A disaster kit can mean the difference when tragedy strikes. It will provide you with peace of mind and the necessary tools to keep you and your family safe, here's how to prepare your own kit

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  • Emergency Disaster Kit Contents

    Your house is dark, there is no electricity. The only sound to be heard is the creaking of the damaged structure. You and your family set huddled in the cold, dark basement. Panic is the air, and they are all looking at you for answers. Are you prepared for this situation? If you had made a disaster kit you would be!


    A disaster kit can mean the difference when tragedy strikes. It will provide you with peace of mind and the necessary tools to keep you and your family safe. There is nowhere in the United States where the threat of a disaster is non-existent. Whether it be terrorists, natural disasters, or nuclear warfare there is always the possibility of the unexpected happening. A disaster kit will ensure that you have the right items to sustain a comfortable existence in the event of a disaster.



    Knowing what to put in your disaster kit is the the most important thing. Simply having one will mean nothing if it doesn't contain the right items. So, what should a good disaster kit contain?

    1. Water: If you have nothing else, make sure you have water! Water is the most important element for survival. When a disaster strikes it can often contaminate the local water supply, so having your own bottled water will be a big asset. Make sure that you have enough for everyone to stay hydrated for many days. Refresh the water in you kit every six to eight months to ensure that it stays fresh.

    2. First Aid Kit: If someone is hurt during the disaster you
    will want to have a first aid kit. Make sure your kit contains common medications, such as anti-diarrhea medicine, general pain relieving pills, and anti-vomiting medication. In addition to medicine you will want to have alcohol and bandages, towels, and hand sanitizer.

    3. Food: Make sure that you pick foods that are high in calories and have a long shelf life. Any canned foods will have long shelf life, just make sure that you add a can opener to the kit. Another great food to add to your disaster kit is peanut butter. It has an extremely long shelf life and is high in much needed protein. Try to diversify your stock. Have some canned fruit, vegetables, and meat available.

    4. Battery Operated Essentials: A flashlight, radio, and possibly even a small television will all be handy. Remember that during a disaster there may be no electricity available, so only pack battery operated items in your kit. These items will enable you to stay informed on any emergency warning or updates, and a flashlight will be an essential tool. Don't forget to pack plenty of extra batteries!

    5. Comfort Items: You never know how long you will have to rely on your disaster kit, so pack some items to keep everyone comfortable. Blankets, extra clothes, and pillows are always a good idea. If you pack extra clothes or shoes don't forget that sizes change over time, so keep the correct sizes for everyone in your kit.

    A disaster kit doesn't have to be a big financial hassle. You can make a homemade disaster kit on a limited budget. Think about all of the items you donate or throw out each year. Instead of getting rid of out-dated clothes or linens, put them in your kit. Nobody is going to be worried about whether or not you are wearing an outfit that went out of style two seasons ago. Also, go through your cabinets and find canned items that haven't been used. Add those to your kit too. The other items needed can be purchased at a local thrift store or swap meet. If you cannot afford to purchase a first aid kit you can usually find them for free at local hospitals or fire departments. A homemade disaster kit containing all that you could afford is better than no disaster kit at all.

    In addition to having a kit, it is also a great idea to take disaster preparedness classes and first aid classes. This will ensure that you are as prepared as possible in the event of a disaster. You can make it a habit to update your kit every six months when you change the batteries in your smoke detector. Ensure the safety and comfort of your family with either a homemade disaster kit or a store bought kit.

    See Also:

