If worst-case scenarios have been on your mind more than usual this year, that's only natural. Between the global pandemic and the horrifying West Coast fires, 2020 has been a reminder that there are no guarantees.
We shouldn't live in constant fear of a disaster, but we should take simple steps that will help us feel more empowered and prepared for uncertain situations.
One of the most efficient ways to do that is by creating a survival kit (also called a disaster kit, emergency kit, or a bug-out bag), and Amazon Prime Day is the perfect opportunity to assemble an affordable one, or update a preexisting kit.
We've put together a simple guide for the products you need when survival prepping. These items will give you peace of mind knowing you and yours have what you need in an emergency, be it a natural disaster or a zombie apocalypse.
If you prefer to purchase a ready-made kit, there are plenty of good options out there, which we'll review at the bottom of this page.
But if you'd rather put together a DIY kit, we've outlined the essentials that you need to include. Eventually, you'll want to have several kits: one for your car, one for the office or school, and one for your home.
If this seems overwhelming, you're not alone. Just remember that some of these items may already be lying around your home, and that prepping isn't an all or nothing project. It's fine to assemble your kits over time, and you should return to them regularly regardless to replace anything that's expired.
One final but important note before we begin: remember that preparation isn't just about what you have. It's just as much about who you've spoken to ahead of the emergency. Get to know your neighbors now, so you can identify those who might need community support during a disaster, as well as who has special skills that could be helpful in a bug-out situation.
Additionally, you and your family need to have regular conversations about your disaster plan. What is the meeting place, in event of an emergency? Does your family know the nearest tsunami evacuation route, or how to take shelter during a tornado? This is scary stuff to think about — but the more prepared you and your community are to work as a team, the better you'll start to feel, and there are plenty of disaster plan templates out there to make these conversations easier.
Now, let's get started with the essentials you need to prep for a DIY survival kit!
Water and Water-Purification Tools
You need one gallon of water per person for at least three days in an emergency, to use both for hydration and sanitation. Keep in mind that you may want to have extra water on hand for pets as well.
It's also important to prioritize water purification. Consider investing in a Sawyer water filtration system (pictured above), which removes most bacteria and protozoa from natural water sources. When combined with water-purifying drops like those sold by Purinize, you'll be in good shape for your hydration needs.
First Aid Kit, Prescription Meds, and Eyewear
A First Aid kit is an obvious necessity, and it’s important to have one in both your car (especially if you’re preparing for a road trip) and your home.
The #1-bestselling First Aid Kit on Amazon comes with over 299 supplies. It's also available in a variety of colors, so you can choose the color you think you're most likely to see in an emergency.
If you or a family member have essential prescription medication, it's important to have refills on hand (although obviously that is easier said than done, depending on your insurance). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends having, at minimum, a 7-10 day supply of essential medications, stored in childproof containers.
It's also important to stay up-to-date on your vaccinations, and to know when your last tetanus shot was.
Finally, if you're a glasses or contact-wearer, make sure to keep backup glasses and/or contacts and contact solution in your kit.
You should have at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food on hand. Of course, that supply should account for any food allergies or specific food needs in your household.
Ready.gov also suggests choosing foods that won’t dehydrate you. High-energy, non-perishable foods like the Ready Wise granola (pictured above), which is shelf-stable for 25 years, are a reliable bet.
Don’t forget to have food supplies on hand for your pets as well, in addition to a manual can opener.
You're going to need a source of light, and these babies are Amazon bestsellers.
They’re collapsible, waterproof, LED lanterns that come in a four-pack with batteries included — although you should certainly also have extra batteries on hand in any emergency kit.
According to the manufacturer, the lantern “reduces or increases the light as you collapse or expand the lantern. When collapsed it's as small as your phone." That means these lanterns can fit in a smaller kit you keep in your car, or in your desk at work.
