15 Emergency Preparedness Items You Need to Have Packed and Ready To Go


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Disaster can strike anyone, anywhere at anytime. Don't be caught off guard. Be ready to bug out with this list of 15 emergency preparedness items you need to have packed and ready to go.Emergency preparedness is an important part of self-sufficiency, and self-sufficiency is a natural part of homesteading, so naturally the topic of preparedness (aka. “prepping”) comes up often in the modern homesteading community.

But as homesteaders, we tend to talk mostly about being prepared, well, at home! We grow and preserve our own food, stock our pantries to the hilt, save seeds, learn to DIY and make do or do without. Some of us live off grid or heat our homes with wood, raise our own meat and collect rainwater for the drought season. You could say that us homesteaders are more prepared than anyone if disaster were to strike… at home. But what if we had to leave our house and homestead behind? 

We may not like to think about it, but the reality is that many of the emergency situations that we should be prepared for are things that would most likely force us from our homes. 

I live out west on Vancouver Island. As climate change intensifies, we are seeing hotter, drier summers year-over-year, which means more and more forest fires threatening our communities. California just had its deadliest and most destructive wildfire season in history. Just one of the wildfires -the deadliest in California history- levelled an entire town, killing at least 88 people and destroying nearly 14,000 homes. 

But wildfires aren’t the only type of disaster that could make people have to pack up and leave. Every year hurricanes force thousands of people from their homes from the Atlantic down to the Gulf of Mexico (and even parts of the Pacific), and cyclones threaten homes and communities in other parts of the world. 

Here on Vancouver Island, we’ve also got a major earthquake fault line just off our coast, and while earthquakes happen without warning, communities on the west coast of the island are on tsunami evacuation warning should an earthquake occur in the Pacific Ocean.

In addition to natural and climate-related disasters, industrial disasters, chemical spills, threat of war and even spread of disease could also cause people to leave their homes.

So what do you take with you if you have to leave?

In general, every household is expected to be able to care for themselves for at least three days following any widespread disaster. But many people (dare I say most) aren’t prepared even for one, so when disaster does strike, these are the people rushing the grocery stores and clearing out everything on the shelves. Don’t be one of those people!

Get prepared ahead of time and pack your emergency bag now with these 15 emergency preparedness items you should always have packed and ready to go.

 

1. Important Documents

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Social security/social insurance cards
  • Passports
  • Insurance policies

You should have all of these important documents (or at least copies of them) packaged together and accessible in case you need to grab things and go quickly.

Either have them packed in a bug out bag or at least have them in an envelope or clipped together somewhere that is easily accessible. And make sure they’re somewhere you won’t forget about! The last thing you want in an emergency is to waste precious time searching high and low for something like this.

 

2. Water

  • 1 litre per person (bare minimum… 1 gallon is better)

You should have a 1 litre bottle of water per person at the very least to last everyone in your family until you get somewhere safe. 

FEMA recommends one gallon per person per day. Of course it can be tough to pack around (or even pack up) that much water, so you should at least have away of accessing fresh water no mater what. I highly recommend investing in a Lifestraw personal water filter to filter out contaminants from questionable water sources.

Each person in our house has a Lifestraw Go water bottle, which can be filled before leaving home and refilled -even with contaminated water- and provide filtered, clean drinking water.

 

3. Food

Ideally, you should have enough food to get you and your family through at least three days in case of emergency. Make sure you have a bug out bag (and/or your vehicle) packed with non-perishable snacks and food that requires little to no cooking, tools or mess to clean up. 

Some ideas are:

  • granola bars
  • beef jerky
  • trail mix
  • crackers
  • dried fruit
  • fruit leather

You could also pack some instant noodles that come in their own cup for cooking. It may not be the healthiest thing in the world, but it will fill you up and provide a hot meal in a pinch as long as you can access some boiling water. (Make sure to pack some utensils if you will need them).

