Emergency preparedness is highly important. The items you’ll need may vary depending on the situation, however, there are some basics that cover can cover most emergencies. Follows along to discover 10 emergency essentials!
Most survival guides recommend that you carry at least one gallon of drinking water per person during an emergency. This applies to any type of emergency, be it a natural disaster, or water outage. In my experience, it’s best to keep not only a gallon of drinking water per person, but also find a water source that can be used for cleaning, bathing, and flushing toilets. If you have a pool or know somebody who has, that can be a great source of non-drinking water to fulfill other daily needs.
Likewise, it is recommended to keep enough non-perishable food to feed a family for up to three days. In my experience, it’s best to keep enough non-perishable food for at least 3 weeks. It’s best to not leave this task for when the emergency is imminent, such as in the event of a hurricane, but rather it is a task that should be continually repeated throughout the year if possible. You never know when an emergency will strike. Non-perishable food items can be canned goods, such as vegetables, fruits, beans, pre-cooked meats, and pasta. You could also keep non-perishable bagged snacks, such as chips and cookies. If you’re worried about the high sodium count in canned items, an old grandmother’s trick is to rinse them out beforehand through a strainer, if possible.
There are a variety of flashlights on the market, so if you’re looking for some heavy-duty light, do your research. It’s recommended to keep flashlights throughout your house, so you always have one in easy reach. In the case of an emergency, however, in my experience, it’s best to have a hands-free flashlight, such as a headlamp or a magnetized flashlight that you can stick to metal surfaces, as this frees up your hands to do other tasks.
4. Batteries and Battery Pack
Batteries are essential during emergencies, and it’s important to keep a variety of them. You should have enough batteries for your flashlights and other emergency electronics. You should also keep a portable battery pack to charge your phone and other USB devices. Personally, I prefer rechargeable batteries, and I make sure to always have them charged and ready to go in case they are suddenly needed. There are also a variety of trustworthy battery packs on the market, even versatile ones that can both charge your phone and jump start a car, so do your research.
5. Garbage Bags
You might not think garbage bags are important during an emergency, but they can be useful in a variety of settings. If you need to store and protect something from water, you can use garbage bags. If there is post-emergency clean-up to be done, garbage bags are the only way to do it. Likewise, they can serve as makeshift gloves if need be. Make sure to keep extra-large, heavy-duty garbage bags at hand!
Multitools often come with scissors, a knife, a mini saw, a small screwdriver, and more. They are compact and lightweight enough that they won’t weigh you down, and, paired with their versatility, they’re a great asset in case of emergencies.
7. First-aid Kit
The most important item during an emergency is your first-aid kit. It can quite literally be the deciding factor between life and death. Your first-aid kit should always contain bandages, gauzes, topical disinfecting wipes, rubbing alcohol, antiseptic cream, sterile gloves, tweezers, sterile eye dressings, eye wash, thermometer, sticky tape, and sterile scissors. It might seem like a lot, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you have pets, you should also account for them and their first-aid needs! Personally, I have a first-aid kit in which I have pet-safe antiseptic cream and eye wash.
It’s just as important to carry medication with you during an emergency. You should always keep OTC medications like acetaminophen, aspirin, and naproxen with you. I prefer to have them in gel capsules, as these are usually fast-acting. Likewise, if you have any prescription medications, talk to your doctor about getting an extra prescription so you can store the medication for emergencies. I was once in an emergency and it was quite difficult to obtain my prescription on time. Now I always make sure to keep at least a month’s supply of my prescription medication stored away just in case. Pro tip: regularly rotate your emergency medication for newer ones, so as to avoid taking expired medication.
Whistles are another item that can be the defining factor between life or death. In the case of a building collapse, whistles can signal your location to rescuers. Likewise, if you’re ever lost, whistles can guide others to you. It’s important to have them and keep them at easy reach. Many whistles now come with lanyards or on bracelets so you can keep them on your person at all times.
You’re going to need a strong backpack to carry all of your emergency essential supplies. It’s best to get a hiking backpack for this, as those usually come with many sturdy compartments. My family members and I each have an emergency backpack, with the items listed above and then some. This emergency backpack should always be at easy reach, preferably near exits so you can grab it and go. If you think you can’t carry all of the emergency essentials by yourself in a single backpack, consider strategically dividing the materials with a family member or someone you know you’d be with in the case of an emergency. Likewise, if you have pets, consider keeping extra harnesses or leashes in the backpack in case you need to grab your pet and go.