Being prepared for a catastrophe, whether natural or man-made, can improve your chances of weathering the storm. Having certain supplies available will provide comfort when a disaster happens. The exact items you should stockpile depends on the emergencies most likely to occur where you live, but there are some universal basics that every emergency kit should include.
The absolute essential in any emergency is clean drinking water. Plan on storing at least one gallon per person per day, for at least three days. A two-week supply is even better. Use opaque plastic jugs filled with purified water, bottled water, or sterilized water sealed in unbreakable containers. Rotate stock to keep it fresh. Include water purification tablets or a portable water filter as a backup. Prepackaged beverages, juice boxes, and canned goods with high liquid content can also help meet needs if rationed properly.
Long Shelf-Life Foods
Stockpile an assortment of nourishing foods with long shelf lives. Examples include protein or fruit bars, dehydrated fruit, nuts, beef or turkey jerky, peanut butter, canned meats, canned vegetables and fruits packed in juice or water, canned soups and beans, crackers, cereal, energy bars, dried cereals and grains, trail mixes, condiments, vitamin supplements, and comfort foods like cookies and candy. Rotate stock before expiration dates.
First Aid Supplies
A first aid kit with basic medical supplies can save lives in a disaster when medical care is inaccessible. Your kit should include sterile bandages and gauze pads, wraps for sprains, antiseptic wipes, cleansing agents like alcohol, antibiotic and burn creams, latex gloves, thermometer, safety pins, scissors, tweezers, sewing needles, sterile cotton-tipped applicators, various size adhesive bandages, eye wash, pain and fever reducers, stomach remedies, and any regular medications or emergency allergy treatments needed by your household.
A MIRA Safety CM-6M gas mask can be an essential protection device in a catastrophe when hazards in the air pose a threat. Whether from natural disasters, industrial accidents, or conflict zones, various dangerous substances may be present that require filtering to prevent inhalation. For example, fires and explosions often release smoke and toxic fumes into the surroundings that can injure or kill by damaging the lungs and airways. A properly fitted gas mask with the appropriate filter creates a tight seal around the face to block inhalation of these substances while allowing safe filtered air to pass through so you can keep breathing.
Gas masks also shield against airborne biological contaminants from disease outbreaks and hazardous dust and powders from collapsed structures or landslides. Having an emergency supply of gas masks for your household or community provides critical protection if evacuation is difficult and members face exposure during disasters. With filtering capacity to remove particulates and absorption capabilities to neutralize harmful gases and vapors, gas masks are a key survival technology to have on hand should catastrophe strike and compromise area air quality.
Tools and Supplies
Store a multi-tool, utility knife, duct tape, fire extinguisher, matches, lighter, plastic storage containers, signal flare, plastic sheeting, plastic garbage bags, zip ties, twine, rope, permanent marking pen, paper, and pencil. Also gather needles, and strong thread, safety goggles, a basic tool kit, plastic bucket with tight lid, toilet paper, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, infant formula, and diapers if needed. Always have on hand phone chargers and external battery backups.
Sanitation and Hygiene
Access to sanitation and hygiene supplies is crucial during any type of catastrophe, whether natural or man-made, yet often overlooked in disaster planning and response. Following catastrophes that destroy infrastructure or displace populations, there is a heightened risk of waterborne illness and disease spread if people lack basic items like soap, menstrual hygiene products, toilet paper, disinfectants, diapers, and waste disposal methods. Aid agencies advise keeping a stockpile of these supplies for emergency preparedness at home, in shelters, or distribution sites.
Plan for at least half a liter of clean water per person per day for drinking and hygiene needs. Contamination can quickly spread among vulnerable groups if they don’t have what’s needed to regularly wash hands, bathe, use proper sanitation areas, or manage bodily functions. Ensuring dignity and health in crisis requires prioritizing the availability and appropriate use of hygiene items along with clean water, toilets, dignified washing facilities, waste removal, and education. Getting these basics right reduces disease transmission and lets people focus on recovery.
A whistle can be an essential tool to have during a catastrophe or emergency. Its high-pitched noise allows you to signal and get attention over long distances, making it invaluable for alerting rescuers or others to your location when you are lost, injured, or in distress.
