This Is Why Your Home Emergency Kit Needs a Whistle (and Other Essentials You Can’t Forget)

There’s no substitute for being prepared. And in today’s world? Knowing what you should have on hand is more important than ever. Of course, nobody ever hopes for a natural disaster or nuclear war, but things happen, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. So, how prepared are you, really? Do you know if you have all the home emergency kit essentials you need? Time to find out.

1. Water, food, and can opener

Row of water bottles

Clean water is essential. | Tezzstock/iStock/Getty Images

Having emergency food and water on hand is imperative, and so is knowing just how much you should have of each. According to the Department of Homeland Security, you should account for “one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation.” And food? You’ll need to stock a non-perishable food supply that will last you at least three days.

Furthermore, most of your food supply will end up being canned goods. And what’s a can of food good for if you can’t actually open it? Be sure to toss a can opener into the mix, as well.

2. Backup cell phone batteries and local maps

Bakersfield pinned on map

Without cell service, you’ll need a map to help you navigate. |

Nobody ever wants their cell phone to die during an emergency, which is why it’s a good idea to add a backup, like a portable cell phone power bank, to your list of must-haves. But of course, even that doesn’t guarantee that your cell phone will last forever, which is why we’re mentioning local maps here, too.

No phone navigation available? No problem. You’ll have to kick it old school and take to a printed version of a local map should you have to navigate your way to safety.

 3. Dust mask and duct tape

Duct tape on a store shelf

It’s an extreme scenario, but duct tape could be a lifesaver if you need temporary shelter. | Mario Tama/Getty Images.

When disaster strikes, it could mean lots of dust, ash, and other contaminated air particles. To be safe, it’s best to keep a protective dust mask in your kit, along with plastic sheeting and duct tape. The latter items can be used to create a makeshift shelter spot should you need to take cover from the elements.

 4. Whistle

whistle blower

These are surprisingly useful during an emergency. | Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images

Naturally, when a disaster occurs, the phones may not be working. Beyond that, you might be physically stuck someplace and need to call for help. Enter the whistle. For this very reason, stocking your home emergency kit with a whistle is key.

5. Battery-powered radio

Solar Hand Crank Self Powered Emergency FM Radio

This emergency FM radio works with a hand crank. | Amazon

Keeping a small, handheld radio in your kit could be the difference between staying safe and heading toward an area with more disaster on the way. With a battery-powered radio, you’ll be able to tune into the NOAA Weather Radio, which will keep you up-to-date on all the weather-related information you need to know.

 6. Flashlight, extra batteries, and a wrench

close up of batteries

Having batteries on hand is a no brainer. | iStock/Getty Images

There’s no question why a flashlight or extra batteries would come in handy in case of an emergency. But a wrench? A wrench is often a huge oversight when it comes to packing a home emergency kit, but it’s important. Turns out, a pair of pliers or a wrench can be used to turn off utilities, should you need to.

 7. Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties

Black trash bags on white

These will keep your belongings protected in a shelter. |

Personal sanitation is a huge concern during a time of emergency. For this reason, stocking up on plenty of personal sanitation items is crucial. To get started, begin collecting some moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties. You’ll want to be able to keep the items on your person clean and uncontaminated should you need to spend any time at a shelter.

For a complete list of emergency kit essentials, visit

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