What Kinds of Emergency/Survival Kits are Essential?

Packs like:

-home emergency kit

-flat tire/tire replacement kit

-get home bag

-get out/evacuation bags

-car first aid kit

I have about a week’s worth of bottled drinking water for my family (at 2L each per day). We have a small amount of tinned food - I should probably get more.

We have stuff to quickly light fires, some wood and an alternative heating source for food.

I probably should keep some spare fuel for the car.

Spare batteries, torches and a range of portable and not so portable tools. I’d like a solar panel.

Small first aid kid for the car, big one for the house.

I don’t have anything that’s designed specifically to be a weapon.

Paper maps.

Id like to be able to say that at any one point we are able to travel 250km and go an entire week without having to go buy anything.

Until I wrote this list, I thought I was far less crazy than I actually am.

A good place to start with is making sure you can survive for two weeks without any electricity, running water, heat or outside help of any kind.

Ideally this is stuff you can pack into a vehicle and leave with if you have to. I keep all of my camping supplies, including food in totes in the basement.

Freeze dried food keeps for decades and some of it isn’t half bad. MREs can keep for years too and aren’t all bad either. I’ll probably eat mine up this summer on hikes and backpacking trips, then get another case to sit on for the next five years or so.

Actual water is fine to stockpile but getting multiple options for filtration and purification is really smart. A life straw is a great place to start for like $20.

This is a crazy rabbit hole you can go down and really go to extraordinary lengths to prepare. A lot of how you approach will depend on where you live and otherwise spend your time.


+1 on MREs.

Side benefit. I pass a bunch of homeless people on the Ft. Duquesne and Ft. Pitt bridges at rush hour. I give them food so I don’t inadvertantly support any bad habits they might have.


Gun, knife, rope, duct tape, zip ties, large plastic trash bags, chlorine, sulfuric acid, ball hammer, car battery, jumper cables, shovel, hog farm.

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This is an interesting topic for me, so I’ll into a bit more detail of how I take moderate preparations. A lot of my backcountry camping/backpacking gear doubles as emergency equipment, so you’ll see that pop up a lot in my list.

Like I said above, 2 weeks of complete self-sustainment in any weather is what I aim for at home. The basics of this are covered by my camping gear. Even if I can’t heat my home, I have sleeping bags rated to -20. It won’t be fun and I’d probably be leaving if I could, but I won’t die and I have other tricks to stay warm in an un-heated home.

My food supply basically consists of camping food that I use anyway, so I just keep a surplus on hand and use the oldest on my trips. I use freeze-dried food for longer backpack trips where weight is a concern, but this year my MRE’s are getting old so I’ll probably pack at least one of those per trip just to use them up. They’re also great for long day-trips and I think it’s kind of cool to eat army food every once in a while. Both of these are not particularly expensive, especially if you buy in bulk. The last time I bought a case it came out to like $6 or $7 per MRE. Not bad. Freeze-dried is probably more expensive on a per-calorie basis, but the shelf life is ridiculous and it’s a great option to keep pack weight down on multi-day backpacking trips.

Canned goods and stuff like dried rice are great options here as well. Anything that keeps well in the conditions you can store it in is good, especially if you use it anyway.

I’ve also got some cool guns that served different purposes. A .22 rifle is a great option if you don’t have any guns at all. Ammo is cheap at maybe a nickel per round, so it’s fun and easy to shoot. That makes you more likely to become a decent shot than if you went with a larger caliber that cost ten times or more to shoot, and it is ideal for hunting small game. Guns and their purposes are just as big of a rabbit hole as general preparations, but having a .22 is better than not having a gun at all.

Water is one of the biggest concerns in any situation. You do not want to get a water-borne illness in any situation, especially when it’s an emergency of some kind. I just checked and lifestraws are down to $10, so get enough for you and whoever is under your care. I also have a more rugged backpacking filter that can process more water faster, but it wasn’t cheap. What is cheap is crystallized iodine. It has an indefinite shelf life and can process ridiculous amounts of water for it’s size and weight. I have a Polar Pure idodine system, but you can’t buy them anymore because meth cooks made the DEA restrict crystallized iodine sales and Polar didn’t get certified or something.

You can still buy it online, but it’s Polar Pure bottles filled with iodine from a different supplier. Maybe it’s the same thing, maybe it’s not. I’d get some anyway. $20 gets you thousands of liters of safe-to-drink water with an indefinite shelf life.

Isn’t this standard on most vehicles nowadays?

A great idea if you spend a lot of time away from home. Maybe you live in the country but work in the city. If an earthquake hits and travel by car becomes impossible, having a bag in your place of work or your car could make hoofing it home a much more viable option. I don’t presently have anything like this set up other than keeping gloves, hat, hand-warmers and an extra fleece in my truck along with a firearm, but I can also walk home from my work in any conditions without taking any special preparations. Worst case scenario for me is frostbite if it’s brutally cold.

I’ve got one of these, which is basically a retired backpack where I store a bunch of camping gear and a few other non-perishable items I’ve picked up over the years on Amazon.com and yard sale excursions (like an N95 mask, a sweet little crowbar, a high-quality small forest axe and way too much stuff to list out here). It’s not a complete, all-in-one grab-and-go bag, but I can grab that bag and fill it up with stuff from the three totes next to it and have a lot of stuff that’s generally useful in a variety of situations.

Yes, I’ve used mine three times, once for a fairly serious laceration. I have a pretty decent sized one, just went with the pre-packaged job designed to cover common problems and moderate injuries. My home kit has stuff for severe trauma, which is something I could probably make my car kit better-equipped for.

Long story short, if something is useful and I use it anyway, I buy extra and keep a surplus on hand, especially if it doesn’t go bad quickly. Duct tape, vaseline, trash bags, batteries, ammunition, toilet paper, food, soap, dental hygiene products, first aid supplies, etc, the list is really long and I’ve managed to build a nice inventory of useful stuff in the basement.

This has an added bonus of having these things on-hand when you just need something for mundane use.

You should check out a tenkara rod and some flies. Very compact, lightweight, simple and effective.