How to Put Together an Emergency Kit

Are you prepared for an emergency? It could mean the difference between life and death

Credit: Flickr / mabagal

You should have emergency kits at home, in your car and at work

An emergency kit can help you look after yourself and your family for at least 72 hours without assistance in the event of a catastrophe

If there’s one thing to be learned from experiences like Hurricane Katrina or the earthquake in Haiti, it’s that being prepared can often be the difference between life and death.

You should keep a complete survival kit in your home in case of disaster or an emergency. The Government of Canada has a Get Prepared site with complete instructions.

It’s important to be prepared for emergency situations while you’re at work or on the road, too. Even events like a sudden severe storm or extended power outage can cause big problems if you aren’t prepared.

Emergency Kit Items for Your Desk

While it may not be possible to keep the recommended 72 hours’ worth of supplies in your desk, a carry bag with the following key items could be a lifesaver if you need to evacuate.

  • Travel-sized first aid kit

  • Bottled water
  • Energy bar(s)

  • Small flashlight (with extra batteries)

  • Extra house and car keys
  • Any required medication(s)

  • Small amount of cash and coins
  • Whistle
  • Protective walking shoes

  • List of emergency phone contacts

Emergency Kit Items for Your Car

An emergency kit is a must for your car and should include all of the items in your desk kit, with additional overnight supplies.

  • AM/FM radio (wind-up or with separate batteries)

  • Emergency candles with matches

  • Blanket

  • Area maps

  • Pen and paper

  • Jumper cables
  • Flares or warning lights

  • Fire extinguisher
  • Rope
  • Small shovel

  • Scraper and snowbrush
  • Windshield fluid and antifreeze

  • Emergency sign

  • Salt, sand or cat litter

  • Winter clothing and shoes

It can be tempting to “borrow” items like flashlights or bandages from emergency supplies, so check your car and desk kits regularly and replace anything that has been removed, along with any medication nearing its expiry date. Replace food, bottled water and batteries twice a year. 

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.