Home-canned goods like pickles and apple sauce could be packed up at the last minute, but it’s not advisable to store home-canned goods for “bugging out” because temperature fluctuations could affect their safety if stored in a hot vehicle trunk or in a backpack. Plus, since canning jars are made out of glass, they run the risk of breaking. 

You can also dehydrate your own food. If you want to make sure you are packing healthy, shelf-stable dried food, you can make your own fruit leather, dried fruits and veggies and even beef jerky at home with a food dehydrator.

I have an Excalibur Food Dehydrator and I absolutely love it. It’s a bit of an investment up front but well worth the money you save in the long run by drying your own food (not to mention the health benefits).

 

4. Basic First Aid Kit

Any emergency supply list should always include at least a basic First Aid kit. You can purchase one that’s pre-assembled like this one, or you could build your own.

Disaster can strike anyone, anywhere at anytime. Don't be caught off guard. Be ready to bug out with this list of 15 emergency preparedness items you need to have packed and ready to go.

If you build your own First Aid Kit, you should include:

  • Bandaids
  • Sterile gauze/field dressing
  • Medical tape
  • Scissors
  • Alcohol wipes (for sterilization)
  • Tensor bandage
  • Roller bandages
  • Latex gloves
  • Abdominal pads
  • Any other specialized emergency medical supplies, such as an EpiPen or an asthma inhaler.

You should also take a First Aid course if possible so you know what to do in event of an emergency. You can search online for First Aid courses near you.

 

5. Pet Carriers/Supplies

While not everyone has pets, many of us do and they’re part of our family, so we will obviously take with us if we are forced to flee. Having pet carriers and supplies ready and easily accessible will save a lot of time in the event of an emergency.

Disaster can strike anyone, anywhere at anytime. Don't be caught off guard. Be ready to bug out with this list of 15 emergency preparedness items you need to have packed and ready to go.

You should have:

  • Pet carriers
  • Food
  • Water
  • Bowls (to eat and drink from)
  • Blanket or towel
  • Leashes & collars

We have two rabbits and two cats. They all have carriers ready to go and a bag of supplies full of pet treats, bottled water, bowls for them to eat and drink from and some freeze dried pet food that’s light and easy to pack around.

If you have livestock (and a way to transport them), make sure you have a plan for loading them into the vehicle and do your best to bring along some food and water for them. In some cases it will be difficult if not impossible to save all of your livestock. If this is the case and you can’t get them to safety in time, a last resort might be a method called “sheltering in place.” This basically just means that, rather than evacuating, you decide whether to confine livestock to a safe area or cut the fences and open the gates so that they can run if needed. Basically, if you can’t take them with you, give them a fighting chance.

 

6. Baby Supplies

  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Bottles and formula (if not breastfeeding)
  • Change of clothes
  • Warm pyjamas
  • Blanket
  • Receiving blankets
  • Snacks (if older)

Again, this one doesn’t apply to everyone, but if you have a baby or toddler, you should also have a diaper bag packed with supplies.

 

7. Extra Clothing

Having some extra clothing packed doesn’t seem like the most important thing on this list, and while it probably isn’t, it will be a huge comfort and relief to be able to put on a clean shirt and a new pair of underwear until you can get somewhere where you can clean your clothes and/or get some new clothes. Also, if you get wet or need to layer up or down, having extra clothes could go from being a comfort to a necessity.

Aim for the following for each family member:

  • 3 pairs of clean underwear
  • Extra t-shirt
  • A couple pairs of socks
  • A warm hoodie or sweater
  • Sensible shoes (preferably closed)

It may sound obvious, but fleeing your home is not the time to wear your heels, boots with lots of laces or go barefoot! Make sure you have sensible shoes ready to slip on at the door.

 

8. Pillows & Blankets

Another great comfort when away from home is to have some warm, comfortable blankets and pillows of your own. This is especially true if you need to sleep in your vehicle, and even more so if it’s winter. 

