How to Make an At-Home Emergency Kit

How to Make an At-Home Emergency Kit

You never know when an emergency will happen. That’s the bad news. The good news? You can always be prepared for when one occurs. Having an emergency kit handy at all times enables your family to have front-line supplies and remedies for a variety of unexpected ailments and injuries, along with events like power outages and inclement weather.

From the kids getting bumps and bruises while playing in the yard to a sliced finger while preparing dinner, it’s only a matter of time before something goes awry. So, what should be in your household emergency kit? We asked MDF Instruments, a leading manufacturer of stethoscopes and other essential medical equipment, for their take on what you need to stock away for those sudden emergencies.

What is an Emergency Kit?

Contrary to popular belief, a complete emergency kit isn’t just first-aid supplies. Sure, a traditional emergency kit is certainly a must-have, but proper preparation for an emergency goes beyond a personal accident or injury.

Your emergency kit should have enough supplies for up to three days. Remember, some families have needs unique to their situation, whether it’s extra pet food, prescription medications, infant formula, methods to monitor health, accessories for older adults, and more. 

A comprehensive emergency kit includes items such as:

  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • Water (each person should have one gallon per day for up to three days)
  • Food (a 72-hour supply of non-perishable food is recommended, along with a can opener)
  • Extra prescription medications
  • Contact lens solution and eyeglasses
  • Sleeping bag for each person
  • Extra cash or traveler’s checks
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Masks
  • Important family documents in a water-tight container

These supplies ensure your emergency kit has all the essentials required to sustain your family in case of an emergency. When building your own kit, it’s a good idea to sit down with your family and write down everything you’ll need to survive — even thrive — during an emergency, including shelter-in-place scenarios.

Let’s take a look at three items that any emergency kit must contain.

first aid kit supplies

Must-Have Item #1: First-Aid Kit

Here’s the first thing to know about your first aid kit: It helps to know where it’s actually located! Make sure your entire family knows where to find it — and remember, it’s always a good idea to keep a separate, small first aid kit in your car’s glove box or trunk.

Make sure your first aid has the following accessories:

  • Gauze bandages and pads
  • Bandages
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Tweezers
  • Aspirin
  • Emergency blankets
  • Cold compress
  • Oral thermometer
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • One-way valve breathing barriers

Check your first aid kit regularly to see if any items have expired. Also, have emergency phone numbers and contact information handy in your kit.

flashlight with batteries on a table

Must-Have Item #2: Flashlight with Extra Batteries

Emergencies are bad enough — in the dark, all your problems are compounded. If you’re at home, a flashlight helps you locate your first aid kit. And if you happen to be away from home, a flashlight in your car gives you the ability to see what’s happening around you and avoid dangerous situations.

Ideally, you’d like to have a working flashlight for every person. For your car, at least two flashlights will work, especially if your group needs to split up to find assistance.

While any flashlight will do (LED varieties produce more light), it’s highly recommended to have a rugged, waterproof light — also called a “tactical flashlight” — just in case the flashlight is dropped on the ground or into water. Ensure you always have extra batteries and regularly replace your flashlight batteries if required.

Aside from hand-held flashlights, you can also obtain convenient head-mounted lights or even multi-purpose flashlights. For example, some flashlights convert into hazard lights to warn approaching cars and can be used to provide much-needed illumination to help you check your car’s engine.

mask with a respirator

Must-Have Item #3: Masks

The COVID-19 pandemic acquainted practically everyone with masks. Before COVID, masks were rarely seen in public and only used for specialized applications like construction or painting.

Yet, in an emergency, masks help protect your family from breathing harmful toxins. One situation where masks can be beneficial is a chemical spill. For example, in 2023, a catastrophic train derailment occurred in East Palestine, Ohio. This derailment caused toxic chemicals like vinyl chloride to be released into the air. While the main objective of face masks is to prevent illness from respiratory diseases, they’re also crucial to have in unexpected situations like chemical spills.

For emergencies, we recommend having one mask or a particulate respirator for every family member. Keep these masks in your first aid kit for easy access. Remember, it’s not just man-made disasters like train derailments that require clean air to breathe. Everything from tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes can produce an unhealthy amount of dust and smoke. Having high-quality masks and respirators ready to go keeps you prepared for practically any type of emergency.

Importance of Preparing for An Emergency

Emergency preparedness is the ultimate “low-effort, high-payoff” situation. It doesn’t take much effort to have a first aid kit, flashlights, and masks in your emergency kit. But in extreme situations, these accessories can literally save your life.

And it’s just not the life-saving benefits. A comprehensive emergency kit helps reduce anxiety in an already stressful environment and can also aid in recovery efforts, making it easier to return to safe conditions.

Bottom line: It pays to have an emergency kit on hand, both in your home and in your car. While emergency response is usually thought of as a community-wide initiative spearheaded by emergency first responders and government agencies, proper preparedness starts with you!

"how to create an at-home emergency kit" text with picture of kit supplies on a table

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