Back to the Basics – 2017
At least once a year, we try to quickly go over the items that belong in every survival kit. If you have a basic pack in the car, one in the office, and one in the house FOR EACH FAMILY MEMBER, you can breathe a lot easier when someone asks,
“Are you really prepared for an emergency?”
Here’s our end of the year basic list, with some suggestions about how many of each item to get, where to get them and what they might cost. You’ll notice that the list stays pretty much the same, although our top recommendations change as new products become available.
As always, if you click on the product links, you’ll go over to Amazon, where you can shop for just what you want and likely get the best possible price, too. And as we’ve explained, Emergency Plan Guide may get a small commission on the sale — a commission that doesn’t affect your price.
You don’t have to do it all at once!
If you’re just starting to put together your survival kits, consider doing the research and getting just 2 or 3 items a week. Some of them you may already have — they just need to be assembled in one place. We’ve added these symbols – 〈〉 – so you can check off each item as you get it!
〈〉 1 – Water
If you can grab a bottle of water, or store one with your emergency supplies, great. But bottled water gets old, and is really heavy. What you CAN pack so it will always be ready is a water filter. We’ve written a whole review of water filters, here, explaining and showing the different types. For all-purpose use, we like this one, built right into a plastic bottle that can be refilled over and over again. Its priced around $25, which is what most filters cost.
〈〉 2 – Food
Frankly, MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) with a 25-year-life sound pretty awful. Still, if you’re really hungry, having a couple of them handy make sense. Easier and tastier: sealed bags you fill with dried fruit, trail mix, or energy bars. Buy your family favorites and replace regularly — and after the bag gets raided by hungry kids.
〈〉 3 – Warmth
Camping out in the car overnight in a storm . . . uncomfortable at best. Stuff a warm coat into the trunk, or a blanket. And for your emergency kits, grab a pack of Mylar survival blankets (preferably the sleeping bag model) and put one in every kit you are building. Shiny side out when you want to reflect the sun, shiny side in to trap body heat. The great thing about Mylar space blankets is their price — typically, less than $1 apiece for the simple ones!
This package includes 4 mylar sleeping bags: Pack of 4 Emergency Sleeping Bags, Thermal Reflective Survival Bags, MCR Medical
〈〉 4 – Light
Flailing around in the dark is plain scary and not very smart. You can hurt yourself! Have an easy-to-reach flashlight — in the glove compartment of the car, in your bottom drawer at work, in every room of the house. Plus one for every survival kit. Yes, you need at least a half-dozen flashlights, and maybe more! Their prices range from a low of $4 to well over $100, depending on power, different light features (pulse, zoom, etc.) and size.
We have written before about the collection of different-sized flashlights described below. Each is top quality. Take a look to see if you could distribute these flashlights so they would work for your family. (Remember extra batteries, too.)
〈〉 5 – Communications
In a widespread emergency the only communications you may be able to receive will be those being put out on official emergency channels. To get them, you need a radio – preferably one that operates with batteries, solar, and a hand crank. You may not need one for every person, but certainly you need a couple of radios, stashed intelligently at home and at work.
Our review of different emergency radios will give you a run-down of all the available features and prices. (As you can imagine, you can spend anywhere upwards of $25 dollars on an emergency radio.) If you want to pick one, Ambient Weather continues to be our favorite. (It can charge your phone, too.) Here’s one of the most popular:
〈〉 6 – First Aid
You may be caught in a storm or other disaster and only be inconvenienced. But the chances of someone needing first aid are pretty good. Buy a kit, go through it, and add extras that you think you’ll need. Typically, purchased kits (ranging from $10 to over $80) are really skimpy on bandages, first aid creams, bug spray, etc. Once again, you’ll want multiple kits: one for the car, one for the office, one for the house. You could start with one like this:
〈〉 7 – Matches/fire
The warmth and light of a fire may be very welcome. They could also be life-saving. But don’t even light a candle inside unless you are SURE there are no gas leaks! And watch out for open flame in a closed-in area. You can kill yourself with carbon monoxide.
Assuming it’s safe, though, here’s what you need to get that fire started. You may need to practice getting a fire started BEFORE the emergency hits!
Magnesium fire starter with some extras:
All-weather matches (not like the ones in the photo above!):
〈〉 8 – Shelter
Your kit doesn’t have room for a tent. The best suggestion: another simple survival blanket that you can string up as a lean-to. You’ll need a rope or some bungies to accomplish this, of course.
And here’s the cord you could use for your lean-to. Paracord bracelets are cool, too. All under $15.
〈〉 9 – Personal items
This category could include extra eyeglasses, medicines, small tools that you know how to use, toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, toilet paper, sanitary items. (For children, it could include a favorite stuffed animal.) Include a list of important contact information, too.
Everyone needs a pouch for personal items (use baggies) and everyone’s pouch will be different!
We really like these wet wipes that are individually packaged, easy to tuck in your survival kits:
〈〉 10 – Something to carry it all in
A fully packed survival kit or go-bag, with everything possible in it, probably weighs more than you can carry. For sure, it weighs more than your mother can carry, or your 5 year-old. So, keeping their weight and size in mind, consider the best container for each person and each kit.
The best thing is to assemble the supplies for each person, and THEN decide how big a carrier you need.
A simple backpack is probably the best all-purpose carrier. Dig through your closet or head to your local sports shop or big box store and get a pack that fits the person who’s going to be carrying it. Here’s a new resource about backpacks: One Size Does Not Fit All.
Some packs have wheels. It makes them heavier, but may make them more flexible. Here are some wheeled carts we’ve seen being used, too. Consider whether you will be in an urban setting, where you’ll be hiking along a road or sidewalk, or in a more rural setting, where wheels just won’t work.
The main thing is that . . .
Each person must carry his or her own survival kit.
Please use this list as a quick reminder. If you can check off each of the ten items, congratulations! You’re ahead of about 90% of the rest of the world! But let’s not stand around feeling smug. Share the list with other family members, clubs you belong to, etc.
The safer the people around us are, the safer we ALL will be!
Virginia and Joe
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team
If you are interested in more details about any of these items, we probably have written at least one Advisory on it! You can use the search box at the top of the page or skim the list in the Advisory Archives. Or, drop a comment with your question and let others chip in.