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
Photo: Getty Images

When disaster strikes, an emergency preparedness kit can mean the difference between riding out a disaster with relative ease and scrambling to find non-perishable food until normalcy is restored. Ideally, having this kit (aka a bug-out bag or go bag) is part of any good emergency plan, especially in regions where natural disasters are relatively common. Still, anyone in any region could use one of these, considering most emergencies and disasters are, by nature, unexpected.

It's a good idea to have most emergency kit essentials set aside beforehand. 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 relative 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 hope is that you'll never have to use it. But 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, 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
GNL Media/Getty Images

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.

The Hydro Flask 64 oz Wide Mouth bottle 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.

To buy: Hydro Flask 64 oz Wide Mouth bottle, $60; hydroflask.com

02 of 09


Pantry foods
fcafotodigital/Getty Images

You'd expect to see food in any emergency kit, but certain foods are best for stockpiling for 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 like the Coleman Portable Butane Stove and matches (stored in a waterproof container) available in case you want to heat food.

To buy: Coleman Portable Butane Stove; $56, amazon.com

03 of 09


Red flashlight
Tetra Images/Getty Images

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 like the UCO Beta 200 Lumen Variable Brightness LED Headlamp make great alternatives.

To buy: UCO Beta 200 Lumen Variable Brightness LED Headlamp; $24, amazon.com

04 of 09

First-Aid Kit and Meds

First Aid Kit and Medicine
artisteer/Getty Images

An emergency first-aid kit like the Deftget 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.

To buy: Deftget First Aid Kit; $15, amazon.com

05 of 09


Money of many denominations
Larry Gilpin/Getty Images

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
wingedwolf/Getty Images

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
Blackzheep/Getty Images

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 you're safe and sound.

08 of 09

Technology-Free Entertainment

Coloring book and pencils
shironosov/Getty Images

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 like Apples to Apples into your emergency kit to keep everyone's minds occupied.

To buy: Apples to Apples Junior; $23, amazon.com

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 the La Crosse Technology Weather Radio 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.

To buy: La Crosse Technology S83301-1 NOAA Weather Radio; $59, amazon.com

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles