Emergency Essentials Every Family Should Have

Emergency Essentials Every Family Should Have

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When you’re unprepared for a disaster that strikes unexpectedly, your family’s basic needs, along with their well-being, can be in jeopardy. What if all the grocery stores are closed in your area, or your local emergency shelter turns you away because of full capacity? What will you do then? 

That’s why it’s so critical that you gather certain supplies, food, and water so that your bad situation doesn’t go from bad to worse. For those of you who have a family, that means thinking about stockpiling larger quantities and having the right supplies that a certain individual in your family may require. These are emergency essentials that every family should have. 

Emergency Essentials Every Family Should Have

Emergency Essentials Every Family Should Have


When you’re stocking up on foods, here are a few things to think about. Try and stick with non-perishable food items that have a much longer shelf-life so that they aren’t out of date when you need them.

Also, focus on gathering foods that don’t require refrigeration or don’t necessarily need to be cooked before eating. Your emergency food supply should be able to feed everyone in your family for a minimum of 3 days.

You also need to strongly consider purchasing food items that your family likes to eat. You don’t want to have food for a disaster that no one in the family wants to eat. Take a look at these few examples of food that would be wise to stock up on:

  • Canned meat, vegetables, and fruit (don’t forget a manual can opener) 
  • Nuts and dried fruits
  • Fruit and protein bars
  • Beef sticks and jerky 
  • Peanut butter
  • Crackers 
  • Comfort foods for children (snack cakes, fruit snacks, chips, etc.)
  • Gatorade and Pedialyte 

Drinking Water

Water is arguably your number one essential on this list because you’ll only last a few days without it. When a disaster strikes, there’s the possibility that you’ll have contaminated drinking water available, or no water for that matter.

The general rule is that an individual needs an average of one gallon of water each day for drinking and sanitation purposes. Be sure to gather at least a 3 day supply of water for each person, so if you have four people in your family, that’s a minimum of 12 gallons of water. 

But as you know, I feel we need four gallons per person per day. I get thirsty just thinking about only one gallon a day. So for a family of four for a 3 day supply you should have 48 gallons stored away.

Read More of My Articles  20 Ways to Use Old Sneakers for Emergency Prepping

If you are feeding your baby formula or you happen to have pets, you’ll also need to take that into account and have extra water on hand. If you’re put in a situation where you have to evacuate your home, a portable water filter can be used to filter the water from almost any source. That way you’ll have fresh and clean water no matter where you are. 

First aid kit

Don’t be caught in a disaster without a first aid kit, especially if you have younger children. It’s very likely that your family may get roughed up a bit, so you’ll need to be able to dress and bandage up your wounds. In case you missed one of my first aid kit posts, First Aid Kits by Linda

Your kit should include latex gloves, dressings, adhesive bandages, scissors, tweezers, antibiotic and burn ointments, soap, antibiotic towelettes, eyewash solution, and a thermometer. A splint for broken bones may also be something that you should consider having on hand.  

Over The Counter Medications (OTC)

When you’re under a lot of emotional and physical stress from the trauma that disasters often cause, there’s a good chance that you could get sick. Be sure to stock up on a number of over the counter medications to help with the symptoms. Aspirin, non-aspirin pain relievers, cold medicine, anti-diarrheal, antacids, and laxatives are just a few that you should consider. In case you missed this post, 35 OTC Medications You Should Store

Hand-crank or battery-powered radio

It could be the difference between life and death if you don’t have a radio to stay updated on weather reports and updates of conditions near your home. Get yourself a hand-crank or battery-powered portable radio so that you can know whether to evacuate or take shelter.  

Multiple flashlights with extra batteries 

Don’t be left in the dark following a disaster. Consider stocking up enough flashlights and extra batteries for each member of your family. I have some solar-powered flashlights I love. I also have some that crank to recharge the batteries.

Wrench and pliers

If you need to turn off your home’s utilities, don’t forget to have a wrench and some extra pliers so that you can do the job. It may not be necessary to turn things off, but it’s best to be prepared, just in case.

Duct tape

Duct tape is handy for any type of job, whether it’s helping to hold together a shelter or repair damaged clothing or broken windows. In case you missed this post, Duct Tape: Why You Need To Store It

Fire Extinguisher 

A fire extinguisher can help you put out minor fires in your home so that your home doesn’t wind up being a total loss. In case you missed this post, Fire: How Can I Prevent One In My Home

Read More of My Articles  12 Reasons Why You Should Prep

Additional clothing

Be sure to have additional clothing prepared and set aside, such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants. If it’s winter when an emergency takes place, sweatshirts, jackets, gloves, snowsuits, and boots will all be a necessity.  

