*Updated 6/2/2020 to add items now essential after the beginning of 2020.
If you are reading this it is likely you are in search for where to begin building your own Home Emergency Preparedness Kit. If not and you’ve come here to learn about crochet and other DIY projects, no worries they are here on a different page, but while you are here check out my previous post about why I’m running off topic for a couple of posts and why you should make your own Home Emergency Preparedness Kit. You can read all about that here:
And if you came looking for an easy beginning and are already overwhelmed by just how long the little guide thing on the right of the page is, no worries! You will probably want to start here before diving into the Long List:
So now that you either have your basic essentials for a small Home Emergency Preparedness Kit, or you’re not overwhelmed and ready to just jump in, here is the list of everything (and why) we have in our own kit. This kit will look slightly different for everyone based on your situation and locale; but our full kit list is a great place to start building or even evaluating your own to see if you forgot anything. Or see if you’re smarter than me and found something I forgot! By all means let me know in the comments and we can help everyone!
Just like the last post, we are starting with probably the most important resource on the list. For this kit you need at least one gallon of water per person or pet you are responsible for for a minimum of five days. I usually will go as far as seven days. Honestly water is something you could not have too much of in a disaster situation. What does this look like? For us we have mostly flats of water bottles. This comes out to about eight water bottles per day for each person/pet. We also have some gallon jugs on hand just for an extra bit. Note again this water is not for anything but drinking, cooking, and maybe minimal hygiene (I’m talking face when you don’t have baby wipes handy).
You need a full days worth of meals (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, maybe snack) for each person and pet you are responsible for for a minimum of five days. Again it needs to be food you and your family will actually eat and it should require absolutely no refrigeration. Keep in mind this covers the baby with either a plan for breast feeding and pumping sans electricity or formula. It also covers the family pet or pets. In our case I have an extra bag of chicken feed in our kit for the girls. You want to feed animals and children as normally as possible; the more you can keep ‘normal’ the better life in a disaster will be. It is also important to remember to keep your own diet fairly normal as a change could impact how you can spend your day as well. Don’t just buy boxes of ramen and expect to do as much as you normally could. You also need to include everything you would need to prepare any meals in this kit. A pot or a large spoon, a cast iron skillet, a spatula. This is a great place to put the old ones when you upgrade. Don’t over clutter with stuff but only have what you will need to prepare what you build.
NOAA Weather Radio
Don’t skimp. I know it can be tempting to get one you see at the dollar store but you want a real honest to goodness going to get you through the storm NOAA Weather Radio. It needs to be battery powered. It can also be hand crank and solar powered if you can find them. I found this one on Amazon and it is what is currently in our kit. We might be upgrading soon.
You need at least one flashlight for every person you are responsible for and one lantern for every common room (living room, dining room, kitchen). All the flashlights and lanterns would ideally take the same batteries. The lanterns will provide a gathering place with light and save batteries in the personal flashlights. During a disaster situation everyone would have their flashlight near them at all times.
First Aid Kit
Get a good first aid kit. If you can afford a trauma kit that would be ideal. I’m going to refer to someone else as for what should be in your kit because I have very little medical training and don’t want to tell you wrong. But seriously, get a good kit put together and learn how to use everything in it. It also helps to print out a first aid guide and put it in your kit. You can find out what the Red Cross says should be in a kit here. Also, I would highly recommend everyone has quick clot and a tourniquet in your kits. If you can find a ‘Stop the Bleed’ class in your area and take it. They are usually offered for free and you will learn so much that is vital to surviving the unthinkable. Just do it.
You should have at least a five day supply of any prescription medications. A lot of pharmacies will give you this extra for emergency preparedness purposes without a special prescription but I have talked to doctors before to have a special prescription made out. Make sure it is kept up to date with paperwork showing exactly what is there and in their original bottles. Also it’s good to have some over the counter medications in an emergency as well such as pain relievers, antacids, Benadryl, and Pepto-Bismal
Not an absolute must have, but this could mean the difference in staying put through the entirety of the storm or having to be rescued for lack of supplies or heat exhaustion or….lots of reasons this is better to have than not. Don’t forget to have extra fuel on hand just for this.
You need a way to prepare your food and unless you want to eat everything out of a can at room temp for a week this is a great tool to have one hand. Make sure to have whatever fuel is needed set aside in your kit at all times.
We have one pack of batteries for everything in our kit requiring batteries. I have one regular pack of AA batteries per every flashlight, lantern, and the weather radio. At minimum you should have three backups on hand. And extra doesn’t hurt.
You need one whistle per person you are responsible for. During a disaster situation everyone would have their own on their person at all times.
Wrench or Pliers
This is for turning off your utilities. You may need to turn off the water to avoid flooding in the home or the gas to avoid an explosion or even the water heater for the same. This needs to be specifically in your kit, not just a pair lying around the house.
