An emergency can happen at any time, and it is always better to be prepared beforehand. Having an emergency preparedness kit is a great way to ensure you and your family are ready to face any crisis. “What should I have in my kit?” is a common question that people struggle with. It can be easy to overdo it and pack way more than what you might need, but at the same time you may lean toward a “better safe than sorry” approach. Another thing to consider is the size and weight of your bag or bags; will you need to travel in the event of an emergency, and will your bag’s portability be a hindrance in doing so?
Here’s a list of what we think are the top 15 most important things to put in your emergency preparedness kit:
- Water: The first and foremost item to include in your emergency kit is water. Make sure you have a sufficient supply of water for each family member for at least three days. You can purchase bottled water or fill up water jugs from the tap. The Red Cross suggests one gallon per person, per day.
- Non-perishable food: Food is another essential item to include in your emergency kit. Stock up on non-perishable food items such as canned goods, granola bars, nuts, and dried fruit. Make sure you have enough food to last for at least three days. If you have canned food, don’t forget the can opener.
- First aid kit: A first aid kit is essential for any emergency situation. Make sure you have a well-stocked kit that includes band-aids, gauze, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers.
- Flashlights: In an emergency, the power can go out, and having a flashlight is essential. Make sure you have a flashlight for each family member, along with extra batteries. A headlamp is even better, as it keeps your hands free in the event you need to work on something in a low light situation.
- Radio: A battery-operated or hand-cranked radio can help you stay informed about the latest news and updates during an emergency, especially in the event of power, cellular or internet outages. Don’t forget the extra batteries if you choose a battery-powered radio. The Red Cross suggests a NOAA Weather Radio, if possible.
- Blankets + Sleeping Bags: If you have to evacuate your home or are stuck without heat, blankets can help keep you warm. If you’ve got the space, sleeping bags are even better.
- Extra clothing: Pack a change of clothes for each family member in case of an emergency.
- Cash: In an emergency, you may not be able to access your bank account, so having cash on hand can be helpful.
- Personal hygiene items: Pack items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, and hand sanitizer to keep you and your family clean and healthy.
- Multi-purpose tool: A multi-purpose tool such as a Swiss Army Knife can come in handy during an emergency situation.
- Duct tape: Duct tape is a versatile item that can be used for many purposes, such as sealing leaks or securing broken items.
- Maps: Include maps of your local area and any areas you may need to evacuate to in case of an emergency.
- Whistle: A whistle for each of your family members can be used to signal for help if you are trapped, lost or separated during an emergency.
- Phone + Phone charger: A portable phone charger can keep your phone charged in case of a power outage. If you are concerned about cellular outages, it might also be a good idea to get a set of 2-way radios for communication.
- Important documents + Contact Information: Finally, include copies of important documents such as passports, insurance policies, and birth certificates in your emergency kit. It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of emergency and family contact info in case you aren’t able to rely on stored numbers in your mobile device.
The above-listed items should be included in your emergency kit to ensure that you and your family are ready to face any crisis that may arise. Remember to check and update your kit regularly to ensure that all items are in good condition and have not expired.
In addition to the necessities, here are a few other things you might want to consider packing if there’s space to do so (and depending on your location / situation):
- Medical supplies / medications your family may need
- Baby supplies (formula, diapers, bottles etc.)
- Pet supplies (leash, carrier, collar etc.)
- Extra set of car and house keys
- N95 or similar surgical masks
- Rain coats + gear
- Work gloves
- Entertainment items (books, games, toys etc.)
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