14 Emergency Kits to Help You Dominate Disaster

Daily life is full of mini disasters that might be easily remedied with a little advance planning. It is not always a huge natural disaster that may rock your world. Sometimes it might be just a flat tire in bad weather or a child with a nasty cut at the playground, but another day it just might be that long over due earthquake that leaves you stranded. Specialty survival kits are designed for specific purposes to help you get through today as well as survive a larger scale crisis.

What specialized emergency survival kits do you need in order to survive physically and emotionally when disaster strikes? One of the following 14 specialized survival kits may just save your life someday:

  1. Personal Emergency Survival Kit
  2. Workplace Survival Kit
  3. Commuter Survival Kit
  4. Vehicle Emergency Kit
  5. School Survival Kit
  6. Pet Survival Kit
  7. Young Child Comfort Kit
  8. Infant Survival Kit
  9. Wilderness Survival Kit
  10. Shelter-In-Place Kit
  11. Family Survival Kit
  12. Fire Starter Kit
  13. First Aid Kit
  14. Cranston Snord’s Survival Kit

Okay so “save your life” may be a little dramatic. In most scenarios, your actual “life” is not in jeopardy. But your personal comfort, health and sanity just may be at risk without these essential supplies. It is important to be prepared for anything that life throws your way. A little advanced thought and preparations can go a long way.

You do not need to invest in everyone of these specialized survival kits. Consider which ones may make sense for you and your family. The best we can do to prepare for an unknown future is evaluate the risk and try to plan for the expected as well as the unexpected.

Personal Emergency Survival Kit

A personal emergency survival kit is probably the most important resource you can have when a large scale crisis knocks down your door. Visit our post How to Create the Perfect Emergency Survival Kit to learn exactly how to create the perfect survival kit for your needs.

Workplace Survival Kit

Consider the number of hours you spend away from home at your job. What are the odds that disaster just might strike when you are at work? Are you prepared to hunker down and spend a night or two if you need to? What supplies would make you a bit more comfortable?

It is much easier to have a stash of supplies in your private office than it is on a construction site, or if you are waiting tables at a restaurant. You need to do the best with what you have. Your workplace survival kit may actually need to stay in the trunk of your car. Just make sure you have what you need in a reasonably accessible location at all times.

Critically evaluate what your options might be in various scenarios. How far is your work from home? Would your employment require you to stay on the job until after the disaster has resolved? Would it be safer to hunker down at work for several days or to try to make it home? How will you communicate your status with your family?

Jonathan had a private office at work, which made it quite convenient for him to tuck away bottled water, canned foods, snacks, a change of clothing, a personal hygiene kit, a blanket, and a warm coat. He could eat the food cold right out of the can if the power was out. Friends at work used to tease him about they knew exactly where to go when disaster strikes. I kept my supplies in my desk as well as in a locker provided by the company.

He commuted to work on public transportation. Getting home to his family and supplies would be his first choice if it was a viable option. He kept a bicycle at work so he could ride the 30 miles home if other transportation was unavailable. I worked only 3 short miles from our home and could easily walk home in less than an hour.

Take time to carefully evaluate your place of employment. Does your employer have a plan in place? What are your responsibilities? How can you prepare to survive if you are stranded at work for an extended period of time?

Commuter Survival Kit

Do you commute to work everyday? It would be wise to compile a lightweight backpack or purse that you can haul important supplies back and forth with you … just in case.

Jonathan took public transportation for a 30 mile commute one way each day. He carried a backpack with him which contained a head lamp, cell phone charger and battery back-up, inverter, work gloves, Leatherman, windbreaker, snacks, water, small first aid kit, and other supplies which would be highly useful in the event of an emergency.

Where he worked, carrying fire arms was prohibited so he included a wrist rocket and pepper spray for protection. These items are light weight and take up very little room. Jonathan wears good walking shoes or work boots everyday so he does not need to pack an extra pair of walking shoes. What supplies would be helpful for you to have if you got stranded on your daily commute?

Vehicle Emergency Kit

The majority of people spend almost half of their lives away from home. Statistically this means it is highly likely that you will be away from home when disaster strikes. It makes sense to keep an emergency kit in each vehicle. Due to significant fluctuation in temperature inside of vehicles, it is critical that supplies are rotated each season. We have great intentions, which do not always reflect our reality.