Manual Can Opener
This one seems pretty obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve been camping and forgot a stupid can opener. Again this needs to be a specific one in your kit, not the one for everyday use.
The more you have the better. Mostly for hygiene, but there is so much baby wipes can be used for. Just make sure they don’t get flushed to avoid a backed up toilet added to your worries.
Battery Cells for Phone
In a disaster situation your phone will become a lifeline. During Harvey most people had no electricity and no landlines (not that anyone has those anyways). Facebook became essential to some people survival. Having battery cells you can have charging prior to a hurricane hitting will ensure you have that longer. Bonus points if you get a solar powered one.
Get a tarp. Get two tarps. In our kit we currently have three tarps, all 8 foot or larger. The larger the better. We used one of these during Harvey when the torrential downpour busted a hole in the roof of our garage. There are many uses for tarps in a disaster situation.
Toilet paper was not something originally on my list although now after living through the first half of 2020 it is a necessary addition. Have at least one large package on hand for emergencies at all times to get you through in case you can’t get anymore for a while.
Another new addition to this list though it was originally covered in the long list breakdown before. Soap is more important than ever to have on hand for emergencies since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially now it is something everyone should have a few bottles extra of for emergencies. I recommend storing it with some hand towels that can be easily washed for reuse. If you still don’t have hand soap available in your local stores due to the pandemic you can get some large refill bottles of dish soap which will work just as well and is even less expensive and can be used for multiple purposes.
Pretty self explanatory, but you’d be surprised how many homes don’t have one. Get one for the kit and one for the kitchen.
Backup Glasses/Lens Cleaner
Most people these days need some sort of corrective lens to see. You may not be able to or want to use contacts in the event of a disaster so have some backup glasses handy as well as lens cleaner.
Feminine Hygiene Products
Liners, pads, tampons, and fresh wipes. Trust me ladies, it’s best to be prepared. The middle of a hurricane is no place to be suprised by mother nature. Tampons are great to include in your first aid kit for other reasons too!
Moist Towelettes/Antibacterial Wipes
For hygiene purposes. You may not have the luxury of a full bath or shower, or even water to waste for it. When in doubt save the drinking water for drinking.
These come in handy for a lot of different situations. Get at least one box of regular kitchen bags for trash. The last thing you need is unsanitary conditions from trash on top of the disaster. Large black contractor bags also come in handy for various things like supplementing a tarp or for clean up after.
Grab some N95 respirator masks from Lowes. These might be needed to avoid debris from your own home or will come in handy after the storm during clean up when they will be a hot commodity. These are also super important now that we live in a world with COVID-19 as a reality. If you can not get some N95 respirators for this then grab whatever masks you can to have them on hand.
Heavy Duty Gloves
Great to have for clean up after the storm. Or particularly bad diapers. Ya never know.
If you have kids this one is a must. Not only do they provided entertainment, but they are the perfect night light when it is pitch black and you can’t waste the lantern batteries all night. They can also come in handy for other things.
This is for those with or without kids. You will probably get bored. And though I am sure you have your board games at home it never hurts to have a few things tucked away in case of emergency. A new deck of cards, a pack of dominos, maybe a kit to learn a new hobby like crochet or cross stitch while you wait for the rain to end. For kids this is so important. Puzzles, coloring books and crayons, some silly putty; anything new will keep their attention for a while longer which gives you just that much more time to figure stuff out or have a moment. Don’t skip this one!
It’s not a fun topic to discuss, but looting is a serious issue after a storm, especially when the damage is bad enough many homes are left empty. If you are going to stay you need to be prepared to defend your property and your family. I won’t tell you what you need to have but I will give you some options to look into. These include a firearm, pepper spray, mace, a taser, a machete (seriously who is going to mess with a chick wielding a machete?).
Weather/Fire Proof Security Box
This is where your Family Emergency Binder and any other important documents or keepsakes will go. We will get to the binder in the next post, but it is important to know exactly where this is at all times. In case of evacuation you will need to grab it in a moments notice. And the easier it is to find all your documents the sooner you can get back to a state of normal.
That is what we currently have in our Home Emergency Preparedness Kit. It is important to keep everything in the kit up to date; keep an eye on expiration dates in the food and first aid kit. I have a list of every item in the kit along with expiration dates where applicable and every year around the end of May (right before hurricane season) I go through and update it. We refresh our water once a year by buying new and using what we had around the house or on trips. It is also important not to dig into the kit to use pieces here and there. You want to keep the kit full and together as much as possible. If you have to use a piece try to replace it as soon as possible.
In the next post we will talk about what exactly we have in our Family Emergency Binder. You can find that post, along with the others in this series below:
It’s Preparedness Season! Post 1 – The Intro
It’s Preparedness Season! Post 2 – The Essentials
It’s Preparedness Season! Post 4 – Family Emergency Binder
It’s Preparedness Season! Post 5 – Storage
It’s Preparedness Season! Post 6 – Getting Through the Storm