Keep a big, warm blanket in each of your family vehicles, big enough for the whole family to huddle under together. And keep some pillows in cases with handles (like the cases you can buy them in) so you can either store them in vehicles or grab and go quickly.

Of course, if you have enough warning you can also just bring the ones from your bed. But if you’ve only got 5 minutes to grab and go, you’ll be glad to have some packed and ready.

 

9. Medication

  • Prescriptions
  • Inhalers
  • Insulin
  • Epipens

If any family member is on prescription medication, relies on an inhaler, insulin, an epipen or has any special medical needs, you need to make sure you have potentially life-saving medications with you when you leave home.

While I wouldn’t recommend packing these ahead of time as you might need to use them and they don’t store well long-ter, you should keep all medications organized and together in an easily accessible spot.

As for non-prescription medications, you could stash some pain reliever (like ibuprofen or acetaminophen) in your first aid kit. Aspirin isn’t a bad idea either. It could save someone’s life if they’re having a heart attack.

Also, I hate to even put this on here (especially under medication), but if you are a smoker, have an emergency pack in your bug out bag. I’m an ex-smoker, so as much as I don’t advocate or encourage smoking AT ALL, I also know what it’s like to be one, and how smokers turn to cigarettes in stressful times. A major disaster is probably not the best time to try quitting. So don’t smoke. But if you do, stash an emergency pack and a lighter. 

 

10. Toiletries

Here’s a sample list of what you should have ready in your bag: 

  • Toothbrush (per person)
  • Toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet or tissue paper
  • Deoderant
  • Tampons or pads (because of course it will be “that time” right in the middle of a major emergency)
  • Hair brush and ties for long hair
  • Nail clippers
  • Q-Tips
  • Razor
  • Towel (or at least a hand towel to dry off)

 

11. Full tank of gas

Gas is one of the first things to run out during an emergency (especially an evacuation), and if you don’t have enough you won’t make it safely to your destination. 

You should always try to keep your gas tank at least half-full in case of an emergency. As soon as you hit the halfway mark on your gas gauge, fill up. This way you’ll never run out of gas even if it’s not an emergency. 

You could also store a jerrycan of gas in your garage, but don’t expect it to last indefinitely. Oil degrades over time and if it’s left to sit for too long you might find that when you fill your tank it fails completely. And don’t store it in your vehicle! I did that when my gas gauge was broken and I could smell gasoline every time I got in my car. The fumes are not healthy. Store it in the garage and rotate and replace it regularly. 

 

12. Survival Kit + Tools

Every bug out bag should contain some basic survival gear. Even if you know you’ll be going to stay with family or at a shelter where you’ll be taken care of, there are so many things that could happen that could require the use of some very basic survival gear.

Disaster can strike anyone, anywhere at anytime. Don't be caught off guard. Be ready to bug out with this list of 15 emergency preparedness items you need to have packed and ready to go.

Likewise, you might need some basic tools and parts in case your vehicle breaks down, your path is blocked by fallen branches or a plethora of other reasons.

Here are some basic items you should have with you

  • Flashlight (headlamps are great too)
  • Lighter, matches and flint (you can’t have too many ways to start fire)
  • Road flares
  • Pocket knife
  • Jumper Cables
  • Spare Tire
  • Axe (or at least a hatchet)
  • Bungee cords
  • Rope
  • Firestarters or dry material to start fire (I keep a Ziplock bag full of old dryer lint in my bug out bag to start fires with)

TBH, you should have these things in your vehicle all the time in case of a breakdown, flat tire or any other roadside emergency. 

 

13. Books & Games

This is more important than you might realize, especially if you have kids! Pack a few lightweight items to keep younger family members occupied and take their mind off the situation. Consider packing one or more of the following:

  • Books
  • Games
  • Cards
  • Colouring books and crayons
  • Puzzles
  • Journal and pen

This can be a HUGE morale booster for the whole family.

Also, if you end up at a shelter or somewhere where you will need to wait the disaster out, having a deck of cards with you can help to pass the time. 

