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Preparing a Home Emergency Kit

By: Mike Thomas

Disasters and emergencies strike fast and hard. Sometimes families are left with little time to think much less prepare. Surviving those first few days after a disaster could depend on an easily accessible Emergency Preparedness Kit.

Basic Supplies

An emergency kit needs several items. These items cover a range of needs, so they require careful thought and planning.


  • A three-day supply of water is essential. This equals one gallon of water per day for each person in the household. This water will be used for drinking and sanitation. 
  • Moist towelettes are also good for washing hands and personal sanitation. 
  • A three-day supply of non-perishable food is also critical, but don’t forget a manual can opener. 
  • A battery powered or hand cranked emergency radio is necessary. Flashlights and extra batteries are crucial. Make sure batteries are plentiful, as they are needed for both the flashlight and the weather radio. 
  • Make sure the kit includes a basic first aid kit. 
  • A whistle or some other object that makes loud noises is necessary to draw attention to someone who is trapped. 
  • Duct tape and tarps or plastic sheeting will come in hand for building a temporary shelter. 
  • Throw in dust masks in case you are in or around polluted air. 

Additional Supplies

Some families have special needs that must be considered when planning an emergency kit, and these as well as some additional supplies will be crucial.

  • Prescription medication such as heart medicine or insulin, must be kept on hand. Be certain to talk to a physician ahead of time about storing such things as heart and diabetes medications.
  • If there is a baby in the family, items such as diapers, food and formula must be included.
  • Dental needs, glasses, contacts and eye solutions cannot be left out.
  • Pet food and water for the family pet should be included. The amount depends on the number and size of pets.
  • A change of clothing for each family member including pants and long sleeve shirts will be important.
  • Blankets or sleeping bags, one for each family member, will need to be included. More blankets will be necessary if living in cold climate areas.
  • Chlorine bleach and a medicine dropper will be important. The bleach can be used as a disinfectant if it’s diluted nine parts water to one part bleach. It can also be used to treat water when it’s diluted one gallon to 16 drops of bleach. Scented bleach, color safe bleach or bleach with other cleaners will not work.
  • Cash and/or traveler’s checks will be important as banks and ATM machines might be out of commission.

Maintaining Kit

Once the emergency kit has been completed, it will be important to maintain it over time. An emergency kit with outdated or ineffective items will be of no use.

  • Canned goods and boxed foods should be kept in a cool dry place. Store them in tightly sealed plastic or metal containers. This will help protect these items from bugs and extend the shelf life of the items.
  • If canned goods become rusted, dented or swollen, they need replaced with fresh items.
  • Both water and food should be replaced every six months. Keeping track of when the items are stored will make this process easier.
  • Every year, the items in the kit need to be reevaluated. As the family changes, the contents of the kit will need to be adapted.

No one knows when and where an emergency will strike. However, everyone should know that proper prior planning is sometimes essential to survival.


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