Emergency kits can save lives. No, we are not exaggerating; they really can and have.
You may already have some kind of emergency kit in your home or car and you don’t even know it. This could be a case of water in the event you are snowed in, several flashlights and candles in case the power goes out from the thunderstorm, or a box of bandages in case you become injured.
Whatever it is, emergency kits become ever so valuable in times of dire straits. They can get us out of a pickle, guide us in the darkness, and give us a much-needed sense of security. Whatever situation we may find ourselves in, knowing we can rely on our kit brings us a peace of mind. We can feel assured that our family will be taken care of and that this, too, shall pass.
In this article, we give you eight reasons to have an emergency kit. Later, we show you the contents you need to put together your own kit.
What Is an Emergency Kit?
Also known as a survival kit, disaster kit, and emergency preparedness kit, an emergency kit is a pack that contains essential supplies to be used during an emergency. An emergency can happen in the form of a natural disaster, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, landslides, or from man-made causes, such as forest fires and gas explosions.
The purpose of an emergency kit is to ensure the safety and survival of the person or persons using it.
Emergency kits come in a variety of different types (backpacks, satchels, buckets, duffel bags, for example). They can contain anything from basic survival tools like water, food, and first-aid needs, to specialty items that match your family’s needs (more on that later).
Ideally, the contents you select for your kit should pertain to the emergency you are preparing for. That may not be possible since emergencies can be unpredictable and can evolve without notice. That is why it is always wise to pack extra items and even items you don’t anticipate using.
Reasons to Have an Emergency Kit?
1. It Can Happen to You
If by now you don’t think an emergency can happen to you, then you are in for a rude awakening. Disasters can happen to anyone and at any time. Just look at the past year; there have been raging wildfires in California, hurricanes in Puerto Rico, and most recently, a tropical thunderstorm in the Carolinas that killed many people and dislocated a large swath of their residents.
Emergencies can happen to you on a much smaller scale, too. Imagine driving down a wooded highway; out of nowhere a deer jumps in front of you. Your cell phone gets no service, and worse yet your car is so damaged that it’s undrivable. In a situation like this, an emergency kit could let you call for help or supply you with the tools to stay safe.
2. A Peace of Mind
The scariest thing in the world for us is not knowing what will happen. Disasters and emergencies are part of the great unknown we all fear. We ask ourselves, “what if this happens, or that happens?” The bad news is, even with our technological advances, there is no way of predicting the exact magnitude or course of an impending disaster. But the good news is, we can grasp some sense of security by being prepared.
Having an emergency kit ready can provide us with that sense of security. It could help ease our worries and lessen our stress in a difficult time. Knowing that resources will be available to us in case of an emergency, we can breathe a sigh of relief, even if it’s just a small one.
3. An Emergency Kit Is Easy and Affordable to Put Together
The price you pay for an emergency kit is minuscule compared to the cost of weathering an emergency without one. You can purchase a pre-assembled kit online at the Red Cross store or at any other emergency preparedness kit retailers. The price for them varies depending on what goes inside the kit. A basic kit can be purchased for under $30. More sophisticated kits that includes electronic tools and batteries will cost a little more.
If you are more of a do-it-yourself person, you can put together your own kit. See below for a list of items we recommend including in your kit.
4. You Can Communicate with the Outside World
Emergencies can cut us off from the outside world. In the worst scenarios, phone lines and cell towers could be offline, and we would have no way of contacting our loved ones or to ask for help.
Fortunately, this bleak scenario is preventable. When putting together your emergency kit, be sure to include communication supplies such as a battery-powered or solar radio and portable chargers for cell phones.
5. You Can Receive Information from the Outside World
Being able to receive local updates and emergency information is just as important as being able to communicate with the outside world. In case of an emergency, knowing what is happening in your area (and what will happen) can help protect you and your family.
A well put-together kit should include an AM/FM frequency radio, preferably one that is hand-cranked as they don’t require batteries.
6. Your Family Will Thank You
We all have people in our lives we would do anything for. In an emergency, that statement has never been truer. Our duty to protect our family can be difficult to carry on when disasters strike. With an emergency kit ready to go, you can worry less about locating essential supplies and focus more on caring for your family.
If you have small children, this could mean access to the toys and games to give them a sense of normalcy. For older members of your family, this could mean access to life-saving medication and medical supplies they must rely on for their medical conditions.
7. Your Pets Will Thank You
Our furry friends rely on us to protect them from the bad things in this world. We can’t possibly let them down. In times of emergencies, it’s easy for us to forget about our pets when our attention is tuned to caring for our family.
Stocking up on pet supplies and pet food as a part of our emergency kit will help ensure that our pets are also taken care of. If your pets have special needs, require a particular medication, or are particularly wary of hostile or unusual changes in their surroundings, you should pack your kit accordingly.
8. Your Neighbor, Stranger, and Fellow Humans Will Thank You
When emergencies strike, we all could use an extra pair of hands. As such, having an emergency kit with you could go a long way in helping others in need. You may have extra food and water you can spare or extra batteries and flashlights to lend.
The person you are helping could be your neighbor, your friend, or a complete stranger. In any case, equipping yourself with an emergency kit has the potential of saving other people's lives. There is no greater reason than that.
Your emergency kit should have the following basic supplies:
- Food and water (Red Cross recommends three days of supplies for each person)
- First aid kit
- Extra clothing
- Medications and medical supplies
- Emergency radios, solar radios recommended
- Multi-purpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items (tissue packs, toilet bags, toilet chemicals, etc.)
- Extra cash
- Personal documents, including medical information
- Maps of the area
Your first aid kit should include at a minimum:
- Alcohol prep pads
- Burn-cream ointment
- Cold compress
- Trauma pads
- Cotton tips
If you are going to be outdoors, your kit should have:
- Blankets and sleeping bags
- Canopy shelter
- Sleeping pads
Consider also adding these additional items to your kit:
- Special medical supplies such as glasses, hearing aid, and syringes
- Pet foods and supplies
- Baby foods and supplies
- Entertainment for children
When we are going through the motions of our lives, we neglect to think about the impact disasters can have on them. The reality is a disaster can strike any time, and it can happen to any of us.
Having an emergency kit at our disposal can put our minds at ease. We can feel more secure in knowing we are prepared to handle the unexpected. In addition, emergency kits can give us a channel of communication with the outside world, where we can connect with loved ones and receive important updates. But most of all, an emergency kit can help us care for our beloved family, children, pets, neighbors and strangers in need.