14 Must-Have Items for Your Home Emergency Kit

Now more than ever, you need to be prepared to survive on your own in the case of disaster — days without power, food or water from the tap.

photo person reading by candlelight during blackout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Emergency preparedness used to be primarily a seasonal thing, and it tended to be focused on specific areas: the hurricane season along the East Coast, for example. While those are still events to prepare for, extreme weather events like 2020's winter storm in Texas and 2023's devastating wildfires in Hawaii showed disasters can happen virtually anytime, anywhere.

When disaster strikes, it can mean power outages that last hours, days, or even weeks. Taps can run dry. Heat and air conditioning can shut down. Some health-related equipment like CPAP machines are useless without electricity. You and your family need to be prepared to survive on your own if disaster strikes.

Putting together a home emergency kit to cover a wide range of disaster scenarios is no longer something only “preppers” or those who live in traditional high-risk areas do; it’s something everyone needs to do. 

Think you’re prepared? It’s still a smart idea to have a look through your existing stash to make sure you have all the bases covered and everything is in good working order. In addition, technology has continued to advance, and there are new options now that may be far superior to what you already have.

We’ll leave basics like food, bottled water, medications, and cash to you. Our list covers everything else — the gear that should be in every home emergency kit.

Brad Moon
Contributing Writer, Kiplinger.com

Brad Moon is a tech industry veteran who contributes to a range of publications including Forbes, InvestorPlace and MSN Money and is an original member of the award-winning GeekDad blog. Over the past decade, he has also written about technology for Wired, Gizmodo, Shaw Media, About.com, The Winnipeg Free Press and others.