What to include in a family emergency supply kit - Pen and Parent
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Do you have a family emergency supply kit? Check out this lifesaving article on what to include in your emergency supply kit. DIY family survival kit.

DIY: Family Emergency Supply Kit

Yesterday, on NPR, I listened to a mom lament about how unprepared her family was for Hurricane Harvey in Houston. She kept berating herself for not having a family emergency supply kit. I then realized that I don't have one in my household or any idea of what to include in a family emergency supply kit. 


Thanks to Mr. Google, I quickly searched and found some recommendations for what to include in a family emergency supply kit, but then I realized that what I might include might be slightly different from other families in different areas. In San Diego, where I live, we don't usually have hurricanes, but we do have earthquakes.

In the end, it's important to have an emergency survival kit, but preparing your family for disasters typical for where you live too will make a huge difference in the moment.

Some Questions to Ask Before Stocking an Emergency Supply Kit

  1. What are common emergencies/natural disasters for the area you live in?
  2. For those types of emergencies, what might you need?
  3. Where will you keep your kit? In the car? In the house? Both?
  4. How many days will you plan for? Staying at home? Leaving your home?
  5. Where will you go, if you have to evacuate your home? How will you get there?

What to Include in a Basic Family Emergency Supply Kit

FEMA, The Red Cross, and The National Hurricane Center all have in-depth checklists worth checking out. Below I've created a list based on these resources. 


The recommendation from The Red Cross is: "one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)."


The key here is to include non-perishable, easy-to-transfer food items such as nuts, crackers, and energy bars. Foods high in nutrition should be your first choice, and if you need a can opener remember to include it in your kit. Plan for at least three days of food. 


Include both prescription and non-prescription medications for one week. Another recommendation by FEMA is to keep a list of names, doses, and times for each medication, in case you need it. 


When you have to leave quickly in an emergency, it's helpful to have a copy of all your important documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, social security cards, and all other necessary records in a waterproof container. And the mom in me suggests adding one favorite family picture that you can't live without. 

First-Aid Kit

Having a first-aid kit stocked with basic medical supplies is a must for any family emergency supply kit. Purchase one on Amazon or Walmart and keep one in your house, car, and job. 


One thing the mom on the radio mentioned about not being prepared for Hurricane Harvey was that both she and her husband had their phones in their back pockets. They got soaked in the flood waters, making them useless. So, add a radio or plastic bags to your survival kit. As well as, all the contact information for local authorities and family and friends, in case you lose your cell phone. 


I usually have some change in my wallet, but nothing more in the way of cash. We've gotten used to swiping our card or phone for most transactions. But, in an emergency, you might not be able to use your cards or get to an ATM. Keep enough cash for a few days to buy water, food, and supplies. 


Add an extra change of warm clothes for you and your kids. I'm also going to add rain ponchos and socks. Having the clothes ready will make it easy to evacuate quickly. 

Kid Supplies

The recommendation is to pack diapers, wipes, and formula for younger kids. Not to mention anything else that might be necessary (medications, diaper cream, blankets, etc.) for your child. Also, if you have time and room, perhaps a board game to keep them occupied.

Pet Supplies

Include necessary pet items like food, leashes, and medications, if you have an animal in your household. 


Add tools like a flashlight with extra batteries, can opener, garbage bags, duct tape, etc., to your family emergency supply kit.

What else might you need for the area you live in?

Create a Plan

After assembling your family survival kit, it's time to create a plan in case of an actual emergency. The Red Cross has a great pdf file on how to do this. I've summarized it below for you. 

  • Talk with your family
  • Plan for emergencies
  • Practice evacuations
  • Tell everyone where the emergency kits are stored
  • Decide where you'll go
  • Plan what to do if separated
  • Include pets in your evacuations

Important Things to Remember

  1. Regardless of where you live or the size of your family, having a family emergency supply kit will be a lifesaver in a moment of need. 
  2. Pack the essentials but also remember that less is more. I tend to overpack and then realize that I only used half of what I needed. 
  3. Plan for an emergency (planning is critical).
  4. Remember to stay calm. 

I hope that you never need your family emergency supply kit, but if you do, at least you'll know that everything you need is at arms reach - when it really matters. My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Have you ever needed an emergency supply kit? If so, when? I love to hear about it in the comments below.

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