 

14. Emergency Cash

In a disaster, there’s no guarantee that bank or debit machines will be working, so it’s super important to have some cash on you in case you need to purchase anything.

Aim to keep at least $100 of emergency cash in an envelope, either in your bug out bag or hidden somewhere in your car (or both!).

 

15. Checklist

Having a checklist that you can refer to can help you make sure you don’t forget anything on your bug out list. You could either have a physical checklist that’s been written or printed out or a digital one on your phone that you can access and check quickly (without needing internet access, because you might not have internet access in an emergency!)

Keep your printed checklist somewhere easily accessible (no sense in wasting your precious time searching for a checklist on top of everything else). Put it up on your fridge or on a cork board where every family member can see it and knows where it is. Go over it in a family meeting and make sure everyone knows what to do in event of an emergency. 

In order to truly be well prepared, you need to make sure the whole family is on the same page and ready to work together. 

 

How you prepare is up to you

There are many more things I could include on this list, and of course depending on how much time you have to evacuate or bug out, you might be able to pack up more or less. 

Other factors such as the size of your vehicle, whether or not you have a camper or trailer, or whether you even have your own vehicle at all and how large your family is will obviously dictate exactly how much you can and should bring with you.

This is a basic list of things you should consider packing up ahead of time and having ready to go in case you ever need to evacuate your home for any reason. But only you know what actually makes the most sense for your own family and situation.

At the end of the day, how you prepare is up to you. But do be prepared. Never think it can’t or won’t happen to you, because it can and does happen to people just like you all the time.

And don’t expect anyone else to take care of you and your family. While disaster situations often prompt an outpouring of support and goodwill from others (and yes, even from the government), there are often so many people affected by large-scale disasters that there has to be some level of personal responsibility on behalf of everyone. 

And remember to help out your fellow humans and animals if and when possible too. We’re all in this together.

Wishing you homemade, homegrown, homestead happiness 🙂SaveSave

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7 Comments

  1. Abby Fields

    I love this list! I also like to make sure I have a list of emergency contact information, insurance phone numbers, and emergency restoration service numbers.

    Reply
  2. Mr Bill

    Very good just hope many people take your advice. I have many more things in my BUG OUT camp trailer. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  3. Herb Pelz

    If you have half a brain, these are common sense items with a few just excess baggage when RUUNING. Playing games is excess weight and volume. When you are on the runs you should be teaching your children.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thanks for your comment! I respectfully disagree, however. Keeping morale up is a HUGE part of dealing with any emergency or stressful situation, especially for children. I’m a teacher as well, and my school requires parents to pack bags with extra clothes, snacks and games and toys for children to go in our emergency kits in case of an earthquake, fire, lockdown or (fill-in-the-blank). Also, many times we are not talking a full on zombie apocalypse here, but a wildfire, earthquake or something else that forces us from our homes and sees us not on the run, but in our vehicles stuck in traffic trying to make our way out of the area. Having games on hand is an excellent way to help pass the time and offer a positive distraction when dealing with the stress of this type of emergency situation. But of course this list can be tailored to suit your specific needs. Feel free to toss the games if they are weighing you down:)

      Reply
      • Catherine

        I agree with the playing games. Backpacking sized games: deck of cards, Cribbage board, Farkle, and Adult Coloring book with colored pencils. Minimal weight but hours of fun and family focussed. We have met fellow travelers who would hunker down for a game of Farkle. LOL Love the list of things to prep for emergency. Water is the most cumbersome thing to have on hand for me. We are a family of 3, plus 2 labs, 4 cats, 1 cockatiel, and 2 horses. Freeze-dried food for pets is the best take away for me. Have you ever tried to locate cats in a stressful situation? Like you, crates are kept by the main exit door and blankets are cleaned between uses. An extra leash (with waste disposal bags) and a harness (they wear collars) are tucked inside with a clean blanket. Most recent shots records are laminated and attached to crates. We are homesteaders too. I dislike pre-packed food, but it does have preservatives and space saving packaging, so we rotate through it, in moderation. If we had to go to a shelter, we would want at least 3 days of self sufficiency while services are organized. Medicine boxes and backpacks are color specific to family member. Learned this when DD was small and who’s box/bag was who’s= stressful. Our animals would make a government shelter likely impossible, but it is less stressful to be prepared. DD was raised this way, so her household is also prepped. Thanks for the great article, Anna.