Extra shoes

It’s a miserable feeling once your shoes are soaking wet and your feet get cold. This is why you should have an extra pair of shoes on-hand for each one of your family members. Extra socks are also important, particularly if you have to change out your shoes due to moisture.


You can never have too many blankets, especially when your family is trying to stay warm after the power has gone out. In case you missed this post, 6 Reasons To Store Blankets For Any Emergency


You may need to be rescued from your home by emergency crews, but you may not have enough strength left for you to be heard if you try to scream or yell out. This is why a whistle is so critical for you to have since the sound carries such a long distance. I have several of these Whistles for Emergencies.


Depending on where you live please check out items that would be safe for heating your home where you live. I live in the desert and I’m going to use blankets. Lots of blankets. It’s hard if you live where fireplaces and wood-burning stoves are not allowed. The first 40 years of being married to Mark we always had a fireplace with a wood-burning stove or insert. Not now, and our HOA will not allow them.

Additional Items Depending On Your Family’s Needs 

A vast majority of all the emergency supplies and essentials that every family should stock up on will look fairly similar, but there will certainly be a number of differences. That’s because every family is unique from one another and has different needs. What works for one family make’s entirely little sense for another. These are several other emergency essentials that you should consider stocking up on if they relate to you and your family:    

  • Prescriptions and medications (rotate periodically) 
  • Respirator/Nebulizer/Inhalers
  • Other Essential medical supplies (blood pressure and glucose monitoring equipment) 
  • Glasses, Contacts, and Solution 
  • Personal Hygiene and feminine products 
  • Diapers, wipes, and baby formula 
  • Baby food
  • Dog or cat food
  • Cat litter 
  • Additional water for your pets, you need water based on the weight of your pet. One ounce of water per pound (weight of the pet) each day. So, if your dog weighs ten pounds you need ten ounces of water each day.

Final Word

When you’re prepping for an entire family, there’s a lot more that you have to consider than when you’re living on your own. These are several emergency essentials that your family should have in case a disaster were to ever happen to you. What are some other supplies that you can think of that may have not made my list? I’d love to hear your thoughts.  May God Bless this world, Linda.

Copyright Images: First Aid Kit AdobeStock_333791400 by Vitalii

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      1. Linda, Yes ma’am it sure is! It can get worse, but it can also get better. I’m not going to complain. God has been good to me.

  1. Defensive measures can not be ignored nor are they with 17 million guns being sold in 2020. I’ve yet to find the numbers for other weapon types but I’m sure it’s astronomical.
    You have to be able to keep what you have.

  2. I agree with Deborah – it is great to see in print what is needed and then realize that I have all those things. When the pandemic hit and Gov. Inslee (Washington state) locked everything down, I did find some holes in my preps but those have been closed up now and I feel confident that I am good to go for now.

    It is interesting to see the numbers of new gun owners or perhaps the gun owners who are beefing up their armaments! I always carry a weapon with me – not always a gun but I have a key ring weapon that goes with me every time I leave my apartment. At night, if I go outside my apartment, I have the key ring weapon and a flashlight/taser along with… Well you get the drift – I don’t want to be caught unaware and without protection. Believe me, I am not paranoid! I just want to be prepared for anything that might happen. I live in a relatively safe environment and have not, in the last 5 years, felt unsafe but I do want to be prepared as some of the demonstrations/protests/vandalism are within a mile of my home.

    One thing that I didn’t see on the list is communications. I always carry my cell phone when I am out and about. In an emergency situation, being able to communicate with family members might be critical as well. If the grid goes down, cell phones might not work. Since I live alone and quite a ways (70+ miles) from family, if I cannot use my cell phone, ah well – it is what it is! But, I suggested to my daughter and son-in-law to have some form of communication with their family members. I know they will have his sister with them in an emergency situation and I suggested walkie talkies for the adults and possibly for the older kids (9, 7 1/2 and 6). They are looking into it.

    I am pretty sure my daughter and son-in-law are now fully on-board with prepping! My daughter recently told me that they had to up their food budget now that their oldest son is 9 years old. Then she told me that the 9 year old suggested that he eat less to help save money on the food budget. My daughter laughed but then said, seriously that that scared her and made her concerned about what would happen if/when SHTF and they might not be able to give the kids what they needed in the way of food, shelter, safety. FINALLY – I was about to run out of oxygen talking to them about preparing!!

    Christmas is all about prepping this year! Well not ALL about prepping – there are some toys under the tree for the kids as well!!

    1. Hi Leanne, great comment as always. I have a post on communication in a few days ready to go. I love hearing the preps for Christmas gifts! And your grandkids are at the age that is so fun to put toys under the tree! Life is so good!! Linda

    2. Leanne, I just read about the 4 gifts for children.
      1. Thing wanted
      2. Thing needed
      3. Thing to wear
      4. Thing to read
      Since we are grandparents, we are only giving one gift to each. Not to wear though. The couples are getting their gifts together. One gift per couple. I decorated some wooden trays I found at Dollar General.

