Tag: flashlights

Top 10 List of Emergency Preparedness Items


Back to the Basics – Updated 11-2022

Matchbook - one of top 10 items for emergency preparedness
But will they light?

At least once a year, we try to quickly go over the top 10 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 this year’s basic top 10 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 categories stay pretty much the same, but a new item is added from time to time, and our top recommendations change as new products become available.

New items for 2022 have pictures and prices shown below.

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. Or, build a list and shop at Amazon and have everything within a couple of days. (Black Friday specials may save a lot of money!)

We’ve added these symbols –  〈〉 – so you can check off each item as you get it!

〈〉  1 – Water

This has to be first on your top 10 list of emergency preparedness items. 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. It’s priced around $25, which is what most filters cost.

LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle with 2-Stage Integrated Filter Straw for Hiking, Backpacking, and Travel, Blue

〈〉  2 – Food

Frankly, MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) with a 25-year-life sound pretty awful. The ones I’ve tasted all seem to resemble cardboard. 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.

This year I’ve discovered one bar that tastes particularly great.

It’s not the most nutritious, but it is the most delicious! I’d recommend a box. (Add a second box of YOUR favorite bar. When you click the image you’ll get right to all the goodies made by KIND.)

〈〉  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.

This year we’ve also added a NEW item to the warmth category — the BIVVY BAG.

It’s a small, waterproof sleeping bag packed in its own tiny bag. This product stands out as being practical and packable! You can combine a mylar sheet/bag with this Bivvy Bag, too. This model comes from Survival Frog and includes a whistle. Click the image to check price at Amazon.

〈〉 4 – Light

Light is actually number 2 on my personal list of top 10 items for preparedness. Flailing around in the dark is plain scary and not very smart. I could hurt myself!  So I recommend having 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.

Below is what I consider the best of the basic flashlights. Not too big. Not too fancy. Easy to tuck in a pocket — or a Christmas stocking. This GearLight TAC LED Flashlight 2-Pack uses AAA batteries, so as long as you have batteries, you’ll have light! (Remember, in an emergency, the power will be off so rechargeable batteries won’t get recharged after they wear down.) Click on the image to check the price at Amazon.

We have also reviewed of a number of emergency lanterns. You’ll need lanterns in a longer power-outage situation. Check them out.

〈〉 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.)

Last year we added more info about using your cellphone as an emergency communications device. Portable rechargers, or “power packs” work VERY WELL and are amazingly compact and amazing reliable. They get their charge from being plugged into your electrical system.

Here’s another phone or tablet power source, with charging from the sun!

There are many, many of these solar charger at Amazon. Click the image to check out the model shown here, but don’t hesitate to shop further. Specials are coming online every day.

〈〉 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:

Coleman Expedition First Aid Kit (205-Piece), Red

〈〉 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:

#1 BEST Fire Starter – SurvivalSPARK Emergency Magnesium Fire Starter – Survival Fire Starter with Compass and Whistle

All-weather matches (not like the ones in the photo above!):

UCO Stormproof Match Kit with Waterproof Case, 25 Stormproof Matches and 3 Strikers – Orange

〈〉 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. (A tarp might work better, but if you’ve really managed tarps before, you realize they are too big and too heavy for your survival kit.) You’ll need a rope or some bungies to build your lean-to, of course. You could also use duct tape to turn the blanket into a sleeping bag.

Emergency Mylar Blanket 52″ x 84″ – Pack of 12 Blankets

And here’s the cord you could use for your lean-to. Paracord bracelets are cool, too. All under $15.

Paracord Planet 100′ 550lb Type III Neon Orange Paracord

〈〉 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:

Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes Singles, , Fresh Scent, 24-Count (Pack of 5)

〈〉 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 top 10 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.

First-time Driver Needs More Than Seat-time


Our 16-year-old granddaughter got her first car just a week ago and is nervously practicing her driving. While Joe helps her master reverse gear (one of his favorites), I am putting together an emergency kit for her. Considering her skill and experience level, it needs to be different from the usual “commuter car kit.”

