10 Essential Items for Surviving a Storm

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Being prepared with the right items in a storm survival kit can make all the difference in the aftermath of a major storm. To learn more, take a look at some storm pictures!

Lisa Andrews, who lives in Florida during hurricane season, emphasizes the importance of being prepared for storms. She advises every household to have a storm survival kit that includes adequate supplies of water, nonperishable foods, batteries, and medicines, as they can make a storm easier to weather [source: DiPino]. While the path of hurricanes and nor’easters can be predicted, other storms can catch people by surprise, leaving them out of power, food, and luck. This is why a storm preparedness kit is crucial.

Experts recommend having enough food, water, and other supplies for at least 72 hours, and keeping your survival kit in a safe place that is cool and dry. If you already have a kit, make sure it’s up-to-date [source: FEMA].

Here are the 10 essential items you should include in your storm survival kit:

10: Water

FEMA suggests storing at least one gallon (3.8 liters) of water per person, per day for both drinking and sanitation purposes.

Water is probably the most important element in any survival kit, but it is also the hardest to store. After a storm, your regular source of drinking water could be contaminated, or you might not have access to electricity to run your well’s water pump. Without water, there’s nothing to drink, bathe in, or flush toilets.

To prepare for emergencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) advises storing at least one gallon (3.8 liters) of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation purposes. It is important to have extra water available if you live in a warm climate. Bottled water in its original container is best and should be stored in a cool, dark place. FEMA also recommends being cautious when storing tap water and using containers designed for water, which can be purchased at camping supply stores. All food in an emergency kit should be non-perishable and should include items that family members, especially children, will eat. Cooking and eating utensils should be clean, and any food exposed to contaminated flood water should be thrown away. It is essential to have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio to stay informed during an emergency. Additionally, pet food and medication should be included in the emergency kit, and a first aid kit should be prepared with bandages, ointments, and medications.

6: Lighting

In case of a power outage, it becomes necessary to have sources of light to use at night. Camp lights and flashlights are essential to have. Some companies have created portable units that have the ability to provide light, electricity, and a radio, which is useful when the electricity goes out. These devices come with a 12-volt rechargeable battery, a detachable flashlight, and a charging port that can power small electronics such as portable cell phones [source: Amazon]. Apart from these, candles and dry matches can also be used for lighting, but one must be careful while using them.

Cell phones are a vital lifeline for many people. However, if the power is out and there is no way to charge the device, it becomes useless. Most of us have chargeable phones with landlines, but having an old fashioned phone plugged into the wall will always work when the power goes out, as long as the telephone lines are intact.

5: Sleeping Bags/Blankets

It is important to have warm bedding in case it is needed. Sleeping bags are ideal for this purpose. Each person in the household should have a warm blanket. If you live in colder climates, then it is important to have additional bedding. Clothing should also be part of your household storm emergency. Ensure that each person has a complete change of clothing, including a long-sleeve shirt, long pants, jacket, and reliable shoes. In colder climates, store extra clothing including hats and gloves. Everyone should also have a pillow, extra underwear, and socks [source: FEMA].

4: Sanitary Items

Sanitary items such as toothpaste, toilet paper, diapers, soap, and other necessary items should be included in the emergency storm kit. Some items might not seem important until one runs out of them, such as contact lens solution, denture cream, and feminine supplies. It is recommended to keep everything in a waterproof container [source: My Great Home].

3: Utensils

Eating food with fingers is not a pleasant experience. Clean utensils and mess kits can make life easier after a storm rolls through. To clean utensils and any other surfaces, it is recommended to keep a bottle of chlorine bleach and a medicine dropper in the kit. By diluting one part bleach with nine parts water, one can create a perfect disinfectant [source: FEMA].

For infants and toddlers, it is important to have plenty of diapers, toys, infant formula, and baby food on hand to keep them happy during the aftermath of a storm.

2: Games and Other Activities

During a power outage, it is important to have entertainment for children and adults alike. Board games, puzzles, coloring books, and other activities are essential to keeping everyone occupied. Pencils, paper, and pens should also be readily available. It can be difficult to get through a storm with a group of bored children, so having these items will make the experience less challenging.

