The Ultimate Home Survival Kit (2023 Edition)
For many preppers, the phrase “survival kit” is likely to conjure thoughts of something compact and easily stowed, with a few standard items, such as a paracord bracelet, flashlight, and fire starter.
However, a comprehensive, effective emergency survival kit should include more than the basics. Equipped to address a number of issues during a disaster, it ought to cover things like food, water, and emergency communications.
In the end, you might find that your survival kit is much larger than you thought, spanning several containers. If this is the case, it is imperative to stay organized, making certain that everyone in your home knows where the kit is stored.
Table of Contents
How to Build a Home Survival Kit
How to Build a Nuclear Attack Survival Kit
Ultimate Survival Kit List
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Build a Home Survival Kit
There are several important categories to address when you are building an emergency survival kit. To help you with that process, we will take you through each step, one by one.
When it comes to building your home security kit, there is nothing more fundamental than water. After all, adults require several liters of fluids per day in order to function properly.
Let’s review your options for water storage.
Keeping a supply of commercially bottled water is a convenient option for your home survival kit. Be sure to choose bottles that are specifically labeled for long-term storage, typically made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic. For safety, store the bottles in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and chemicals.
Take care, too, to check the expiration dates at regular intervals, rotating the supply accordingly. Bottled water is pre-treated and sealed, ensuring its safety and freshness. It requires no additional purification or treatment before consumption.
Aim to store at least one gallon (3.8 liters) of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation needs.
Though bottled water is a hassle-free option, the convenience comes at a premium. Tap water, therefore, provides an economical and sustainable alternative.
If you opt to store water straight from the faucet, be sure to use food-grade containers or water storage barrels specifically designed for long-term water storage. Fill the containers with tap water and ensure they are tightly sealed to prevent contamination.
Like bottled water, tap water should be stored in a cool, dark area–though it requires the extra step of labeling and dating the containers. To maintain its quality and freshness, water from the tap should be rotated every six months.
If there is a water advisory or concerns about the tap water quality, it is advisable to use water purification methods–such as boiling, water filters, or water purification tablets–before consuming the stored tap water.
By combining both bottled water and tap water storage, you will have a versatile water supply for emergencies. While bottled water provides immediate, ready-to-use water, tap water storage offers a cost-effective long-term solution.
For these reasons, you may choose to include both in your emergency survival kit.
Storing high-calorie, shelf-stable food bars in your home survival kit can be a practical and efficient way to ensure that your family has food, no matter the emergency. With this in mind, we present the following food bars, specifically designed to provide essential nutrients and energy in a compact and long-lasting form.
Clif Bars: Cliff Bars are popular among outdoor enthusiasts, and for good reason. Made with organic ingredients, they have a balanced nutritional profile, providing a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Plus, they come in a variety of flavors.
Datrex Emergency Food Bars: If you’re a part of the emergency preparedness community, you may have heard of Datrex already. Specifically formulated to meet the high-energy requirements of emergency situations, their emergency food bars come in individually packaged portions, are non-thirst provoking, and have a five-year shelf life.
SOS Food Labs Rations: Another reputable brand that caters to the prepper community is SOS Food Labs, which produces emergency rations that are compact, lightweight, and have a long shelf life. Vacuum sealed in durable packaging, their high-calorie food bars are suitable for storage in harsh conditions. In light of this, it’s no wonder that they’re popular among military and emergency response teams.
Mainstay Emergency Food Rations: Rounding off the list is Mainstay, which offers calorie-dense emergency food bars that are designed to provide balanced nutrition in survival situations. Enriched with vitamins and minerals, these food bars have a shelf life of up to five years.
With all these options, you may be wondering which one is right for your survival kit.
To make this determination, we recommend considering factors like calorie content, nutritional value, taste preferences, and any dietary restrictions or allergies. Note that it’s also important to regularly check expiration dates and rotate your food supplies to ensure freshness.
Beyond the survival kit, you should also supplement food storage with a variety of other non-perishable food items to create a well-rounded and diversified emergency food stockpile.
Storing batteries, power banks, flashlights, and other light-providing devices is crucial for preparedness during a power outage or emergency situation. These items are essential for maintaining visibility, safety, and communication.
