Ten Items You Must Have in Your Home Emergency Kit

Whether you live in a single family home, an apartment, or an RV, a home emergency kit is vital to your family's safety during a crisis. Having certain critical items readily available during a storm, power outage, or even an evacuation can save precious minutes and ensure that your family is prepared for almost any problem that may arise.

The first thing you need to do is to acquire a container for your emergency kit. A cheap plastic 30 gallon tub with a tight-fitting lid works just fine, and can usually be found at a big box store for less than $10.

While the items in every emergency kit may vary, there are a few critical things that all emergency kits must have in order to ensure their usefulness.

A flashlight. If the power goes out at night, or you need to access dark areas, a flashlight is a critical part of any emergency kit. Check the flashlight every so often to make sure that it works and that the batteries are not dead.

Extra batteries. Stock a pack or two of extra batteries in your kit; not just for your flashlight but for other items you may need or want during a power outage - propane heaters, radios, even handheld electronic games for the kids to keep them occupied. Be sure to keep an eye on the expiration dates for your batteries so you know that they will work when you need them the most!

A gallon jug of water for each person. Not only vital for drinking, you may need to use this water for washing in the event that your water is turned off temporarily. A gallon for each person is the minimum you need for a 24 hour lack of access to water.

A Bic lighter. Yes, those rectangular lighters are cheaper by the pack but they are also far less reliable than Bic lighters. Better safe than sorry, and better quality than quantity in this case.

A first aid kit. Stocked with bandaids, antibiotic cream, and sterile wipes at a minimum, a first aid kit is second only to the water as the most vital part of your emergency kit. Make sure to keep track of the expiration dates on any medicines in your first aid kit so that you have what you need when you need it most.

Channel locks. In the event of a gas leak, you'll want to be able to turn off the gas to your home. Channel locks ensure that you'll be able to fit and shut off any size valve.

A 12 volt cell phone charger. Keeping in contact with the outside world is very important in the event of an emergency. If the power is out, you can't use your regular cell phone charger, but with a 12 volt charger you can use your vehicle to charge up your phone.

Candles. If the power goes out, you don't want to use your flashlight constantly and waste your battery power. For general room lighting, make sure you have a couple of container candles, or taper candles with holders.

Canned food. Put a few cans of food such as tuna or soup and canned fruits or vegetables in your emergency kit. Be sure to rotate and use this food on a regular basis so it doesn't spoil! Five or six cans of food should be enough to get two or three people through a 24 hour period without access to a stove or microwave. Be sure to keep a can opener with your food in the event that you must evacuate and take your emergency kit with you.

A copy of your homeowner's or renter's insurance paperwork. In the event of an evacuation or damage to your home, you'll want this easily accessible to you. Even while the emergency is still happening, you can get the claims process started if you have all of your paperwork available to you.

A home emergency kit is a vital part of any home. While your emergency kit may be more elaborate than the one listed above, make sure that your kit has at least these ten basic items. In the event of an emergency, you'll be glad you were prepared.

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