What is a Survival Kit?

survival-kitA Survival Kit is a device or a pack used to provide a person with essential supplies during an emergency. They are commonly used by members of the armed forces, or civilians who are preparing for natural disasters which can range from earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes to manmade disasters. The purpose of a survival kit is to ensure that the person who uses it has enough life-saving supplies during an emergency where basic necessities become unavailable.

Survival Kits are generally packaged in backpacks, buckets or duffle bags depending on the scenario they are intended for. The most common supplies include items like non-perishable foods, water, medical supplies, tools and other equipment. The type of scenario will also affect the amount and types of supplies a kit contains.

Types of Supplies Inside of Survival Kits

As we briefly touched on above, many survival kits include the same types of supplies while they can be slightly altered depending on the scenario a person is preparing for and the amount of time. Agencies like FEMA and the Red Cross recommend that a person has at least 3 days worth of supplies in their emergency kit, and consequently most pre-made survival kits are designed to last at least 72 hours.

Food and Water

Food and Water are among the most essential supplies found in survival kits. This includes drinking water pouches, food bars or freeze dried foods. The emergency food bars and water pouches packaged inside of a survival kit will have a shelf life of 5 years, while freeze dried foods generally last 20 years or longer. The foods you include in your kit should be non-perishable and easy to prepare.

The amount of time you are preparing to survive for can affect the amount, and types of food/water supplies inside of your kit. While many experts recommend having 72 hours worth of foods for natural disasters, some people choose to include up to one years worth of food.

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Radio and Communication Supplies

Communication supplies are also recommended for a survival kit. This includes either a battery powered or hand crank AM/FM radio (with extra batteries if necessary). Having a radio will ensure that you are able to receive local emergency information and weather broadcasts. Other basic communication supplies like a survival whistle or help flag will enable you get in touch with any rescue crews that are nearby.

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Sanitation and Personal Hygiene

While you might not think of it, maintaining sanitary conditions along with your personal hygiene are also very important during an emergency. As such, having supplies to take care of your basic hygienic needs is key. Packing supplies like a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and wet naps can go a long way in a life-threatening scenario. Other supplies like waste bags can also help prevent the spread of disease.

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Medical and First Aid

Packing 7 days worth of any medication you take is also recommended to include in your survival kit. This should provide you with all the medication you need until you are able to return home or are able to refill your prescription. You should also have basic first aid and medical supplies on hand. This includes things like small first aid kits that can treat small injuries.

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Cell Phones, Chargers and Other Supplies

Including your cell phone as well as chargers in your survival kit is also vital and will enable you to keep in touch with family members and friends during an emergency. Other supplies like copies of important personal documents, emergency contacts and extra cash are also recommended. Aside from these items, a small multi-function tool can also come in handy during emergencies.

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Survival Kit Checklist

Above we mentioned some of the bare essentials that every survival kit should contain. Aside from the items we touched on above, you can also include additional supplies as needed. Below is a basic survival kit checklist with the bare essentials that every disaster emergency kit should contain as recommended by the red cross.

Bare Essentials

  • Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area

Other Items to Consider for Family

  • Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc)
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Games and activities for children
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Two-way radios
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Manual can opener

Other Items to Consider (Depending on disasters common to your area)

  • Whistle
  • N95 or surgical masks
  • Matches
  • Rain gear
  • Towels
  • Work gloves
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Household liquid bleach
  • Entertainment items
  • Blankets or sleeping bags

Buying Pre-Made Survival Kits

Aside from putting together a survival kit with supplies around the house, many companies manufacture completed kits that are pre-made with everything you need. They are available based on the amount of people they are intended for as well as the specific emergency they’re built for. While there are a lot of generalized kits built for 72 hours across many different emergencies, there are also specialized kits for specific scenarios including earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes.

Kits are available for small groups of 1-2 people as well as larger groups of 8-10 people and include either food bar rations or long-term emergency foods along with pouched water. They will include anywhere from 1,600 – 2,000 calories of food per person, per day and 8 fluid ounces of water per person, per day.