Prepping for Disaster: 10 Must-Have Items Everyone Forgets

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Written by Kylie Sophia Fitch

Emergency preparedness is more important than ever. You don’t need to live in Tornado Alley to prepare for a disaster or home emergency—they can strike anyone, anywhere. In fact, a survey conducted by Allstate in 2014 found that 92% of Americans have survived a natural disaster of some kind. But despite the frequency of these events, fewer than 10% of Americans have taken basic preparedness steps like practicing an evacuation.

After a disaster strikes, it’s too late to mitigate the damage. Preparing in advance can help you respond to a disaster, keep you and your family safe from harm or hardship, and minimize the damage to your home or belongings. The following ten items are often overlooked in a traditional readiness kit, but they can make a significant difference when you’re responding to a crisis.

Fire Extinguishers

For homeowners, “the most common disasters are actually home fires,” says Greta Gustafson, senior associate of media relations for the American Red Cross. A fire extinguisher can stop a small fire in your home before it turns into a disaster, yet less than half of homes have this essential safety device. Even natural disasters like a flood or earthquake can ignite a house fire, making this item a must-have in any readiness kit.

Solar Lanterns

If 2017’s hurricane season taught us anything, it’s that prolonged power outages can compound the difficulties of a major storm event. Surprisingly, a reliable light source is often overlooked as a survival tool. Solar-powered lanterns offer light even when electricity is scarce. The Luci Light is an inexpensive and lightweight option for any emergency kit. Over 80,000 of these lights have been deployed to hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico, demonstrating the effectiveness of this smart little tool.

Board Games

Keeping morale up during a survival scenario is essential, and nothing lightens a tough situation like a familiar board game. These analog entertainment sources are a great addition to your kit since they can help restore a sense of normalcy and routine during a tough situation. If you’re packing a bug-out bag or vehicle emergency kit, consider a portable version of your favorite game or DIY your own ultralight game board out of felt.


If you haven’t updated your insurance in a while, it may be out of date for your assets. A disaster is no time to worry about your insurance policy, so take action now by conducting a home inventory and updating your insurance policy to match the total value of your home and belongings.

Disposable Baby Wipes

A disaster can often mean limited access to clean water. And staying clean in a survival situation provides more than a morale boost for your bunkmates—it can help you avoid a medical crisis like contracting and spreading an illness. Disposable baby wipes offer a fast and simple alternative when clean water is scarce and are a perfect addition to a bug-out bag or toiletries kit. When you need them, you’ll be really glad they weren’t overlooked.

Paper Maps

If you’re forced to seek shelter or evacuate during a disaster, you’ll have no guarantee that your smartphone will work. A simple paper map of your town and the surrounding area is reliable in almost any condition. You can buy a waterproof map or laminate one yourself to ensure remains readable.

4-Way Sillcock Key

A sillcock key, often called a 4-way key, could be a lifesaver in a survival scenario. These simple steel tools open restricted water spigots, a common feature on buildings like rest stops, restaurants, malls, and other large buildings. With a sillcock key, you can turn these spigots on and gain access to reliable fresh water. For all the utility they provide, they take up almost no space in your preparedness kit.

Ziplock Freezer Bags

Ziplock freezer bags are a useful addition to any survival kit. Aside from their traditional role in keeping food fresh, these bags offer a waterproof storage solution for first aid kits, electronic devices, and valuables. They’re also good for carrying or storing water in a pinch, and they can even safely seal away important documents like birth certificates and passports.

Portable Satellite

Information is a vital resource during a disaster scenario. If the electricity goes out, a portable satellite dish affixed to a vehicle or RV can maintain a vital connection to news and weather reports. Unlike cable, a dish won’t fail during a widespread blackout, and it keeps you connected even if you have to evacuate the area.

Duct Tape

Duct tape may be more valuable than currency in an end-of-the-world scenario. Duct tape is useful for hundreds of different repairs, but it’s often overlooked as part of a medical kit. Duct tape makes an excellent surgical tape, hearkening back to its roots in WWII. It’s also useful for preventing blisters when applied to your heel, underneath your socks. Rolling a small length of duct tape around pencils, water bottles, or other round objects keeps a small amount within reach in every part of your kit.

These items can help you prepare for a disaster, but also remember that your greatest survival tool is your brain—practice your evacuation and survival routines with your family. Blue-sky planning is the best way to mitigate the impact of a disaster, so start preparing your emergency kit today.


About the author:

Kylie is an East Coast gal currently residing in Salt Lake City, UT for work and play. As a freelance writer, she covers topics on lifestyle, travel, and technology. In her spare time, she enjoys great food and live music in the presence of good company.

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  1. I would add a shutoff tool for the gas service as well. And a deck of cards too. Be sure to have a old fashion manual can opener or a p38 or p51 on you key ring. I have found a lot of good information on this web site. Please keep up the good work.

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