1: Cash

It’s important to have enough cash on hand in case you need to buy supplies after a storm when banks and ATMs might not be available. Make sure to withdraw cash or traveler’s checks before the storm hits. Even if businesses reopen, they may not have power, which means they won’t be able to process debit or credit card transactions. Having cash on hand is the only way to make purchases for food, fuel, and other essential items.

Lots More Information

Author’s Note: 10 Must Haves in a Storm Survival Kit

While it may seem like a lot, most of the items in this list are probably things you already have. It’s important to gather them in a dry and cool place before the storm hits and store them in water-tight containers that are easily accessible.

Related Articles

  • Fact or Fiction: Hurricane Quiz
  • Category 5! Are you Prepared?
  • How Hurricanes Work
  • How Storm Chasers Work
  • How Tornadoes Work

More Great Links

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • National Weather Service
  • National Weather Service: Emergency Alert System


  • Amazon.com. “Black & Decker Storm Station All-in-One Rechargeable Power.” (June 12, 2012). http://www.amazon.com/Black-Decker-StormStation-Rechargeable-SS925/dp/B000B8GBCC
  • DiPino, David. “Hurricane preparation expert offers advice as storm season nears.” Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. May 23, 2012. (June 12, 2012). http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2012-05-23/news/fl-drf-hurricane-0523-20120523_1_storm-season-hurricane-storm-approaches
  • FEMA.com. “Basic Disaster Supplies Kit.” (June 12, 2012). http://www.ready.gov/basic-disaster-supplies-kit
  • FEMA.com. “Build a Kit.” (June 12, 2012). http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit
  • FEMA.com. “Food.” (June 12, 2012). http://www.ready.gov/food
  • FEMA.com. “Water.” (June 12, 2012). http://www.ready.gov/water
  • My Great Home. “What Belongs in an Emergency Kit.” (June 12, 2012). http://www.mygreathome.com/safety/severe_weather/emergency_kit.htm
  • NOAA.com. “NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards.” (June 12, 2012). http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/


1. What should be included in a basic storm survival kit?

A basic storm survival kit should include essential items such as a flashlight, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a portable radio, and non-perishable food and water. It is also important to have a manual can opener, a multipurpose tool, and a charged phone or backup power source. Don’t forget to include important documents such as identification and insurance papers in a waterproof container.

2. How much non-perishable food and water should be included in a storm survival kit?

It is recommended to have at least three days’ worth of non-perishable food and water for each person in the household. This includes canned foods, protein bars, and bottled water. Don’t forget to also include food and water for any pets in the household.

3. Is it necessary to have a generator in a storm survival kit?

While a generator can be helpful during power outages, it is not necessary to include in a storm survival kit. It is important to have alternative sources of light and heat such as candles or a battery-operated heater. If you do choose to include a generator, make sure to also have extra fuel and follow all safety precautions.

4. What type of first aid kit should be included in a storm survival kit?

A first aid kit should include items such as bandages, gauze, antiseptic wipes, and over-the-counter pain relievers. It is also important to include any prescription medications for family members. Consider taking a first aid class to learn basic skills and techniques.

5. Should extra clothing be included in a storm survival kit?

Yes, it is important to have extra clothing in a storm survival kit, especially in colder climates. Include warm, waterproof clothing such as jackets, hats, gloves, and boots. Don’t forget to also include extra blankets or sleeping bags.

6. Is it necessary to include cash in a storm survival kit?

Yes, it is important to have cash in a storm survival kit in case ATMs or credit card machines are not working. Include small bills and coins in a waterproof container.

7. Should a map of the local area be included in a storm survival kit?

Yes, it is important to have a map of the local area in case roads are closed or GPS systems are not working. Consider also including a compass and learning basic navigation skills.

8. Should entertainment items be included in a storm survival kit?

While it is not necessary, including entertainment items such as books or board games can help pass the time during a power outage or storm. Consider also including a deck of cards or a portable music player with extra batteries.

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