Do We Need a Home Emergency Survival Kit?
There’s an old proverb, purportedly translated from ancient Chinese, that goes: “May you live in interesting times.” It sounds like a blessing, or at least a well-wishing; in fact, it’s actually a curse.
Like it or not, we are definitely living in ‘interesting times’ today.
With our news filled with reports of war and conflict, global warming, (and all its associated consequences), earthquakes, volcanic activity, epidemics and pandemics – it truly seems the Biblical Four Horsemen are galloping through our lives with savage intentions.
It’s hardly a wonder many normally sensible people are beginning to fall prey to siege mentality.
While I like to think that the readership and visitors of Home Safety Site are above that sort of thinking, there are things we shouldn’t shrug off. One is the need for a Home Emergency Survival Kit of some sort.
Troubling times require preparedness. As William Booher of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency is quoted as saying: “It’s important to build an emergency supply kit and have it ready and available at a moment’s notice.”
What Should a Home Emergency Survival Kit contain?
We have two options; firstly, to build a kit ourselves or secondly to purchase a ready-made kit. There are advantages to buying a home emergency kit that’s been pre-assembled.
Firstly, because you’re buying all the products in one purchase, the prices should be better than if you were buying each item individually. It’s what’s referred to as the economics of scale.
Secondly, there’s likely to be a huge saving in time because you, as an individual, don’t need to shop around several suppliers looking for what’s required.
Thirdly, you can feel secure in the knowledge that what’s contained in your kit should reflect exactly what’s required.
Having said that, let’s look into what sorts of things the experts say we should include in our home emergency kit.
Almost every professional preparedness organization will have water at the top of their ‘must-have’ list. A person can survive many days without food, but much less without water. In addition, depending on the circumstances, available water may be contaminated.
Having a store of clean drinking water needs to be at the top of your list. How much water? A difficult question to answer, but according to this article on the Mayo Clinic website, a rough guide should allow for 15-16 cups (3.7 liters) per day for men, and 11-12 cups for women. This would vary according to conditions. Of course, this includes water from all sources; food, drinks, etc.
Storing water for use in your home is a fairly simple exercise. After all, water is fairly cheap and readily available in small or larger containers. But what if you were forced to leave your home? Carrying several gallons of water is not going to be easy.
A better option is to add a portable filter to your home kit.
One option is the LifeStraw. This device will even allow you to safely drink your own urine! It probably won’t be all that palatable, but when needs be . . .
Another easily carried option would be Iodine water purification tablets.
Non-perishable food items can be obtained from most hiking or camping stores these days. Even supermarkets stock freeze-dried or similarly preserved food. Health food bars (stick with high-energy, low salt/sugar options) are light and can be nutritious. If you have a dehydrator, you can make your own jerky that will last up to several months. (if you can keep your hands off it) Just be sure that if you give in to temptation and snaffle some, you replace it asap.
Flashlights, lanterns, LED torches, even tea candles will suffice here. One necessity I’d recommend though, is a headlamp or two. No, not from your car – the ones you wrap around your forehead so you can work hands-free. One such as this one can give you up to 200 hours of use from three AAA batteries. Believe me, you’ll be glad to have it when you’re struggling with a fiddly job in the dark or semi-dark.
An Emergency Whistle or Similar Device:
If you happen to be stranded for some time without power, chances are your cell phone will soon give up the ghost. A whistle is probably the best means of attracting attention or even warning others of imminent danger.
Again, this depends on your circumstances. You may find yourself or your family in any of several situations. A few simple disposable masks – or even something more sophisticated – won’t take up a lot of space but could prove invaluable.
Solar Power Source:
If you’re forced to spend considerable time without access to power, a solar charger could literally be a lifesaver.
A device such as the Anker PowerPort Solar Lite could charge your tablet or cell phone almost as quickly as a mains supply. (depending on sunlight, of course) This unit folds to easily fit in a backpack and weighs just 12.5 oz.
Rechargeable battery packs are another thing to consider adding to the contents of your safety kit. Just be sure to keep them up-to-date. Bring all batteries out every couple of years and use them in the household, replenishing your kit with new ones. It’s also a good idea to make sure your emergency kit is up with the latest technology. Technology advances in leaps and bounds these days.
