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Ensuring Safety With the Perfect Emergency Preparedness Kit

An emergency preparedness kit is one of those items you never want to have to use…and also something you never want to be without if the need for it arises. You can spend a lot of time fretting about the best emergency preparedness kits out there, how to know which is right for you, or how to build your own.

We’re here to help take the confusion, concern, and stress out of it. Read on to learn all about the perfect emergency preparedness kit–including the pros and cons or pre-made versus homemade, and must have items for every preparedness kit.

Person going over a checklist for a emergency preparedness kit.

Emergency Preparedness Kits – Buy Them Or Make Your Own?

When it comes to having an emergency preparedness kit on hand, you do have a couple of options. Many companies offer pre-made emergency preparedness kits you can buy up and have on hand at all times. These will typically have some standard items and most of them should be able to sustain you in an emergency situation for up to 72 hours.

But there are also some advantages to taking the time to build your own homemade emergency preparedness kit. Ultimately, choosing the better option comes down to what you want or need in your kit and where your budget line lands.

Pros and Cons of a Pre-made Emergency Preparedness Kit

Many places, such as Amazon, offer quite a number of pre-made emergency preparedness kits. These are typically graded for your standard 72-hour emergency preparedness, containing things like food and water that can last up to three days. These emergency preparedness kits will also usually contain certain tools and standard emergency use items you might need in a crisis.


When choosing the route of pre-made emergency preparedness kits, one of the advantages is that you can often shop for one that is tailored to your specific concerns or needs.

For example, you can often pick up an emergency preparedness kit for kids. This will contain, in addition to survival items, some entertainment pieces like a stuffed animal or sticker book to keep kids entertained during lulls in a time of crisis.

Other pre-made emergency preparedness kits you might find valuable are ones tailored specifically to home use, for hurricane usefor cats or for dogs. You can also shop around for ones that are tailored to sustain a certain number of individuals based on the size of your group or household needs.


This disadvantage to pre-made emergency preparedness kits often lies in the same vein as its advantages: the ability to tailor to specific concerns or needs.

If you are preparing for an individual, this may not be the case quite as much. But if yours is a family of various ages and multiple pets, you may begin to find yourself having to stock up on an unreasonable number of pre-made emergency preparedness kits to meet every individual’s needs–both two-legged and four-legged.

This can, of course, become quite a costly venture over time. But more than the cost, you may find yourself with a surplus of emergency preparedness kits in backpacks that need able bodies to carry them. And that could become disadvantageous if you have smaller children and multiple pets who cannot carry their own bags.

Pros and Cons of a Homemade Emergency Preparedness Kit

Building your own homemade emergency preparedness kit can be quite an undertaking. It can require more time spent researching standard emergency preparedness items and sorting out which ones you need. But it can also make for greater peace of mind and allow you to create a kit that is truly suitable in every regard to yours and/or your family’s needs.


Building an emergency preparedness kit from scratch means that the only one deciding what goes into it is you. This gives you the advantage of tailoring it specifically to your needs and preferences. For example, if you are someone who values clean eating, you can opt for organic emergency food packets.

If you or someone in your family has sensory processing issues that would no doubt be exacerbated by any sort of emergency situation, you might make certain sensory friendly textured items or sensory blocking tools a part of your kit. You can have a kit that’s largely tailored to adults, but include sterilized infant bottles and formulas or bags of pet food.

The list goes on and on. The greatest advantage of building your own emergency preparedness kit is that you can customize it to your individual concerns and needs, how much of one item you may need, etc. And you can do that all without having to piecemeal a few different kits together or burden yourself with too many bags for too few carriers.


The art of bringing together the perfect emergency preparedness kit can sometimes be costly. You may need to invest in a larger dimension or sturdier backpack, for example, to fit all of the necessary items. You may find that in opting for higher quality than average items, including food, you will have to expand your budget to make it all work.

Must-Have Items For Your Emergency Preparedness Kit

Various emergency preparedness kit items laid out on a table.


The most crucial baseline item to have for your emergency preparedness kit is a sturdy backpack. The size and durability of your backpack will ultimately determine how much you can carry, and for how long.

Tactical backpacks are often great for this, as they are sturdy, lightweight, and compartmentalized. This will help you to keep a variety of necessary items separate and distinct from one another.

