When it comes to family safety and home security, top-of-mind concerns usually involve crime or household accidents. However, environmental factors force millions of people to evacuate their homes or shelter in place every year. An emergency kit, also known as a survival kit, is the cornerstone of emergency preparedness for these situations. Assemble a well-thought out emergency kit, either in your home or in a travel-friendly “go bag”, to help you stay safe and sound.

While some locations face greater environmental risks than others, dangerous weather can strike anywhere. In 2018, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recorded 124 emergency declarations, which included fires, storms, flooding, high winds, mudslides, tornadoes, earthquakes and even volcanic eruptions. These events and related emergencies often result in the loss of electricity, water, heat, phone lines or other utilities. They may also prevent you from traveling, so plan accordingly using this list.

Emergency kit basics

Your basic preparedness kit should include everyday staples like water, food, essential toiletries, batteries and backup communication devices. The following recommendations are intended to last through relatively minor emergencies until your power can be restored or emergency personnel can reach you.

Advanced survival kit items

There are several possible reasons to increase your level of emergency preparedness, many of them personal. Some people prefer to keep an elevated level of independence and preparation because they live in an isolated setting. Others just want maximum peace of mind. To increase your preparedness level from covering basic needs for a few days to enhancing your comfort and readiness for an extended period of time, start with the items listed above and expand on them as your priorities and resources allow. In some cases, “more” is simply better – more food, more water, more tools. In other cases, consider additional strategic investments in the following items.

Stay informed and stay safe

There is no upward limit on disaster readiness. Your optimal security kit of items strongly depends on you, where you live, your family size and type, the extent and type of damage or weather expected, and where you are at the time the disaster strikes. For more information on emergency preparedness, visit Ready.gov or the American Red Cross.