20 Emergency Kit Essentials
If this uncertain time has your anxiety levels spiking, you're not alone. Organizing an emergency kit that includes the essentials will keep you ready for anything. While no one is sure of the next steps or how long we'll need to stay at home, a kit full of useful items will make you feel confident that you're prepared for whatever's to come. Check out these 20 emergency kit essentials and gather them up when they're available and it's safe to do so.
A Well-Stocked First Aid Kit
The last thing you want to have to do is head to the ER or an urgent care center because you cut your finger or have an allergy flare up. You're just risking your health and potentially the health of others.
With a well-stocked first aid kit, you can address small medical issues at home. If you have a family of four, the American Red Cross suggests your first aid kit include at least the following:
- 2 absorbent compress dressings that are 5 inches by 9 inches.
- At least 25 adhesive bandages of various sizes.
- Cloth tape that's at least 10 yards long by one inch wide.
- 5 one-gram antibiotic ointment packets.
- 5 antiseptic wipes.
- 1 instant cold compress.
- 2 pairs of non-latex gloves.
- 1 roller bandage.
- At least 5 sterile gauze pads in assorted sizes.
- 1 breathing barrier.
- 1 emergency blanket.
- Oral thermometer.
Add anything to your first aid kit that's unique to your location, situation, or family. For example, if you live somewhere with tons of bugs, maybe add an ointment for itchy bug bites. If you have a child who's allergic to bee stings, have an allergy medication on hand in your first aid kit.
Bottles of Water
There's no drain on our water supply and we don't need to worry about our taps running dry any time soon. However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security does recommend having some bottled water on hand during a pandemic just in case. When it's available, purchase about a one week water supply for you and your family.
While gallon jugs or bigger containers of water are more environmentally friendly, consider buying assorted sizes of water containers, including bottles of water. If you have symptoms and need to go get tested, you may be waiting in your car in a long line for hours. Having bottled water on hand can ensure you stay comfortable while waiting for your test.
Your Medical Records
Ensure you have access to your medical records electronically. If not, contact your doctors' offices and ask for permission to access your records. Gather any documents you have that relate to your medical conditions, medical history, and medications you're taking.
In the event of an emergency or if you need to seek medical treatment, you can provide the healthcare worker with quick access to these records. Information on your medical history and the medications you're currently taking is crucial for EMTs, nurses, and doctors when you seek treatment and you may not be able to verbally give them a rundown.
A Face Mask and Gloves
If your first aid kit is stocked properly, you should already have disposable gloves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that face masks are not needed for the general public and should be saved for healthcare workers or others on the front lines. However, you should have a face mask ready if you need to go in public at all and you're:
- 65 years or older.
- At high risk due to a medical condition or immunodeficiency.
- Feeling sick.
It's best to avoid public places if any of these apply to you, but if you must go out, be sure you're equipped with a face mask and gloves to keep germs at bay.
A Two-Month Supply of Fever Medicine
Even if you feel fine now, it's a good time to check in on your fever medication. Is it expired? Do you have a two-month supply? If you begin to feel ill, the last thing you need is to have to go to a pharmacy or grocery store to buy medication. You'll put yourself and others at risk for infection.
Your best bet is Tylenol or acetaminophen.
Some doctors feel taking ibuprofen when you have a fever caused by coronavirus makes the virus symptoms worse, although the intel varies.
On your next grocery run, it wouldn't hurt to pick up a gallon of unscented bleach to have on hand. Bleach is known to kill bacteria on contact, so it's a simple way to eliminate the virus or germs.
If you feel your clothing, towels, or other items may be contaminated, use bleach to clean them if it's safe to do so. Only use bleach in a well-ventilated area and don't mix it with other cleaners or chemicals. If you do a thorough cleaning job, you can rest assured bacteria, germs, and viruses didn't survive an encounter with bleach.
A Non-Mercury Thermometer
Keep a thermometer on hand for both your mental and physical health. With so much talk about the virus, it's easy to psych yourself into thinking that one cough could mean you're infected. If you can monitor your body temp with a thermometer, you can talk yourself down from the ledge and be more realistic about your symptoms.
A non-mercury thermometer is recommended because it's generally more accurate and easier to store. According to Ohio State University, non-mercury thermometers have "scale divisions equal to mercury thermometers." They're also "non-toxic and environmentally safe."
A One to Two Month Supply of Nonperishable Food
All news sources confirm that our supply chain is just fine. Grocery stores are being stocked like normal and they're not planning to limit our access to these stores any time soon.
However, it's a good idea to have a one to two month supply of food for your family on hand in the event of an emergency. If you or a family member get sick, having the food you already need ensures you don't have to go in public to get more supplies and risk the health of others. If possible, stock up on non-perishable items like soups, canned beans, rice, or pasta.