Food & Manual Can Opener

Whether it’s canned food or enveloped and freeze-dried food, a food supply is an absolute must for your emergency preparedness kit. If you are going the canned food route, having a manual (not an electric!) can opener is also a huge necessity.

Be sure to factor in the appropriate amount of food to last at least 72 hours per person in your party or family.


In emergency situations, water sources can frequently become unusable, unreachable, or contaminated. Having clean water on hand is a must. You should also invest in some water purification items, whether that’s a purifying straw or purifying agent. This will help ensure that, even should your emergency water supply become depleted, you have other means of gathering water.


Many emergency preparedness situations involve a blackout or otherwise unreliable light sources. It’s wise to have either a hand crank, solar charging, or battery powered flashlight on hand, with extra batteries for each person in your party.

Closeup of a yellow flashlight.

Multi-Purpose Tool

A good multi-purpose tool can meet a number of needs all in one place. For example, this is a good way to get a manual can opener as well as a knife, a pair of pliers, a nail trimming instrument, a screwdriver, and so much more.

This is an area where it’s wise not to skimp. Even if it takes up a bit more of your budget, ensuring you have a sharp and sturdy multi-purpose tool can help you cut costs in other areas and really make a difference in any emergency situation.


Lighters are a typically affordable and easy to carry option to help make lighting fires easier. They can even work as an alternative light source, or the start of one, in a pinch. Having a few tall and skinny lighters slipped into spare nooks of your emergency preparedness kit can help you have peace of mind about your ability to keep warm and have light to see by in a number of situations.

Emergency Blanket

Emergencies can happen in all seasons and at any time. The beauty of an emergency blanket is that it’s not just for keeping warm. Certain emergency blankets can protect from other elements, such as heat. Larger ones can double into tents, even for multiple people.

Many emergency blankets are also reflective. This can help guide aid to you if you are stranded, lost, or trapped by a weather or other emergency event where you will need assistance to escape.

Batteries/Power Bank and Cords

Whether it’s for a flashlight, medical device, or simply the ability to stay in touch with loved ones and the outside world, batteries and other power sources–such as a battery bank–and power cords are an absolute must for your emergency preparedness kit. These can mean the difference between being totally cut off or having the ability to connect with others in an emergency situation.

Because many power banks do lose their charge over time, even without use, it’s important to frequently check the power bank and recharge it as needed. Check cords for wear also, as they can break down in storage over a long period.

Closeup of the postive terminals of a group of batteries.

First Aid Kit

Likely one of the products that first comes to mind when you hear of an emergency preparedness kit is a first aid kit. Many emergency situations are precipitated by, or may lead to, an event that can cause injury.

For this reason, having a well stocked first aid kit is another item you should never skimp on. You want to ensure you have the essentials, but also any health items that tailor to your or your family’s specific needs. This might look like extra prescription medications in case you are stranded, specifical allergy medicines, and more.

A homemade backpacking first aid kit is often the best option for this sort of circumstance. This type of first aid kit is usually the right size for your emergency preparedness kit and will help keep you prepared for all sorts of first aid scenarios.

Personal Hygiene Products

Ideally, any emergency situation you face will be short lived. But, since this is never a guarantee, you want to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. This includes making sure you have the ability to keep your personal hygiene up.

This can be especially crucial in emergency scenarios, as in these cases, a lack of hygiene maintenance can exacerbate the risk of illness, infections, and other unpleasant outcomes.

survival hygiene kit is a great way to cover all of your bases with personal hygiene in an emergency situation. This will help you stay clean, refreshed, and in good health.


There may be times in an emergency situation where being found is actually something you want to avoid. But for the most part, the sort of emergency situations most people will encounter involve finding aid–and fast.

In these scenarios, having a good whistle on hand is crucial. A survival whistle can help bring rescuers or first aid responders to you. Best of all, emergency whistles are extremely easy to use. This means their use can be taught to little ones, so they can help bring aid to injured or incapacitated adults, or help adults to find them in the case of a lost or missing child.

Bearing this in mind, you always want to ensure you have a sturdy whistle. Don’t aim for the cheapest plastic whistle on the market, but instead invest in one that will last for a long time in your emergency preparedness kit, even without frequent use.

