Popular media dramatizes emergency situations. Fictional characters always seem to find the survival items they need without much resistance, and they survive catastrophic natural disasters with little planning or foresight. The characters always find a way to come out on top against mother nature.

These depictions in media are exciting and they make for great stories, but unfortunately real life natural disasters can’t be faced without preparation. Mother nature is unpredictable, and even routine weather can quickly take a turn for the worst. So, how does one prepare properly for an emergency situation? Here’s what you need to know:

Not all Emergencies are Created Equal

An emergency event includes inclement weather like tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods, but emergency situations also include being stranded with a flat tire, a fire in the home, or having to evacuate your campsite during a camping trip.

It’s important to have the essential supplies so you can be prepared to face any situation head on, because emergencies might mean store closures, sold out goods, or limited access to resources. Emergency responders may also be spread thin, so it’s important to prepare on your own.

Make Survival Kits Easy

Preparation kits should be easy to transport and durable. You don’t want to be tied down with bulky and difficult equipment.

Consider the bag that you will be using. Can it carry the needed supplies in a weight efficient way? Will everything fit?

If it’s feasible, you can also pack a kit for each family member. But remember, nothing useless, bulky, heavy, or anything that takes additional space.

You can simplify this process by looking at retail stores who offer equipment like REI or other camping wholesalers, but retailers like Amazon and Costco are also great places to look, because these retailer sell emergency kits that are pre-prepared.

What Will Your Kit Need?

The general rule is to have a three day supply per person for portable emergency kits, and a two week supply for the home.

General Necessities:

  • One gallon of water per person, per day
  • Non-perishable and high energy foods like beef jerky, protein bars, chocolate and canned items
  • Manual can opener
  • Multi purpose tool like a pocket knife
  • Toilet paper, garbage bags, paper towels
  • Money
  • Maps
  • Surgical masks or N95
  • Extra clothes and protective shoes
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Waterproof containers for important items like medication and paperwork

Electronics and tools:

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Two-way radio
  • Battery powered or hand crank radio (NOAA weather radio is preferred)
  • Scissors
  • Necessary tools inside of the car (spare tires, a working jack, a lug nut wrench or tire iron, an air pump for tires, roadside flares, tire pressure gage, jumper cables, screwdriver)
  • Cat litter works well for traction for car tires (as well as sand) and weighs way less
  • Chargers for necessary appliances like cell phones, GPS, et cetera
  • Waterproof matches, rain gear, towels, work gloves.
  • Tools and supplies to secure the home (for hurricanes)
  • A Whistle

Personal Items:

  • First aid kit
  • All prescribed medications for family members
  • Personal hygiene and sanitation items, including feminine products
  • Copies of all personal documents (medial lists, birth certificates, home information, passports and insurance)
  • All necessary emergency contact information for family members, police, emergency personnel
  • Hearing aids, contact lenses and solution, glasses, and other personal necessities
  • Bottles, formula, baby food, diapers for babies
  • Pets, pet food, collars, leashes, ID
  • Extra sets of house and car keys
  • Games and activities for kids (portable tech, cards, dice, coloring books, et cetera)

Know where gas, electric, and water shutoff locations are for the home if you ever have to evacuate quickly. Make sure you know how to use the items you have. It doesn’t do any good to have things and not know how they work. Always check the expiration on items to make sure the survival kit stays up to date.

Factors to Consider

Remember what your best tool is: having a brain to make critical and life saving decisions, because what’s really valuable during an emergency is the peace of mind of knowing you have everything you need and being able to remain calm and composed to make critical decisions.

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