Key features of Emergency Car Kit: simple and unobtrusive.

Emergency kit for new driver

Assembling the kit for my granddaughter

Our driver’s parents have always had quite new cars, so I doubt she has ever experienced a breakdown or flat tire in the light of day, much less at night! And what if she’s driving when the anticipated earthquake hits, or El Niño (also anticipated) leaves her stranded?

So, first comes the lecture about getting the car to a safe place. Then there’s the phone call to parents and/or AAA or other emergency contact.

Now for the wait for help to arrive.

Here’s where the emergency kit comes in.

So far, I have assembled these 8 simple items, with one not yet decided on.

As always, where it makes sense I am including links to typical products — and usually products that I have bought myself — at Amazon.  Yes, I may get a small commission if you buy through the link. Of course, your price isn’t affected — and if you want to shop more, just use the link to get you to the right departments.

1. Orange Safety Triangles.  If you shop for these, you’ll discover than many come packed individually. Honestly, I don’t think one triangle serves ANY purpose for an inexperienced driver, who will tend to set the triangle too close to the rear of the disabled car. So, while Orion seems to be the leader in this category, I recommend this pack from Deflecto. It has three triangles in a carrying case: Deflecto Early Warning Road Safety Triangle Kit, Reflective, 3-Pack (73-0711-00)

(I would recommend flares for an adult, but they are not simple to light and require THOUGHTFUL decision-making before deciding where to put them. I will be writing about that in another post.)

2. Flashlights. Every car should have more than one flashlight, with extra batteries stored separately. I will have to test my granddaughter to see if she can put batteries in correctly!  (She normally uses her phone as a temporary flashlight . . .)

From a safety/visibility standpoint, inexpensive LED lights seem OK, although a better-quality light (at least 400 lumens) is preferable. This is one of our favorites: Duracell Durabeam Ultra High Intensity Tactical- 500 Lumen Flashlight 2-Pack with 6 C Batteries

3. First Aid Kit.  We have written extensively about first aid kits (See links to other posts, below.) ALL inexpensive pre-built kits are lacking – get the best one you can, then go through it and add more bandages, first-aid cream, moist wipes, etc.

4. Gloves.  She may not wear work gloves very often, and perhaps never has! But in a real emergency, protecting your hands is easy and essential. I prefer leather gloves to the rough fabric ones, and I like these because they adjust to the size of the wrist: Custom Leathercraft 2055M Split Cowhide Work Gloves, Medium

5. Emergency Radio. In the case of an earthquake, storm or other widespread emergency, your driver will need to find out what’s going on  — and cellphones may not work. Our favorite battery-operated emergency radio is the Ambient Weather radio: Ambient Weather WR-090 Emergency Pocket AM/FM/WB Weather Alert Radio with Digital Tuner and Flashlight

And since our granddaughter is pretty enterprising, I might consider the Weather’s larger cousin that operates via batteries, solar or crank: Ambient Weather WR-111B Emergency Solar Hand Crank AM/FM/NOAA Digital Radio, Flashlight, Cell Phone Charger with NOAA Certified Weather Alert & Cables

6. Blanket. My granddaughter seems to have several nice throws associated with various sports teams. If you don’t have any, or think your driver would like a new one, they are relatively inexpensive and easily packable. Here’s a link to where you can pick a fleece of exactly the right color!Super Soft Cozy Fleece Throw Blanket – 50×60 Fleece Blanket (Assorted Colors)

7. Water. Again, my granddaughter has plenty of plastic water bottles, and she can pick out the best one for her kit. However, I would recommend, as an emergency item, a bottle with a filter since we don’t know how long this water will remain untouched and unrefreshed. See the link below to our recent review of water bottle with filters.

