The Essential Emergency Preparedness Checklist

September 23, 2021

Since we can't plan for when an emergency will occur, it's best to practice good emergency preparedness now so you're always ready.

There are many ways to practice smart disaster preparedness and be ready for any emergency situation. You can make emergency plans, save up an emergency savings account, plan evacuation routes, and pack handy emergency preparedness kits in your home or on the go. You can even get your community involved and get prepared together. 

How to Pack the Ultimate Emergency Preparedness Survival Kit 

Start your emergency preparedness journey by packing the essential emergency kits you need in any situation. 

What is a 72 Hour Emergency Kit?

72-hour emergency kits can also be referred to as bug out bags, go-bags, or emergency bags. They are kits that you pack now and have ready in case of an emergency. 

A 72-hour kit is meant to help you survive for at least 3 days. Think of it like packing for a 3-day sleepover in the wilderness. With this mentality, you'll be able to pack your 72-hour kit with everything you could ever need in case of disaster. 

  • Nonperishable foods
  • Water 
  • Fresh clothes 
  • Sturdy shoes
  • First aid kit 
  • Medications 
  • Sleeping bag 
  • Tent 
  • Fire starters 
  • Flashlights 
  • Extra batteries 
  • Radio 
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Shovel 
  • Tool kit 
  • Swiss army knife 
  • Rain gear
  • Duct tape 
  • Tarp 
  • Rope 
  • Solar power pack 
  • Whistle 

Emergency Food Supply List:

By having a fully stocked pantry and food storage, you can be ready for anything. If there is a stay-at-home order you can easily oblige. If you get snowed in or if there's a long storm you can comfortably wait it out in your house. 

By learning to keep a stocked pantry you can also save money in the long term by buying groceries in bulk and cooking healthier, cheaper, homemade meals. 

Make sure you keep all your food storage in airtight containers and store them in a safe, dry place. You should also be constantly cycling through your food storage so that your food storage items stay up to date. 

  • Distilled water 
  • Seltzer water 
  • Canned foods (meats, fruits, vegetables, evaporated milk, condensed milk, coconut milk)
  • Powdered milk 
  • Powdered whey 
  • Powdered eggs 
  • Dehydrated foods (meats, fruits, raisins, etc.) 
  • Waxed, hard cheeses
  • Protein bars, drinks, and powders
  • Seasonings, herbs, salt, pepper
  • Yeast 
  • Beans 
  • Rice 
  • Oatmeal 
  • Cream of wheat
  • Cereals 
  • Cornmeal 
  • Cornstarch 
  • Flour 
  • Sugars (white, brown)
  • Molasses 
  • Baking soda 
  • Baking powder 
  • Vinegar 
  • Maple syrup 
  • Coffee 
  • Oils (butter, lard, shortening, olive oil, vegetable oil, etc.)
  • Bouillon cubes 
  • Other useful baking mixes (pancake mix, cornbread mix, gravy, instant mashed potatoes, etc.)
  • Seeds (vegetables, potatoes, etc.) 
  • Popcorn kernels 
  • Pasta 
  • Jams and jellies
  • Pickled foods 
  • Honey 
  • Vitamin supplements 

Emergency Medicine List:

Medicine has a general shelf life of about 12 to 60 months. Because of this, you can only really keep a medicine supply in the house for a year or 2. Use and update your medicine cabinet accordingly. Don’t let any items get too out of date.  

  • Pain reliever
  • Antihistamines
  • Anti-itch ointment
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Antacids
  • Aspirin
  • Moleskins for burns and blisters
  • Decongestants
  • Thermometer 
  • Cough drops 
  • Eyedrops 
  • Allergy medicine 
  • Laxatives 
  • Antiseptic
  • Aloe Vera gel 
  • Sunscreen 
  • Antifungal cream

Car Emergency Kit List:

You need to have a roadside emergency kit in your car at all times. A car emergency kit can help you if your car breaks down, if you get stranded somewhere, if you get into an accident, or if you get caught in dangerous weather conditions. 