Don’t forget to include any medication that you or a family member will be needing. Of course, there will have to be added at the last minute, else they might lose effectiveness if kept too long in storage.
Your emergency kit should include everything you’d normally find in a well-stocked first aid kit. Don’t forget, also, things such as BP monitors, etc.
Durable Spare Clothing:
Try to pack some clothing that will be suitable for all weather extremes. Forget what looks good; you need what is going to serve you the best in any situation.
Clothing could take up more room in your emergency kit than any other category of items, so you’ll need to cover as many possible scenarios with as few items as you can. Don’t forget sturdy footwear and some good gloves.
Not just for entertainment, though that might be a secondary benefit. Safety experts recommend a radio such as the MidlandER310. (See video below)
This radio is designed specifically to get you out of trouble. With it, you can receive weather reports or official emergency messages as well as commercial stations. It comes with a rechargeable battery that can be reenergized with the built-in solar pack or the crank handle, as well as allowance for six alkaline batteries. It also includes a super-bright LED torch.
Forget sleeping bags, unless your daily ride is a truck. Sleeping bags, while great at what they do, take up a lot of space. Mylar thermal blankets are capable of retaining more than 90% of your body heat. They are windproof, and waterproof in most conditions. They’re not expensive, and take up minimal valuable space.
Bleach and/or Methylated Spirits:
As a 1 part in 9 solution, household bleach will act as a good disinfectant. Methylated Spirits, being essentially methyl alcohol, can be used as a disinfectant hand wash. In a pinch, around 16 drops to a gallon of water should make it safe to drink.
Waterproof Valuables Container:
There are lots of options these days for small, lightweight containers that can keep things such as passports, insurance policies, ID documents etc safe and dry.
Miscellaneous Bits and Pieces:
This would include things like scissors, duct tape, tweezers, matches (wind-resistant), spare glasses, and don’t forget some CASH.
A good multi-tool such as the Leatherman New Wave is essential.
(Don’t be tempted to skimp on a cheap knock-off. In a real emergency, your life may depend on the quality and durability of the contents of your kit.)
(I’m sure there’s lots more. The list could go on forever.)
In times of trouble, we sometimes forget our ‘other’ family; the furry or feathered creatures we share our lives with. Be sure to make provision for them also, in your home emergency kit. Be sure to include a few days’ food supplies, as well as a blanket or two.
In extremely low temperatures, you may need something such as Ruffwear’s Float Coat or Track Jacket, Float Coat, a doggie version of a life jacket, will help in flood situations, while the Track Jacket is the Hi-Vis of the canine world. Ruffwear has an extensive range of doggie accessories for hiking, camping etc.
First Aid Kit:
No emergency kit will be complete without a good first aid kit. You could build your own, or buy one pre-stocked with the essentials. As I mentioned at the start of this article, sometimes buying ready-assembled kits can actually save you money, as well as having all the recommended components. Adventure Medical Kits Sportsman Whitetail comes with instructions, flashcards, etc.
Essential components of a first aid kit should include the following:
Moleskin fabric, liquid bandages, soft-wrap elastic bandages, fabric adhesive dressings and bandages in various sizes, non-adherent bandage pads, a sterile gauze bandage roll, micropore paper tape, coverlet adhesive 4-wing dressing, triangular bandages, adhesive wound closures, alcohol swabs and antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment with zinc, burn ointment, eyewash, petroleum jelly, pain relievers, anti-diarrheal medications, antacids and laxatives, a thermometer, and probably even one or two more that I’ve overlooked.
Also, be sure to check that any medications, food, or other perishables are replenished regularly to ensure they are all up-to-date. This applies to batteries or any electronic equipment as well.
To sum up, packing and maintaining a Home Emergency Survival Kit is something requiring a lot of thought and planning. It won’t be cheap, but it’s hard to put a monetary value on our families’ safety. I hope this article has given you some useful information, and don’t forget, you are free to chime in via the Comments Box below if you have anything to add.
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