8. Food. Teenagers seem to subsist on all kinds of snacks, so check with your driver to find the best combination of energy bars, dried fruit and candy for emergency food supplies. No use putting stuff in the kit that they won’t like or won’t touch.

9. Personal Safety. My granddaughter is tall, athletic and capable. I will discuss with her and her parents whether it makes sense to include any pepper spray in her kit (and it requires written permission). Waiting in the dark could be scary and dangerous; it may give her an added sense of security: SABRE RED Pepper Spray – Police Strength – Compact, Pink Case with Quick Release Key Ring (Max Protection – 25 shots, up to 5X’s more)

What to put everything in? Something unobtrusive.

All my teenaged friends seem to carry a variety of backpacks for school, sports, or just for hanging about. So, for the car emergency kit I selected a simple, inexpensive backpack that will attract no notice on the floor in the backseat or rear compartment.

Next step: Present the kit, take everything out, talk about how and when to use it, and have her repack it.

It will be a fun family activity, one I’m looking forward to!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Here are other posts with more info about emergency kits:


Power Outage — Another Chance to Practice


The power went out tonight at 7:16 p.m.

It was still pretty light outside, but the house was instantly, shockingly dark except for the hall, where the emergency lights glowed.

Lantern for power outage

Lantern in the bathroom

Grab flashlight from cupboard. Track down phone number for electric company. Regular phone doesn’t work, so punch through six different choices on cell phone to get recorded message: “Widespread outage. Estimated time to service restoral — one hour.”

Turn on walkie-talkie, request check-in from emergency team members.

“Division One, do you read?”

“Division Three, do you read?”

“Division Five, do you read?”

Finally, some answers trickle in. Somewhere somebody from outside our network is using the same channels, so they annoyingly insert themselves into our conversations.

Getting darker quickly, now. We pull out two of our lanterns. They work great!

A friend comes by in his new golf cart, and he and I make a circle of the neighborhood. People are leaning out on their porches, gathering in little groups on the street. Much laughter. Doug and I check the front gates: they’re open, as they should be. We meet a couple of stray people who are scrounging up and down the street for flashlights or batteries from their neighbors.

Overall, the feeling of a block party!

Full dark. The new golf cart has no lights (!) so we creep along. I have my trusty flashlight, of course, and use it to alert people that we’re approaching. As we pass house after house, Doug and I discuss people who we know have oxygen or CPAP machines, and wonder how they are coping.

We totally miss the people straggling out from the community center. As it turns out, the automatic doors there shut down tight, and the emergency bars were difficult to figure out. Fortunately, a number of the exit doors have push bars.

Back home. Another call to the utility. “Restoral in 10 minutes,” they say. We’re dubious. I pass along the latest via the radio. Streets are now empty, dim lights visible in most of them. Over the fence out on the main street, we see the flashing lights of the utility trucks and hear the workers calling to one another.

“Street lights up on our street,” comes the report from Division Four. Nothing here. Suddenly, rather like a Christmas scene, lights start popping on. Yellow street lights, red and blue TV screens, white porch lights. It’s over! Only ten minutes after they said it would be!

Such a relatively benign “emergency.”

Yet some people found it more than just an inconvenience. One woman described how it brought back shocking memories of war for her. One friend had just had surgery, and she woke suddenly to a blackout. Very frightening.

So, another day passes and we have the chance to “test” our readiness. I’m betting and trusting that everyone will be more prepared next time! How would you have fared?

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. We’ve talked a lot about emergency items. Here are a couple of our most popular posts:



Power Outage – Where are your emergency lights?


Have you been watching the news footage coming from Puerto Rico? Satellite images show how dark the island has become because of power outages. It’s a reminder to us all to revisit emergency lighting.

Always-ready ambient lighting . . .

If the power goes out in our community center, battery-powered emergency lighting goes on automatically. Why not have the same level of preparedness at home?

One model — wall mounted emergency lights.

