Must-Have Items to Prepare for an Emergency

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Last Updated on November 7, 2022 by admin_hunter

What are the must-have items to prepare for an emergency? It seems that governmental and healthcare authorities are continuously warning the public to “be prepared” for emergencies, urging everyone to be proactive in caring for themselves and their family. Yet, these same agencies and figures rarely offer guidance on just how to make such preparations.

To ensure that you’re ready for the next natural disaster or life-altering accident that comes your way, see our guide below on what items you should include in your emergency kit, along with specific considerations for additional items.

General Use Items to Have in All Emergency Kits

You never know what type of emergency may befall your family at any given moment.

Whether it’s a natural disaster that contaminates your food and water supply or a widespread power outage that leaves your neighborhood in pitched-black darkness, you’re going to need these items to keep your family safe, well-fed, and self-sufficient despite the sudden uncertainty.


Food is a must-have in emergencies. There is no way to know just how long the event will last, and you must be prepared to feed yourself and your children without technological conveniences such as refrigerators and electric stoves.

The best option is to include energy-packed, lightweight, and travel-friendly food like:

  • Canned fruits and vegetables (or dried fruits and veggies)
  • Consumption-ready canned meats (i.e., spam or tuna)
  • Protein or granola bars
  • Nuts (especially trail mix)
  • Crackers

Note that all these foods must be non-perishable and should be “ready-to-eat” right out of the packaging. Otherwise, you’ll face significant difficulty in preparing the food you’ve had stored for a time like this.


According to the American Red Cross, each person in your family should have access to a minimum of one gallon of water per day. Although it’s often impossible to determine just how long an emergency evacuation might last, experts urge you to pack at least three full days of water for each family member.

However, if you’re planning on hunkering down in the home, say, after a tornado that confines you to the basement, then it’s best to extend this storage period to two weeks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend bottled water for emergency storage, regarding it as the “most reliable source of water” in urgent, unpredictable circumstances.

With this in mind, it would also be beneficial for you to collect and keep water in a food-grade container, such as the Reliance Products 7 gal Aqua-Tainer, described below.

Reliance Products 7 Gallon Aqua-Tainer

Must-Have Items to Prepare for an Emergency

This container is BPA-free and food-safe and is perfect for keeping two people hydrated for slightly more than three days each.

Plus, the space-saving design makes this an excellent choice for cases in which you might need to pack several items into your car’s trunk or a small basement. No matter where it’s stored, you can ensure your safety with the hideaway spigot that eliminates the need for opening and closing the container for access.

Just make sure to store your Reliance Aqua-Tainer away from direct sunlight. Otherwise, the material can degrade and become brittle over time, which can introduce the possibility of leaks and contamination.


  • Can hold enough water to hydrate two people for a bit more than 3 days
  • Compact design, perfect for storing in small spaces or in a vehicle
  • Hideaway spigot allows for safe access to drinking water, reducing chances of contamination


  • Material can degrade in sunlight


Most people’s minds go straight to candlelight when imagining how they’d improve their visibility during massive power outages. Although candles are ideal to some since they don’t require an outlet or batteries, the light they provide is minuscule relative to a flashlight.

A single candle emits a single unit of light known as a “candela.” This is equal to 12.57 lumens, which is the unit used to measure the light produced by flashlights and lightbulbs.

A basic flashlight is still more powerful than a typical candle, measuring up to about 15 lumens. On the other hand, the average headlamp emits up to 50-100 lumens. No matter which option you choose, you’re guaranteed to get more light than any candle could ever offer.

Here are some great options to consider:

GearLight Battery-Powered Flashlight

Must-Have Items to Prepare for an Emergency

GearLight designed this flashlight to fit compactly in your disaster kit. It provides an ultra-wide beam and has been reported to shine up to 12 times brighter than the average incandescent lights. You can adjust the beam as needed while depending on the flashlight’s water- and shock-resistance.


