is a great scripture that says “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear”. Preparing properly for a disaster before it happens can not only be the difference between life and death, but it can make riding out the storm much more comfortable and easier to deal with.
Basic Emergency Survival Supplies To Include
I always get asked for a list of what to include in and emergency survival kit. Below is a list that will give you the very basics. I include this as a list to jog your brain and get you thinking. If you use the answers you came up with from the questions above and these basic suggestions, you should be able to put together an pretty comprehensive list tailored for the most likely emergencies you might encounter.
Be sure to include these recommended items in your emergency supply kit:
- A large bag, preferably a backpack, to hold your supplies.
- A Radio – this should have fresh batteries (and extra batteries) as well as the ability to hand crank it to generate its power. Solar power is also a good extra option. Know what stations in your area are best to get weather and other emergency updates.
- A quality flashlight and extra batteries
- A first aid kit
- Several dust masks per person to help filter contaminated air
- Some plastic sheeting and duct tape to make shelter
- Some garbage bags, moist towelettes and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Sturdy shoes such as hiking boots
- Some extra clothes and rain gear
- Emergency phone numbers for your family emergency contact such as someone out of state
- Packaged non-perishable food and snacks
- A reusable water bottle
Some other items to consider including:
- A copy of your medical insurance card
- Any prescription medications you may need
- Extra pairs of prescription eye glasses and/or contact lenses
- Adequate personal hygiene items and feminine supplies
- An emergency reference such as a first aid book
- Some pens, pencils and paper
- Non-electric games, puzzles, books, cards or other activities to pass the time
- A sleeping bag, or warm blankets and emergency blankets
What Type Of Food Should You Store?
There are two general situations that you will need to store food for. The first is a situation like a disaster that allows you to ride it out at your home. The second is one where you have to evacuate. Below we will talk about the type of foods that are best for each situation.
A Stay At Home Emergency
For an emergency where you will be able to ride it out at home you have a lot more flexibility in what types of foods you can store. The food will need to be things that keep for at least a few years. Things liked canned and frozen foods are things that can make your life feel less like you are going through an emergency, because they usually are things you eat all the time anyway. But for these kinds of food storage it is important to have a good “use, replace and rotate” plan so that you have fresh rather than spoiled food in your storage.
Other items to consider are dried foods like grains like wheat, oatmeal, beans, spaghetti etc. The advantage to these types of foods is they are less expensive and most people can afford to store a lot more of it. The only down side is these are pretty blan unless you store lots of spices and things you need for your recipes.
Freeze dried foods give you the best of both worlds. You can freeze dry everything from vegetables and fruits to ice cream! They even sell freeze dried ready made meals like I show in the image on the left at the beginning of this section above. The only down side really to freeze dried is it can be more expensive. They do sell home freeze dryers now that would be a good option for some people. And remember with any kind of dried foods you will need extra potable water stored so that you can reconstitute the food.
An Evacuation Emergency
Having to evacuate limits the things you store to what you can reasonably carry. Weight and size can be a big issue here. Some pre-made 72 hour emergency kits come with protein type bars that are designed to “stick to your ribs” and keep you full for a long period of time. These typically are not the most tasty things, especially if you live on them for 3 days or longer straight. Here is an example of these types of bars in case this is something you wish to consider: SOS Food Labs, Inc.
Another option that is gaining in popularity is freeze dried meals in your emergency kit. This is a great idea in that the food will taste much more like home. Yes freeze dried food is very very light, but it will take up more space than the bars. And also remember you will need to carry or get access to more potable water so that you can re-constitute the food. So the extra water takes away any benefit you think you were getting from weight and space. Here is an example of these types of meals to consider: Mountain House Foods.
Probably the best option for most people would be what is called “MREs” like the military uses. These are pre-made meals that come ready to eat. The water is in them. You can eat them right out of the bag or if you have a way to do so you can heat them up first and then eat them. This again gives you more of a feeling of normal like home food. Here is an example of MREs should you want to check them out: MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat).
A First Aid Kit
If there is one thing that is super important to prepare for in most any kind of disaster, it is injuries. Whether you are riding it out at home, or on the move evacuating, someone may get injured. It could be as simple as burning yourself on a stove, or as serious as breaking a bone or getting a serious cut. Whatever the situation you will be grateful you were prepared.
If you want to put together your own first aid kit there are many really good online sources to give you ideas. I will list a few here for you. The first is a pretty basic list put out by Blue Cross. I list it because it has some good ideas for information and medications you might need. The second one here is a bit more complete put together by the Mayo Clinic.
Here is one entitled “What Should Be in a Home First Aid Kit?” that includes a short video as well. It is put together by UC San Diego Health. I don’t like this next one quite as well. It is put out by WebMD. I include it because it does cover a few very good ideas. And last but not least is an emergency kit list put together by KidsHealth.org that focuses on what is important to include for kids.
Pre-Made First Aid Kits
If your like me you like to by the best pre-made first aid kit you can find, and then do my research and add to it anything else I feel it is lacking. One pre-made first aid kit that I really like I show in the above image on the left at the beginning of this section. Here is a link to it as an example of the type of kits that are available in case you want to check it out. It is called the “Everlit 250 Pieces Survival First Aid Kit“.
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