Items Every Disaster Survival Kit Should Include

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Many people believe that a natural disaster, such as a flood or tornado will never happen to them. These are problems that other people have to deal with, but the truth is a natural disaster can strike almost anywhere at any time. It can leave a person or family stranded without electricity and modern conveniences for days or even weeks.

It's important to keep and maintain a disaster survival kit in the home and car in case the need ever arises. A survival kit should have certain items to guarantee a person's or family's safety following a natural disaster. Here is a list of items to include in a disaster survival kit for your home:

Essential Items

  • Water: Each home should have one gallon of water per person per day. There should be a minimum 3-day water supply for transport in case of evacuation, and a two week supply stored in the home.
  • Food: Canned items and any non-perishable foods that are easy to prepare should be kept for a kit's food supply. Each home should have a 3-day evacuation supply and a two-week supply in storage.
  • Light source: There may not be electricity for days or even weeks after a major natural disaster, so a flashlight is important for temporary light. Flares and glows sticks are also effective, temporary light sources to keep for a disaster survival kit.
  • Extra batteries: There should be several sets of different types of batteries. Take into account all emergency items that contain batteries like a flashlight or radio. Batteries should be stored in a cool dry place, and should be unopened until they are needed.
  • First aid kit: Your first aid kit should contain the basic medical necessities such as gauze, bandages, disinfectant, first aid manual, medical tape, medical scissors, disposable gloves, tweezers, cotton swabs and a thermometer. They can be created from scratch or purchased from organizations such as the American Red Cross, or at local drug stores.
  • Medications: There should be at least a seven-day supply of any prescription and non-prescription medications used by family members in your disaster survival kit. Make sure to replace them after their expiration dates have passed.
  • Multipurpose tool: A single easily packed tool with several uses including a knife, pliers, screwdriver and other handy options.
  • Weather radio: A small weather radio will keep you informed of the conditions outside and where to seek shelter or emergency personnel during and after a natural disaster.
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items: Toilet paper, tampons, soap, shampoo, deodorant, mouthwash and other personal hygiene items should be a part of a disaster survival kit. Cleanliness is very important to ward off disease following a natural disaster.
  • Personal documents: Important personal documents like proof of address, insurance policies, birth certificates and passports should be stored together in an area with easy access in case of a natural disaster.
  • Cell phone and chargers: The towers may be down following a natural disaster, but emergency personnel will get them repaired fast for communication. Keep a cellphone with a wall and car charger handy.
  • Family and emergency contact info: Make a sheet or folder with the names, addresses and phone numbers of immediate family both in and outside the area to contact following the disaster. Add lists of medications, allergies and other medical conditions to your emergency contact info and store it with your disaster survival kit.
  • Extra cash: Extra can purchase extra supplies that you did not include and other necessary items. Although it may not be needed or deemed useless in the event of a major disaster, it is always good to keep some emergency cash on hand. A good amount to save is $50 for a disaster survival kit.
  • Emergency blanket: A thick, emergency blanket will provide extra warmth during inclement weather and can be used to wrap the injured. This is very handy in the event there is no other means of keeping people warm.
  • Maps: A person may need to venture out of the home following a disaster or get an idea where emergency personnel may be. A bundle of road maps and local area maps is essential for every disaster survival kit.
  • Non-electric can opener: If your multipurpose tool is lacking so means of opening cans and bottles, make sure to add a non-electric can opener to your kit. Two weeks of canned goods will need a can opener to use.
  • Two-way radios: Two-way radios help maintain contact with family members when venturing outside the home or when in different parts of the house.
  • Baby supplies: Baby supplies such as diapers, powdered formula, clean baby bottles and baby food should be a part of a disaster survival kit. These should be changed regularly to keep up with the growth and development of the baby as well as when expiration dates pass.
  • Pet supplies: A pet has needs during a disaster as well, so keep a supply of food, leash, collar, pet carrier, bowl and a few toys for your pet in your survival kit in the event of a disaster.
  • Children's games and toys: Small children can get bored or scared during and after a natural disaster. Games and toys help keep their minds off of the disaster and from getting cabin fever.

Additional Emergency Items

If you have room to spare, keep the following items for your disaster survival kit:

  • Whistle: A whistle helps alert other people or emergency personnel if you are trapped, or in a situation where you need to draw attention to yourself.
  • Surgical masks: Surgical masks will help protect people from inhaling dust and other particulates as well as airborne pathogens.
  • Matches: Matches should be kept in a cool dry place in their container and not loose in a box.
  • Rain gear: Venturing out in heavy rains requires a rain coat or poncho, umbrella and galoshes.
  • Towels: Towels can help keep people dry and soak up any leaking water.
  • Work gloves: Work gloves help remove debris without injuring the hands.
  • Tools and supplies for securing the home: People dread the thought, but one must take certain precautions in securing the home from possible intruders in the event of a natural disaster. Keep the home safe by keeping a set of nails, a hammer and wood two-by-fours on hand to board up the house.
  • Extra clothing: An extra set of clothing for each member of the house should be kept in a dry-safe bag and stored with the rest of the disaster survival kit.

Don't be caught off guard in the event of a natural disaster. If you haven't already, start building a disaster survival kit for your home. You don't need to buy everything at once, but the sooner you complete the kit, the better.

Last Updated: January 18, 2012
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About Brock Cooper Brock Cooper is a freelance writer for 

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