Do You Have an Emergency Survival Kit for Your Family? Learn how to create one with this handy checklist. (This post contains affiliate links)
Nothing breaks your heart more than seeing families’ lives turned upside down after an emergency situation. Homes destroyed, valuables lost, nothing to return to…
One can only hope they spent the time to gather survival supplies before disaster struck.
Are you prepared?
According to Ready.gov, you should have enough supplies for your family to last at least 72 hours after an emergency. You may need to survive on your own with your family until emergency responders can get through the chaos to help any victims.
Tips for Creating an Emergency Survival Kit for Your Family
If there’s anything I hope you remember from all of this, I hope that it’s this:
Don’t wait until the last minute.
That is probably the number one mistake people make when it comes to being prepared.
You’ve seen the photos and videos of people trying to buy things at stores at the last minute, only to find empty shelves and long lines with the people who got there first.
No worries. You can have a simple kit ready today with some items you already have in your home. Start with what you have and add to it from there. Use my Emergency Survival Checklist Printable (find it below) to get your supplies ready.
But before you gather anything…
Decide where to keep emergency supplies in your home.
It can be in a closet, in the garage, in a dry spot in the basement, in a spare room, or basically anywhere you’ll have easy access. You need access to not only grab your supplies in an instant, but also to be able to update your supplies as needed.
It might be helpful to keep your supplies where you think you’ll use them most. For instance, if you live in an area prone to tornadoes, you’ll want to keep your supplies in the basement or in an interior room of your home. If you live in an area prone to flooding, you’ll might want to keep your supplies on an upper level of your home.
Decide how your going to store your emergency supplies.
Will you keep everything in a plastic bin? Will you put items in duffel bags or backpacks? Do you have a way to transport items, like a wagon or inflatable raft, if you need to leave your home?
I use plastic bins for storage, but I have extra backpacks available should we need to pack things up to leave our safe place. Our wagon is always in the yard should we need to transport heavier items (or even the kids).
What Should You Put in an Emergency Kit for Your Family?
How much you collect for your kit depends on the size of your family. Keep that in mind as you collect the following items:
Water is definitely a must have, for both drinking and sanitation purposes. Hydration is a number one priority, but having some water available for washing hands or clothes wouldn’t hurt.
It is recommended that you have at least one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days.
I have a family of six, so I would need 18 gallons of water for three days. Seems like a lot to have to keep in storage, but I wouldn’t want to be without it.
These drinking water pouches are pretty easy to store too, plus they have a shelf life of 5 years.
◊ TIP: Buy a gallon of water or two every time you visit the grocery store. In a short time, you’ll have enough for your survival kit.
Food is also essential for life. It is recommended that you have at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food for your entire family.
Non-perishable food means any food that doesn’t need refrigeration. You might want to consider items that are on the healthier side of things, such as foods with higher protein content and less sugar, and skip junk food. Included would be:
- peanut butter (or other ‘butters’ if there is an allergy)
- nuts (almonds, peanuts, etc)
- cereal (granola cereals, wheat cereals, etc)
- granola bars
- canned fruit
- canned vegetables
- canned meat (tuna, salmon, chicken, etc)
- trail mix
- powdered milk
- dried fruits
- edible seeds (ie. sunflower seeds)
◊ TIP: Keep a can opener in your kit for any cans you need to open.
Granola and power bars are super easy to store and transport. A variety of flavors keeps everyone from getting tired of eating the same thing.
Flashlights or Lanterns
Chances are things are going to get dark. Keep flashlights or lanterns in your emergency survival kit.
Small dollar store flashlights are easy to grab and store. There are also waterproof flashlights and tactical flashlights available if you’d rather a more rugged and durable light source.
This outdoor lantern/flashlight doesn’t need batteries. It can be charged via USB cord OR solar panel. It is also very portable and collapsible. When not being used as a light source, it can be used to charge a smart phone or tablet.
As much as you’d love to rely on Facebook for updates, it’s a good idea to have a battery-powered or hand crank radio to get alerts. A radio that enables you to get NOAA Weather Radio updates is a bonus.
If you have flashlights or radios that need batteries, you’ll want to have extra batteries on hand. Store these in waterproof bags if possible.
If you have any portable battery chargers, keep them charged and ready to go to power your devices as needed.
