No one likes to think that they'll be involved in an emergency, but it may happen. If it does, wouldn't you rather be prepared than to have it take you by surprise? I know that I would. That's why we keep an emergency survival kit on hand just in case we need it. What you keep in your survival kit will depend on your life, your family and the types of emergencies that you might need to be prepared for. These are the choices that I make for my family. You'll need to evaluate your circumstances to determine which ones are best for you.
When you need to keep on hand will depend on your family. Toddlers will have different food requirements than adults. Healthy, active adults, will have different food requirements than senior citizens with diabetes. To be safe, keep at least two weeks worth of food on hand. I prefer to keep closer to six months. Remember that you should have a variety of different foods on hand. Make sure that there are some you can eat if you don't have a way to cook or don't have access to a lot of fresh water. Take into considerations people's allergies and food intolerances and check the labels when purchasing food for things like hidden soy or corn syrup that are in many prepared foods. You will want to remember snacks for children who eat more frequently than we do and nutritional shakes for the elderly or anyone who is not in good health. Remember to rotate your food supply so nothing goes bad.
You may not lose power during an emergency, but it's safest to plan for an alternative way to cook food just in case. We have a gas stove that we can use without electricity as well as a wood stove. We can cook on either of these for as long as we have fuel. Just in case, we also have a grill that we can use with charcoal or wood and a solar oven that will work on a sunny day. You can also keep a propane camp stove on hand in case you need it. Just keep extra propane tanks.
Depending on where you get your water from, you may want to keep a water purifier as well as bottled water on hand. We have a well so if we lose electricity; we do not have running water. We can haul water from the stream, but it wouldn't be safe to drink. It would work fine for flushing toilets and watering the garden. Because of that, we keep a water purifier on hand that can be recharged by the sun. We also keep bottled water to drink. We are considering attaching a water barrel to gutters on our house so we can collect rainwater for the ducks and chickens and our gardens. If you live in the city, you may be able to get away with only keeping bottled water on hand. Water purification tablets are also a possibility especially if you plan on relocating during an emergency.
In rural Vermont, our summers are fairly comfortable, so warmth is not an issue. However, in the middle of the winter, when temperatures drop below zero regularly, we need to consider warmth in an emergency. We have a blanket box full of extra heavy blankets as well as quite a few solar blankets just in case. Normally, we heat with oil, however, in an emergency, we may not have that option. We also have a wood stove and several cords of seasoned wood just in case. Remember that you will also need fire-starters, newspaper to get the fire started and matches. For those that are able, keeping an axe on hand to cut down or chop extra wood cannot hurt either.
Unless you are a medical professional or have medical training, you'll probably want to stick with basic medical needs. Again, this will depend on your situation. At the very least keep bandages, gauze bandages, elastic bandages for sprains, first aid cream, pain reliever, antihistamine, cough syrup, cough drops, antacid, tweezers, etc. You will also want to be sure you keep an extra 30 days supply on hand of any prescription medication including things like inhalers and epi-pens. Check with your doctor to see if it's possible to get an extra supply. Or, keep on or two on hand each month until you have thirty days. Remember to stock any herbal teas that you use for medicinal purposes. I always keep extra Breathe Easy and Throat Care teas on hand in the winter in case we cannot get out. Just remember to rotate all of your supplies.
Power & Technology
Keep in mind your power and technology needs. You may lose electricity or be unable to get oil, natural gas, or propane. You may lose landline service or be unable to connect via satellite with your cell phone. Be sure that your emergency kit includes extra batteries in a variety of different sizes for flashlights and lanterns. We also keep solar powered and crank flashlights and portable radios with our emergency supplies in case we run out of batteries. You'll also want to keep car chargers for your cell phone and a solar-powered cell phone charger in case you need it. Don't forget to keep a few extra batteries for the kids' favorite battery powered toys. Bored children are no fun in an emergency.
Be sure that you have extra soap, razors, shampoo, lip balm, toothpaste, contact lens solution, diapers, baby wipes, toilet paper, garbage bags, laundry detergent, bleach, etc. on hand. You never know how long you'll need to shelter in place in an emergency. The same holds true for extra warm socks, gloves, mittens, hats, thermal tops and bottoms, sweaters and underwear. It's better to have too many than to run out of something that you need.
If you're lucky, you may never need any of these things. You can simply cycled them into your normal day to day usage patterns. But, if an emergency does happen - whether it's for 2 days or 2 months, it is always better to be prepared.