  • 12x brighter than typical light bulbs
  • Adjustable beam for better visibility
  • Water-resistant and shock-proof for long-lasting durability


  • Battery power is finite and imposes an extra cost to maintaining your flashlight

NPET Solar Flashlight

Must-Have Items to Prepare for an Emergency

NPET’s solar-powered flashlight has an output of a whopping 268 lumens. It features seven distinct lighting modes for illuminating objects near and far. Further, NPET has crafted this flashlight to meet your every need during an emergency, as it can be used as a car escape tool and is water and shock-resistant.


  • Solar power is plentiful and eliminates the hassle of powering your flashlight
  • Incredibly bright light at 268 lumens
  • Multipurpose thanks to its potential application as an escape tool (can be used to break a stuck window and includes a cutter to free yourself of jammed seatbelts)


  • Battery life depends on the settings (some only last for 30 minutes instead of 6 hours)


If you decide to go with a battery-powered flashlight, make sure you have what you need to keep your device operating. The GearLight flashlight mentioned above only requires three AA batteries at a time; however, you may have other electronic devices that need power, too.

Your best bet in keeping your tech up and running through an emergency is to get a large combo battery pack in advance, like the Energizer Combo Battery Pack.

Energizer Combo Battery Pack

Must-Have Items to Prepare for an Emergency

This pack contains 50 of both triple-and double-A batteries. Buying both in a single product will inevitably save you time, money, and stress in the future when you’re robbed of access to a grocer or drug store.


  • Buying in bulk saves time and money
  • Batteries can power several pieces of your emergency equipment (e.g., flashlights, radio, etc.


  • Some customers have complained of unusually fast expiration when in storage

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio

According to Mijke Hertoghs, ITU’s Head of the Environment and Emergency Telecommunications Division, radios are instrumental in your ability to receive pertinent information on whatever the current emergency may be.

Including an item like the one below in your emergency kit could quite literally mean the difference between life and death.

FosPower Emergency Solar Radio

Must-Have Items to Prepare for an Emergency

No matter what happens, you know you can depend on the FosPower radio, given its solar capabilities and plentiful 2000 mAh power bank. While you listen in on local news and announcements, you can use any of the three power sources to charge your phone or another device.

If you’re worried about the energy reserves running low, then you can rely on those trusty AAA batteries to power it back up or the attached crank. The crank can produce enough electricity to power the lights, radio, and SOS alarm in a pinch.

Most importantly, you’ll have access to NOAA emergency weather broadcasts, which will help keep you on your toes in areas prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes.


  • Keeps you tuned in to emergency developments
  • Can charge other devices
  • Multiple power options, can be solar-, battery-, or crank-powered


  • Hand crank is pretty tough to use, requiring 140 rpm for at least 5 minutes

First Aid Kit and Medications

You never know what types of injuries you or your family might incur. It’s best to be prepared for anything and steer clear of leaving anything up to chance. To do so, you’ll need a first aid kit in your preparedness kit.

According to the CDC, only 44% of Americans have first aid kits in their home. What’s worse is that nearly half (48%) of all families across the nation have no emergency supplies whatsoever! If this describes your current circumstances, it’s time to change that, starting with a general-purpose first aid kit.

First Aid Only All-Purpose First Aid Kit

Must-Have Items to Prepare for an Emergency

The best first aid kit you can have for you and your family is the First Aid Only All-Purpose First Aid Kit. It’s complete with almost 300 first aid supplies you can use to resolve minor pains and wounds and features transparent storage compartments to maximize the ease-of-use.

Its compact size (9.25″ x 2.875″ x 7″) makes it perfect for either home or on-the-go use, guaranteeing your ability to keep you and your loved ones safe and cared for, no matter where you are.


  • Contains nearly 300 items for maintaining first aid
  • Compact design is great for travel or home use
  • Translucent pockets support ease of use


  • The vast majority of the items are Band-Aids, the sizes of which are more suitable for children than adults

Multi-Purpose Tool

Multi-tools are a must-have in an emergency situation – and frankly, they should be a tool in your arsenal for any outdoor or handy activity, emergency or not. These devices are equipped with several components that provide a unique advantage to get you out of a sticky situation as efficiently as possible.

High-quality multi-tools like the one below provide a multitude of gadgets designed to enhance your self-sufficiency in almost any environment.