We had packed a great emergency kit into a bucket with a gamma seal lid and kept it in the back of our van. The bucket was an improvement over the duffel bag we used previously which allowed the contents to be smashed by groceries or other “stuff”. After two years, we finally got around to rotating the contents of the bucket. The water bottles had frozen and leaked. Flashlights were rusted, flares destroyed, food spoiled and emergency equipment not usable. We would have been sorely disappointed if we had needed those supplies.

A gentleman approached us after one of our classes and shared that he keeps his emergency supplies in an ice chest in the trunk of his car. He has great success with the ice chest insulating the contents protecting them from both freezing and overheating. An ice chest is a great idea.

I always keep a winter hat and gloves for the number of seat belts in the vehicle. If I get stuck out in the cold, a hat and gloves will be very helpful to my passengers. Consider the ages, number, and physical abilities of all regular passengers in the vehicle. Prepare a kit with items you feel may be valuable. Always carry bottles of drinking water. It may be easier to have two kits— one for passenger needs and another for the vehicle.

A vehicle kit includes items for the vehicle: sturdy work gloves, road flares, jumper cables, rags, flashlight, folding shovel, tow rope, windshield scraper and brush, basic tool kit, duct tape or electrical tape, Fix-a-Flat, fire extinguisher, and marked evacuation maps.

A passenger kit may include: sanitation items, hand sanitizer, wash cloth, plastic tablecloth, garbage bags, baby wipes, soap, Clorox wipes, tissues, blanket, sturdy walking shoes, socks, rain poncho, winter hats and gloves, first aid kit, hand/foot warmers, non-perishable foods and drinks.

Our passenger kit is inside of a backpack tucked inside of the tote with the tools. The backpack is portable and may be useful if we need to abandon the vehicle and travel by foot.

We travel frequently to teach emergency preparedness classes at various locations. I usually dress in a suit and wear heels. I always throw a bag with good walking shoes, socks, jeans and a shirt in the back of the vehicle so if we get stranded somewhere I can realistically make it home eventually. A little planning ahead can make a big difference.

School Survival Kit

Many schools have implemented a program to include class emergency kits. Each student brings a quart- sized Ziplock bag of suggested emergency supplies to be kept in the classroom’s wheeled tote. The classroom kit is stocked with water bottles and a large first aid kit.

This kit is only intended to last a few hours until children can be returned home. If your school does not participate in such a program, consider keeping a small kit in your child’s backpack.

The purpose is to provide emotional support and comfort when the child experiences a change in routine. In our children’s Ziplock bags, we include a family picture with all contact information written clearly on the back of the photo. On other family photos we write notes of encouragement and love.

Other items include a tiny flashlight (with the battery installed), whistle, light stick, dice, playing cards, pen, notebook, small candies, and a granola bar. At the end of each year the child gets to eat the treats. We add a current family photo, update contact information, change the flashlight battery, and use the supplies again next year.

Pet Survival Kit

It is important to consider how to best care for each animal you are responsible for. The decision to take or leave a pet should be made well in advance of a crisis. Can they be moved to a safer location?

A realistic plan should be made to care for the pet and provide food and water for an extended period of time. If you choose to leave your pet, invest in large automatic waterers and feeders. Practice using them to make sure they work as intended. Remember pets are not allowed in public shelters.

Pets should be licensed and wear identification tags. Specially designed back packs/saddle bags are available in sizes to fit most dogs. This will allow the animal to carry some of their own supplies. Consider packing food, water, sanitation supplies, a light-weight water and food dish, leash, muzzle, kitty litter, litter box, copy of immunization records, pet crate or carrier, and a photo for identification purposes.

Young Child Comfort Kit

Disasters can create emotional insecurity in children which results in difficult or unpredictable behavior. A crisis is already stressful without adding this to it. Be proactive and help your child feel more secure by offering concrete items.

Children are concrete thinkers which means they find security in their world through things they can see, taste, smell and touch. A coloring book isn’t going to fix anything, except in the mind of a child it will provide comfort and security.

