Emergency kits are an essential part of your disaster survival plan. With the right equipment in your kits, many disasters simply become routine instead of life threatening.
For example, consider my recommendation to have a sufficient supply of drinking water stored in your disaster survival kits. Now consider a wide area flood, such as one caused a major hurricane. Having clean water to drink and to use for sanitation prevents severe dehydration (from not drinking enough) and prevents illness (from drinking unsafe water and improper sanitation).
Under normal circumstances both of these conditions can usually be easily treated. However in a disaster, where treatment may not be readily available, they can quickly become life threatening.
Properly stocked emergency kits help you survive disasters!
My strategy for assembling emergency kits is in a five-tier structure. Each kit is an essential component of the next. Together they form a comprehensive collection of the gear you will need to survive a disaster.
Please note that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all emergency plan. Each person and family must evaluate their specific situation, needs, and potential disasters and adjust their kits accordingly. Make sure you consider children, elderly, those with physical disabilities, and pets in your disaster preparedness plan.
Level 1 – Everyday Carry (EDC)
The Everyday Carry (EDC) Emergency Kit consists of what you carry in your pockets (or purse). It is small, light, and minimalistic. Keep this on your person at all times when out of the house. These items give you quick access basic tools to help you survive a disaster at a moment’s notice.
Level 2 – Personal
The Personal Emergency Kit is a small kit designed to be carried in a backpack or messenger bag. Always carry this essential gear with you. The main goal of this kit is to get you back home – or another safe place – in the event of a disaster. Its design is light and compact so you won’t be tempted to leave it at home, but is has enough gear that you can survive longer and deal with many more emergencies than you could with just your everyday carry gear alone.
Level 3 – Evacuation (72 Hour Kit)
The Evacuation Emergency Kit (commonly called a 72 Hour Kit) is the backbone of your emergency kits. These supplies (in conjunction with the previous kits) will support your family for one to two weeks when you need to evacuate during a disaster. The idea with this 72 hour kit is to make it portable so you can quickly load it into your vehicle when you are ordered to evacuate. We store our kit in a few plastic Rubbermaid tubs and duffle bags that we can easily throw into the back of the van.
Also see my extended discussion on water storage relating to this kit.
Level 4 – Home
The Home Emergency Kit goes hand in hand with the Evacuation Kit. Essentially it is the additional gear you will need to survive a few weeks at home if you can’t or shouldn’t evacuate during a disaster. For us this includes things like an emergency heat source and additional sanitation supplies.
Level 5 – Long-Term
Consider assembling the Long-Term Emergency Kit if you expect to face a long-term disaster. By long-term I am referring to disasters lasting much longer than 2 weeks (even up to a year). Depending on the length of time you prepare for, it requires a lot of money and storage space.
Assuming you home is intact and you are able to stay there, the general categories you will need to consider in addition to the above kits are:
- Heating or cooling
An excellent book on this aspect of preparedness is Cody Lundin’s book, When All Hell Breaks Loose. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in long-term preparedness. It is a very through treatment of the subject (450 pages through).