The Home Emergency Kit is going to be the most work. It has the most components and variables. Meaning what will work for my family and the city we live it may not work for yours so I’m gonna try to start out with the basics and add sections where you fill in your own personal changes and needs.
The bare necessities that the Red Cross recommends if you are ever in need to evacuate your home are the following:
-Food and Water. One gallon per person/per day. And food consisting of 2400-3600 calories per person (800-1200 calories per day). I’ll go into food in more detail toward the end of this.
-At least one flashlight or lantern plus new batteries. An inexpensive option can be purchased at the Red Cross website or at a dollar store.
-First aid kit (you can find my suggestions to getting yours together here)
-Emergency Blankets – you can purchase very inexpensive ones on Amazon or from SOS products website. Walmart often has good deals on fleece blankets too.
-Multi Purpose Tool. Think swiss army knife. These can vary in price from around $20 to over a hundred.
-Personal Hygiene and sanitation products. For women, make sure you have at least a small amount of feminine hygiene products. At least one roll of toilet paper and a pack of baby wipes are life savers. Even if you don’t have children, baby wipes are inexpensive and good for everything.
-A pair of thick work gloves. If there is debris or damage to your home, these might be necessary to access additional supplies while preventing injury.
-If you have children, Diapers in the size your child currently wears, formula or a pack of powdered milk if you child still gets most calories from milk.
-A copy of personal records such as id’s, proof of residence, medical insurance and birth certificates.
-Money in small denominations, like dollar bills and coins.
-If you have pets, food, water, and a leash or carrier for small pets. Plus any medications they need.
Additional items that can be very useful in a severe emergency include:
A tool to shut off your home’s gas line (it’s a good idea to store this next to your valves/meters), duct tape, a whistle, matches, cold weather or rain gear, a spare change of clothes and shoes for each person, a hat and sunblock, glow sticks, a small bleach container, a tent or sleeping bags/blankets, entertainment items, and a map with local emergency services such as police and fire stations highlighted, an old fashioned address book with important phone numbers.
My family’s kit will mostly prepare us for earthquakes and fire evacuations, the 2 biggest hazards we have to prepare for in Southern California. Depending on where you live, other items might be necessities for you that I would not need in California. Lists of important things you need to know or do depending on the type of emergency can be found HERE at the Red Cross site.
Once you know what you need, the next step is putting it together. This can be costly and overwhelming, and my best advice is even if you can’t do it all today, start with what you can and slowly add things every week or month. Even if you don’t have everything when an emergency occurs, you will at least have some of it.
Pick a container where you will store your items and a place where they will be easily accessible. I’ve chosen a large Gym bag and a storage tub for ours, and they are kept in our garage.
For the food in our kits, I have a combination of things. I’ve included one dehydrated calorie pack for each member of our family (these are kinda dry and bland but they provide enough daily calories for 3 days for each person), plus other foods to help us get by if needed. Keep in mind that my objective was to find inexpensive, easy to prepare food with a long shelf life. Some aren’t the healthiest things and they aren’t foods we eat in our normal diet, but will do as survival foods. Obviously if we have the option and access to better things we will choose those.
Our kits have a couple of cans of soup for each of us, a can of tuna for each, 2 apple sauce cups for each child, a can of vienna chicken sausage, powdered milk, oatmeal, a box of granola bars, and about 10 packs of top ramen soup (assuming we will have access to hot water).
I have a small box of plastic utensils, cups, and pack of plastic containers with lids that will be used to prepare, store and serve food. I also got a cheapie can opener at the dollar store.
Most of these items expire. The best suggestion is to check your kit once a year and replace accordingly. During these checks, you should also be testing flashlights, clothing/diaper sizes for your kids and medications.
Another thing I will be trying is making my own hardtack. This stuff is supposed to never go bad if stored properly.
Follow my series of posts for other emergency kits and preparedness information to keep your family safe