In terms of storage, they should be stashed together, in a common location, and in a container that everyone in the family can access.
Batteries: To accommodate the needs of various devices, stockpile a variety of batteries in different sizes, such as AA, AAA, C, and D. Choose long-lasting alkaline or lithium batteries, as they have a longer shelf life. For storage, set them aside in a cool, dry place, and regularly check expiration dates. Consider rechargeable batteries paired with a solar or hand-crank charger for a sustainable and renewable power source.
Power banks: During a power outage, you’ll want to be able to charge electronic devices like phones, tablets, or radios. That’s why it’s important to invest in high-capacity power banks. Look for power banks with multiple USB ports and fast-charging capabilities. Most importantly, keep them charged–otherwise, they will be of no use to you.
Flashlights: The importance of light during an emergency is self-evident. Therefore, you should have multiple reliable and durable flashlights in your emergency kit. LED flashlights are a great option, as they are energy-efficient and provide bright illumination. For hands-free use, consider headlamps.
Lanterns and light sticks: For broader area lighting during extended power outages, be sure to include battery-powered lanterns or LED camping lanterns in your supplies. Additionally, consider chemical light sticks as backup lighting options, as they have a long shelf life and don't require batteries.
Solar-powered lights: Solar-powered devices, such as solar lanterns or solar-powered garden lights, offer a sustainable lighting solution during daylight hours. They’re easy to use, too. Simply place them in sunlight to charge during the day, and use them as a light source at night.
Candles and matches: Last but not least are a couple of tried-and-true lighting options: candles and waterproof matches. Remember to ensure proper ventilation and exercise caution when using open flames.
Once you have acquired this bevy of light sources, place them in their own container, labeling it your “blackout kit”–a key piece of your overall home survival kit.
Emergency communications are vital during a crisis, as they enable vital information exchange, coordination, and help maintain situational awareness, enhancing safety and preparedness. It is therefore essential to incorporate at least a couple of reliable communication devices into your home survival kit.
At minimum, you ought to include the following technologies:
Emergency Radios: During an emergency, battery-powered or hand-crank emergency radios are invaluable. Look for models that offer AM/FM frequencies and NOAA weather alerts. Note, too, that there are radios with built-in flashlights and USB charging ports–a versatile option that combines several necessities. To ensure continuous operation, extra batteries or a hand-crank charger are needed.
Two-Way Walkie Talkies: To facilitate communication between family or team members, you’ll need walkie talkies. Choose models with multiple channels, privacy codes, and a long range. Waterproof and ruggedized versions are also desirable, as these provide maximum durability. And as always, keep spare batteries and a charger to maintain functionality.
Both emergency radios and walkie talkies should be regularly tested and, as previously mentioned, stored with fresh batteries.
If you’re looking to go above and beyond in your emergency preparedness, learn to use a HAM radio or General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) radio. Note that both of these options require a valid license, issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
It should come as no surprise that, for preppers and survivalists, basic first aid preparations are considered crucial. During times when professional medical help may be limited or inaccessible altogether, these supplies can help address injuries and medical emergencies.
For your first aid kit, here are some essential items to consider:
First aid manual: First and foremost, include a comprehensive first aid manual or guidebook that provides instructions on how to handle common injuries and medical emergencies. For those with minimal training, The Prepper’s Medical Handbook by William W. Forgey, M.D. provides an excellent primer.
Adhesive bandages: To treat cuts, abrasions, and blisters, compile an assortment of adhesive bandages in various sizes. For added durability, consider waterproof or fabric options.
Sterile gauze pads and roll: While band-aids are sufficient for minor injuries, you’ll need something more to dress larger and/or more severe wounds. For this purpose, stock up on sterile gauze pads and rolls.
Adhesive tape: To secure dressings or bandages in place, include a roll of medical adhesive tape. An extremely versatile item, surgical tape can be used in a variety of medical situations.
Antiseptic solution: Cleaning wounds and preventing infection is foundational to emergency medical aid. That’s why antiseptic solutions, such as hydrogen peroxide or povidone-iodine, are mainstays in any emergency first aid kit worth its salt.