Under the head of each child’s bed we have prepared a small backpack of comfort supplies. This is intended to be used in addition to their survival kit. It is lightweight and can be easily carried by the child. We teach them to grab it if there is a fire or other disaster. It is filled with special fun items and is intended to give them a sense of security, not provide for survival.

Inside we have let the child choose a favorite toy, book, colored pencils and paper, small game, fruit snacks, juice boxes, comfortable clothes, or whatever they want. They understand that its purpose is to make them feel better when tough stuff is happening.

Infant Survival Kit

Our daughter and her husband purchased a minivan shortly after the arrival of their first child. We were quite surprised at her choice of vehicles. She had tortured us for years over our “totally uncool” minivan. When we questioned her change of heart, she admitted that babies need so much stuff there was no way to fit it all in a car.

Newsflash! Babies can survive with a very few basic necessities. All those cool accessories are not necessary for survival so infants can actually take up little space. Their needs are similar to ours—food, water, shelter and sanitation. Do not get carried away with luxury items.

Infants are highly sensitive to the environment and can dehydrate quickly. We recommend a supply of infant formula even for nursing babies in the event the milk supply is disrupted, or the infant gets separated from mom. Basic needs include baby formula, water, bottle, pacifiers, age appropriate foods, disposable diapers, baby wipes, comfortable seasonally appropriate clothing, baby sling or carrier, blankets, and trash bags to dispose of diapers.

The list may be expanded to include cloth diapers, waterproof pants, diaper pins, diaper rash ointment, portable baby bed, infant pain relievers, teething gel, thermometer, sunblock, gas relief drops, baby shampoo, hand sanitizer, bucket for dirty diapers, and laundry soap. Stick to the basics and do not overwhelm yourself with “stuff.”

Wilderness Survival Kit

You will need a special kit if you drive long distances where you may become stranded or if you intend to survive in the wilderness. Planning to survive in the wilderness can be dangerous if you do not have the skills and training to survive. Most folks who camp a couple times a year may find real survival quite challenging.

If you think you may need to survive in the wilderness you will need special tools and supplies. You may want to consider packing rain gear, hiking boots, appropriate clothing, a sturdy, lightweight tent, a sleeping mat, survival knife, compact cook stove with fuel, sturdy cooking pans and utensils, sleeping bags, compact fishing gear, firearms with ammunition, bug netting, bug repellent, tarp, Paracord, small shovel, water filters, edible plant identification manual, fire kit, toiletries, heavy duty trash bags, food, and water in addition to your personal kit.

Shelter-In-Place Kit

It is possible you may be required to shelter-in-place for a variety of reasons including; a HAZMAT event, civil unrest, nuclear radiation, severe weather or perhaps even a pandemic. Sheltering-in-place requires you to hunker down and stay put until the situation is resolved without contact with the outside world.

One simple kit will not fit all of these scenarios. It requires everything you need to survive until life returns normal. That can be kind of tricky because the crisis might last 8 hours in the case of a HAZMAT event or 6 months during a pandemic. You may or may not have access to electricity and plumbing. Prepare as if you don’t, then be relieved if you do.

A basic kit should include food, water, sanitation supplies, safe indoor heating and cooking devices and fuel, along with a first aid kit. Store 6 mil plastic sheeting along with several rolls of wide painter’s tape or duct tape to seal off air vents, windows and doors in the event you need to prevent air exchange with the outside world.

Many of the items you need may be stored with your regular food storage supplies. I prefer to keep a complete kit under the bed in the room where I plan to shelter-in-place that has pre-cut plastic and rolls of painters’ tape so that I can seal off a room within a very short period of time if needed. Water bottles, snacks and emergency communication devices should also be kept in this kit.

Family Survival Kit

A family survival kit is designed to contain shared resources for a family. Each family member has their own kit with personal items and snacks. The family kit would contain items such as cooking supplies (pots, mixing bowls, cooking utensils), paper towels, tools, sanitation supplies, laundry needs, clothesline, expedient toilet, shower, large first aid kit with medications, the majority of the food, tablecloth, water filter, and other resources which can be easily shared.

This kit will be bulky and heavy. Plan accordingly for transportation.

Fire Starter Kit

Fire has the power to heat, cook, purify water, comfort and provide safety. Whether or not you have the option of building a fire depends greatly on the situation. It can be challenging to start a fire in wet conditions. Practice your fire building skills.

