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A Complete Guide to Emergency Survival Supplies

A Complete Guide to Emergency Survival Supplies

In today’s economic and political environment, creating a list of emergency supplies for survival is no longer considered extreme and paranoid activity – it’s almost mandatory. Threats exist on all fronts, triggering the need for things like survival meals, home defense weapons, and other survival supplies and emergency essentials.

It’s not just major catastrophic events like grid failure, pandemics, extreme weather, or the current threat of nuclear war. Home invasions, society decline, possible layoffs, home invasions, and supply chain issues all grow in probability as each day passes.

Once considered a secluded demographic of a few hundred thousand disaster-ready rural Americans, prepping has turned into a massive subcategory of US culture that includes millions of people from all walks of life. Since the September 11th attacks, citizens in every corner of the country have ramped up their emergency preparedness. The numbers continue to grow with the passing of each global and domestic crisis.

emergency equipment

Prepping seems overwhelming, especially considering the increasing amount of extremist content pandering disinformation using unverified, clickbait-titled articles and videos preying on the element of fear. These circles cater to the prepper frame of mind but exist solely to deliver shock value conspiracy theories instead of valuable emergency-essentials focused content.

Prepping is as simple as giving yourself the chance to avoid unexpected hardship in a disaster. By the end of this article, you’ll know what it takes to create a list of survival supplies in an emergency that includes food and other essential items you need to survive.

What is the importance of a survival kit?

The importance of a survival kit is critical and should never be taken for granted. Each passing day without creating a list of emergency supplies for survival and acting on it is another day closer to a disaster where you’re caught without the things you need.

A few simple types of survival kits exist, depending on your planning situation. The best place to start is by understanding the existing types and deciding which one you want to create first.

How to Start Getting Prepared for Emergencies

The first thing you need to do is decide on the emergency survival supplies you’ll need. Are you creating a first aid kid or a survival kit?

Does your survival kit fit the criteria of something that would be used when sheltering at home for an extended period? Or are you creating a bug-out bag, which is a kit that you can grab and walk out the door with the potential of not returning home for a while?

You can answer these questions by analyzing the type of threat that affects your area the most. It’s also essential to assess your area’s social and economic activity.

Suppose you’re in a Covid hotbed or an area with a difficult time economically with businesses shutting down. In that case, it makes more sense to create a kit with survival supplies that allow you to remain home for a substantial length of time.

However, if you’re in an area prone to natural disasters like hurricanes and tornados or is within close proximity to a potential terrorist target or enemy strike zone, it’s probably better to create a bug-out bag.

Honestly, it’s never a bad idea to have both. However, to avoid becoming overwhelmed, it’s easier to focus on creating one at a time.

What is the difference between a first-aid kit and a survival kit?

A first-aid kit contains essential medical supplies that allow you to remedy yourself and others in an emergency. Survival kits have emergency essentials that you need to survive without modern amenities. There’s no reason to pick between one or the other because you must have both. Listed below are the types of items you need for each.

emergency first aid kit

First-Aid Kit

A quality first-aid kit contains the following types of items:

  • Plenty of bandages, gauze, and tape
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Peroxide and alcohol
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • A scalpel
  • A tourniquet
  • Burn cream
  • Pain relievers (Tylenol, Ibuprofen)
  • Cotton balls
  • Safety pins
  • Gloves
  • Antibiotics
  • Eyewash
  • Benadryl
  • A respirator
  • Female products
  • At least a two-week supply of prescription drugs you take
  • Cold and hot packs
  • Knee and arm braces
  • Splints
  • Thermometer
  • Stethoscope

Certain items like a stethoscope and thermometer are more costly than others, and we understand being on a budget. Some people are limited to what they can practically afford and can carry, so begin with the essential items first, and you can make additions later.

When it comes to first-aid kits, eventually, you need one for your home and to take in case of an evacuation situation. Experts recommended having 72 hours’ worth of evacuation supplies in the past. However, current models demonstrate the need for two weeks of emergency medical items.  

survival supplies kit

Survival Supplies Kit

Your survival supplies kit contains items you need to survive daily without having access to running water, electricity, or any retail outlets. Your emergency survival supplies should include a more comprehensive list of different categories.

Furthermore, categorizing your survival supplies into items for your home and items needed for your bug-out bag helps simplify the process. Naturally, you can include more items overall for your shelter-in-place survival kit.

What items should I include in a typical home emergency kit?

The good thing about your home emergency kit is that you can include items that you can’t fit into a single backpack. However, it’s important to remember not to go overboard.

Make sure you go heavy on the items you need and lighter on the non-essential items. It’s also worth noting that dipping into your survival supply is never a good idea. The last thing you want is to need an item during an actual emergency only to find you forgot to replace it when you had time.

readywise food kit

Survival Meals

Each person in your home needs about 1,500 calories per day. Using this figure, you can create a supply of survival meals based on the number of days you can sustain. Again, a good benchmark is two weeks.