  3. I *love* the crank/solar flashlights! I’ve now got several, covering barn, kitchen, and bedroom. Thinking of flashlights and power outages (lots of those nearby this week-end)… I read somewhere about putting a bracket with a flashlight over/by the door in every room, so there’s never one more than a few feet to a flashlight if the lights go out unexpectedly..

    To go with the duct tape–some WD-40. If it moves and shouldn’t, use duct tape. If it should move and won’t, use WD-40. (And that doesn’t even get into how farms can’t run without baling twine and baling wire…)

  4. Being in a HOA is too restrictive for my tastes. I have friends that live or have lived in an HOA and didn’t like it. I want to be able to do my own thing and not have someone else tell me what to do. Just saying. I live the country and grew up in the city. As soon as I possible I got out and have never looked back.

    1. Hi Cheryl, I totally agree with you. If I could move I would leave this HOA. It’s not in the cards right now. But it’s part of my plan as soon as the door opens. Linda

  5. This article made me think of an interesting idea and that is to use a different approach to get others into prepping without them even seeing it as prepping. If we suggest to them that “there are things that people need to have on hand all the time” some might see the logic of it and actually take some action.

    We all know what it’s about, but for those “anti-prepper” types…. you know, THOSE people (LOL) we can help them to be prepared by working under their radar.

    In reality, besides stocking up for times of possible famine, lack of access or availability of essentials, being prepared to care for ourselves is what prepping is all about. Even as I read the article I began to think of things I have, don’t have and would want desperately if stores were closed or I was shut off from them.

    1. Hi Frank, you are so right, we never know what may come our way. We prep and we prep more. My biggest fear is a power grid outage. A major one, our country is not prepared for it to happen, and it will happen. We can only do the best we can and move on. We are survivors, we will get through it whatever it may be. It may be hard, but we can do it. Linda

  6. Hi Linda, Thanks again for the turkey advice. Read the list and have been “plugging” holes as well.
    One thing I have IF you can stock the batteries is those electric candles. Having little grands (and sometime us older ones) having a flame candle can be hazardous. The candles do give off a bit of light and I can rest easy if they get knocked over it won’t burn the house down. And if you get the timed ones, they make GREAT nightlights for the bathrooms. Mine are set to go on about 2 am and turn off 6 hours later. Makes it easier for the little ones and the rest of us to use the bathroom at night with out blinding ourselves by turning on the big lights.
    Do have to tell you though, this old lady may not be so crazy after all, we were talking to oldest son the other day and he was telling us how he and DIL were talking about how this pandemic has affected them ( no job,money, etc) and I believe he is now understanding why I keep asking about how they are doing and making suggestions. He said he told my DIL “we have to get ready MUCH BETTER than we’ve done in the past as we may experience this again and again ” or words to that effect. He and I WILL be talking in the very near future about how to go about this. I know my DH isn’t “discussing” (crabbing) about what I have been doing anymore or hauling into the house. At least not to my face that is, LOL. I hope you all have a safe and blessed Christmas and may we have a better NEW YEAR.

    1. Hi Kathy, I LOVE your comment, we are examples to our family and friends. Good job, MOM!! I like your nightlight idea, I am going to watch for those. I was asked to give a few comments this last week at a local church young women group (pre-college age) on 72-hour kits. I was so proud that their leaders were introducing these 16-17-year-old girls to put together some emergency kits. They had purchased soooo many items from the dollar tree. I was in awe of how many things they were able to find. It made my heart swell! Merry Christmas, Linda

  7. Under “Heat” I would put mylar emergency blankets, and hand and foot warmers. Also, the space heaters you can make using 2 terracotta flowerpots, 4 tea lights ,a piece of foil and a grill pan. Look up flower pot heater and you find it.

  8. Good afternoon Linda, as usual I was reading through your daily email and saw a link for Power Outage Kit What You Need. I printed the article and checked to see what supplies I had and what I needed. We have been told to start getting supplies together; they are talking about a very HOT summer and possibly brownouts and maybe a blackout. I realized I have most of the things needed. I have to purchase some sanitation supplies, batteries and a bbq lighter. My son will help me with the inverter and possibly a solar generator. I just gave him a portable radio (Kaito); I had 3 of them. Thank you for the reminder, time to get busy. Have a great weekend and Mother’s Day.

    1. Hi Mildred, I hope you don’t have to many black outs or brownouts. Full on or rolling power outages are not fun. Have a great weekend and Happy Mother’s Day to you, my sweet friend. Linda

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