You want to be able to safely and securely withstand at least 72 hours of being unexpectedly “off-the-grid,” given that rescue personnel often need adequate time to reach each and every area afflicted by a natural disaster. The correct emergency preparedness kit mirrors those items you’d have on hand for backcountry outings in case of a wilderness contingency. Here we’ll break down the basics:
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS KIT NECESSITIES
(1) Water and Food: Stockpile enough water so that each person in your group or household can consume a gallon per day. Having the means of purifying water—a backpacking water filter and iodine tablets, for example—is also a good idea. You’ll want non-perishable food provisions that are simple and quick to prepare; it’s easy enough to store a couple weeks’ worth.
(2) Tools: A high-quality survival knife is the supreme cutting tool for use in disaster or wilderness-emergency situations. Moderately sized full-tang knives can help you render tinder and kindling—even split logs—and assist in innumerable other tasks, from catching fish or game to mending equipment and preparing bandages. Multipurpose tools are another good option, although they’ll be even more useful in conjunction with larger, sturdier survival knives. Include properly sized wrenches for shutting off home utilities if needed.
(3) Light Sources: Have a flashlight and headlamp on hand, as well as plenty of extra batteries. A crank-operated light source is ideal. It’s always wise to have fire-starting materials at the ready, such as ferrocerium rods in any emergency preparedness kit.
(4) Medical and Hygiene Items: A fully equipped first-aid kit is imperative. If you take any medications, stockpile a reserve in case a trip to the pharmacy is out of the question. Include a dust mask or at least a cotton bandanna or shirt to function as a breathing filter. In terms of sanitation, include garbage bags and moist towelettes.
(5) Clothing and Shelter: Pack suitable clothes for a range of conditions in your emergency preparedness kit, with special emphasis on insulating layers. Tarps, sleeping bags, emergency blankets, garbage bags—stow away the simple equipment you’d need to erect a makeshift roof over your head or bundle up.
(6) Communication Equipment: As in the backcountry, an emergency whistle and signaling mirror can help convey distress following a disaster. A weather radio—crank-operated, ideally—allows you to keep tabs on developing conditions and important announcements. When possible pack a cell phone with a solar charger in your kit.
(7) Essential Documents: Make and store copies of critical documentation, such as your birth certificate, insurance policies, home deed, and a roster of your medications and any important medical details. You’ll also want your list of emergency contacts in the kit.
(8) Money: Include a modest amount of cash.
We can all hope we’re never forced to use the items composing our emergency prepareness kit—but we all want to have the option if unforeseen circumstances place us in a desperate situations.