Having an emergency survival kit ready for when you need to evacuate your home is important, as is keeping it on hand for when you need it quickly. As recent experience shows, severe weather, flooding, power outages and bushfires are becoming more and more frequent, impacting thousands across affected areas in the country.
Having an emergency preparation plan and survival kit may not be something you’ve thought about lately, or you may have put one together some time ago and not looked at it since. If this is the case, then now’s the time to dust it off, and check it over to make sure it has what you really need in it.
To help you be prepared, we’ve put together our top 15 recommendations of what to include in your survival kit, so that you can be ready for any emergency.
1. A plan
Knowing what you’ll do in the event of an emergency is critical, as is either writing it down or going over it with your family. This will prevent panic, and lack of awareness of what you each need to do. Ensure everyone knows:
- Where to find your emergency survival kit
- What’s in the kit, and how to use each item
- When to evacuate, and where to meet if separated
2. Food and water
Storing food and water may seem difficult when you need to keep your survival kit portable, but at the very least include items like protein or muesli bars. If you have a good size bag, or a couple of bags, include some canned foods and a can opener in the event you’re without food for a few days. Think practically though – only pack what you’ll actually eat, and what you’re happy to carry with you.
Having water in your emergency bag is also incredibly important, in the event you’re without a source of clean water for a few days. Having some water purification tablets is also useful.
3. First Aid kit
You can easily buy first aid kits at many general supply stores or supermarkets, as well as online via suppliers like St John, but it’s a good idea to check what’s in them. You’ll likely want to beef up the number of bandages and dressings, at minimum.
4. Flashlight and candles
A flashlight and/or candles are a critical part of your emergency bag for when the power’s out or its dark and you’re mid-evacuation during inclement weather. Make sure you include extra batteries, and test your flashlight - before you’re in the position to desperately need it.
5. Matches or a lighter
Including a lighter or waterproof matches is recommended, and as is brushing up on basic fire making skills, in case you’re ever in a dire emergency where you need to stay warm. You may be stuck in the position of needing to find shelter outdoors, or you could be trapped in your home in the middle of winter with no power or heat.
While masks have become a common sight during the pandemic, they’re also necessary in emergencies where the quality of air is poor. If you’re exposed to smoke, excessive dust, mould, or other airborne contaminants and toxic materials, having a couple of masks packed will be a lifesaver.
Including a whistle in your emergency kit will help you signal for help when you’re trapped or in a location with poor visibility. Get one with a good, loud, piercing sound – if you have kids, they’ll no doubt be more than happy to help you test this.
Most of us are completely reliant on Google maps on our smartphones, and haven’t seen a paper map in years. Having a local, paper-based map may prove very useful in the event you’re evacuated and don’t have access to cellular data or your phone battery is flat.
9. Battery operated radio
If the power is out, so will the internet be, and in an emergency situation you can’t guarantee that network coverage will be consistent. Having a battery-operated radio in your survival kit gives you access to a communication channel that emergency services will broadcast on.
A multi-tool is an incredibly useful device to have on hand both in your emergency bag and day to day. These are compact, robust, and will include tools like scissors, blades, pliers, snips, screwdrivers, bottle openers, tweezers and more.
11. Personal hygiene items
Having a supply of personal hygiene items in your emergency bag is useful, in the event you can’t get any for a few days to a few weeks. This may include:
- A few rolls of toilet paper
- Sanitary wipes
- Feminine hygiene products
12. Duct tape
Duct tape is incredibly useful to have on hand for almost anything – from securing items together, making a makeshift clothesline, patching leaks, covering cuts and even splinting broken bones. Having a roll handy in your emergency survival kit is about being prepared for the worst.
13. Cards / Games
Carrying a small deck of cards is something many people don’t think to include in their survival kit. Cards are a great boredom buster, especially if you have kids and you’re hunkered down in a property without power, or you’ve taken refuge in an emergency shelter.
If you can fit it in, including a warm blanket with your emergency supplies is advisable. A woollen blanket is not only breathable, but will still keep you warm even if it gets wet.
If you’re being evacuated from your home in an emergency, you don’t know where you’ll be sleeping or how long for. Mass emergency evacuation sites can be crowded and bedding supplies may be spread thin. If you’re fortunate, you’ll get access to some form of mattress or camping squab, and it may or may not come with bedding. Having a set of compact and easy to wash sheets like Zipsheets in your survival kit is a good way of making sure you have something to cover whatever you end up sleeping on. And of course they’re quick to make up and the ideal choice for bunk beds and camping. Including an inflatable pillow isn’t a bad idea either, as a small comfort.
That’s our list of the top 15 recommendations we have for filling your emergency survival kit. You may have other ideas and items packed in yours – and now is timely to put some thought into this.
Impacted by the Qld and NSW floods?
Intense storms and rain across Qld and Northern NSW have left tens of thousands without power and with homes damaged beyond repair. If you want to donate to support providing critical humanitarian support to the victims and evacuees of the flooding, the Australian Red Cross is on the ground providing urgent support to the communities that have been impacted.