Chapter 1: Emergency Kit Essentials
The first step is to build or purchase your emergency kit. You have three options: purchase a pre-made kit, build a kit using supplies you already have and purchasing missing items, or a combination of the two.
Here’s a breakdown of the absolutely essential items everyone needs in their emergency kit including product suggestions and tips from the pros.
How to Pack
How you pack is equally as important as what you pack. Supplies scattered all over your home will be useless when you may have only minutes to evacuate. The same for an overburdened duffle bag - if it’s too difficult to carry, it will slow down evacuation.
Before you start collecting supplies, you’ll want a plan for how to manage them.
To carry all of your items safely and easily, you’ll need a heavy-duty backpack or rolling duffle bag.
For one or two people, a backpack is a smart choice. It can fit everything you need, and stores easily under your bed or near your front door. A strong backpack with reinforced seams and extra pockets is ideal or heavy supplies and long evacuations. This will prevent your kit, full of essential supplies, ripping or breaking while you’re on the move.
For families of three or more, we recommend a rolling duffle bag to accommodate the increase in supplies needed for larger groups while maintaining portability.
If you have multiple mobile adults and/or teenagers in your household who can help carry supplies, a combination of backpacks and a rolling duffle bag may be ideal. Dogs can even be helpers, with custom backpacks for them to carry their pet supplies.
Whether you purchase a pre-made kit, like our Complete 7-Day Earthquake Bag, or build your own, choose storage bags that are highly portable and can carry a minimum of three day’s food and water, per person.
Food & Water
You’ll need to be prepared to move and possibly travel on foot, so sustaining energy level and staying hydrated is imperative - granola bars and Dasani won’t cut it. The key factors to consider for food and water are high calorie and nutrient content, and long-term storability.
Basic snacks won’t give you the nutrients and calories you need in an emergency situation. Advanced options are necessary for survival. We recommend military-data-style MRE (Meal, Ready- to-Eat) bars, because they have high calorie and nutrient content and won’t expire for at least 5 years. When you purchase a Redfora Earthquake Bag, we’ll help you restock by sending an automatic reminder to restock in 4.5 years, along with an easy way to replace expired items.
The minimum drinking water supply should be 1 gallon per person, per day. In addition to drinking water, you will need purified water for brushing your teeth, washing dishes, bathing, and food prep.
Unfortunately, we can’t store water in a normal drinking bottle. You need water that is air-sealed to avoid bacteria growth for at least five years. A purified water supply is an imperative when you’re in survival mode, so consider purchasing a water carrier or water bags that are Coast-Guard approved.
Another solution is carrying water purification tablets or lifestraws - they’re a lightweight, reliable way to purify water on the go. This won’t take place of your air-sealed water supply, but can help if supplies run low.
As last resorts, the back of the toilet, a water heater, or ice cubes in your freezer are all good sources of drinking water when coupled with a purification tablet
Emergency First Aid and Hygiene
Most earthquake-related injuries aren’t caused by the quakes, but by failing structures. Fortunately, cuts, scrapes, and bruises can all be treated with a first aid kit. Other natural disasters (hurricanes, wildfires, floods, etc.) bring more hygiene-related concerns. Water-borne illness, wounds, skin irritation, lung irritation, and infections are incredibly common. Preparing for first aid and hygiene will help prevent illness and infection.
Store a large first-aid kit that carries basics bandages, gauze, latex gloves, tape, alcohol pads, and splints.
Most kits cover the basics, but we can’t stress the importance of finding a kit that includes latex gloves enough. In encountering a communicable disease, or providing first aid, they will help keep you and the people you’re helping safe.
Further, if you take medication that is vital to your health, store extra in your emergency kit. It’s unlikely the neighborhood pharmacy will be open, so talk to your doctor about prescribing a week supply of medication specifically for your kit.
Many emergency kits overlook basic hygiene, but it can truly transform you and your family’s experience in an emergency. Store travel sizes of the following items:
- Soap/body wash
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Pocket tissues
- Infectious waste bags - disposing of waste properly can prevent infection and disease
Emergency Shelter & Warmth
You may need to leave your home in an emergency, and when living without insulated shelter or indoor heating, staying dry and warm is imperative. Here are the items that will help:
- Mylar sleeping bags
- Hand/body warmers
- Emergency tent or tarp
Emergency Power and Communication
Of course, emergencies are more manageable with access to alerts, updates, evacuation instructions, and survival resources. But how do you stay updated without internet, TV, or electricity? Also consider, cell service in a disaster area may be jammed, so you’ll need to plan on operating mostly without power.
Here’s what you need to be completely prepared:
- Hand crank flashlight/radio/phone charger (ideally one tool that manages all three)
- 30-hour candle
- Glow sticks
- Waterproof matches
Internet and phone service may be down, which means everything from credit cards to cell navigation may be unusable. The following items will help you and your family communicate, assemble, identify yourselves, and gain access to resources.
- Emergency contact form
- Evacuation plan
- Communication plan
- Paper and pencil
- Copies of two forms of ID (passport, DL, birth certificates, SS cards)
- Insurance records
- Bank records
- Local map
- Personal and local evacuation routes
Having essential items in your survival kit is equally as important as having a thoughtful plan on how you and your family will react and keep in touch during an emergency.
Each kit should include communication and evacuation plans with the following information:
- List of emergency contacts (household contact information, and out-of-town contacts)
- List of local agencies and shelters that offer aid after disasters
- A designated meeting point for you and your family, which should be an accessible, open area that is less likely to be affected by faltering building structures
- Work, school, and home evacuation routes
- Local maps with hospitals, urgent care centers, and possible evacuation routes highlighted
Sometimes the most dangerous part of a disaster is the toxic, unhygienic, or generally treacherous environment left after an emergency event. The following tools will be imperative to anyone navigating disaster aftermath.
- N95 dust mask
- N95 certified masks are medical-grade and can protect you from inhaling harmful particles (building debris, asbestos, lead, etc.) in the air after a disaster
- Leather Palm Gloves
- These can be handy while using tools, but are also important for keeping your hands protected when navigating debris or dangerous areas
- Multi-function knife
- Safety goggles
- Rope can be used for building shelter, drying clothing, securing loose items, helping lift people or items over obstructions, and much more.
- Sewing Kit
We know building your own kit is a serious undertaking, and not everyone will have time and money to research and purchase quality products piecemeal.
Luckily Redfora has you covered. If you do nothing else on this list, here are the five things Redfora believes are imperative to keep you and your family safe in an emergency, and save a lot of time and money.
- Buy Redfora’s Complete 7-Day EQ Bag to cover all the items listed above, except for your emergency documents. We supply kits that support up to 6 people in one bag. Purchase accordingly for your household.
- Prepare and store all the listed emergency documents in your EQ bag, cash included.
- Store extra warm clothing, shoes, and mylar sleeping bags in each of your EQ bags
- Scan dependent and pet checklist, and store any relevant items in your EQ bag