  • Non-perishable canned goods
  • Freeze-dried fruits
  • Freeze-dried vegetables
  • Dehydrated meats
  • Powdered whey milk to drink with meals

Large kits are available that include a portion of each that can satisfy the requirements of this part of your list and are perfect for the at-home scenario.


Each person in your home needs one gallon of water per day. Avoid storing the water in milk jugs and use water storage containers instead. It’s also good to include some type of water filtration or treatment tablets if you run out of clean water.


It’s essential to have several sources of light. Add battery-powered and solar-powered flashlights, oil-burning lanterns, and candles. This gives you multiple options and backup sources if you run out of batteries or oil.


A one-way NOAA radio and a two-way HAM radio are the most efficient means of communication. Make sure you research how to use these items before disaster strikes.

Power Survival Supplies

Include two weeks-worth of batteries and pre-charged power stations. Fill five-gallon jugs with gasoline for your vehicle or generator and include gallon jugs for things like kerosene if you have lanterns that burn using these items.


Wet wipes, sanitizer, shampoo, and camping soap are suitable hygiene items. Buy plenty of toothpaste but include baking soda as a backup if you run short.


Purchase tools explicitly reserved for your emergency kit. An ax, shovel, hammer, zip ties, duct tape, wrenches, and screwdrivers are essential items you should include.

Home Defense Weapons

Home defense weapons include knives, firearms, extra ammo, body armor, pepper spray, tasers, or stun guns.

home self defense weapons

Cash Reserves

Keep as much cash on hand as you can safely store. You must have a safe or well-hidden stash spot for your money that you can access during an emergency.


Place all of your essential documents in your safe or stash spot. Include titles, deeds, social security numbers, birth certificates, bank account information, stock certificates, and photos of family members in this group.

Comfort/Mental Health

Including pre-loaded movies on a tablet or having a collection of music or DVDs to play on a laptop with a CD-ROM drive is excellent for passing the time. However, card and board games are important, so you don’t use all your power reserves.

Bug-Out Bag

Your bug-out bag will include many of the same items as your at-home reserves but in much smaller amounts. Generally, a three-day supply of emergency essentials and a change of dry clothes should be kept in your backpack.

Additionally, packing a tarp and rope as an emergency shelter with your bug-out bag is a good idea if you’re on foot for more than one day. Inside your bug-out bag should be a map with a list of the closest emergency locations, like hospitals and government buildings.

Include a battery-powered AM/FM radio in your backpack to listen for any updates or pertinent information broadcasts. Tuck flares and a way to start a fire somewhere in the bug-out bag. Finally, include a whistle in your emergency items list for your bug-out bag.

emergency car kit checklist


What emergency supplies should I always keep in the trunk?

It’s never a bad idea to pack a get-home bag and keep it in your trunk. If you’re at work or away from home when disaster strikes, the only transportation you have could be your feet.

A get-home bag is a smaller version of a bug-out bag made for a more lightweight, 24-hour situation. Things to include in your get-home bag include:

  • Dry change of clothes
  • Blanket and pillow
  • A freeze-dried meal
  • Water filtration straw
  • Canteen
  • Flares
  • Two primary self-defense items (a firearm and a knife)
  • Secondary self-defense items (pepper spray, baton, etc.)
  • First aid items
  • A map
  • Paracord
  • A headlamp
  • A poncho
  • Work/tactical gloves
  • A whistle

Keeping things like a shovel, ax, or chainsaw in your trunk might sound extreme, but consider the following. If an explosion, attack, tornado, or any other event transpires that causes downed trees and other roadblocks, these tools can help clear a path if you can still travel by motor vehicle on your way home.

Why is a whistle important in a survival kit?

A whistle is an essential personal alarm for your bug-out and get-home bags and can even come in handy to have in your home. You could find yourself in a situation where you’re trapped under debris or somewhere out of sight.

A whistle allows emergency workers to track your location by sound for extraction. If you’re in a situation that includes fire or thick smoke, being able to produce a high-pitched noise could be the difference between life and death.

survival kit


What is the most important item in your survival kit?

It’s difficult to choose a “most important” item for emergency essentials. However, water could be the single most critical item in terms of survival.

Even if you’re entirely stationary, trapped, or in a scenario where you cannot escape or prepare meals, you should always have water. The human body is resilient but needs water to function. You can survive hypothermia, burns, trauma, broken bones, and other critical situations. It’s even possible to go without food for three weeks. However, the human body can only go without water for about three days before death becomes a real possibility.

What is the best emergency survival kit?

The best emergency survival is the one you assemble to fit your situation specifically. No one kit is better than the other, and your decision should rest on the highest risks in your area.

Purchasing a pre-made survival kit is an option, but it’s always best to craft your own to ensure it includes the emergency essentials you need and all the items are high quality.

It’s impossible to avoid emergencies or predict when they might strike. However, by creating an emergency survival items list and purchasing the items to construct your kit, your chances of survival are much higher.

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