guide to build an emergency survival kit for family

A Step-by-Step Guide: How to Build An Emergency Survival Kit for Your Family

Our daily lives tend to revolve around habits, where we become accustomed to routines that guide our days— raising from bed, getting the kids to school, commuting to work, commuting home, caring for your kids, heading to bed. While routine action becomes our version of reality, forming the basis of our decisions from day-to-day, life can change in an instant. Suddenly, what was once our routine no longer fits the standard of reality. 

The recent onslaught of Coronavirus/COVID-19 has shown that a singular, global event can change our version of reality in a short period of time, upending our routines and altering the way we live. While the effects of COVID-19 have been far-reaching, it’s not an isolated event. This viral outbreak has shown how interconnected the world is, and how an incident in one industry can spread to affect others. From rising unemployment to a stalling economy to empty grocery stores, the effects of this growing disease are being felt far and wide. 

But COVID-19 won’t be the last we see of an event like this. Scientific modeling believes viral outbreaks will become more common in the common decades; similarly, natural disasters— such as rampant wildfires, mass flooding, tornados, and hurricane seasons— are expected to become more frequent and aggressive. 

It’s a worrisome thought, but it doesn’t have to be physically or mentally debilitating. You and your family can work to remain safe both now and for the future. But what does this require? 

Personal safety requires preparation. It’s in your best interest to take necessary precautions to ensure you and your family are protected for eventual pandemics and natural disasters to come. The easiest way to achieve this is to take measured steps which are meant to prepare for worst-possible outcomes.

Now, what does this look like? At its most effective, pandemic and natural disaster protection relies on prioritizing personal survival. This can be achieved through acquiring survival skills, knowledge, and shelter. Moreover, it involves the procurement of emergency essentials— often deemed survival kits, supplies, and tools.

disaster preparedness checklist supplies

If you’re looking to protect your family at all costs, it’s a good idea to begin investing in survival gear and supplies for the next eventual quarantine or disaster. Let’s take a closer look at what particular items you should be investing in and how you can go about building the perfect emergency survival kit for your family.    

“Bug-Out” Bags for Outside the House

While your first thought might land on setting aside space in your basement where all of your survival supplies can be stored, you’re thinking too graciously. It’s idealistic to imagine that you’ll be at home when disaster strikes at its fullest effect. To ensure your survival, it’s best to invest in what is called a “bug-out” bag: a bag which has essential survival supplies packed inside of it, all of which can be easily transported for ultimate protection. 

This bag should have everything you need to remain safe in the present wake of a disaster, all until you can effectively return home and collect the rest of your protective supplies. Whether it’s leaving the office, needing to pick up your kids from school, or getting out of the city in an instant, you should have a bag nearby that can provide you with an essential first aid kit, rations, extra clothing, and personal safety devices. 

Creating Your At-Home Emergency Survival Kit

While you now have bug out bags ready and available for use in the face of a disaster, it’s time to begin preparing your at-home emergency survival kit. What it looks like will depend on a number of factors, most of which are specific to your own family, but there are some particular items you’ll want to include to ensure total safety and protection. 

But before we begin on the items you should be accruing, let’s take a closer look at where you should begin, even before making your first purchases. 

creating at-home emergency survival kit

Set a Budget 

While it’s a perfect idea to prepare for a state of emergency, you shouldn’t go all out from the very beginning— you don’t want to be unprepared, but you also shouldn’t act as if doomsday is right around the corner. 

Life will go on, and your family will still need financial protection in the immediate future to remain safe. Rather than dumping your entire savings account into the creation of an emergency survival kit, it’s smart to set a budget which will allow you to effectively accumulate supplies and tools over time. 

Consider setting aside a specific amount of money each month that is dedicated to your emergency survival kit’s supply purchases. Think of it as a monthly expense, like your family’s health care, internet, phone, or utility bills. This is an investment in your future, so it’s a good idea to budget to have the tools for your protection when you’ll need them most.  

Consider The Size of Your Space 

Before you begin buying in bulk, consider how much available space you have in your home. While you want to begin setting aside all of your emergency supplies, you also don’t want them encroaching on your living space— you shouldn’t have to resort to commandeering one of your kid’s closets either. 

Look into the space you have that can be readily used for your emergency survival kit and supplies. Your basement and garage can be great choices for storing items such as emergency water storage devices and multi-month food supply kits.  

preserve jars in pantry

Gradually Accumulate   

Just as you should be budgeting, you should understand that you need to prioritize what purchases deserve your attention. This means taking time to understand what is an immediate necessity and what isn’t— not every item needs to be purchased immediately. 

It’s better if you accrue your items over time, only purchasing what you need when you need it and only making purchases when they fit within your budget. 