Start your fire kit with a sturdy water proof container and fill it with your favorite fire starting tools. Here are a few ideas; your favorite fire starter, fire steel and scraper, lighter, butane stick lighter, water proof matches, storm proof matches, Instafire, cotton balls, petroleum jelly, dryer lint, small candle, gel fuel, Esbit fuel tablets, and/or a 9v battery and very fine steel wool.

First Aid Kit

First aid kits vary greatly in size and content. Each individual should have small kits containing assorted bandages and wound cleaners in their personal survival kit. Larger first aid kits should be designed to accommodate more people and a larger variety of wounds and ailments.

We like to keep our family first aid kit in a plastic fishing tackle box. The kit is highly portable, water resistant, and everything is conveniently organized inside. Commercial kits are a good foundation, but I have found it best to supplement them with supplies we frequently use. Small kits can be kept in a Ziploc bag, plastic shoe boxes or small plastic organizer boxes.

Every first aid kit is unique to its owner. You must understand how to appropriately use the items you keep in your kit. Items to consider may include; first aid manual, triangular bandages, roller bandages, sterile gauze dressings, sanitary pads, Band-Aids (variety of sizes, shapes, and children’s characters), suture kit, Steri-Strips, butterfly dressings, moleskin, eye patch bandages, alcohol wipes, iodine wipes, antiseptic cleansing wipes, baking soda, salt, Calamine lotion, Benadryl lotion, hydrocortisone ointment or cream, ammonia inhalants, activated charcoal syrup (for poisoning), cotton balls, Q-Tips, scissors, sunscreen, knife, razor blades, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, thermometer, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, flashlight, liquid soap, waterproof matches, needles, petroleum jelly, safety pins, bulb syringe, eye wash, face masks, super glue, chemical cold packs and heat pads, constriction band, duct tape, notebook, pencil, and lollipops to make little patients feel better.

Medications to consider are pain relievers (liquid and tablet form), antihistamines (liquid and tablet form), diarrhea remedy, antacid tablets, constipation remedy, and when possible, an EpiPen for severe allergic reactions.

Cranston Snord’s Survival Kit Solution

Cranston is a highly prepared, married, empty nester who has a little attitude when it comes to his survival kit. He wants to know exactly why he is prepping. In many situations, a “72 hour kit” is not going to meet the need and frankly I totally agree with him. A 72 hour kit is not the answer for many of the threats we face.

He carries a kit in his wallet, which will take care of 90 percent of his problems. It is a credit card. If he has to leave home quickly, due to a train or truck accident which causes a chemical spill, he will go to a local motel, eat at a restaurant, and send the bill to the negligent company. He also has family and friends who would take them in on a moment’s notice.

He admits he might look at things differently if he lived in hurricane country or in a wildfire hazard area. He lives in earthquake country and refuses to leave his home. Even if the home is damaged and unable to be occupied, he plans on living in a tent in his own yard. If he is anywhere else, it is all about getting home.

He does carry a “Get Home” bag in the trunk of his car. He has a 30 mile commute through a densely populated area that is subject to extreme weather. His kit includes a change of clothes, hygiene items, food, water, water purification supplies and cash. He wants to travel light and get home fast. He can deal with hunger, but is concerned about water and weather.

Quite frankly, he thinks 72 hour kits are overdone and pushed too much. He plans to shelter in place or get home as soon as possible after an event. However, he has a standard 72 hour kit prepared from a list he found in some book somewhere just in case.

Create Your Specialized Survival Kit

Which of these survival kits might just save you in a crisis? Everyone should have a personal emergency survival kit that is designed for his or her unique needs. Visit our post How to Create the Perfect Emergency Survival Kit for great detailed information that will be a great help in preparing your kit.

The rest of these kits are optional, but may be a very wise investment. The goal is to make sure you have the critical supplies you need, when you need them, to make life just a little bit less traumatic. Get to work and build your kits!


Thanks for being part of the solution!


Kylene Jones is a blogger, content creator, published author, motivational speaker, homesteader, prepper, mother, and grandmother. She practices self-reliance, provident living, and emergency preparedness in her everyday life. She loves working with her husband, Jonathan, and is committed to helping our community be prepared to thrive during the challenges that lie in our future.

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