Must Have Supplies for a Natural Disaster Emergency Kit
Bottom line, you need enough supplies for each family member for at least 72 hours. A basic list of emergency supplies includes:
Water. You need one gallon of water per person for three days. So, for my family of six, we need 18 gallons of water. Don’t forget to include water for your pets as well. It’s also helpful to have a water purifier like this one or this one and/or water purification tablets should you need additional water.
Non-perishable food. You’ll need enough shelf-stable food to last your family for three days (think granola bars, cans of soup, jars of peanut butter, or even MRE meals (like the set pictured here). Choose emergency food items that are high-calorie and protein packed (and that your family will actually eat!). Include some items for that one picky eater child (you won’t want to be fighting over food choices during a disaster!).
Here’s a tip: Rotate your non-perishable food items by using them from Dec to May each year and purchasing new items from Jan to May each year. Because, yes, even non-perishable items have a shelf life!
Food serving supplies. These are emergency supplies we often forget about, but they can make the difference between eating and not eating! Include a can opener, package of plastic forks, spoons and knives, paper plates, paper bowls and plastic cups in your survival kit.
Electronics and communication. You’ve got to see this incredible rechargeable AM/FM Weather Alert Radio that charges a smartphone! It uses multiple power options (rechargeable batteries, hand crank, solar power, and AAA batteries), includes an LED flashlight and e
mergency beacon and of course receives radio/weather alerts too. It’s only $43, got almost 600 5-star reviews on Amazon, and can I just say it’s just darn good-looking?
Of course, batteries (AA are the most common, but consider what your family needs) and extra cell phone charging cords (one for the wall and a car) are also handy to have. You can also find traditional weather alert radios and hand crank radios here.
Extra clothing. Even if it’s warm outside, hypothermia can become a risk. Depending on your location, include a rain jacket (avoid cotton) or poncho, warm hat and gloves for each family member.
Shoes. Shoes are an often overlooked component for a family survival kit, and yet, these can make a huge difference, especially since there may be broken glass and debris everywhere. Grab a pair of plastic flip flops for each family member. Socks or rain boots (these for kids and adults look good) are also not a bad idea if you live in a cold weather climate.
First Aid Kit. Here’s an awesome, already assembled family first aid kit. This other kit is smaller, but perfect for the car. Or learn how to make your own first aid kit here or here. And I love how this mom gathered her first aid supplies from the Dollar Store (a woman after my own heart)! Speaking of money…
Cash. Think about it–in most natural disasters, power lines are down and thus there’s no electricity, which means that credit cards become worthless pieces of plastic! Some experts recommend keeping as little as $50 on hand, while the US Coast Guard recommends keeping two weeks worth of cash. It would also be a good idea to have that cash broken down into several denominations (you won’t want to spend $20 for a $2 item simply because no one else has change to give).
Toilet Sanitation. Toilet paper and a potty, anyone? Yep, it could come in handy (especially with kids). Here’s a complete emergency toilet bucket kit. Or there’s the Luggable Loo and Double Doodie Toilet Waste Bags which is what we’re purchasing (seriously folks, you’ve gotta love the names of this stuff!)
Medical needs. This is super important for those of us with loved ones with ongoing medical conditions. Use leftover pill bottles, or 7 day pill organizers like these for each family member that requires ongoing medication. Create a custom kit of any additional medical supplies (for my family that would include diabetic supplies). Speaking of special needs…
Baby needs. Do you have a little one at home? Gather up any supplies they would need: diapers, baby wipes, diaper cream, formula, bottles, jarred baby food, baby spoons, pacifiers, teething supplies, baby pain relievers, etc… you get the picture. Having a special toy or blanket can also soothe little one’s nerves.
CLICK HERE for a handy disaster supply checklist!
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Toiletries/Beauty. No you probably don’t need your hair dryer and makeup in there, but travel sized soap, shampoo, conditioner, shaving supplies, feminine supplies, hand sanitizer and deodorant are very helpful.
Cleaning/Sanitation. Consider trash bags (these can double as ponchos for warmth), paper towels, baby wipes, disinfecting wipes… you get the picture.
Shelter/warmth. A tarp or other portable shelter is helpful as well (this awesome one doubles as a blanket, ground cover or tarp). Trash bags can come in handy here if you’re desperate. If you have the room for it, sleeping bags are also a good option.
Pet supplies. What would your pet need for 72 hours? I’m packing two extra plastic pet bowls (one for food, one for water), and food. My pets aren’t on any medications, but if yours are, be sure to include those too in your emergency kit.
Other supplies. Don’t forget duct tape (you can fix anything with it, right?!) in your disaster preparedness kit. An emergency wrench (to shut off gas or water lines) is a great idea. And of course every good Boy Scout would recommend a survival knife (you can take your pick here) or a Swiss Army knife.
Important papers. Some experts encourage having a copy of important papers (especially insurance documents) in an emergency survival kit.
Pre Assembled Emergency Survival Kits
Don’t want to gather up all the supplies yourself? Here are some ready made disaster survival kits.
What if a disaster strikes and you’re traveling? Consider mini kits for your cars and any RVs you own. Here is a small, pre-made disaster preparedness kit perfect for storing in your car’s trunk, under a seat or in another storage area (pictured).
Common Sense Disclamer: Because each of us live in different locations around the world, every family’s natural disaster supply needs are different and thus each family will have their own unique supplies for their kit. I’ve tried to include general recommendations here, but tailor this disaster preparedness kit list to both your geographic location and to your family’s unique medical needs.
Also, I’m not a medical or disaster expert myself, but just a concerned mom who has gathered this information into one place for her family, and wanted to share what she’s found. This post is not intended to be complete or authoritative on this topic, but instead to be good, common sense guide for families. Information gathered here is from the American Red Cross, Project Envolve and other online sources.