Plastic Sheeting and Duct Tape

While it may sound a bit Macgyver to mention, plastic sheeting and duct tape is a lightweight and easy to pack option for building a survival shelter. This kind of sheeting often comes in squares or rolls that can pack a lot of material into a small space, making this the ideal material for an emergency preparedness kit.

Be sure you take time not only to get quality plastic sheeting and sturdy duct tape for your emergency preparedness kit, but also to learn how to build an effective shelter with them. This can really make the difference between being sheltered or stranded at the mercy of the elements in all sorts of emergency survival scenarios.

A roll of plastic sheeting.

Battery Powered or Hand-Crank Radio

Particularly in weather emergency situations, conditions can change and develop rapidly. This can mean that safety and security can change at any moment, based on things like secondary flooding, additional weather phenomena developing, aftershock earthquakes, and so forth.

Having a way to remain apprised of changes in emergency scenarios can be crucial to keeping yourself and your loved ones safe. This is what makes a radio an absolute must in an emergency preparedness kit.

A battery powered, solar powered, or hand crank radio is a wise option, since these do not rely on plug-in charging…often one of the first resources to be compromised in a number of emergency situations. If you opt for a battery powered radio, be sure to have multiple backup batteries on hand.

You should also check the batteries in the radio frequently for corrosion, and swap them out as needed to ensure there is no internal damage or battery leakage.

Dust Mask

When emergency scenarios happen, particularly in urban areas, all sorts of harmful particles and toxins can be released into the air. The same holds true in weather phenomena like wildfires and dust storms. This is why dust masks are important to have on hand in your emergency preparedness kit.

These sorts of masks are excellent for protecting your lungs and can make the difference between being stranded or able to move to safety in a dangerous scenario.

Local Maps

Nowadays, many of us rely on GPS to find our way. But if a dangerous scenario knocks out cell towers or your phone is damaged, destroyed, or loses charge, you will still need to find your way around.

Keeping on hand some local maps of your area or any area you’re visiting is a wise move to ensure you can still get around and find your way to safety if an emergency should arise and leave you stranded without your trusty GPS device.

Pet and Baby Items (If Needed)

While these needs will not apply to everyone, for parents and pet lovers they are often the first needs you think of when planning an emergency preparedness kit. In this same vein, the individual needs of those who can’t fend for themselves are one of the primary appeals of building your own emergency preparedness kit.

It’s always wise to have a stock of food and water for pets in your emergency preparedness kit, bearing in mind to have up to three days of food at least per pet. The same holds true for babies who are formula fed or on a mixed diet of solids.

For babies, you should also ensure you have multiple days of care items such as diapers, wipes, creams. Consider also having some extra personal care items such as lotions, gas drops, teething soothers, pain relief, and the like, as well as toys, small books, and other distractions.

Frequently Asked Questions

A flooded urban area with rescuers in the water on a flooded street.

In what scenarios should I expect to use my emergency preparedness kit?

An emergency preparedness kit can be useful in all sorts of incidents. These can vary from the more likely–a power outage or emergency caused by a weather strike, being stranded in your car in the wintertime, etc.–to the less likely, like a foreign invasion or EMP attack.

Whether you are thinking about more likely or less likely scenarios, very often you will find that the same necessities apply, such as hygiene, nourishment, and the ability to move from place to place safely.

Should I consider more than a three day supply of items?

More preparedness is often the better option in emergency scenarios, since you never know how long a crisis may last. However, it can be difficult to effectively pack a transportable emergency preparedness kit with more than three days worth of supplies per person.

For this reason, you shouldn’t consider your emergency preparedness kit to be your main source of long-term sustenance during a time of crisis. Instead, it’s the holdover that you keep on hand to help sustain you from the onset of an emergency situation until you find relief from the emergency, or a more sustainable long term survival option if needed.

Wrapping Up The Perfect Emergency Preparedness Kit

A pantry stocked with items that can be used in an emergency.

Feeling confident about choosing or building the perfect emergency preparedness kit for yourself or your loved ones? Check out our Safety Guides to deepen your knowledge and preparedness. These will help you mentally prepare and sharpen your skills for all sorts of potential emergencies.