Leatherman Skeletool

Must-Have Items to Prepare for an Emergency

Leatherman is one of the most widely acclaimed and trusted brands in the world. As one of the newest available models, the Skeletool lives up to the brand’s versatility and excellent quality. Plus, Leatherman offers a whopping 25-year warranty in case any problems arise with your product.

This incredibly lightweight, 5-oz. multitool features:

  • Knife
  • Pliers
  • Interchangeable bit driver
  • Wire-cutters
  • Carabiner
  • Bottle opener

It’s a breeze to use with just one hand and will equip you to handle tasks ranging from repairing minor vehicle issues to cutting clothing to treat fresh wounds.


  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Seven distinct tools included in the design
  • Ergonomic design makes it comfortable and easy to use


  • Driver head locking system can come loose occasionally

Essential Toiletries

Hygiene is, unfortunately, one of the most overlooked responsibilities after an emergency strikes. This is understandable, as most people are exclusively concerned with their survival and getting their families to a safe place.

Still, understand that hygiene is a crucial part of your health and wellbeing, and you should store items in your emergency kit that help you fulfill this need. The CDC urges all disaster victims to keep their hands clean to prevent the spread of germs, and to continue bathing and maintaining dental hygiene if possible.

To do so, you must include the following items in your emergency kit.

Disposable Toothbrush Kit

Must-Have Items to Prepare for an Emergency

This pack comes with a mini toothbrush with the toothpaste formula already applied. You don’t need to rinse or lug a tube of toothpaste along with you, just scrub and go.


  • Pre-pasted and ready-to-use
  • Disposable, reducing occupied storage space after use


  • Releasing the pre-applied toothpaste can be tricky, requires biting down on the brush

Emergency Toilet Paper

Must-Have Items to Prepare for an Emergency

You don’t want to bring a whole toilet paper roll with you, but you certainly should not compromise on keeping yourself clean after using the restroom, no matter where you are. These compact 2-ply rolls each have 65 squares of tissue and can fit in small backpacks or even your pockets if needed.


  • Requires minimal storage space
  • 65 squares of tissue each
  • Biodegradable


  • Not as soft as some name brand tissues

Emergency Blanket

Emergency blankets are crucial in preventing hypothermia and other such conditions after a disaster. They can both cool and warm during use (depending on the circumstances, of course) and can even save your life.

Two examples of emergency blanket functions are described below:

  • Protecting you against freezing temperatures. These sheets can reduce the amount of heat released by your body to the external environment (a process known as “thermo-convection”) while simultaneously combating heat loss through radiation and evaporation. This multi-level functioning will maintain every bit of body heat you produce.
  • Cooling your body down to prevent overheating. When you’re exposed to excessively high temperatures, the emergency blanket works by barring external heat from reaching your body, acting as a “radiant barrier.” It also provides shade and keeps vapor out, helping to maintain a comfortable temperature around you.

For both these advantages, invest in the Swiss Safe’s thermal blanket, described below.

Swiss Safe’s Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets

Must-Have Items to Prepare for an Emergency

Swiss Safe’s emergency mylar thermal blankets are the perfect example of a lightweight emergency blanket that’s ready for use at the drop of a dime. They’re dual-sided to ensure protection no matter how you unfold them and are designed to retain a staggering 90% of your natural body heat when needed.

These emergency blankets will also protect you from extreme environmental conditions, including rain and snow. If a flood or snowstorm occurs, you can trust in your Swiss Safe emergency blanket to keep you alive and well until help arrives.


  • Pack comes with 4 emergency blankets
  • Each blanket is dual-sided, offering maximum thermal protection
  • Military-grade quality


  • Difficult to refold for storage

Cell Phone Chargers

Depending on the type of emergency you’re subjected to, you may not have cell phone service. Still, you’ll need to keep your mobile device on-hand in case you get separated from your family.

BLAVOR Solar Power Bank

Must-Have Items to Prepare for an Emergency

To ensure your phone is up and running when service is available, add a BLAVOR Solar Power Bank into your emergency preparedness kit. It can store up to 10,000 mAh and is compatible with both Android and Apple devices.

As a bonus, the battery pack features a flashlight and compass as well to ensure you’re on the right path as you reunite with your family or other survivors.



