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How to build your own Emergency Kit

What kind of Emergency Kit do I need? Small Business? see Business Preparedness

    emergency go bag
Example of a Standard
Emergency Go Bag

Evacuation & Shelter-in-Place Emergency Kits

  • a Go Bag containing survival essentials to be used in case of immediate evacuation and
  • an emergency survival Preparedness Kit to provide supplies for sheltering-in-place

A well-made Go Bag will handle both evacuation and sheltering in place scenarios. It will contain your personal emergency supplies pre-packed in an easy-to-carry solution, usually a sturdy backpack. It holds all the items you will need if you have to leave your home or workplace immediately; for example if you are advised to evacuate.  In addition to essential survival supplies you should pack personal items such as medication, maps, keys, spare glasses, copies of documents and other important records. Store your Go Bag in a safe and secure location ready to be grabbed at a moment's notice.
Other names for Go Bag that you may come across are grab-bag, bug-out bag, evacuation pack etc. Find out more about "Why do I need an Emergency Kit?"


You also need an Emergency Plan

Make a Personal Emergency Plan that fits you and your particular circumstances. The link accesses lots of FREE resources including useful templates and information about many different scenarios to help you plan and be better prepared for flooding, storms, fire etc. If you want to know even more and are interested in resilience then check out our evidence-based resilience blog.



How do I build my own Emergency Kit?

a personal survival box

A Personal Survival Box that can be included in your Go Bag

family emergency preparedness kit

Example of a Family Emergency Preparedness Kit from our selection of Home Emergency Kits


Remember, emergencies rarely occur during perfect weather. Disasters know no borders. Expect the unexpected and be better prepared for all kinds of emergencies. Threat levels are high but it's not only about security. Increasingly, severe weather events and other disasters impact the United Kingdom.  Flooding is a widespread problem forcing people to evacuate homes and businesses. Unfortunately flooding is highly likely to increase both in regularity and severity. One reason is that the warmer air associated with climate change simply holds more moisture resulting in more frequent and heavier downpours. Living in an interconnected world also means that distant events both weather and security related can and will impact the UK in unexpected ways. Nobody can 100% accurately predict the future and therefore ...

It pays to be better prepared: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  - Benjamin Franklin 


Emergency Go Bag Contents List


Water: pack at least 1.5 litres  of drinking water per person per day. You can simply pack mineral water bottles, but these will have limited shelf life, so you will need to replace these at regular intervals.  Emergency drinking water pouches, as used in life-raft supplies, have a five year shelf life hence provide an elegant solution for your Go Bag. One way of reducing the amount of water you carry in your Go Bag is to pack water purification tablets - these  can be used to treat almost any water, making it suitable to drink. If you don't wish to use chemicals to disinfect your water, you can choose a purification or filtration bottle. These are compact bottles with integrated filter cartridges. You can fill from any water source and the filter will stop the bacteria, viruses, fungi and other water-borne pathogens.

Food: pack some ready to eat food in your Go Bag to keep self-sufficient in the immediate aftermath of an incident. Emergency Food Rations, as used in life- rafts, provide  a high calorie, long shelf- life biscuit that is both compact and easy to store. Ration packs are used by armies worldwide are an excellent choice. In addition or as a short term alternative pack snack bars or trail mix but make a note to replace these at regular intervals.

Masks: human beings can survive for several days without water, several weeks without food, but only a few minutes without air. Dust and debris is often overwhelming at the site of an accident or incident. Disposable respirator masks can be worn over the mouth and nose to filter dust, particles and aqueous mists. Fold flat type of masks are compact and easy to carry and therefore ideal for emergency purposes. FFP3 masks are the equivalent of N99 and FFP2 are the equivalent of N95, 99% and 95% nominal filtration efficiency respectively. Typically, FFP3 respirator masks are used by healthcare workers to protect themselves when exposed to airborne viruses.  

Light:  a good torch is an essential component of your Go Bag. Select an emergency torch that uses LEDs as these will last for thousands of hours, negating the need for spare bulbs. Purchasing multiple types of torches makes sense. A head torch (worn on the forehead) will leave your hands free for other tasks. In addition get two types of hand held torches. First, choose a wind-up type torch with a built-in dynamo that charges its internal batteries so that you never run out of power. Second, for ease of use and a powerful beam select a battery-powered torch. As to which spare batteries you need: alkaline batteries generally have a five year shelf life while lithium batteries will perform well even when stored for over 10 years. Another great tip is to grab some military-quality lightsticks. These can be used for emergency light and to mark locations.

Radio: information is crucial during any crisis. Tune in to emergency radio broadcasts via a portable AM/FM radio receiver. Like your torches, emergency radio are available with built in generators for wind-up power so they can be used anytime. Remember that mains electricity may not be available and that you may not be able to access the internet.  

Clothing: keeping warm and dry is essential. Select light and compact items as space is at a premium in your Go Bag. Layers of clothing are more versatile. Travel ponchos are a good choice to keep you dry. Foil blankets are efficient at retaining body heat but they can only be used at rest. An emergency foil poncho is an excellent choice as it is extremely light and compact yet it will keep you warm and dry even while moving about. Also pack a compact survival sleeping bag for overnight shelter.  

First Aid: your first aid kit contents should reflect your training and ability and must include at the very least wound cleansing and dressing supplies, eyewash and burn treatment bandages. Also include basic medications and enough personal prescription items to last you one week.

Communication: telephone networks, including mobile networks, may become disabled or overwhelmed locally during an emergency. If you want to communicate with friends and family that are within a few kilometers of you, licence-free walkie-talkie radios are an excellent choice as they operate independently of any networks. A satellite phone doesn't depend on the local networks so it may be your only reliable means of voice and email communications for  longer distances.

Miscellaneous: pack an emergency mobile phone charger (to connect when service resumes) and additional spare batteries for other tools. Choose long life lithium batteries, as they are light weight and can be used in extreme environmental conditions. A good quality multi-tool, waterproof tape, a loud whistle and a personal flashing beacon for rescue are also highly recommended as additions to our Go Bag.  

Documents: pack copies of your IDs and other important documents, local maps, keys, prescriptions, some money and essential contact information that you may not have access to if you evacuate your home. Pack these items in a waterproof document pouch or map case. Packing self-adhesive labels or waterproof notepaper and tape along with a pencil will allow you to leave notes and instructions for others to follow.  

The bag: choose a medium sized backpack that can hold all your survival gear. The bag doesn't need to be waterproof, however, if you wish to protect your gear, you can line your backpack with a light- weight dry sack. You can make your bag easier to find in the dark by sticking photo-luminescent (glow in the dark) tape or attaching a photoluminescent  and reflective safety armband to the handle.


Now that you've prepared your Emergency Go Bag
... put together a Disaster Survival Kit to Shelter-in-Place

What goes in a Disaster Survival Kit? 

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