If “create an emergency preparedness kit” has been on your list of things to do for ages, now’s the time to make it happen. Power outages, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, ice storms, forest fires or other disasters may mean you either have to stay at home with your kit or immediately leave with a grab-and-go bag (sometimes called a bug-out bag, survival kit or a 72-hour kit). You should be prepared to spend three days to a week on your own.
Use the basic supply lists below to create your own emergency kit or grab-and-go bag. If you have seniors, infants or pets at home, you’ll also want to keep their needs in mind. When you’re putting together your kit, take 20 minutes and create your family emergency plan too.
Where to store your emergency kit?
- Keep your supplies in a couple of big duffle bags or plastic bins. If you use backpacks, you can separate the supplies to make your kit more portable – each person in your household could have their own grab-and-go kit, which is a good idea.
- Store it in a spot that’s easy to get to, like a front hall closet, spare room or garage.
- Make sure everyone in your household knows where the emergency kit is.
Tip: Don’t have extra backpacks? Check out thrift stores for secondhand backpacks or duffle bags you can use to store your emergency kits.
Emergency kit essentials
- First aid kit and medications, including things like contact lenses or glasses. If you can’t stock prescription medicine in large amounts or if it has a short shelf-life, keep a copy of the prescription, dosage and name of your doctor in the kit.
- Non-perishable food: 3-day to 1-week supply per person; dried foods, canned foods and energy bars. Aim for high calories, and never underestimate the soothing power of a full stomach under stress, especially for kids.
- Manual can opener
- Water: 4L of water per person, per day for three days to one week (for drinking, food prep and hygiene), with smaller water bottles that are easier to carry if you have to evacuate. You could purchase bottled water and store it, or choose portable filtration or water treatment.
- Garbage bags, moist towelettes and plastic ties; you can use them to line buckets or toilets if municipal sewage systems fail
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air
- Seasonal clothing and footwear
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- Battery-powered or hand-crank flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
- A copy of your emergency plan, including a map with your family meeting place identified and copies of important documents, like insurance papers
- Map case or dry bag to keep emergency plan dry
- Cash in coins and small bills
- Extra house and car keys
- If needed: infant formula, equipment for family members with disabilities, food and water for pets
Additional items to include in your emergency kit
- Pen and notepad
- Candles and matches or a lighter
- Sleeping bags or warm blankets
- Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine hygiene supplies
- Hand sanitizer
- Toilet paper
- Cooking and eating utensils
- Basic tools: a pocket knife or multi-tool, hammer, pliers, wrench, screwdrivers and work gloves
- Duct tape
If you keep your camping gear accessible, this could also come in handy: your sleeping bag and sleeping pads will make sleeping on the ground more comfortable, and your camp stove and pots will make it easier to prepare meals.
Thanks to PreparedBC for their help with creating this list. Check our their site for more info on knowing your hazards, building a household kit and making a plan, or research your own local emergency preparedness group for tips in your area.