    Surviving Disaster on a Budget

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    Comments 14 Comments
    1. farmkat's Avatar
      farmkat -
      Don't forget food and water for your pets... plan for extra.
    1. joey59's Avatar
      joey59 -
      Great ideas...and don't for get the family pets.
    1. frvetere's Avatar
      frvetere -
      I 'get' the whole stock up on meds part, but our ins doesnt allow for mutiple fills on medication..this alone would be a disaster-no asthma medication, so I stocked up on coffee, which is a good (no other option) for albuterol...any other advice?
    1. dsquared545's Avatar
      dsquared545 -
      Add Dial soap (antibacterial), lots of hand sanitizers (small bottles), BUG SPRAY (small pump bottles), toilet paper, feminine hygiene products (tampons) and baby diapers.
    1. mimiRN's Avatar
      mimiRN -
      You need a written list of important phone numbers in case you can't access your cell phone memory but have access to a working land line phone. Also, power outages also mean no ATM machines, so keeping some cash on hand for emergencies is a good idea. My "kit" also has paper plates, plastic utensils, paper towels, toilet paper. Baby wipes can be used for general hygiene to avoid using water.
    1. cjsmith45's Avatar
      cjsmith45 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mimiRN View Post
      You need a written list of important phone numbers in case you can't access your cell phone memory but have access to a working land line phone. Also, power outages also mean no ATM machines, so keeping some cash on hand for emergencies is a good idea. My "kit" also has paper plates, plastic utensils, paper towels, toilet paper. Baby wipes can be used for general hygiene to avoid using water.
      I would also have a written medication list along with any allergies for each member of the family.
      And I'd probably throw in something to keep yourself amused in you are going to be confined to a small space for a while..
    1. elladenise's Avatar
      elladenise -
      Quote Originally Posted by frvetere View Post
      I 'get' the whole stock up on meds part, but our ins doesnt allow for mutiple fills on medication..this alone would be a disaster-no asthma medication, so I stocked up on coffee, which is a good (no other option) for albuterol...any other advice?
      My insurance lets me get mail delivery of 3 months at a time. I make sure I refill as soon as they'll let me, because it is before I run out, so if I keep on top of it, I can get about a month ahead. Also, some of my prescriptions are actually cheaper at Walmart, with the $4 a month deals, so I don't go through the insurance company on those. Those I can fill whenever I have an active refill left, with no limitation on when.
    1. elladenise's Avatar
      elladenise -
      Quote Originally Posted by mimiRN View Post
      You need a written list of important phone numbers in case you can't access your cell phone memory but have access to a working land line phone. Also, power outages also mean no ATM machines, so keeping some cash on hand for emergencies is a good idea. My "kit" also has paper plates, plastic utensils, paper towels, toilet paper. Baby wipes can be used for general hygiene to avoid using water.
      Your cordless landline phone won't work if your power is out. Make sure you have a cheapo corded phone just in case.
    1. Karen303's Avatar
      Karen303 -
      great ideas for a busy person!!
    1. JuneWeaver's Avatar
      JuneWeaver -
      Don't forget the option of crank radios and crank flashlights... These are charged by turning a handle round and round.... Your arm may get tired, but there is no fear of running out of batteries.

      MY radio has a ratio of 2 minutes cranking = 10 minutes listening time
    1. ashley1727's Avatar
      ashley1727 -
      Great ideas and cheap too. You never know when something could happen. My husbands grandmas used to get the meals military personal have they are great to have if you can afford then.
    1. LMMRR's Avatar
      LMMRR -
      Those military meals (I know from experience) are better than starving, BUT they are high in salt and have a tendency to either cause diarrhea or constipation. Better yet, make your own using individual packets of chicken and tuna, self opening cans of potted meats, seafood, and sausages, individual portions of crackers, cheese/peanut butter crackers, fruit roll ups, Individual servings of juice blends for your veggies, Those individual wipes you get at BBQ places, Hard candies, vitamin tablets, Dehydrated fruits, Granola bars, and electrolyte water additives; just to name a few. You should also add a few paper towels (you may need some for TP) plastic ware, a dental pick (mustn't forget hygiene), salt and pepper packets, and anything that could add flavor and variety to your meals-packets of lemon juice, mayo, pickles, sauerkraut, ketchup, mustard, jelly, etc. Put together your "MRE" and wrap it in a few paper towels then place it in a vacuum bag and seal it. Leave out the bottled juices. Just put them in the bottom of your bucket. Label each bag with a use by date (from vitamin tabs,etc). Many are storing these "MRE's" in 5 gallon buckets buried in their back yards. If you have a basement that is only partially finished, a root cellar, those are great places as well.

      Check out ultra light DIY camping equipment for ideas to make stoves and add one to each of your survival buckets. At the very least they allow you hot beverages. Don't forget to add the fuel! Or get a Sterno stove and the canned fuel. Then research DIY backpacking meals (mostly dehydrated) to make the most of your resources. If you can get hold of a scout mess kit, throw one in each of your buckets that need one, along with waterproof matches (dip the sulfured end in clear nail polish and let dry). Just in case, add a military style M54(?) can opener to each bucket.
    1. creativebug's Avatar
      creativebug -
      Great ideas. Thanks for the added ideas for emergency kits in your comments. I read about this occasionally, but never get down to actually putting the items away. What about drinking water? Is there something to add to the water to make it last longer?
    1. heidim's Avatar
      heidim -
      I am making 72 hr kits for my husband and myself along with my teen son and young adult daughter and fiancé. They may all think I am nuts when they open them Christmas morning (maybe not, we have talked about the need), but they will be thankful if/when they are needed.
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