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Emergency Kits: What Items to Include and Where to Keep Them

Emergencies can happen anywhere, and often without warning. An emergency kit is a go-to resource for everything from sterile bandages to clean water in the event of a mishap. A properly prepared kit can help you and your family respond readily – and emergency kits also can give you the confidence and peace of mind that you are prepared.

What Is an Emergency Kit?
A good emergency kit includes key items that may prove helpful or even lifesaving in the event of an emergency. From sustenance when food sources are depleted to medical supplies to dress wounds, a well-stocked kit can keep you safe until help arrives. Keeping supplies on hand in case of an accident may sound like common sense. But to many Americans, preparedness isn’t even on the radar. 

Building an Emergency Kit
So, if an emergency kit is so important, what goes into it?

In general, consider including in your emergency kit five different categories of materials: life essentials, medical supplies, food, tools, and documents.

  • Essentials: Whether a windstorm takes out power to your home or a hurricane brings flood waters, an emergency kit should always have the basics you need to survive. This includes clean water for at least three days, non-perishable food items that do not require heat to prepare, drinking water tablets, warm clothing, and emergency blankets.
  • Medical Supplies: Your emergency kit should be adequately stocked with basic medical supplies, including a first aid kit, prescription medications, eyeglasses or contacts, bleach, and hygiene supplies (such as shampoo and deodorant).
  • Tools: Should you be left to fend for yourself, you’ll want a kit prepped with as many tools as possible. Such as a standard tool kit, flashlights, batteries, candles, matches or lighters, clock or watch, multifunctional knives, a battery powered radio, trash bags, heavy gloves, a spare disposable cell phone, and duct tape.
  • Documents: You never know when you may have to prove your identity. In your emergency kit, include copies of birth certificates or passports, important phone numbers, money, copies of insurance policies and a map of your area.

Emergency Kit Storage
An emergency kit at home won’t do you much good while you’re at work, and your work kit probably can’t help if you’re stranded in your car. In order to keep yourself covered, make sure you have access to emergency supplies no matter where you are.

  • Home: To stay protected, it’s important to ensure kits are always within reach, like in a first-floor closet. Don’t hide essentials in the attic or down in the basement; these areas may not be in reach if disaster strikes. If possible, keep an abbreviated version of your kit on each level of your home to be sure amenities are always seconds away.
  • Car: There likely isn’t room for a full emergency kit in your car. But keeping some of the basics on hand, either in the trunk or the backseat, can provide peace of mind. Focus on a small supply of food and water, a first aid kit, tools that can help with car repair, road flares, and insurance information. You also might want to check if your auto insurance provides emergency roadside assistance.
  • Office: Accidents can happen anywhere. Disaster might leave you stranded without resources in the office. Keep a small kit at your desk with water bottles, non-perishable snacks, a first aid kit, money, batteries, flashlight, gloves, and emergency blanket. Consider any other items that may be specific to your place of business.

Staying Prepared Saves Lives
It may seem hyperbole to say that an emergency kit can be the difference between life and death. But when a true disaster occurs, access to a kit can be a critical part of responding, minimizing problems and even surviving. With proper supplies available in your home, your car, or even in your office, you can rest easy knowing that you’re ready to face the worst.