Regardless of location, everyone should have at least a basic home emergency kit. Power outages are the most likely reason you may need back-up supplies, but your kit should be customized for the types of disasters most common in your area. With major disasters, public alerts or emergency personnel will tell you whether to evacuate or shelter in place – always heed these warnings, they truly are in your best interest.
My kit is built for four people for 72 hours, and it’s kept in our basement near the camping equipment which can be used to supplement it. When disasters occur, emergency services are overwhelmed with calls. The best way you can help them is by not becoming another emergency. Have the supplies needed for you and your family to get by for at least three days.
I like this style of water pouch as it is packaged for a long shelf life and makes it easy to determine and regulate how much each person should get – two 4.4 oz packs a day. then I have the 25 gallon Aqua-tainer filled for washing and cooking. If you have a heads up that you’re likely in for a power outage, it’s a good idea to also fill up a bathtub with water. Then you have additional water to flush toilets and use for hand washing.
Ideally you have a stocked pantry when the power goes out, but it doesn’t always work out that way. For emergencies lasting longer than our pantry’s contents, I keep canisters of Mountain House freeze dried meals and a camping stove + plate and utensil sets in our kit. Mountain House has assortment packs for specific numbers of people for 72+ hours, but since we have food allergies in our group, I just picked a few individual ones that work for our needs and don’t sound like they will taste too bad with just boiling water added.
3. Crank Radio/Charger
I like this one from Eton, it’s the same one I keep in my Car Emergency Kit and it can be charged via the solar panel or the hand crank. The radio will keep you informed on the status of the disaster in your area, and it can also be used to charge your phone and flashlights.
4. Lantern, Flashlight, Headlamp + Batteries
Nothing makes a power outage feel scarier than just sitting in the dark. Keep your lights and lanterns charged or with spare batteries nearby and keep at least one of them in a spot that you can easily find in the dark. I have the Radiant 400 Lantern which will run for almost 800 hours in low mode (and no, that’s not a typo!). I have the Radiant 300 Rechargeable Headlamp for hands-free use for whoever is cooking (or dealing cards), and then two 3-in-1 Flashlights so the kids can have their own and feel more empowered as well.
5. Warm Sleeping Gear
We have our camping sleeping bags in the basement, but I have added SOL Escape Bivvies to our kit. They can be used on their own or layered with your sleeping bag to increase its warmth rating.
6. First Aid Kit & Manual
Hopefully you won’t need this but if you’re injured during a disaster situation, emergency response teams can be delayed or unable to reach you, and you’ll be glad to have a comprehensive kit with instructions on hand.
7. Hygiene Items
Bath Wipes make a great addition to your kit so you don’t have to use much or any of your water stores for basic self-cleaning. Also handy – a 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat, lid, and TP. Ideally you’re not stuck in your basement, but if you might be and if you don’t have a bathroom down there, you’re going to need a bathroom solution – enter, the bathroom bucket.
A deck of cards or a travel game set can do wonders to keep everyone calm and distracted.
9. The Extras
10. A Sturdy, Well-Labeled Container
I have our kit in a large wheeled bin with a handle. Most importantly, I have bright yellow labels on it and have communicated to our family members where it is, just in case I’m not home if it is needed.
I hope you found this information useful and that you will move “building my kit” to the top of your to-do list. If you have suggestions for items to add to this list, please note them in the comment section below.