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Disaster Kits - What Should Be Included In Your Disaster Kit

Updated on January 22, 2010

What supplies do you have in your disaster kits? What's that? You don't have a disaster kit? Why not? Don't you think it is a good idea to be prepared to survive a natural disaster or even a man-made one? You should be ready with supplies on hand. After a disaster there may be no electricity, running water, or even accessible roads for you to use to venture out to acquire these things. That's why you're much better off to have them on hand.

The kit may be a closet or extra pantry space in your house. You may have some things out in the garage. If you are preparing to have what you need at home, there really isn't much concern about the size of your kit, but you want to make sure your things, especially food and water, are stored in a climate controlled portion of the house. If the natural disaster is two feet of snow, and your pipes freeze, it would be nice to have some drinkable water for sure.

Disaster kits can also be built on a smaller scale so that you can have some emergency supplies in your car in case you are not home when disaster strikes or if you have to leave quickly. If you have the means, the supplies, and a plan your chances of getting through a prolonged event are much better. In survivalist circles your portable disaster kit may also be referred to as a Bug Out Bag. This means virtually the same thing, and simply refers to having to leave your home or town during or after a disaster has occurred as "bugging out".

What's In My Disaster Kit?

Okay, so now that you have the idea about what a disaster kit or bug out bag is, what the heck do we need to put into these things.  Well, naturally the home-based disaster kit is going to be able to have much more in it than the portable version, but both need to have some basics that we'll be pointing out as well as some additional items depending on space and budget.

Let's start with the portable kit or bug out bag which might be stowed away in your vehicle or in a closet in your home packed and ready to go at a moments notice.  Just make sure you have a decent sized bag here.  A backpack is probably not the ideal receptacle since it is really to small for our purpose.  Think along the lines of an overnight bag on up in size to the drag bags as used by our military.

The Bug Out Bag - A Portable Disaster Kit

The contents of your portable disaster kit should include the following:

  • Battery-operated Radio
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Pocket knife
  • Dust mask
  • Whistle
  • Emergency cash stash -- this should be in small bills and don't forget to include some quarters for phone calls
  • Change of clothes and a beanie or toboggan or some other warm hat
  • Sturdy shoes or boots
  • Map including local areas
  • Some water and food
  • Prescription medications and first aid supplies
  • Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid or other vital personal items
  • Photos of family and pets in the event they are needed for re-identification purposes
  • List of emergency phone numbers for points of contact
  • List of allergies to any drug (especially antibiotics) or food
  • Copy of health insurance and identification cards
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Extra keys to your house and vehicle
  • Permanent marker, paper and tape

Don't forget to include any special-needs items for children, seniors or people with disabilities.

As you can see, with such a list of items you will need a large bag to hold it all.

Some other optional items to consider would be blankets, a tent or tarp for some shelter from the elements, firearms and ammunition for hunting and protection from attack by four-legged and two-legged animals.

And, don’t forget to make a quick-grab bag for your pets also that should contain the basics:

  • Collapsible water/food dish
  • Extra supply of drinking water
  • Food and treats
  • Extra medications or supplements the animal is taking
  • Collar and leash

This is in addition to other emergency supplies for pets including first aid.

Here are some pre-made kits, but you will still want to take along the items in the list above.

Prepare Your Home-Based Disaster Kit

For the home-based disaster kit, space is not as much of a factor as one that must be portable.  I suggest making sure you have plenty of canned or other non-perishable food items since you ought to have the space available for it.  You do not want to be storing any of those items in an unheated space, especially if you live in a area that gets freezing temperatures for obvious reasons.


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