  • Spare tire 
  • Tire changing kit 
  • Tire pressure gauge 
  • Cat litter 
  • Tow chain 
  • Shovel 
  • Reflective tape, triangles, or glow sticks 
  • Car emergency escape tool and plan 
  • Car tool kit 
  • Antifreeze 
  • Jumper cables 
  • Brake fluid 
  • Power steering/transmission fluid 
  • Electric fuses 
  • Extra fuel 
  • Windshield washer fluid 
  • Fire extinguisher 
  • Swiss army knife 
  • Flashlight and batteries 
  • Rope 
  • Rain poncho/umbrella 
  • Whistle 
  • Flares 
  • First aid kit 
  • Food 
  • Water 
  • Blankets 
  • Gloves 
  • Spare coats or jackets 
  • Tissues 
  • Wipes 
  • Hand sanitizer 

First Aid Kit List:

Prepare for any medical emergency. This includes burns, cuts, scrapes, bug bites and stings, splinters, sprains, pulled muscles, dislocated joints, and broken bones. 

You also want to be prepared for illnesses like fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, nasal congestion, coughing, sore throats, pain, rashes, and allergies. 

Keep your medicine cabinet and a medical kit you can quickly take on the go stocked with the basics. Don't forget to keep an emergency contact list and important medical information on a sheet of paper in your emergency medical kit. 

  • Bandages
  • Bandage tape 
  • Plastic gloves 
  • Disinfectant wipes 
  • Arm sling 
  • Mini print outs for basic medical instructions like CPR
  • Tweezers 
  • Small flashlight 
  • Thermometer
  • Antibiotic cream or gel (like Neosporin)
  • Anti-itch ointment
  • Antihistamines (like Benadryl) 
  • Pain killers (like Tylenol)
  • Antacids (like Pepto-Bismol)
  • Aspirin 
  • Moleskin for burns and blisters 

How to Make an Emergency Evacuation Plan

You and your family should sit down together to form and practice an emergency evacuation plan. You might need to evacuate in case of a fire, flood, or other natural disaster. 

Step 1: Make a Map

Create a map of your home's floor plan with a Free Evacuation Planner. This will make it easier for you and members of your household to visualize the escape routes. 

Step 2: Pack Bug Out Bags

Get some bags and pack "go bags," "bug out bags," or 72 hour kits. These are bags that can be easily taken quickly on the go and contain essentials like a stocked first aid kit, survival food, a food supply, clothes, and anything else you might need if you have to leave suddenly. Pack one bag per person in the household and keep the bags somewhere easily accessible. 

Then each household member should make a list of everything they would grab and pack into their go-bag at short notice. Keep this list somewhere you can easily find and refer to in case of a sudden emergency or keep it inside the go-bag. 

What should I pack in my bug out bag?

  • Personal or sentimental items
  • An extra outfit
  • Sleeping clothes 
  • Extra socks and underwear 
  • Any personal medications 
  • A blanket
  • Wallet and personal identification 
  • Emergency cash
  • Tech like your phone, laptop, tablet
  • Water
  • Flashlight
  • A small, nonperishable food supply

If you have small children, you'll also want to pack any important comfort items they might have. 

If you have pets, you'll want to pack their essentials like their harness, leash, a carrier, a toy, water, their pet food, and any medicines they might need. 

Step 3: Create a Household Inventory

Make a master list of all your assets and valuables to create a master inventory of everything in your home. This way, if something happens to your house, you can easily work with your insurance to replace those lost items. 

Step 4: Secure Important Documents

Gather important documents into one safe place. There are fire and flood safe boxes you can purchase to keep all your important documents safe. You want to gather important documents like birth certificates, social security cards, marriage licenses, emergency money, etc. into this safe place. That way, you can just grab this box and take it with you in case of evacuation and all your important documents will be safe and preserved. 

Step 5: Make an Emergency Plan

Once you have your items in order and your emergency bags ready to go, create a step by step plan for what everyone in the house will do in case of an emergency. 

Then post your step by step emergency plan somewhere everyone can see it, like in the kitchen. It's also a good idea to practice the evacuation plan every now and then. 