Making sure your house and personal belongings are disinfected is one of the best ways to keep the coronavirus out of your household. Use a disinfectant cleaner to wipe down areas that are frequently touched, such as door knobs, faucets, and toilet handles.
When it's safe to do so, use a disinfectant cleaner to also clean your phone, sunglasses, or other surfaces that may have been out in public. Wipe down packages that are delivered and the packaging of items you bought from the grocery store before placing them in your home.
You have your supply of non-perishable foods so your family can eat for a while without leaving the house. But don't forget about snacks. Pre-packaged snacks have long shelf lives so they're good to buy and stock for a rainy day.
If you have a referral to get tested for the virus, be prepared for a long wait in your car with some pre-packaged snacks. Consider buying nuts, granola bars, pretzels, and other snacks that will tide you over as you wait for your test or satisfy your family's cravings without leaving the house.
Who would have thought that a common company giveaway like hand sanitizer would become the most-wanted item of 2020? If you can get your hands on hand sanitizer, hold on tight.
The CDC recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with anti-bacterial soap any time you go to the bathroom, handle food, eat, or are out in public. However, if you can't get to a sink or you're in between hand washing, hand sanitizer may do the trick. Only buy hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. This ensures it will be effective at killing bacteria and germs on contact.
Paper products are hard to come by right now, but if you find some tissues, it wouldn't hurt to have some on hand. Even if you stay safe from the virus, a common cold or allergies can still be a nuisance while you're hanging at home and social distancing. Having tissues on hand ensures you and your family members can take care of your allergies properly and comfortably.
Follow the CDC guidelines to throw away used tissues immediately and don't leave them on surfaces, such as a table or counter. Even if you don't have the virus, this ensures you're not spreading germs or contaminants to other surfaces in your home.
You've heard it before: Wash your hands. It's the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. But it's not enough to touch the soap and quickly rinse it off. You must use antibacterial soap that's sure to actually kill the bacteria on your hands.
Lather up for at least 20 seconds before you thoroughly rinse the soap off and dry your hands. Teach all your family members how to properly wash and stock all the sinks in your home with a bottle of antibacterial soap.
A Two Month Supply of Prescription Medications
New regulations are enforced everyday so now is the time to ensure you're stocked on prescription medications you may need for the next two months. Call your doctor's office and ask for refills of your essential prescriptions while they're still treating patients. In most cases, your doctor can electronically send these refills to the pharmacy or your insurance company.
Try to refill these prescriptions by mail or through a pharmacy drive-through to reduce your contact with other people. Check in on your family members and make sure they also have at least two months of necessary prescriptions.
If you want your home to be a safe haven that's free from virus germs, check your supply of laundry detergent. It's not enough to wash your hands and take off your shoes after a grocery store run. Your clothing may also have been exposed to germs or droplets from other peoples' sneezes or coughs.
When you or a family member get home from a public place, throw all clothing into the washing machine. According to the CDC, any normal laundry detergent will do a good job of eliminating bacteria. Follow the care labels on your clothing and try to dry it at the highest recommended temperature.
A One-Month Supply of Pet Food
Don't forget to prepare your furry family members for social distancing as well. To avoid multiple trips to the store, add at least a one-month supply of pet food to your grocery list. By stocking up on pet food, you can limit your time in public and the number of trips you have to make hunting for items at local stores. You may even be able to order your supply of pet food online.
Diapers and Formula
If you have a child at home, a generous supply of diapers and formula is crucial. Having a one to two month supply of these items allows you to truly engage in social distancing and skip frequent trips to the store.
If you're planning to stock up on diapers and formula, keep in mind, the rest of the world is probably doing the same. You may need to be open to buying a different brand than you normally would to ensure you have the supplies you need for your child.
Take inventory of your essential toiletries before you have to step out. Pay attention to the household stock you have for important items such as contact solution, hearing aid batteries, or toothpaste.
If you're planning a trip to the store for groceries, pick up extra toiletries if you're running low. This can prevent you from needing something when stores are closed or making a special trip and risking your health for one item.
Feminine Care Products
Another essential item you should have one to two months supply of is feminine care products. On your next outing, pick up what you think your household will need for the next few months.
Having these items in stock at home allows you to skip a trip and stay home to effectively practice social distancing. Again, be patient with the grocery store stock on these items. You may need to be open to buying different brands or products than you usually would to ensure you have an adequate supply.
Books, Games, and Puzzles
Supplies for your mental health are just as important as supplies for your physical health. Keep you and your family entertained by stocking up on fun activities, such as puzzles and games.
Need a quiet moment? Have a few good books lined up to pass the time. Make it a game night with board games you and your household members can get together and play. You can also find virtual games to play with family or friends who aren't in the same house as you. By keeping your mind busy and engaged, your social distancing time will pass faster and won't feel so isolating.
And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 50 Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.