        Reply
        • Anna Sakawsky

          Hi Catherine,

          Yes, I do really believe games and distractions are important in a stressful situation! They may not be priority number one, but it really doesn’t hurt (or add much weight) to throw a deck of cards in your bag. What is Farkle? I must look into this! The freeze dried food seriously cuts down weight, and I have tried feeding it to my cats at home and they like it. It’s always best to get them acquainted with a new food like that in their normal environment as they may not eat it if they’re already stressed out. I can imagine water would be extra difficult if you have large livestock like horses, etc. in addition to a fairly large family to keep hydrated. That’s why I love having our Lifestraw water bottles because then we am always refill without any worry of the water not being safe to drink (or at least the risk is minimized big time). As for locating cats in a stressful situation, I have learned a lot about this as we lost a kitty when she ran from an accident when we were moving to our last house. My husband rolled out truck and trailer and the animals were inside. She took off into the woods and despite months of searching, we never found her. It was the most traumatic experience of my life, let alone hers. But I learned a lot about animal (specifically cat) behaviour from that experience. My best advice would be to familiarize yourself with your cats’ usual hiding spots so you know where to look if they’re hiding. Stay calm yourself as your energy will rub off on them. Have their favourite treats on hand to coax them out if need be and when you get them in the carrier, cover it with a towel or blanket if you can. Keeping them from seeing out helps keep them calmer. And never let them out of their carriers until you’re somewhere safe and secure as they likely will bolt. Sometimes you have to learn things the hard way. I’ll never forgive myself for not being better prepared when our kitty went missing. But I did my best at the time. Still hoping she magically turns up one day. It’s been just over 3 years now. Lucky we all survived though so I count my blessings every day and take pride in being as prepared as possible from now on.

          Reply
          • Madlyn

            Children are going to freak no matter what you do and if they can see or hear the problem there going to know that something is defiantly wrong and when you try to distract them with sum card games.

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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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Kicking things off with a fun pantry challenge can help you to start the new year off on the right foot and gain momentum and motivation that will help get you moving in the right direction and take control over your food supply right off the bat so that you set yourself up for success in 2021, regardless of what unexpected surprises it may bring.

This year's Homestead Pantry Challenge is even bigger and better than before too, with some exciting prizes up for grabs, including a @lodgecastiron skillet, a self-watering micro greens growing kit from @trueleafmarket and an 8-quart Duo Nova Instant Pot!!!

🥫To join in and enter to win, post photos or videos of your pantry, your meal planning, your meals, etc. during the pantry challenge and use the hashtag #homesteadpantrychallenge in the caption. Every post equals one entry:)

🎞 You can also post in your stories using the hashtag #homesteadpantrychallenge and tagging me @thehouseandhomestead for additional entries!

I'm SO pumped about this year's challenge and I really REALLY hope you'll join me!

The challenge officially begins on January 1st and runs until January 31st, but you can sign up via my link in bio @thehouseandhomestead and get all the details before we begin!
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Merry Christmas friends!

While this year, and subsequently this Christmas has been anything but normal, and while we weren’t able to be with our extended families this year , I hope you’ve been able to find peace and joy this season, and to enjoy slower, more intimate moments at home with your immediate family.

Now that the big day has come and (almost) gone, it’s time to slow down, to rest deeply and recharge for the year to come. Nobody knows what 2021 will bring, but after the year that was 2020, we’ve proven to ourselves just how resilient we can be. And that is one of the greatest gifts of all. (Well, that and this accidentally inappropriate ornament we got to commemorate a year that will forever live in infamy;)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night ❤️
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Cranberry sauce is a holiday tradition, but if you’ve ever had store-bought cranberry sauce out of a tin, then you probably know how unappetizing it can be.

