Emergency Essentials for just about any disaster
For a very technical definition, emergency essentials are core supplies an individual may need to sustain life in the event of a disaster situation. But, ask yourself, “what am I preparing for?”. Is it an earthquake? Wildfire? Climate change? Is it all the aforementioned? Possibly. Whatever it is that you’re preparing for, there is a common theme of supplies that will help you in disaster situations. In the most common disaster situation, such as a hurricane or earthquake, it’s realistic to anticipate life without basic necessities for at least 3 days before help arrives. 72 hours is an estimate for how long it will take emergency personnel to reach you. For this reason, the 72 hour kit has become the standard in prepping, which is why we’re going to dig into what should be considered emergency essentials that are universal across just about any disaster scenario.
If you were working with an expansive budget, you could feasibly build up a stock of supplies to last you several months for multiple disaster scenarios, but not everyone has that luxury. Another factor to consider is that you may be preparing for a situation where you need to leave your home, such as a wildfire, where carrying several months’ worth of supplies is nearly impossible. For the average prepper, a 72 hour kit is a very reasonable goal. To put together such a kit, you need to consider all the things you may take for granted, such as electricity, filtrated water, and shelter, in addition to anything your body requires, such as medications. Below are some universal emergency essentials to consider to get you through those 72 hours.
Water – This one is non-negotiable. Most of us have heard that we can survive a relatively long time without food, but not water. Every cell in our bodies relies on water to survive. Just a few days without water and we begin to lose our bearings. We lose water through our sweat and urine, but also surprisingly our breath, even when we sleep. Water keeps our organs working as they should and keeps us feeling general well. Staying hydrated keeps our energy levels high and our brain functioning as it should.
As a general rule of thumb, one gallon of water per day is needed to stay hydrated, but in an emergency situation that’s not always realistic. If you’re able to maintain a half gallon of water per day, that’s a good start. Water is as essential as it gets, which clearly qualifies it as an emergency essential.
Food – As we mentioned, people are able to survive a surprisingly long time without food. But, there’s a difference between surviving and operating at optimal performance. A healthy individual could realistically survive up to three weeks without food, but that is an extreme situation. Granted, there are claims of some wild survival stories where individuals have gone beyond a month. Go one day without food and test your cravings. If you have never fasted before, it’s way more difficult that you may think. On day two, thoughts of food may begin to consume your entire thought process, ironically. Within days, your body will begin to live off stored sugar in your organs, soon moving on to fat reserves, and eventually muscle tissues. If you’re able to fuel your body with any nutrients from small snacks or freeze dried meals, it’ll keep you thinking clearly and feeling energized. If you’re a casual prepper thinking ahead to an emergency situation, stocking up three days of rations is very reasonable, whether you’re hunkering down or hitting the road.
Shelter – Shelter is considered an emergency essential, but there’s a lot to consider. In a disaster scenario, you should stay in your home unless the situation requires you to leave, such as a hurricane where your shelter may quickly become your enemy. In theory, the average person can live without shelter for three hours, which may seem shockingly low. Extreme heat or cold are the reasons for that estimate.
If you were required to leave your home and find shelter, the length of time you are able to survive depends on quite a few factors, such as elevation, terrain, climate, as well as the weather on that given day(s). In the rare instance where you must leave your home, seeking shelter should be top of mind. You may feel a false sense of confidence in comfortable temperatures, but if the temperature drops into the 50’s (F) and light rain passes over, your cold, wet clothes will have you shivering on the verge of hypothermia in no time. Whatever the situation, keeping yourself protected from the elements is imperative.
First Aid – When cut off from life-saving emergency services, a small injury or ailment can turn into a serious situation in a hurry. A minor cut could lead to an infection complicating things. A lingering headache could impede your ability to handle harsh conditions. A tourniquet can literally save your life. You don’t need to be prepared to perform surgery in your home, but basic medical supplies can give you peace of mind. You could also lump medications into this category as some of us depend on prescriptions to keep us balanced. Make sure you have at least a week’s supply of meds on hand should drugstores shut down for an extended period of time.
There’s certainly a list of ‘other stuff’ that could quality as emergency gear, but are not necessarily essential. But, there are items that would be nice to have to get you through a few days without help. Examples include, batteries, a flashlight, matches, candles, whistle, maps, solar charger, and so on. These nice-to-haves would make daily life much easier, but should be secondary to any of the essentials mentioned previously. Each emergency essential mentioned here has its own set of variables and options. Your budget, location, and family situation can all affect how you go about prepping, but if you want to be self-reliant for a few days, the resources mentioned here should be at the core of your 72-hour kit.