In chaotic events like natural disasters, industrial accidents, or civil disruptions, regular communication methods may be compromised. Cell phone towers and other infrastructure can be damaged, limiting your ability to call for help. A whistle’s simplicity and acoustic properties overcome these communication barriers. A quick blow can often alert anyone within earshot. Even if potential rescuers are far away, the whistle’s sound carries much farther than the human voice.
Whistles are also lightweight, portable, and do not require any power source, making them a reliable signaling tool when other equipment fails or is left behind while fleeing a dangerous scenario. Having a whistle handy can save critical time in reaching first responders compared to waiting or searching aimlessly. Their versatility, affordability, and ease of use make whistles a prudent emergency preparation that could make all the difference if catastrophe strikes.
Warmth and Shelter
Preserve body heat and shelter yourself from the elements with emergency blankets, sleeping bags, hand warmers, winter coats, and clothing appropriate for seasonal weather extremes in your area. Keep on hand hats and gloves, thermal underwear, sturdy waterproof boots or shoes, and camping pads to insulate you from the ground. Tents or tarps offer flexible shelter.
When power is disrupted by an emergency, light will be at a premium after sunset. Keep plenty of alternate light sources like flashlights, headlamps, solar-powered landscape lights, glow sticks, and lanterns with extra fuel canisters and mantles. Candles can also generate welcome light but should be used cautiously to avoid accidental fires after a disaster. Store firewood for longer events.
Having extra batteries on hand is crucial in a catastrophe when you may lose access to power for an extended period. Extra batteries for flashlights and lanterns become essential with no electricity for lighting. Having a battery-powered radio helps you stay updated on the latest news and instructions in an emergency when regular television, internet, and cell phone service may not be available. Extra batteries ensure the radio remains working. Additionally, extras allow you to operate and recharge small personal devices like cell phones that can aid in communicating or navigating in a catastrophe. Planning for potential power loss with extra on-hand batteries can provide light, information, communication, and other necessities if access to electricity is disrupted during a crisis.
Communication and Documentation
Stay informed about the emergency through a wind-up emergency radio, portable stereo, and NOAA weather radio with SAME technology. Keep your documents protected in a waterproof container. This container should hold personal identification, insurance information, birth and marriage certificates, medical prescriptions, pet records, contact information for relatives and emergency contacts, extra cash in small denominations and quarters for phone calls, a list of important phone numbers, and spare keys.
Don’t overlook the unique needs of infants, the elderly, and those with medical conditions or disabilities. Prepare extra baby formula, diapers, medications, hearing aid batteries, oxygen, mobility aids like canes and walkers, plus any medical supplies you rely on regularly such as testing kits, syringes, or supplies.
Manual Can Opener
In an emergency or catastrophe situation where normal services and infrastructure may be disrupted, having basic tools and supplies on hand can make a crucial difference in your ability to access food and water. A manual can opener is one of the most important items to include in any emergency kit. Unlike electric can openers which require power, a manual opener allows you to open canned goods using only simple mechanical leverage.
Canned food often has a very long shelf life and can serve as a reliable food source when fresh produce and refrigerated goods may be hard to come by if grocery stores are closed or supply chains are interrupted. However, without a way to get into the cans, the food inside does you no good. A quality manual can opener takes up hardly any space when packed but provides the critical capability of easily accessing nutritious canned goods when you need them most.
Having a manual can opener can mean the difference between going hungry versus maintaining proper nutrition in difficult circumstances. It’s a simple preparedness item that pays dividends in an unexpected catastrophe or disaster when normalcy is disrupted. Along with basic food, water, and medical supplies, a manual can opener belongs in every emergency kit.
Pull all these key items together into an emergency supply kit you can grab at a moment’s notice if you need to evacuate quickly. Include essential food, water, first aid supplies, tools, emergency blankets, clothing, medications, hygiene supplies, important documents, and other critical things you can’t live without. A backpack, tote, or wheeled luggage kept near the door makes a great evacuation bag.
The exact list of emergency supplies you store will be unique to your location, household needs, and disaster threats you are preparing for. Gathering the necessities in advance helps you weather the storm. Maintaining your kit by consuming and replacing perishable supplies ensures that when catastrophe does strike, you already have what you need to take appropriate lifesaving actions.