From the “glurp” sound that it makes as it slides out of the tin and into the bowl, to the way the jelly stays formed in the shape of the tin even after it’s out, to the bland boringness of the flavour.

No offence to anyone who loves commercially canned cranberry sauce, but even if you love the store-bought stuff, then you’re definitely gonna love homemade cranberry sauce!

I know a lot of people put orange juice or orange zest in their cranberry sauce, and you can totally do that too! But I’m actually not a fan of the orange-cranberry mix, so my recipe calls for a little cinnamon and vanilla, as well as some sugar to give it a sweet spiciness that goes oh so well with Christmas dinner.

But perhaps the best part is that you’re able to can this cranberry sauce too, which means you can make a big batch this year and have enough homemade cranberry sauce on your shelves to last you multiple holiday seasons! Or you could even give some away to loved ones with whom you’re not able to spend Christmas with this year.

Whether you want to can it for later or eat it fresh or just refrigerate it until Christmas, this recipe is a must-try this holiday season.

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to get my full recipe plus canning instructions:)
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#homemade #fromscratch #christmasrecipes #cranberrysauce #delicious
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Look at that JIGGLE!!!

If you don’t make your own bone broth, this might look really weird (and kinda gross tbh), but this is actually EXACTLY what you wanna see in a homemade bone broth. This jiggly gel means this broth is super high in collagen, which comes from the bones, skin and ligaments of animals (in this case grass-fed beef cattle). It’s also the most abundant protein in the human body, and many studies have show that increasing our collagen intake can help up the collagen in our own bodies.

Collagen has so many health and beauty benefits, including healthy skin (and reduced wrinkles), shiny, healthy hair and strong bones, cartilage, joints and muscles.

I love making my own broth at home because I can pretty much guarantee a good gel and lots of collagen in each batch. Plus I make mine super frugally, with bones and veggie scraps that I save in the freezer.

I’ll be posting my recipe (and canning instructions) soon. Start saving those scraps!
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#bonebroth #collagen #nourish #wholefoodnutrition #homesteadkitchen
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After 9 long months of extreme hand washing and sanitizing, the last thing our skin needs right now is the harshness of winter. But winter is here my friends, and that means it’s time to give your skin a little extra TLC.

I make my own body butter every year around this time, and it’s become my favourite way to moisturize my skin during the winter months. Much like a deep conditioner works on your hair, body butter absorbs deeply into your skin to help moisturize, repair and protect it.

While lotions contain water (aqua), they also requires additional preservatives to keep them from going moldy due to the water content. But this homemade whipped body butter doesn’t have this problem because it’s made of nourishing oils and fats like shea butter, sweet almond oil and coconut oil (plus beneficial essential oils for all-natural fragrance). These oils are not only all-natural and highly beneficial for your skin, they’re also easily absorbed, giving your skin a “deep conditioning” rather than just a surface moisturizing.

But the best part of all is how quick and easy this body butter is to make up in your kitchen, and what a nice gift it makes this time of year too! So you can make a jar for yourself and a few jars for the people you love:)

Click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/homemade-body-butter/ to get the full recipe and “whip up” a batch today;)
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#bodybutter #naturalbeauty #naturalliving #skindeep #homemade #handmade #naturalskincare
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The holidays are fast approaching, and that means it’s time for my FAVOURITE THINGS!!! 🎉🎁🎄(aka. The modern homesteader’s Christmas wish list;)

I’ve rounded up all of my fave kitchen tools, books and home and body products that I use all the time and could not live without (ok, I could live without them, but I wouldn’t want to!) and I’m sharing them all with you in this week’s YouTube video!

Grab a mug of something warm (or a glass of something chilled) and come on in for a tour of all the goods!

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to YouTube.com/thehouseandhomestead for all the latest videos:)
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