DIY Home Emergency Kit

by Lauren Caggiano

Sometimes the unthinkable or unpredictable happens at home. In those cases, it’s especially important to be prepared so you can protect your loved ones in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency.

But where to begin? According to Ready.gov, it’s recommended to have enough food, water and essential supplies on hand for 72 hours in case you need to evacuate. If you plan to remain in your home, the Red Cross recommends planning for a two-week supply of such items. That way you can be assured your family is taken care of, even if conditions worsen or there’s a weather emergency declared.

While you can buy a ready-to-go kit online, you can alternatively take a thrifty and practical approach. You likely have some staples sitting around at home and can round them up into an official kit. (Or better yet, make this a family project and get the kids involved.)

For starters, grab a large, waterproof tub to store the contents of your kit. From here you can start to round up the essentials first, and then move on to the “extras.”

The Basics
(Per the American Red Cross)

  • Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries (Similar item available in the Red Cross Store)
  • Deluxe family first aid kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers (Similar item available in the Red Cross Store)
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area

The Extras

Once you’ve got the must-haves, you can customize the kit to your family’s needs and your climate.  Additional supplies you might consider adding to your kit might include:

  • Whistle
  • N95 or surgical masks
  • Matches
  • Rain gear
  • Towels
  • Work gloves
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Household liquid bleach
  • Entertainment items
  • Blankets or sleeping bags

Of course, a kit is futile if you don’t have the knowledge or a plan in place to respond to an emergency. Consider this a reminder to have such a conversation so nothing is left to chance when you’re panicking. Again, the Red Cross is a great resource for such material. First, discuss how you’d respond in a given situation in your home environment. Second, identify responsibilities for each member of your household and how you’ll collaborate under such circumstances. Last, but perhaps most importantly, practice as many elements of your plan as possible. For added peace of mind, you might consider downloading the American Red Cross’ app, for Apple and Google Play.

Uncertainty is part of life, but don’t let it cramp your style. By putting in the time and curating such a kit, you’ll be set up to handle whatever life (or Mother Nature) sends your way. As the Boy Scouts say, “be prepared.”

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