Emergency Kit: Everything You Need to Have in Your Go Bag


It’s been a rough week for the world, what with the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, and it has me (and random people who I’ve spoken with recently) thinking about preparation. Specifically am I prepared for a close-to-home disaster?

The question takes on even more pertinence when I consider that I have a child depending on me (and one on the way) for his/her own survival.

The sad answer is “no.” I have enough food to scrape together some rather ill-conceived meals for a couple of days … as long as I had gas for my stove. I probably have a bottle of water lying around somewhere. And, I did just go to the bank, so there’s some cash in my wallet.

I’m not being flippant, I’m just being honest: I am not prepared for a disaster. Which got me thinking, what exactly should a person have in their house, in a basic emergency supply kit? I’ve outlined not only what to have, but where to buy it.

According to FEMA:

WHAT TO HAVE: One gallon of water per person, per day for a minimum of three days for drinking and sanitation for evacuation. The Red Cross suggests a two-week supply for home.
WHERE TO BUY: Coleman makes a 5-gallon water carrier ($17.62 each). A family of four would need at least three to meet the one-gallon/per person/day requirement for three days.

WHAT TO HAVE: A three-day supply of non-perishable food for evacuation. The Red Cross suggests a two-week supply for home.
WHERE/WHAT TO BUY: Most can be bought at the grocery store. Try to balance your groups between fruits/vegetables (canned and dried), grains (whole grain crackers, cereals, pasta and rice) and proteins (canned fish or chicken, beans, peanut butter, nuts, meat jerky, protein bars, etc). You can also buy pre-made food and water kits. And don’t forget the can opener!

WHAT TO HAVE: A battery powered radio with extra batteries or a hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert.
WHERE TO BUY: Safety Central has a long list of battery, hand-crank and NOAA Weather Radios from $21.90 to $159.99.

WHAT TO HAVE: Flashlight and extra batteries.
WHERE TO BUY: The hardware or outdoor store. Best to buy a waterproof, shock-resistant LED flashlight something like this one ($14.99). And don’t forget backup batteries.

WHAT TO HAVE: First-aid kit.
WHERE TO BUY: You can assemble one yourself, or buy one pre-made like this one from the Red Cross ($24.95). If you take important prescription medicine, it’s best to have at least an extra week’s supply on hand.

WHAT TO HAVE: Whistle signal.
WHERE TO BUY: This howler whistle ($4.25) looks like just the overkill you’d want in a disaster scenario.

WHAT TO BUY: Dust mask, plastic sheeting and duct tape.
WHERE TO BUY: Again, hit the hardware store. You should have enough duct tape and plastic sheeting to cover all windows and door in your home or in the room you’re planning on sealing off.

WHAT TO HAVE: Moist towelettes (and I would add hand sanitizer), garbage bags and plastic ties for sanitation. Finally something I have at home!
WHERE TO BUY: Grocery, hardware, general purpose stores. Best to just have an extra box of bags and sanitizer laying around.

WHAT TO HAVE: Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities. I would add, a small basic tool kit.
WHERE TO BUY: The hardware store or at a disaster preparedness shop online. I like this four-in-one tool ($9.95) that can turn off utilities and act as a pry bar.

WHAT TO HAVE: Local maps.
WHERE TO BUY: In the age of Google maps, can you still buy printed maps? Yes, you can, and Rand McNally has a load of them.

WHAT TO HAVE: Cell phone with chargers, inverters, or solar charger.
WHERE TO BUY: While I appreciate this advice, solar cell phone charging isn’t an advanced technology. The Solio ($99) has generally gotten good feedback, but don’t expect this to be like plugging your phone into a wall socket.


Infant formula/diapers
Important documents in a sealed and waterproof bag
Cash in small bills
Paper and pencil

Anything I’m missing that you have in yours?

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