An Amazon Editor’s pick, this Bayite fire-starter kit is a good option for having a source of fire on-hand. Of course, make sure the fire starter is something you and the other adults in your family are comfortable using.
If you'd rather not keep a fire-starter kit in each of your bug-out bags, a good alternative is to include a pack of matches in a waterproof bag — just make sure to regularly check that they still work.
It's a good idea to have copies of your birth certificate, financial documents, as well as the name and phone numbers of loved ones in a waterproof pack — so you can eventually let them know you’re okay, even if you don’t have access to your cell phone contacts.
This fireproof and waterproof bag is a lightweight way to store important documents. This is also a good place to keep a list of all your current medications, their dosage, and any other relevant health information that you'd want on hand in an emergency.
Additionally, it's a good idea to have cash on hand. You can keep your moolah in this pouch, or spread it out around different areas of your disaster kit so it's more concealed.
Shelter - Blankets, Sleeping Bags, or a Tent
It's important to have some sort of shelter on hand. This highly-rated thermal sleeping bag also comes with an emergency whistle, which is loud enough to reach the ears of rescuers a mile away.
Wrench or Pliers
Even if you already have these in your home, it's important to have extras in your kit, so that you can turn off the gas and water.
Plastic Sheeting and Duck Tape
Plastic sheeting can be used for building a temporary shelter, protecting you from smoke or toxins, and more. Invest in duck tape as well to keep the sheets secure.
Even before covid, emergency experts recommended having masks on hand to protect against dust. Now, they're more of a necessity than ever. Consider stocking up on washable cloth masks, as well as disposable ones like the 50-pack for $15.99 linked below.
Emergency Solar Hand Crank Portable Radio/NOAA Weather Radio
It's important to have a portable radio on hand, as well as a radio that can access the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) emergency broadcasts. This do-it-all emergency kit is both in one, plus a power bank that can charge a small tablet or phone, as well as a reading light and flashlight.
Because it's 2020, y'all! Stock up on options like the 12-pack of Germ-X sanitizer, linked below.
Towelettes, Plastic Bags, and Ties for Personal Sanitation
When you gotta go, you gotta go, even in an emergency. And it's important to think ahead so that you can take care of hygiene in the event of something unexpected. Thankfully, there are plenty of personal sanitation kits on Amazon that come with the hygiene supplies Ready.gov recommends having in an emergency kit — moist towelettes, disposable bags, and ties to secure them with.
And, of course, you'll need something to put it all in. You probably already have a couple backpacks lying around, but your old JanSport might not be the most durable. Consider investing in a heavy-duty pack like the Venture Pal Travel Hiking Daypack (pictured above). Regardless of the brand you go with, try and find something that's durable, waterproof, has lots of room, and comes with several different pockets.
Finally, Personalize Your Kit
In addition to including personal documents, eye wear, and any essential prescriptions, it's essential to include a sturdy pair of shoes, and ideally a change of clothes. Your kit should also account for the specifics of the region. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, a poncho is more important than it is in the Southwest. If your area sees a lot of snow, it's a good idea to include hand-warmers.
Finally, make sure to have a local map, so you can navigate the old-fashioned way if other systems are down.
Pre-Made Survival Kits
If you'd rather let the professional preppers compile your kit, there are plenty of great options out there. We've linked a couple below — but remember that you should still personalize the kit based on your region and health needs.
- Amazon's Choice: Ready America 70280 Emergency Kit, 2-Person, 3-Day Backpack [pictured above]. $40.
- Complete Earthquake Bag - Emergency kit for Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Wildfires, Floods + other disasters (2 person, 3 days). $149.99.
- EVERLIT Complete 72 Hours for 2 People Earthquake Bug Out Bag. $169.95.
You did it!
Once you've put your pack and plan together, take a moment of gratitude for yourself. Planning for a disaster can be nerve-wracking, but it's also an important service for your family and community.
Remember to revisit your pack and plan regularly — so you're always ready to go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for this all to blow over.