Evacuation Plan Example:  

  1. Meet your designated buddy and help each other pack any other personal items or necessities into the emergency bug out bags 
  2. Meet at the designated safe spot with the rest of the household 

Certain family members might have specific emergency job assignments. For example, one family might be in charge of getting a younger sibling ready to go while another family member might be in charge of getting the dog, cat, or pet fish ready to go. 

How to Build an Emergency Fund 

Natural disasters aren’t the only type of emergency you’ll run into in life. More commonly, you’ll run into financial emergencies where you need funds quickly to stay on top of payments, bills, and essential purchases. 

How Much Should I Save in an Emergency Fund?

A good emergency fund will have at least 3-months worth of money saved up. This includes all the expenses you need in a 3-month time span like rent, bills, and groceries. Start your emergency fund by working up to building a 3-month money supply in a secure account or place. Then continue to grow your emergency fund from there. 

Emergency Loans

At Check City, you can get a number of emergency loans to get money quickly for your short-term emergency financial needs. Check City offers several types of loans to help you when you're in a pinch. 

  • Payday Loans for when you need an advance on your next paycheck. 
  • Personal Loans for when you need financing for some personal expenses. 
  • Title Loans for when you’d rather use your car title to secure your loan. 

Disaster Preparedness Kits

Some of the worst kinds of emergencies are completely out of our control and are caused by natural disasters. Prepare yourself and your household for the worst, especially if you live in an earthquake, hurricane, or tornado prone area. 

Earthquake Emergency Kit

Earthquakes aren't common everywhere, but if you live where earthquakes are common, you should be prepared. There are ways you can prepare for during the earthquake and afterward as well. 

  • Install earthquake furniture anchors and straps to keep furniture from toppling over and breaking things during an earthquake. 
  • Be prepared for the duration of an earthquake by having an earthquake safety plan set up. 
  • Pick a designated safety spot in each room of your house. This spot should be under a table, under an archway where nothing can fall on you, or against an interior wall that doesn't face windows or anything that could fall on you. 
  • If you have pets, small children, or anyone that might need assistance during an earthquake, assign someone in the house to be in charge of looking out for them. 
  • Practice what to do during an earthquake in all kinds of scenarios. Have a plan for what to do if you're outside, in the kitchen, or in the car when it happens. 
  • Make sure the gas in the house is turned off and fix any potential fire or exit hazards the earthquake might have created. 
  • Turn on the radio or local news to stay updated on what's happening. They will be able to keep you posted on whether more tremors are coming and have instructions on what you can do. 
  • Try and keep the emergency lines open for life threatening emergencies only. 

Hurricane Emergency Kit

Create a survival kit for your family that can last you at least 72 hours in case of a hurricane or storm. The food you pack in a hurricane survival kit needs to be able to last you at least 3 days. You also want this food to be non-perishable and not require preparation, heating, or refrigerating in case the power goes out and you're stuck in your house. 

  • Non-perishable foods 
  • Water 
  • First aid kit 
  • Toiletries 
  • Feminine supplies 
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Bedding 
  • Clothes 
  • Rain gear 
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Flashlight and batteries 
  • Emergency cash 
  • Tool set 
  • Tent 
  • Matches or a lighter 
  • Hand warmers 

Tornado Emergency Kit

For people who live in tornado zones, you should be familiar with the National Weather Service (NWS) and when they issue tornado warnings or a tornado watch. 

Have a designated tornado shelter set in place for you and your family to use in case of a tornado. A good tornado shelter is usually in a basement, storm cellar, or an interior room in the house that doesn't have windows like a closet or bathroom. 

Teach everyone in the household what to do in case of a tornado and where they should go for shelter. Practice running tornado drills so everyone is sure they know what to do. 

  • Nonperishable food that doesn't need preparation 
  • Water 
  • Masks to protect you from dust 
  • First aid kits 
  • Medicines 
  • Emergency toilet 
  • Toilet paper 
  • Wipes 
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Bedding 
  • Clothes 
  • Radio 
  • Battery-operated Lights 

In Conclusion, 

Being prepared for emergencies helps give you peace of mind now and makes hard situations a lot easier on you later. And don't forget to prepare for financial emergencies too! Prepare for any financial emergency by creating and maintaining a healthy emergency fund.