What are Some Essential Emergency Supplies?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Canned foods should be included in an emergency preparedness kit.
Canned foods should be included in an emergency preparedness kit.

Emergencies are usually unpredictable, and it’s far better to be prepared for emergencies by having a few essential emergency supplies than it is to try to find needed things after an emergency occurs. There are quite a few organizations that dedicate themselves to helping people put together earthquake or disaster preparedness kits. The emergency supplies that might be required in these kits doesn’t vary much except by where the kit is located and the number of people who are likely to be present during an emergency.

Feminine products are considered essential supplies.
Feminine products are considered essential supplies.

Sometimes emergency kits are organized by length of days a person might need to survive without access to medical care, water, or food sources. In this case a three-day kit could require a flashlight, preferably one that can be cranked, battery powered, solar powered and recharged. It’s also helpful to have a battery or crank radio, and people can find flashlight/radios that are combined together. The emergency kit should also contain food for three days that is non-perishable and doesn’t need to be cooked. Multiply food needs by number of people likely to be present.

Toilet paper can be used for a variety of purposes in an emergency situation.
Toilet paper can be used for a variety of purposes in an emergency situation.

Some emergencies leave people without access to safe drinking water. It’s important to keep drinking water on hand, preferably in plastic bottles. Exactly how much water can depend on needs of the people involved. Some people like to have multiple small bottles of water available, which may be cleaner than a larger gallon (3.79 liters) size bottle. Consider having about a half gallon of water per person for each day of an emergency. A family of four should probably stock six gallons (22.71 liters) to cover water needs for three days.

A supply of gasoline can be used as fuel for generators and other emergency equipment.
A supply of gasoline can be used as fuel for generators and other emergency equipment.

Emergency supplies should include any medications a person depends on for survival. Again this supply should be at least sufficient for three days, and longer if the nature of an emergency could cut people off from medical care for a longer time period. Be sure to observe prescription expiration dates on bottles to make certain that meds don’t expire while they sit in an emergency kit.

Paper towels should be available for emergency situations.
Paper towels should be available for emergency situations.

Along with prescription medications, emergency supplies should include some common over the counter meds. Valuable ones to purchase would include anti-diarrhea meds, antacids and fever reducers or those medications that offer some pain relief. People may also want to stock antiseptic lotion and antibiotic ointment to treat minor injuries.

Most people should have other emergency supplies that are medical in nature. These include gloves, scissors, gauze pads, band-aids in a variety of sizes, and tape. It’s usually easy to obtain a good first aid kit by purchasing one already prepared at a drug store. Several kits may be required if a number of people might need access to the kit.

An emergency kit should include safety pins.
An emergency kit should include safety pins.

Other emergency supplies should include blankets, a change of clothing, some trash bags, a can opener and disposable cups, plates, forks and knives. Providing soap, waterless handwash, and some supplies for personal hygiene is valuable too. Periodically inspect any emergency supplies to make certain that everything is still useable by date, and that there has been no damage to any sealed items.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

Wisedly33

I remember all the survival nuts going nuts right before Y2K. Of course, nothing at all happened. All went on and it was business as usual.

I didn't even worry about it because I felt pretty sure nothing was going to happen.

But for real emergency supplies, I think this article pretty well covers the basics. I'd also suggest picking up some of those dehydrated campers meals at the sporting goods store, along with a water filtration kit so you can make sure you have safe drinking water. You can use a camp stove outside to boil water for coffee and tea, if you don't have a generator.

And take it from someone who also got caught in the 2011 storms: make sure your car has gas in it *before* the storm system hits, if you know it's coming. Stations may have gas, but the pumps run on electricity.

Scrbblchick

Water would definitely be on my list of must-have emergency kit items. A first aid kit ranks up there, too.

When tornadoes hit my area in 2011, our power was out for four days. We had canned food and ate that. I was able to leave town with my mom, so we got out and to somewhere with power, but it really did impress on me the importance of having a well-stocked emergency kit.

Nowadays, especially during severe weather season, I keep my pantry stocked with non-perishable convenience foods that don't have to be heated, bottled water, flashlight batteries and radio batteries. Our radio was our life saver after the 2011 storms. It was our only source of information.

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    • Canned foods should be included in an emergency preparedness kit.
      By: Fotofermer
      Canned foods should be included in an emergency preparedness kit.
    • Feminine products are considered essential supplies.
      By: matka_Wariatka
      Feminine products are considered essential supplies.
    • Toilet paper can be used for a variety of purposes in an emergency situation.
      By: Nikola Bilic
      Toilet paper can be used for a variety of purposes in an emergency situation.
    • A supply of gasoline can be used as fuel for generators and other emergency equipment.
      By: Winai Tepsuttinun
      A supply of gasoline can be used as fuel for generators and other emergency equipment.
    • Paper towels should be available for emergency situations.
      By: Nikola Bilic
      Paper towels should be available for emergency situations.
    • An emergency kit should include safety pins.
      By: Philophoto
      An emergency kit should include safety pins.
    • A can opener should be kept on hand in case of an emergency.
      By: Denis Junker
      A can opener should be kept on hand in case of an emergency.
    • Trash bags should be included in an emergency kit.
      By: Julián Rovagnati
      Trash bags should be included in an emergency kit.
    • An emergency kit should include gauze pads.
      By: Stocksnapper
      An emergency kit should include gauze pads.
    • Water bottles are good to have on hand in case of an emergency.
      By: monticellllo
      Water bottles are good to have on hand in case of an emergency.
    • Antibiotic ointments are typically included in emergency first aid kits.
      By: Tinga
      Antibiotic ointments are typically included in emergency first aid kits.
    • Photocopies of personal documents, like social security cards and passports, should be kept in an emergency kit.
      By: AR Images
      Photocopies of personal documents, like social security cards and passports, should be kept in an emergency kit.
    • First aid kits are essential emergency supplies.
      By: lucato
      First aid kits are essential emergency supplies.
    • Emergency supplies should include clothing.
      By: Photographee.eu
      Emergency supplies should include clothing.
    • Personal hygiene items, like soap, should be included in an emergency kit.
      By: picsfive
      Personal hygiene items, like soap, should be included in an emergency kit.
    • Flashlights are essential emergency supplies.
      By: Petr Malyshev
      Flashlights are essential emergency supplies.
    • Batteries may be useful in an emergency kit.
      By: Gudellaphoto
      Batteries may be useful in an emergency kit.
    • A generator for backup electricity.
      By: Andrei Karpenko
      A generator for backup electricity.
    • Water, batteries, flashlights and extra food should all be included in an emergency kit.
      By: Lisa F. Young
      Water, batteries, flashlights and extra food should all be included in an emergency kit.