The best emergency preparedness supplies for 2021


“I think we are focusing too much on trying to have a good way to prepare ourselves,” said Jonathan McNamara, regional director of communications for the Red Cross. “We almost overcomplicate these things and confuse people by making them think, ‘Well, my kit has to contain this. In the end, my family’s emergency kit, with two children and a mad dog, will be very different from someone else’s. You should definitely feel free to personalize it for your family.

That said, there are a few basics that everyone should keep on hand. And it’s never a bad time to prepare for a crisis by stocking up on gear and organizing it so you know exactly where it is when you need to shelter in place in an emergency. (We also have a separate guide to travel bags if you need to leave your house quickly with a small amount of essentials.) Collectively, our staff have spent hundreds of hours researching and testing nearly 100 different items to find. a list of essentials that are indispensable in the event of a natural disaster and useful in everyday life. The articles are organized into seven key categories, and by making sure these areas are covered, you’ll end up with a top notch kit.

Of course, disaster preparedness isn’t just about buying things. Develop a simple communication plan with your family so you know where to meet in the event of a power outage and cell service outage. Find out if a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Class happening in your area (you can attend for free). Participate in community events, such as the ShakeOut seismic exercises held every October. Take a first aid course. Mark your calendar to review and update your emergency kit once a year. And then sleep easier knowing you’ll be prepared to take care of yourself and your family in the event of a disaster.

For more information on tools and preparedness for specific disaster scenarios, including ways to protect your home, see our guides on hurricane, wildfire, and earthquake preparedness supplies and strategies. We’ve also included information here on how the pandemic altered evacuation shelters.

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