I have written before about wall-mounted automatic emergency lights. They plug into a socket and normally do duty as night lights (good for kids, visitors and wakeful spouses). When there’s a power outage, they light up and can be pulled out and used as flashlights, too. Cost: $12-20 each.

In my estimation, Emergency Automatic Power Failure Lights are a basic piece of emergency equipment.

A new find — emergency light bulb.

And this week, I found another automatic light I want to make you aware of. I think it would be particularly appropriate for families with children or families with older people for whom not being able to see would be dangerous.

3 in 1 lamp

Why I like this 3-in-1 bulb.

I pulled these images to try to show how the bulb works. It’s designed to screw into a regular socket, so you can just put it into a table lamp, like in the picture, and use it like an ordinary bulb.  It’s a soft color, and because it’s LED technology, it doesn’t use much power and doesn’t get hot.

You leave it in all the time so it is always charged.

The cool this is that IF THE POWER GOES OUT, THE LAMP GOES ON!  Because it has a built in battery, it will burn for about 5 hours. (Ultimately its battery will run out, of course.)

Let’s say the power goes out. You can find your way directly to the lamp, and then you can REMOVE THE BULB and use it as a flashlight! What about having one of these bulbs with you when you travel?? Pop it into a hotel lamp, and if something happens during the night you’ll be able to see  (Just don’t forget it when you check out.)

This bulb costs less than $5 when you buy two. Check out full details and a video HERE before you buy.

But for powerful emergency lighting . . .

The lights described above don’t give off enough light to actually repair something or find and rescue somebody in trouble. For that, you need more power. After considerable research our CERT team invested in several very large spotlights. They have bright halogen bulbs – 18 million candle power!

These are too bulky to casually carry around. Rather, you’d turn one on and set it up to illuminate an entire scene.

One of the reasons we chose this model is because it can be plugged into a car battery to be recharged! (We’ll have plenty of cars available in our neighborhood.) The car battery (DC) adaptor comes with the lamp. Below is the link directly to Amazon. On the day I wrote this, prices varied from as low as $57 to as high as $97 for the same lamp! So shop carefully.
Cyclops C18MIL Thor X Colossus 18 Million Candle Power Rechargable Halogen Spotlight

Now you probably wouldn’t need something as big and powerful as the Cyclops to get you through a simple power outage. But if the outage continued for many hours – or for 14 days as happened to some people caught in Hurricane Sandy and now, in Puerto Rico – emergency lighting is going to play an important role.

Here’s a quick review of standard emergency lighting. Do you need to put some of these on your shopping list?

1. Ordinary battery-operated flashlight. Cheap ($3-$15), easy to operate. As long as the batteries work, you’ll have at least SOME light! I recommend getting at least 250 lumens. Of course, the beam is narrow, and you have to use one hand to hold the flashlight. Here’s a really good one: LED Tactical Flashlight,Wophain Super Bright 800 Lumens CREE XML T6 LED Outdoor Handheld Flashlight Adjustable Focus Zoom Flashlight With 5 light Modes, Ultra Bright, Zoomable,Water Resistant
2. Headlamp. Again, battery operated, but you’ll be SO much more efficient with two hands free! Tape one to your helmet, or wear one over a cap. Costs start as low as $7 and go up from there. Here’s a best-seller: LE LED Headlamp, 18 White LED and 2 Red LED, 4 Brightness Level Choice, LED Headlamps, 3 AAA Batteries Included
3. Battery-operated lantern. We’ve drafted an entire new Advisory about lanterns. Prices usually range from $10 – $30. Here’s one with an AM/FM radio built in: Northpoint 12-LED Lantern with 4-LED Flashlight and AM/FM Radio, Green (I have a lantern in nearly every room, particularly in the bathroom.)

One final note . . .

Having enough battery-operated lights, and a supply of extra batteries, will prevent you from reaching for candles until you are absolutely sure it’s safe.

Hope I’m not preaching to the choir on this topic, but it’s always worth a reminder!

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team