How to Build an Emergency Kit

Emergencies can happen at any time, and being prepared can make all the difference in keeping you and your loved ones safe. One essential tool in your preparedness arsenal is an emergency kit. This kit contains essential supplies and items that can sustain you during power outages, natural disasters, or other unexpected events.

Why is an emergency kit important?

  • Immediate needs: During an emergency, it may take some time for help to arrive or for normal services to be restored. An emergency kit can address immediate needs, especially in a medical emergency where first aid may be necessary.
  • Self-reliance: Having an emergency kit empowers you to be self-reliant. You won’t have to scramble for supplies in the event that stores are closed or inaccessible, or even before foreseeable emergencies such as major storms where stores may quickly run out of important items.
  • Peace of mind: Knowing that you have an emergency kit prepared can reduce anxiety during stressful situations. It will be one more sure thing during a time where many other factors may be unpredictable, allowing you to focus on the safety and well-being of your family.

What to include in your emergency kit

  • Water and food: Store multiple days’ worth of water--at least three gallons per person. Consider that you may need water for more than just drinking, including for sanitary purposes. Multiple days’ worth of canned food, bars, and other non-perishable food items will be the most reliable.
  • First aid and medication: Assemble a comprehensive first-aid kit that includes bandages, antiseptic wipes, scissors, tweezers, and over-the-counter pain relievers. Store at least several days’ worth of prescription medication as well.
  • Important documents and cash: Make copies of essential documents like identification, insurance policies, medical records, and place them in a waterproof container. Store cash in case credit cards and ATMs are unusable or inaccessible.
  • Light and communication: Include flashlights with extra batteries, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, and battery-powered charger (with cords) for your cell phone.
  • Clothing and bedding: Pack warm clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, and sturdy shoes. Remember to consider the climate in your area and the seasons – in Alabama, a battery-powered fan may be a nice addition to your kit.
  • Personal hygiene: Include personal hygiene items like soap, hand sanitizer, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper, and feminine products.
  • Tools and supplies: A multi-tool, duct tape, matches in a waterproof container, a whistle, and garbage bags for waste disposal can be invaluable.
  • Special considerations: If you have infants, elderly family members, or pets, remember to pack supplies and items tailored to their needs. If you have children, toys and games can be invaluable to keep them (and adults) entertained during an extended shelter-in-place.

After creating your kit, be sure to regularly check and update your supplies. Replace expired food and medications, update contact information, and ensure that all items are in good working condition. Also consider that your family situation will change over time, which may affect the amount of supplies needed, important documents, medications, pet needs, and other considerations.

Building an emergency kit is a responsible and proactive step in safeguarding your family's well-being during challenging times. Remember to customize your kit to meet your specific needs and regularly review and update it. Being prepared is not about expecting the worst; it's about ensuring your readiness to face whatever challenges may arise.