Disposable gloves: To protect against cross-contamination, acquire a supply of disposable gloves (latex or nitrile). This ensures personal safety during first aid procedures.
Tweezers and scissors: In order to remove splinters or foreign objects, you’ll need a pair of tweezers, as well as a pair of sharp scissors for cutting tape, clothing, or bandages.
Pain relievers: Unfortunately, many medical emergencies involve pain. To manage this, as well as reduce fevers, keep a supply of over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Thermometer: Often one of the first indicators of an underlying illness or infection, body temperature provides valuable clues about a person’s health. The first step to keeping tabs on your family’s vital signs, therefore, is to obtain a digital thermometer.
CPR mask: Cardiac arrest–or the sudden cessation of heartbeats–can happen anywhere and at any time. For those who experience it, effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, can significantly increase the chances of survival. That is why you should seriously consider purchasing a CPR mask with a one-way valve for providing protected rescue breaths. One day, it could save lives–maybe even yours.
Emergency blanket: For those experiencing shock or exposure to extreme temperatures, emergency blankets can provide a crucial layer of warmth and insulation. Whether it's a natural disaster, power outage, or being stranded in a remote location, having emergency blankets readily available is a first aid must.
Personal medications: If you or a family member have a medical condition, don’t wait for an emergency to sort out the logistics of prescription medications and any essential medical devices or equipment. Plan ahead now, ensuring an adequate supply of one or both.
As with your other supplies, regularly check expiration dates and replenish items as needed. This includes bandages, which become brittle and less absorbent with age.
Finally, consider taking a first aid or CPR course to gain practical skills and knowledge for emergency situations. Note that while first aid kits, coupled with training, can treat minor injuries and illness, it's essential to seek professional medical assistance for severe or life-threatening conditions as soon as possible.
How to Build a Nuclear Attack Survival Kit
Building a nuclear survival kit, like the rest of your home security kit, requires careful consideration and preparation. While the prospect of a nuclear war is alarming, you can rest assured that assembling a well-equipped survival kit can greatly enhance your chances of survival.
To begin your nuclear war survival kit, here are some key components to include.
Radiation Detection: If you find yourself in a postnuclear situation, you’ll need to assess the safety of your surroundings in order to make informed decisions. To monitor radiation levels, be sure to include radiation detection equipment, such as a Geiger-Muller counter, in your kit.
MIRA Safety Geiger-2 Portable Geiger Counter
Only slightly larger than a ballpoint pen, the Geiger-2 is a full-featured handheld dosimeter that offers the same reliability as a professional-grade Geiger counter at a fraction of the price–and without the bulk. It’s built from impact-resistant polymer and has an easy-to-read LCD screen with two buttons, making it one of the simplest and most user-friendly dosimeters on the market today.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): In order to minimize exposure to radioactive particles or fallout, you’ll need gas masks or respirators, disposable gloves, and protective clothing–taking care to ensure these items are properly fitted and meet safety standards.
In this regard, MIRA Safety can be of service, offering many products that are perfect for your nuclear survival kit. Here are a few of our favorites:
MIRA Safety CM-6M Tactical Gas Mask
Combining premium features with superior mil-spec construction, MIRA Safety’s CM-6M CBRN Tactical Gas Mask protects your face, internal organs, and respiratory system against a full spectrum of toxic industrial chemicals (TIC) and chemical warfare agents (CWA), including chemical, biological, and nuclear threats, such as radioactive dust, noxious gas, vaporized pollutants, and more.
The CM-6M is perfect for all the adults in the family, both male and female. But what about any children in the home?
To protect your most vulnerable family members, another model of gas mask is needed.
CM-3M CBRN Child Escape Respirator
From the CBRN experts at the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) comes a radical solution for a children’s gas mask. Combining a compact, battery-powered blower with a modern CBRN filter, this expandable hood can be deployed in a matter of seconds to provide hours of protection and easy breathing for your littles.
Unlike most modern gas masks, which are designed for military use, the CM-3M Child Escape Respirator is designed to specifically suit the needs of small children and young teenagers.
