How to Pack an Emergency Essentials Kit

emergency essentials
(photo by Marcin Wichary via FlickrCC)

As Outkast once sang, “You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather.” While the optimists among us tend to imagine life through the lens of the best case scenario, the realists of this world know that things don’t always go according to plan. That’s why it’s important to think about disaster preparation and to have an emergency essentials kit packed and ready to go for whenever you might need it.

In any kind of emergency — be it a natural disaster, an accident on the road, or an unexpected hospitalization — you can make things easier on yourself and your family by preparing ahead of time. Being prepared doesn’t mean you have to go all out. But by spending an afternoon pulling together a survival kit, you can give yourself the greatest gift of all: peace of mind.

Packing a First Aid Kit

First up: stocking up on first aid supplies.

The easiest thing to do, of course, is to purchase a ready-made first aid box. These can easily be found online or at your local big box or sporting goods store. Look for kits with bandages, gauze, disposable gloves, cold compresses, and antiseptic wipes, at a minimum.

If you prefer, you can also build your own first aid kit or supplement a pre-assembled one with your own items of choosing. This is especially important if you or someone in your family has a pre-existing condition that requires special treatment. Diabetics will want to have hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia kits on hand, for example, while anyone with severe allergic reactions will be glad to have an EpiPen in their emergency bag.

Emergency Food Supplies

Next up: survival supplies for your RV kitchen. While cabinet space tends to be at a premium, trust us when we say it’s worth keeping enough food on hand to feed everyone in your travel party for at least three days. You never know when a natural disaster could strike, or when your rig could break down in a remote area. Better safe than sorry!

The easiest foods to pack are nonperishable items that don’t need to be cooked or heated up. In a pinch, cans of tuna fish or chunk chicken can be a meal in and of themselves, and the same goes for nuts, granola, dried fruit, and peanut butter.

Just like the first aid kit, you can buy a pre-made emergency supplies kit for food. Although it takes up more room, a bucket of emergency food rations can last as long as 20 years if stored properly. Many RVers consider it a worthy investment.

emergency essentials
Emergency essentials (photo by Global X via FlickrCC)

Survival Essentials

Once you’ve got your first aid kit and your extra food supplies ready to go, you can start pulling together your survival gear list.

  • Emergency thermal blankets take up almost no room at all but will keep you nice and toasty if you are ever in a position to need them.
  • A flashlight is a must-have piece of survival gear. The American Red Cross’s Blackout Buddy lights up automatically whenever there’s a power outage.
  • A self-filtering water bottle or LifeStraw ensures your water is always clean and safe to drink.
  • A multi-function emergency radio can help you stay connected to the outside world during a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or tornado. Look for one with a crank-operated cell phone charger if you want to be extra prepared with your emergency essentials.
  • A pocket chainsaw can help you chop firewood (and doubles as a great conversation starter!).

What to Do in an Emergency

If you own your RV, consider keeping a “facts of life” binder ready to go inside your rig. This could include things such as the names and numbers of your doctors, a list of your medications, instructions for caring for your pets, and contacts for next of kin. Ideally, you can find a place to safely stash the binder while still keeping it easily accessible among your emergency essentials.

Too late for preventative measures? Keep calm and don’t hesitate to ask for help. Whether that’s dialing 911 or calling a park ranger, sometimes it’s best to leave things to the professionals.

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