After spending years as an emergency medical responder, I’ve gotten intimately familiar with what kind of equipment is essential to have in a home and car emergency and disaster preparedness kit. The kit outlined in this article is for general purposes, with no specialty items for children or animals, but much of the same equipment can be used on children and animals should the need arise.
What Your Kit is For
Emergency groups say that, in the event of an emergency, it can take up to 72 hours for help to arrive to everyone in need. During that time you will be on your own, and need to have equipment handy that will help you survive. From first aid supplies to portable shelter, ideally you want a kit composed of everything you could possibly need if you are cut off from the outside world for days at a time.
Depending on how you intend to use the kit, whether as something to have in your car or something you can bring with you if you need to leave your home during a disaster, your kit will need to be of minimum size. It’s often suggested that a backpack be used, as this allows the equipment to be easily carried while you’re on foot, but big enough to hold everything you need.
The Bare Essentials
The essentials you’ll need to survive anywhere on earth is food, water, and shelter. Water, due to the large quantity you’d need for 72 hours, would take-up a significant portion of your space. An option to avoid that, though, is to replace actual water in your kit with water purification tablets which can be bought in most camping departments of stores, or from specialty outdoor stores. If your locale has decent access to water sources such as lakes, streams, or ponds, this would be a good option to save room.
Food is a less size consuming supply. Quantity is less important than the quality, which should have a focus on high-calorie and high protein. Peanut butter is a good option, coupled with granola bars. Whatever you choose to fit this requirement, you should make sure that it is non-perishable because you want the supplies to be able to stay in the bag and ready to go, rather than needing to put the food items in when disaster strikes.
Shelter doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to squeeze a tent into your survival pack, however you can certainly get small tents that take up very little room. One option popular with survivalists is a large folded sheet of plastic. This can be used against rain and wind, and takes up very little room. It can also serve other purposes such as water collection should the need arise.
Other supplies that should be considered is extra clothing. Fresh underwear and socks are very important, as this can prevent chafing or foot issues that can make movement painful or even impossible. Extra clothes can also come in useful should the set you’re wearing become wet.
A quality first aid kit is also quite important. Many stores sell well stocked kits, or you can make your own following guides you can find online. This kit should also include any medications you need to take regularly for your health, as well as medical information about yourself and anyone else you anticipate being in your survival group.
Finally, tools are needed when surviving. A survival pack mainstay is a folding shovel. Folding shovels can be found at any outdoor store, and often come with various other uses like saws, hammers, and even weapons. They fold small so they will fit quite nicely in even some of the smaller packs, and are extremely versatile.
Sources and Further Reading:
American Red Cross
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Hawaii State Civil Defense
The Weather Channel
Virginia Department of Emergency Management
U.S. Department of Homeland Security