Gas Mask Filters: With your respirators and gas masks sorted, you will also need the best filters for nuclear, biological, and chemical agents. Since quality filters can last up to twenty years, they are well worth the investment.
CBRN Gas Mask Filter NBC-77 SOF
The NBC-77 SOF 40mm gas mask filter canister–in combination with a full-face mask, mouthpiece assembly, or PAPR–reliably protects air passages against a wide range of harmful and highly toxic substances, including all known CBRN agents.
The filters are produced with standard round threads according to STANAG 4155 (EN 148- 1)- Rd 40x1/7", with components that are made of hard plastic. This results in a very robust product that is extremely durable against shock and impact damage in operational use.
Emergency Medical Supplies: In previous sections, we have outlined the medical supplies that are necessary for your first aid kit.
For a comprehensive nuclear survival kit, you’ll need to add potassium iodide tablets to your cache of medical essentials, as they are a potentially life-saving solution for exposure to radioactive iodine (I-131).
MIRA Safety Potassium Iodide Tablets
So, how do the tablets work?
Well, it’s very simple. Once ingested, potassium iodide tablets flood your body with safe iodine to prevent the absorption and accumulation of radioactive iodine. Radioactive iodine can otherwise lead to an increased risk of thyroid cancer—and your thyroid gland is crucial for managing everything from your nervous system to your heart rate.
Before we move on, a few words of advice: nuclear war survival kits should be informed by your individual needs and circumstances. To ensure the functionality of items, regularly review and update your kit, replenishing any expired items.
Ultimate Survival Kit List
For your convenience, we have compiled a complete list of items for your home survival kit, including everything that we have mentioned above. To achieve the perfect kit, go line-by-line, considering which supplies are relevant to your needs.
Any gratuitous items can be removed. Likewise, if there is anything lacking, be sure to add it to the list.
Bottled water (commercially labeled for long-term storage)
Tap water (stored in food-grade containers or water storage barrels)
Nuclear War Survival Kit:
Radiation detection equipment (Geiger-Muller counter)
Gas masks or respirators
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Emergency medical supplies (first aid kit, potassium iodide tablets)
High-Calorie Shelf-Stable Food Bars:
Datrex Emergency Food Bars
SOS Food Labs Rations
Mainstay Emergency Food Rations
Batteries, Power Banks, Flashlights, and Light-Providing Devices:
Assorted batteries (AA, AAA, C, D)
Lanterns and lightsticks
Candles and matches
Emergency radios (battery-powered or hand-crank)
Two-way walkie talkies
Basic First Aid Preparations:
First aid manual or guidebook
Sterile gauze pads and roll
Tweezers and scissors
If the average American home were equipped with a survival kit, like the one we have shown you how to build, it would make a world of difference. After all, preparations are needed in order to yield good outcomes during a crisis.
These preparations, it must be stressed, need to be tailored to each family and its specific needs. While we feel confident about the guidelines we have provided here, they are intended as a starting point for emergency preparedness. Therefore, you should make your home security kit your own, adding and subtracting supplies as needed.
Knowing the passion and dedication that our readers possess, we have no doubt that, with a little thought and effort, you can create the best survival kit for your home and family.
Frequently Asked Questions
One of the biggest mistakes that people make with their survival kit is to pack it up, store it away, and never visit it again! They forget that food spoils, batteries go bad, technology stops working, and so on. Bearing this in mind, you need to take a look at all components of your survival kit at least every six months, replenishing supplies as necessary.
Remember, too, that your needs will change over time. You might, for example, buy something that replaces several items in your survival kit.
In all likelihood, your home survival kit is not going to be in one place. Chances are, you will have a number of different containers in a few different locations. Combined, these containers will make up your home survival kit.
The important thing is to make sure that all parts of your survival kit, from the stored water to the respirators, are easy to get to. You should not have things stored in front of them or have them up in an attic that is hard to get to.
The size and quantity of supplies in your survival kit should be based on how many people are in your group or family. Here are some quick guidelines for food and water:
2000 calories per person per day
1 gallon of water per person per day
When it comes to things like comms, flashlights, and respirators, everyone should have at least one of each. No one should be borrowing supplies in the survival kit.