First aid kit
Having a first aid kit in your emergency survival kit is a must. Make sure it is stocked with:
- adhesive bandages
- sterile gloves
- antibiotic ointment (tube or individual packets)
- antiseptic wipes
- small scissors
- roller bandage
- pain relievers
It can have other items as well, but these would be necessary for dressing wounds and treating basic injuries.
An added bonus would be a first aid manual that will give you the know-how to handle any kind of situation.
If you find yourself trapped or lost, having a whistle to signal for help would help tremendously. It is even better if every member of your family has one as well.
◊ TIP: Kids get an annoying whistle or noise maker in a party goody bag? Instead of hiding it or throwing it away, add it to your survival kit!
A dust mask will help filter contaminated air when you are in your safe space or when you need to travel outdoors. Have one or two ready for every member of the family.
Plastic Sheeting and Duct Tape
Should you need to shelter in place for a few days, plastic sheeting and duct tape are very useful. It can be used to protect you from the elements, but it can also be used to waterproof supplies. Check out The Survival Mom’s 16 Uses for Plastic Sheeting for more tips.
Duct tape has so many helpful uses. Backdoor Survival mentions 50 different ways duct tape can be useful in an emergency situation, like for resealing packages of food, creating emergency bandages, and fixing holes or tears in just about anything. I plan on having extra in my kit!
Toilet Paper, Garbage Bags, Bucket
Everyone needs to ‘go’, even in emergency situations. Having toilet paper, moist towelettes or wipes, a 5-gallon bucket, and garbage bags for personal sanitation is a must.
A quick search showed me that there are toilet waste bags available on Amazon that have a leak-proof outer bag (You DO NOT want waste leaking out in your small safe space!). These can be put into a 5-gallon bucket for an emergency toilet. Add a pool noodle around the top of the bucket for comfort if needed.
Wrench or Pliers
According to Family Survival Planning, it isn’t always necessary to turn off utilities, but if there may be damage done to your home or if gas is leaking, you’ll need a wrench or pliers to turn off the utilities.
NOTE: It is vital that you know how to turn off your gas safely. Also note that if it is natural gas, a professional from the utility company needs to turn it back on. After an emergency situation, that might take days or weeks.
Swiss Army or Utility Knife
A knife of some sort will be very useful in your kit, for both cutting through objects and for defense . A Swiss Army Knife like this one has a bunch of little tools all packed into one, but even a simple utility knife can be enough.
We’re so reliant on our smart devices for maps and directions, but it is so important to have printed maps of your local area in your kit should you need to get out of your home to go to a safer location.
Additional Emergency Supplies to Consider
♦ If you’re going to be sheltering in a safe place for a few days, it is helpful to have one or two spare sets of clothes, especially these items if you need to travel outside:
- long pants
- a coat
- long sleeved shirts
- gloves (working gloves are a plus)
- hard soled shoes or boots
- a hat for warmth or to shield from the sun
◊ TIP: Make sure to update the clothing every time your kids go up in size.
♦ Have babies or toddlers at home? Make sure to have:
- diapers (cloth may last longer in long run)
- wipes (reusable cloth wipes or disposable)
- formula/baby food
There are other baby gear items to consider if you think you’re going to be in your safe place for more than a day, mentioned in my article Must-Have Emergency Supplies for Babies and Young Children.
♦ Do you or someone in your family take medications? While you might not be able to store those, make note of any medications needed on your emergency checklist so you can grab them when needed.
♦ Do you have pets? If your pooch or kitty needs to shelter with you, pack:
- water (besides what you have for your family)
- bowls for food and water
- collar with tags
- a way to dispose of waste (litter box materials for cats, newspaper, garbage bags, etc)
- fleas and tick sprays and collar
Emergency Survival Checklist Printable
I created this handy printable so you can start making your emergency survival kit today. I suggest printing out a copy and either laminating it or putting it in a clear binder sleeve so you can update it as necessary.
◊ TIP: Make note on your list when your supplies, especially the water and food, may expire so you can replenish as necessary.Get a FREE Emergency Survival Checklist Printable! #freebie Click To Tweet
Click on the image to enlarge and print.
Leave a Comment!
Did I forget anything on the list? What would you add to the list? Leave a comment to let me know!