It’s a disaster! Are you prepared?

Disaster preparedness kit

One Halloween, after watching one too many zombie movies, we may or may not have assembled a survival kit. Silly, sure, but having an emergency preparedness on hand can save your life during a natural disaster, whether or not it involves the undead. Surprisingly, a disaster preparedness kit is not unlike preparing for the zombie apocalypse; it just has fewer cricket bats.

There are definitely ready-made kits you can buy, but if you want to customize what you have on hand, this list, compiled with recommendations from the Red Cross, FEMA, and the CDC, can help. Keep in mind that you’ll want a portable kit you can take with you, as well as extra supplies to keep in your home. Store the kits in a cool, dry place, and make sure everyone in the household knows where they’re kept. Hopefully you’ll be able to stay in your well-equipped home in the event of a disaster, but we’ve also differentiated what should go in a backpack, in case you need to evacuate for a few days. Finally, this list isn’t meant to be completely comprehensive; what goes in an earthquake preparedness kit will differ from items for a hurricane kit, after all.


There’s a reason this is number one on every disaster kit list. Humans can survive without food far longer than they can without water, which is why the standard recommendation for water in survival kids is a gallon of water per person per day. The water should be in commercially sealed bottles, but keep in mind these come with expiration dates.

In your to-go bag

LifeStraw Go Water Bottle and Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System

LifeStraw Go Water Bottle ($29.16) or Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System ($40 to $120.56)

Every person should have enough water for three days, so that’s three gallons each. The LifeStraw is another option, because it filters just about any water you can find into potable H2O.

At home


Reliance Products 7 Gallon Rigid Water Containers ($18) and Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide Tablets ($10)

It’s a good idea to have an extra supply at home, enough to last two weeks.


Frozen meals have come a long way, but obviously your kit should be stocked with nonperishable food you don’t have to cook. Protein bars, canned food (including fruits, veggies, soups, and tuna), granola, nuts, peanut butter and whole-wheat crackers, trail mix, dried fruit, and cereal are all great options. Obviously, babies and young children will require formula or baby food. Keep an eye on the expiration dates and switch out the supplies regularly.

In your to-go bag


Mountain House 72 Hour Kit, for 2 people ($147) and BioLite Wood Burning CampStove ($130)

It’s a delicate balancing act to keep a three-day supply of food that won’t weigh down your bag. Protein bars are lighter than canned goods but probably provide fewer calories and nutrients. Take a mix of nonperishable food, keeping in mind how you may be burning a lot of calories if you’re traveling on foot.

At home


Wise Company Emergency Food Variety Pack ($119) and BioLite BaseCamp Stove ($300)

Just like with the water, you’ll want two weeks’ worth of food in case of emergencies.

First aid kit

In your to-go bag


Adventure Medical UltraLight & Watertight .7 Medical Kit ($21.34)

Space is at a premium, so you might want to consider, for example, the travel-size container of pain relievers over the full bottle. You also want to ensure you have everyone’s prescribed medications and any special equipment, such as an EpiPen.

At home


Adventure Medical Family First Aid Kit ($26)

Your home’s first aid kit can have a larger quantity of the supplies below.

Hopefully everyone in your party will stay injury-free, but a first aid kit is a must-have. Once again, this is something you can purchase pre-assembled. It should include the following:

  1. A first-aid manual
  2. A list of everyone’s medications, doctors, and insurance in a waterproof container
  3. Adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
  4. Aloe vera
  5. Antibiotic ointment
  6. Antidiarrheal medicine
  7. Antihistamine
  8. Antiseptic wipes
  9. Blister treatment
  10. Eye drops
  11. First aid tape
  12. Gauze pads in assorted sizes
  13. Gauze roll bandages
  14. Hand sanitizer
  15. Instant cold packs
  16. Pain reliever
  17. Petroleum jelly
  18. Plastic bags
  19. Safety pins
  20. Saline solution
  21. Scissors
  22. Sunscreen
  23. Synthetic gloves
  24. Thermometer
  25. Triangular bandage
  26. Tweezers


The night is dark and full of terrors, so flashlights are a welcome addition to any survival kit.

In your to-go bag


Goal Zero Black Flash Flashlight ($40) or Petzl Pixa 3 Headlamp ($75)

Lightweight and small should be the watchwords here. A solar flashlight offers a great benefit because it recharges itself; a headlamp is also a great option, because it’s one less thing to carry.

At home


Goal Zero Torch 250 Solar Flashlight ($80)

Hopefully you have lots of flashlights at home for the occasional power outage, but an LED lantern provides light that you don’t have to hold all night.


In an emergency, it’s essential to stay connected. You’ll want to be able to pick up the latest news, whether or not your cell phone is out of juice.

In your to-go bag


Eton FRX2 American Red Cross Multipurpose Radio ($35)

An NOAA radio will provide you with weather updates, but something like the Eton multipurpose radio packs a lot more into a nine-ounce package. It has an LED flashlight and cell phone charger, and you can charge it through a wall adapter, solar panel, USB, or hand crank.

At home


Eton FRX5 Radio ($96)

In case of a power outage, you’ll want a radio that’s powered by hand crank or batteries, preferably both.


Take stock of everything in your kit, and buy extra batteries for everything requiring them. The last thing you want is for your flashlight to fail you when you need it most.

In your to-go bag


BioLite KettleCharge 10 Watt Generator ($150)

Keep one extra set of rechargeable batteries for flashlights and radios. Check them regularly to make sure they’re functioning. Another option is to carry a portable and lightweight generator like BioLite’s KettleCharge, you fill it with water, place it on your camp stove and as you bring the water to a boil, electricity is produced and sent to the Power Handle, leaving you with potable water and 10W of usable power, enough juice to charge USB devices as fast as a wall outlet.

At home


Goal Zero AA Rechargeable Batteries, 4 pack ($10.78)

Of course you should keep some rechargeable batteries with your other supplies, but storing some regular batteries in the freezer helps them discharge more slowly and you’ll always know where they are.

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