Family Emergency Kit ContentsFamily Emergency Kit Contents

Survival kits are meant to get you and your family through the critical first days following a disaster. Such kits allow your family to survive in the absence of running water, electricity, and other basic needs that most of us take for granted. Most experts advise families to keep a survival kit that allows your family to survive at least 72 hours, or 3 days, without outside assistance. Others advise up to ten days of supplies. Typically, a survival kit is meant to cover six basic needs that will arise following any type of disaster, from a hurricane to an earthquake:

Food - Your family's emergency kit must contain enough non-perishable food to last three days. Don't forget a can opener and eating utensils, too. You will have far more energy, and be much more capable of keeping your family safe, if you have enough to eat.

Water - In an emergency, you can't count on water supply systems to work. Fresh drinking water is one of your most important survival needs. Iodine tablets or a small water purifier should be in every survival kit. If you have the room, several gallons of bottled water will ensure that you have enough to meet your family's immediate needs. Survival guidelines call for 3 quarts of water per person per day.

Shelter and warmth - Pack two sets of warm clothing for each family member into the survival kit. You'll also need to pack supplies to make your home habitable and warm. This includes several matches, a fire starter, and space blankets. Even if you live in an urban area, you may need them to keep warm. If you're worried about structural damage to your home, or need to plan for cases in which you must leave the home, pack duct tape and a tarp into your emergency kit.

Health - Basic medical supplies are an absolute necessity in a survival kit, because the disaster itself may injure you. It's also important to pack necessary medications, along with hygiene supplies such as hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and toothbrushes.

Safety - One of the most important items in your survival kit is a flashlight, because you might be spending quite a bit of time in the dark. It's also important to realize that in emergency situations, your family's safety could be endangered. Looting, as well as desperate people and animals in search of food and shelter, are just some of the dangers out there. Consider putting pepper spray or other self defense devices in your emergency survival kit to keep these threats at bay.

Extras - The best kits use your family's strengths and abilities, taking into account any weaknesses, to make you the most efficient. For example, if you have young kids, don't forget diapers, toys, and other necessities. Those with pets should include pet food in their survival kit. A good survival kit includes basic items that have many uses, such as rope, garbage bags, and a knife.

Before you purchase a survival kit or emergency necessities, first consider the types of disasters most likely to befall your region. If the most likely disaster is a hurricane, your emergency plans will be different than those for living in an earthquake zone. Still, most of the supplies you'll need will be the same.
by Richard Armen
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