Why make your own Emergency Kit?
Most ready-made kits contain water and emergency food (which are cheap) and a couple of very low quality items, and they charge a lot of money for it. By building your own kit, you can save money and buy what you really need.
In this website
I have done a lot of research on how to build a great emergency kit with quality items that are a must-have in case of emergency, but that you can also use regulary around the house, or for hiking, camping, road trips or other outdoor activities.
Unlike other websites that provide enormous list of supplies, I selected the most important items and I listed them all here for easy purchase. Please refer to the links in the resources section for more detailed list and full emergency preparedness.
What is in this kit?
You will find here the basic items organized by section: essential tools, comfort and first aid, documents and cash, food and water, a few optional items, a bag to pack all this.
I have found most items to be cheapest on Amazaon (full list here for easy purchase) but you should be able to find most of them in your local hardware store as well.
Use this as a guideline, but based on your own situation, you should adjust the content of your emergency bag.
Mini Emergency Radio
No need for the more expensive bigger models. This unit works just fine. It very small, but with a solid feel. There's a solar panel and a hand cranck, as well as a USB plug (for example to recharge a phone) and a flashlight.
Flashlight (hand crank)
You will never worry of running out of batteries. his one will never fail you. Plus you can use the USB plub to charge your phone. A must-have when you go camping as well.
You also want to have a solid traditional LED flashlight. I've owned this model for years. Very bright, always useful around the house or outdoor.
One more flashlight, but maybe the most useful item. Keep your hands free and see!
This stack of batteries should get you through a few days with no power. Both flashlights above use the same AAA battery size.
This is a great tool that I've owned and used for many years. It is a bit pricey, but it can be used in any situations, just remember to place it back in your emergency bag. A regular Swiss Army knife is a great affordable alternative for around $18.
You probably already have one. A must-have here in San Francisco with a wooden house and a risk of post-earthquake fires.
Comfort and First Aid
First Aid Medical Kit
This kit is good for 2 to 4 persons. Useful to bring along on trips or vacations
So cheap, why be wet? Perfect also for hiking or camping. Splips easily in a backpack.
4 blankets for $9. Keep 2 in your cars and 2 in your emergency bag.
Not an essential item, but these fleece blankets are well built, fluffy and comfortable (and cheap). If you ever need them, you'll be glad to have them. I keep two in my emergency bag, and use them for other occasions.
These wipes are great. More than once, they replaced a shower while camping. I re-order them as I use them.
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Spare pair of prespription glasses
Contact lenses and cleaning product
Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
Documents and cash
Contact Sheet and essential documents
If you ever have to leave your house in a hurry, you want to have all your essential documents with you. For a full list of recommended documents, check this link.
I recommend preparing a contact sheet with emergency contacts: family phone numbers and address, doctors/hospitals, etc...
Water proof Document Holder
Keep your passport, birth certificate, wedding certificate and other essential documents dry and safe.
How much cash you want to keep is up to you. I decided to keep $100, in small notes. In case of a city power outage, I want to be able to buy food, drinks and other necessities until help comes or power is restored.
Optional Items (but nice to have)
These gloves are sturdier and better built than the cheap gloves that you may pick at your local hardware store.
These matches work well even when fully immersed in water.
I just keep that in my emergency bag, but it's ready to use as well for anything around the house.
Another item that I would have anyway around the house, but that I keep in my emergency bag.
Other optional items
Paper and pencil
Pick these around your house and store some in your emergency bag .
Food and Water
These rations are light weight, approved by U.S. Coast Guard and have a 5 years shelf life. We stack better tasting stuff and some canned food in our pantry, but having some food in the emergency bag is a good idea.
The recommended amount is 1 gallon per person and per day. We keep a couple of big plastic jugs of water in the house, but you should also have some water in the emergency bag in case you have to leave the house. These pouches are convenient. Don't forget water for kids and pets.
Babies, kids & pets
Don't forget to pack essentials for your little ones:
- Pet food and extra water
- Baby food
- Diapers and wipes
- Some toys
And finally a bag to pack all this. Any sturdy duffle bag will do. I like this Kelty bag because it comes in various sizes (depending on your needs), it is very sturdy and fairly inexpensive. The medium or large size is enough for the content of this list, but you may want to choose an even bigger one if you add more items.