Before making a large purchase, ask yourself, “How would my family be if something happened tomorrow? Is this item necessary to our survival or is it just a comfort item?” This can guide your purchases, making sure that everything you buy is done with great consideration.   

Prepare Wisely

While you might want to get products the second you think of needing them, consider keeping your eye on them, watching how the price shifts over time. Better yet, do your research before you purchase: are there reviews related to the quality and longevity of this product? Can you find this product at a better price elsewhere? Is this a product whose quality doesn’t need to be tremendous, where the price outweighs the overall quality of the purchase? 

This will help you stretch your budget as far as you can. Furthermore, it will ensure that you get the essential items your family needs, all without breaking the bank— generic name alcohol-based sanitizers will work just as well as brand names when rounding out your first aid kit

home security hero image

The Basics for Your Home Emergency Survival Kit 

Clothing and Cloth

You’ll want to have extra garments laying around, all of which are available for use across different seasons. This includes blankets, sheets, wool socks, rain jackets, winter clothes, short-and long-sleeve shirts, and more. Not everything needs to be purchased new, either. You can check in at your local thrift store to find clothing, bed sheets, and outerwear which is inexpensive and in good condition. That latter point matters most: while you can shop sales to stock up on clothing, don’t buy anything too cheap; you want clothing that will stand the test of time, able to survive sitting aside and regular wear while in quarantine. 

Self-Defense Weapons and Tools 

While not the first supplies you should be purchasing for your family, it’s well worth your time and money to invest in self-defense weapons and tools. These items are essential to protecting your family, and home, if the at-hand disaster is exceptionally serious— to the point where looting may become commonplace. 

Devices run the gamut from stun batons to self-defense knives— whose multi-purpose uses make them great as essential tools. While you can consider investing in a gun for your household, you should think about it first. You want to protect your family, but you don’t want to put your family in danger either. If you purchase a gun as a safety-device, you’ll have to work to secure it. Your home will need a dedicated gun safe that only adults are able to access.

pouring filtered water into glass

Food and Emergency Water Storage 

One of the most essential things you need for your family’s emergency survival kit are non-perishable food and purified water. Food should be dehydrated, canned, or freeze-dried, including items such as canned beans, canned tuna, pickled vegetables, rice, pasta, and more. All items should have a long shelf-life and shouldn’t require either refrigeration or freezing, as your home may be susceptible to losing electricity. Don’t forget to include basic cooking tools, too— you don’t want to end up learning you forgot to purchase a manual can opener when it really matters. 

Water is another important supply you need to take into consideration. While tap water tends to be safe, water lines might be damaged during a natural disaster. Under such circumstances, it might not be safe to consume tap water any longer. Your family should invest in emergency water storage devices for this reason. Whether it’s large jugs that can be filled and refilled or investing in a water purifier, you can guarantee your family has fresh water to drink. 

First Aid Kit  

While nothing can replace going to the doctor or emergency room, circumstances such as a pandemic or natural disaster might make it difficult to go for injuries both small and large. You should make sure your family has a well-stocked first aid kit in the home which includes necessary devices, from wound dressing bandages to antiseptics, sterilizing agents to eyewash solutions. Most first aid kits should be made to be readily taken on-the-go, as you want to make sure your family is safe while traveling outside of the home. 

basics for your home emergency survival kit

Family-Specific items 

Beyond some basics, you should have other tools that will be specific to your family. This will include stocking up on 

  • Certain medical items, such as contact lenses, medications, spare glasses, and items to help those with disabilities. 
  • Baby supplies if you have a newborn or toddler, such as formula, diapers, and baby food.
  • Games and activities for younger children to keep them mentally attuned.
  • Pet supplies specific to the pets in your family, including extra food, litter, collars, leashes, and water bowls. 

Communication Tools

You’ll want to have a means to communicate with the outside world, especially if landlines go down. To ensure you can still access your phone, you should have multiple chargers available, both traditional socket-based chargers and solar-powered chargers, in case the electricity goes out. 

And in case cell signals go out, it’s a good idea to invest in a radio. Hand-cranked radios are a great option that don’t rely on traditional electrical methods. 

Protective Gear 

cleaning supplies on table

Self-defense weapons only go so far; you should think of incorporating other supplies which can defend and protect your family. Some of these supplies include the following:

  • N95 respirator mask 
  • Matches, candles, and lighters
  • Physical tools for in-home maintenance
  • Towels 
  • Bleach and sterilizing liquids 
  • Sleeping bags and camping equipment
  • Cooking devices, such as a wood-powered grill

Creating an emergency survival kit for your family doesn’t have to be complicated. With some foresight and critical thinking, you can work to supply your family with essential tools that will keep you safe and protected, whether you’re dealing with a pandemic or natural disaster.