Emergencies can happen at any time, to anyone. Being prepared does not mean you have to become a prepper. Having a basic kit on hand will lessen your stress during emergencies. What a kit contains can vary based on where you live and what natural disasters your area is prone to. Whether you buy an emergency bag or build your own, having this in your home can make a difference when an emergency happens. Building a home emergency kit is a good investment.
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Building a home emergency kit
Where we live, the biggest emergency threat is forest fires. Our fire season can start in April and generally goes into June. However, depending on the year, forest fires can occur much later in the summer. We have been very lucky, in the time we have lived here there has never been a major fire near us. Two years ago, we had two small fires that were within forty kilometers of the town. This may seem far away, but with the right conditions, a fire can quickly spread.
Emergency kit basics
Knowing what to put in an emergency can be a challenge. There are plenty of different sources online that will give you a list of what you need. No matter what, there are a number of basic items that you need to include in your kit. The following is what our family has in our kit currently.
By far the most important thing to include is water. It is recommended to have 4 liters (1 gallon) of water per person, per day. This covers drinking, cooking, and cleaning. Make sure to include your pet’s water as well. For our family, there are four of us – and that includes our dog. This means we need 64 liters (17 gallons) of water for a three-day kit. That’s a lot of water and can be a challenge to store. I actually need to store more, as our current kit only contains half of that. Likely the dog won’t need 4 liters a day, however, there is nothing wrong with having some extra water. Sturdy water containers are excellent for this emergency supply.
Having a couple of edible items in your emergency kit is a good idea. Ensure these foods are easy to prepare and are not expired. Items such as granola bars, cans of tuna, jerky, and other dried foods work well. There are also a number of long-term foods to be purchased if you are looking for something else to add.
First Aid Kit
The second most important item to include. Injuries can happen any day, however, they are more likely to happen during an emergency. We also included a first aid manual. There is a large variety of first aid kits available, from basic kits to deluxe ones.
No matter the climate, having a blanket is a good idea. It can help keep you warm. Give you a clean place to sit. It can even be used to transport items.
Candles & Matches
Power is often lost during emergencies. Having a few candles, matches and a lighter, can help to provide illumination.
Another handy thing to have for when the power is out. A hand crank flashlight is a good option, as it does not require batteries
If you include anything in your kit that requires batteries, you need to also include extra batteries.
A pair of work gloves is important. There may be broken glass. Perhaps your vehicle’s tire needs changing as you drive to a safe location. You may need to pick up something hot. Work gloves will keep your hands clean and safe.
- Tissues or paper towels. These can be great for cleaning up small messes. They can be used as toilet paper. Maybe an emergency happens during the flu season. I made sure to make room in our kit for this.
- Bathroom Items. Include a small pouch that includes some basic bathroom items. Toothbrushes and toothpaste. Travel-sized shampoo and soap, for sanitation purposes. A hairbrush, with several elastics for long hair. These elastics can have other uses as well. In addition some band-aids, an ACE bandage, some gauze pads, and medical tape, and ointment.
- Tools. Things may need repairs. This is why I included a multi-tool in our kit. That way if we need a screwdriver or a small blade, there is one within easy reach. Be sure it is a good-quality multitool.
- Dust Masks. Depending on the emergency, there may be dust or smoke. Having dust masks will help prevent inhaling those.
- Can Opener. An emergency kit will likely contain canned goods. So a manual can opener is a must.
- Spare Shoe Laces. Shoelaces can break, so having an extra set is a good idea. This can also be used for tying up small items.
- Rope. There are a million and one uses for rope. It made sense to include some in our kit.
- Sanitary Pads. Sanitary pads are a must-have item if you have any women in your home. Another alternative is a Diva cup.
- Duct Tape. This can be used for repairs. It can help in a first-aid situation. It can even seal doors to prevent smoke, ash, or dust from coming into the house.
- Playing Cards. I made sure to include this as a means of entertainment.
- Towel. Great for cleaning up a spill or drying off something wet.
- Notebook & Pens. These are handy to have in any situation.
- Toilet Paper. A generally overlooked item. You never know where you will end up, so having this in your kit can be handy. You don’t have to have a ton either, just a single roll will do.
Other things to consider
While having a basic emergency kit that includes the above items is good, there are other items that you should consider adding.
- Make your kit mobile. Depending on the situation, you may need to leave your home. It’s important to ensure that your kit is mobile. A hiking backpack is a great option for this.
- Important Documents. This includes insurance papers, identification papers, important contacts, and copies of prescriptions.
- Money. Having some cash on hand is also a good idea. ATMs may not function during an emergency.
- Clothes. Having at least one change of clothes per person is a good idea. To reduce the size of the clothes, consider using a vacuum seal clothes bag. Make sure you update these clothes to reflect the season. Having one set of winter clothes and one set of summer clothes works well.
- Radio. Having a radio allows you to receive updates on emergency situations. This way, you will know if an evacuation notice or other important notice has been announced. The best option is to have a crank radio, this way you can receive a single even if your home has no power.
- Pets. If you have pets then you need to ensure that you include items for them in your emergency kit. Include a few days worth of food for them and a collapsible food bowl. A collar and leash are also important. Lastly, a copy of their vaccine records.
- Entertainment. While some emergencies will lead to your leaving your home, other times you will be stuck inside for days or weeks on end. Having some things to keep you and your family occupied at this time is a good idea.
- Expand your skills. It’s great that you have everything you need in your emergency kit, but what about the skills to use those items? Practice using them now. On top of that, learn to make things from scratch, just in case you can’t go to the store for a while. Skills like crochet are also good for creating useful items while also occupying your time.
Do you have an emergency kit? If not, now is the perfect time to start creating one. Or perhaps check and update your existing one.