We talk a lot about the importance of emergency food storage on this blog, and today I want to switch to a little different gear. Once you’ve got your stash of emergency food built up and you’ve got a solid supply of water, your next step in getting yourself and your family prepared for every eventuality is to gather emergency supplies. When you think of emergency supplies, you might think of matches and a first aid kit, but there’s a lot more to a good emergency supply kit than these. If you’re a serious prepper, your emergency supply list is probably pretty extensive already, but if you are just starting out on your self-reliance journey, you might need a little help. Today I’d like to get you thinking about emergency survival kit items that will prepare you to not only survive an emergency situation, but thrive in it.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a good list of basic emergency supplies to have stored along with your food and water. Here’s FEMA’s list, along with our own suggestions in parentheses:
1. Prescription medications and glasses
2. Infant formula and diapers
3. Toilet paper
4. Pet food (Remember to store water for your pets too)
5. Important family documents in a waterproof, portable container (Think birth certificates, social security cards, marriage certificates, and important financial documents. You might also consider having a copy laminated.)
6. Cash or traveler’s checks (In an emergency, cash is king. Without electronic ways to pay, your credit card won’t mean a thing.)
7. A basic first aid manual
8. A sleeping bag or heavy blanket for each person
9. At least one change of clothes for everyone (Consider having a cool pair of clothes and a warm pair of clothes.)
10. Chlorine bleach and medicine dropper for disinfecting and for purifying drinking water
11. A fire extinguisher
12. Matches stored in a waterproof container (You can never have too many matches.)
13. Feminine supplies
14. Mess kits
15. Utensils and napkins
16. Paper and pencil
17. Activities to entertain kids (and adults)
18. Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and NOAA Weather Radio
19. Extra batteries (You can never have too many batteries. Rechargeable batteries and solar-powered chargers can be an excellent option.)
21. A flashlight (If you have kids, you might want to store enough flashlights that every kid in the family can have one so that they feel safer in scary situations.)
22. A whistle to call for help
23. Dust masks
24. Plastic sheeting and duct tape for sheltering in place
25. Garbage bags
26. Plastic ties
27. Moist towelettes or baby wipes
28. A wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
29. A can opener
FEMA’s list is pretty basic but will put you in a much better situation than you might otherwise be in. Once you have been able to gather all of their recommended items, you can go a bit farther in your emergency preparedness. Here is our own list of items you may not have thought of that are extremely useful in emergency situations:
1. Lots of fuel. Many will say to store as much fuel as water, whether that be propane, gas, kerosene, or firewood and fire starter.
2. Recipes for your food storage. You don’t want to be left with buckets of wheat and no idea how to make it into bread.
3. Comfort foods like chocolate or coffee or a favorite snack. In my family, we always have bars of dark chocolate around, and I suspect this is something we would wish we had in a long-term survival situation. Remember, never underestimate the importance of morale-boosters in emergencies.
4. Kitty litter if you have cats
5. A guitar player. Someone mentioned this when asked what he wished he had in the emergency situation he went through. Keeping busy and entertaining yourself can help you stay calm and positive in stressful situations.
6. A full tank of gas. We learned this one from watching the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and the hours-long lines people had to wait in for gas.
7. Vitamins to complement food storage.
8. A head lamp.
9. Ways to keep cool in hot weather: fans, misters, etc.
10. An alternative cooking method. There are lots of options for alternative cooking. Think camp stoves, dutch ovens, solar-powered ovens, etc.
11. Candles or kerosene lamps for light
13. A backup generator (and carbon monoxide detector to keep you safe while using it). Solar-powered generators are a great option.
14. Gas containers to carry gas in
15. Saw to cut down trees if necessary
16. Box with craft supplies to keep kids entertained.
17. A basic set of hand tools
18. Containers to collect rainwater in if necessary
19. Flint and steel in case matches run out
20. A mirror. Mirrors can be useful to signal for help, and they can also be placed behind a candle to double its light projection.
21. Extra blankets to section off an area in your home to keep the area you have to heat smaller.
22. Glow-sticks. If you have to evacuate and are worried about looters, hang a glow-stick somewhere near the window to make it look like you are there, and then leave.
23. Hand warmers