  • Numerous customers have had problems with the solar panel being damaged or dysfunctional

Safe to Keep Personal Items and Cash

It is a heartbreakingly common occurrence for disaster survivors to lose their critical identifying documentation in the storm or another event. Birth certificates, social security cards, and other forms of identification are among the items that can turn a person’s world upside down in their absence.

If you live somewhere with a high risk of tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, or any other type of event that could disappear such sensitive documentation, it’s best to be prepared by keeping these items in a safe.

Master Lock 5900D Portable Safe

Must-Have Items to Prepare for an Emergency

Keep in mind that you’ll need to keep this documentation on you as you escape from the wreckage. As such, it’s best to get a safe that’s as compact yet dependable as the Master Lock 5900D Portable Safe.

At only 9.41″ long and just over two pounds, this safe provides excellent protection for your belongings. For added defense, the safe includes shock absorbent foam and is water-resistant to keep your things safe in inclement weather.


  • Compact design is great for travel or keeping it on your person
  • Shock-absorbing foam and water resistance will keep your items safe inside
  • Four-digit safe combination enhances defense


  • Many people have experienced difficulty unlocking new safes

If, for some reason, you are separated from your safe and lose track of your documents, consult these resources to reclaim these documents, courtesy of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Additional Factors to Consider

The above items are ideal for general emergencies. However, there are a few drawbacks if you experience a health-related emergency or get stuck in the wild outdoors.

To address these loopholes, consider adding the items below to your disaster prep kit.

Backpacking or Other Outdoors Emergencies

Suppose you venture out on a backpacking trip with only the items listed above. You may find your kit lacking if you don’t include the following items:


Must-Have Items to Prepare for an Emergency

Hikers and other outdoor lovers struggle too often with injuries like stress fractures, sprains, and tendinitis. One of the best ways to alleviate the pain and mobility challenges presented by these conditions is to apply a splint to the affected area. This will keep you or your loved one comfortable as you await assistance.


  • Very malleable design, perfect for supporting different parts of the body
  • Soft material makes it comfortable for injured person to wear
  • 36″ length enables use for nearly any broken bone


  • A bit bulky to carry in or beside your first aid kit

Water Filtration System

Must-Have Items to Prepare for an Emergency

Drinking straight from natural water sources without applying some sort of treatment is a surefire way to end your trip early due to digestive problems like vomiting, diarrhea, and severe stomach pain. However, a filtration tube is only one of many treatment options.


  • Compact design, won’t take up too much space in your backpack
  • Can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water
  • Can remove 99.9999% microorganisms


  • Bag is quite easily damaged

Health Emergencies

Health-related emergencies can happen at any time, whether you’re on the trail, comfortable in your home, or on your way to an evac center in response to a natural disaster. You need to be prepared to care for your loved one (or yourself).

Add the following items to your emergency preparedness kit:


Must-Have Items to Prepare for an Emergency

Allergic reactions are scary, especially when you have limited access to healthcare services. If you or someone you know is experiencing an allergy-related emergency, Benadryl is one of the most reliable antihistamines that will calm the allergic reaction.


  • Go Packs are highly portable
  • Wide variety of applications for stopping allergic responses
  • Suitable for people ages 6+


  • Benadryl is widely known for making users drowsy, be mindful during use

Glucose Gel

Must-Have Items to Prepare for an Emergency

In case you or your loved one suffers from low blood sugar, one of the quickest solutions is to apply this nutrient-dense paste to their gums for fast absorption. While you wait for the proper treatment and professional help to arrive, this TRUEplus fat-free, sodium-free, gluten-free solution is the way to go.


  • Works quickly for people with diabetes in particular
  • Fat-, glute-, and sodium-free
  • Fast-acting energy and blood sugar boost


  • Some users did not enjoy the taste

Final Thoughts

Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. Although there is a myriad of unexpected circumstances that can befall you and your loved ones, the items listed above comprise an all-purpose emergency preparedness kit that will undoubtedly keep you safe in the face of uncertainty.

With the basic items listed above, you’ll be ready for a wide range of emergency situations. However, don’t hesitate to add to your emergency kit if you need!