9 Bug-Out Bag Essentials to Prepare You for Any Emergency

Including your ID and all the supplies you'll need to survive a possibly life-threatening scenario.

Bug-out bag or emergency preparedness kit essentials - disaster, emergency supplies
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When disaster strikes, an emergency preparedness kit can mean the difference between riding out a disaster (natural or otherwise) with relative ease and scrambling to find non-perishable food until normalcy is restored. Ideally, any good emergency plan includes the establishment and maintenance of an emergency kit, especially in regions where natural disasters are relatively common. Still, anyone in any region should have some sort of emergency plan and disaster preparedness kit, also known as a bug-out bag or go bag, in place, considering most emergencies and disasters are, by nature, unexpected.

With that in mind, setting aside just a little time to gather the necessary supplies for a bug-out bag or go-bag is undoubtedly a smart move. Having most emergency kit essentials set aside is a good idea; perishable items or items that need to be used up until disaster strikes, such as medications, can be collected at the last minute. Batteries and bulbs should be checked with relatively frequency; if you're concerned about a flashlight or radio giving out during a potential disaster, keeping spare batteries and other supplies in the emergency kit is a smart solution.

As with an emergency fund, the goal of an emergency kit is that it's never used. If and when it's needed, though, you and your family can rest easy knowing you're as prepared as possible. Just a small stockpile of emergency supplies can help you outlast a short disaster, such as a power outage, earthquake, or tornado warning. In the case of potentially larger emergencies, such as a hurricane, an emergency kit can provide extra comfort until aid (if it's needed) arrives.

In any situation, having a prepared bug-out bag is better than getting caught off-guard. You can expect there to be a run on flashlights right before a major storm is expected, and getting yours (plus other supplies) ahead of time can save you money, time, and stress. Gather these emergency preparedness kit essentials now, and you can rest just a tiny bit easier when disaster strikes.

01 of 09


Bottles of water
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This one's a given for bug-out bags, but a reminder never hurts. You can never be too safe, so make sure to have at least one gallon per person per day in your emergency preparedness kit. Bottles expire after about a year, so instead, fill your own large jugs ahead of any storm. This 64-ounce bottle (To buy: Hydro Flask 64 oz Wide Mouth bottle, $60; hydroflask.com) is a reusable option that can be used for sporting events and other outings. The vacuum insulation will help keep your water cool, too, even if temperatures rise.

02 of 09


Pantry foods
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You'd expect to see food in any emergency kit, but not all food is created equal when you're weathering a storm or disaster. Stock food that doesn't require the use of electricity to safely prepare (peanut butter, granola bars, and dried fruit), and stock up on enough to feed your family for at least a few days. It's also a good idea to have a camping stove and matches (stored in a waterproof container) available in case you want to heat food.

03 of 09


Red flashlight
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Flashlights are essential, primarily for ensuring your family's safety when the power goes out. They're especially useful if you have little ones—the dark can make an already scary time even more difficult. At least one flashlight is helpful in case you need to venture out for any reason, but a battery-powered lantern or a headlamp make great alternatives.

04 of 09

First-Aid Kit and Meds

First Aid Kit and Medicine
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An emergency first-aid kit is a must-have for actual emergencies and everyday incidents alike. Ideally, you'll stock two: One to keep in the kitchen for falls and bumps and another to keep in the bug-out bag for emergencies only.

05 of 09


Money of many denominations
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You've probably got your credit cards in your back pocket, but don't forget to stash cash in your emergency preparedness kit—it may be a while before you're able to stop by an ATM.

06 of 09

Important Documents

Passport, birth certificate
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The last thing you'd want to lose in a storm is anything that can't be replaced. Before the disaster strikes, grab birth certificates, wills, social security cards, passports, and other legal papers that aren't easily replaced.

07 of 09

Batteries and Portable Chargers

Phone charging with portable battery
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Toss batteries and a portable charger in your bug-out bag. The batteries will keep radios and flashlights or lanterns running; if you're able to get cell phone service, a portable charger could make it easier to let your family know that you're safe and sound.

08 of 09

Technology-Free Entertainment

Coloring book and pencils
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Having a portable or handheld video game is a great way to keep the kids' minds off the situation, but those batteries won't last forever. Throw some coloring books, books, or games into your emergency kit to keep everyone's minds occupied.

09 of 09

NOAA Radio Receiver

LaCrosse All Hazards NOAA Weather Radio

Normal AM/FM radios may not be able to pick up on frequencies sent by the National Weather Service during a hurricane or major storm, but this one can. Stashing one in the bug-out bag can help you stay updated on weather shifts, evacuation orders, and more when other methods of communication are out of commission.

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