Modern Day Survival Kit: How To Be Prepared in the 21st Century

Everyday we seem to hear more and more stories of catastrophic events: the COVID-19 pandemic, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and more. What many people don't realize is that these events can have a huge impact on our lives if we're not prepared. That's why we've put together a list of 15 essential items to have on hand so that if tragedy strikes, we are ready for it. 

1. Water

Many people take clean drinking water for granted, especially in 1st world countries. What people don't realize is that our reliable water sources can easily  become tampered during a natural disaster, such as an earthquake. We suggest having at least 5 gallons of fresh water stored, as well as a way to purify more water if you need to. If you live in a place that is prone to earthquakes, you may want to up this number to 10-15 gallons of clean, fresh drinking water. Water purification methods vary greatly, but hand pumps and purification tablets are some of the most reliable. 

2. Food 

Many of us have a small supply of dried foods, but it might be time to increase your stocks. MRE's (meals ready to eat) are a great thing to have in the back of the pantry. MRE's are basically high-calorie, dried foods that take a long time to expire. Some examples of these are beef jerky, trail mixes with nuts, canned beans and vegetables, and dried soups. Don't forget to check the expiration date of these foods every couple years to make sure you're not letting any food go bad! 

3. Extra Clothing 

Extra clothing that's packed and ready to go is necessary if you live in areas that are prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, or tsunamis. Keep a suitcase stocked with at least 2-3 outfits and extra underwear/socks encase you need to evacuate your house quickly. Don't forget to pack a few of your favorite outfits so that you can look good and feel good during tough times. It's also a good idea to keep a set of toiletries in this bag as well. Depending on the season and where you may need to evacuate to, pack a couple extra jackets and sweats to avoid hypothermia. 

4. Body Warmers 

Many people overlook body warmers as an 'essential' item in their survival kits. Body warmers can come in handy in all sorts of ways. They are not only great for keeping your hands and feet warm, but they can be stashed in a pocket with electronics in cold temperatures to keep your phone form dying too. Keeping a couple large body warmers handy are helpful because you can put them inside your clothes near your core to keep your entire body warm. Be careful not to put them directly on your skin, otherwise you might burn yourself! 

5. Shelter

Nowadays, shelter usually refers to a tent or a tarp at the very least to protect yourself from the elements if you need to leave your home. If you're trendy and have a camper van or a sprinter van, you're all set! If you have a camper trailer, make sure it's ready to be hooked-up at a moments notice. It could end up being your home temporarily (or permanently) if catastrophe strikes. 

6. Sanitation 

Keep a healthy stock of hand sanitizer, body hygiene products, and toilet paper ready to go. These products may seem non-essential, but they may be the difference between living comfortably and being miserable if you're left homeless. These are also essential to have around in the case of a global pandemic, such as the COVID-19 outbreak. Not only are they helpful to use for yourself in this scenario, but they are also very valuable in case you lose your job and need to sell them at premium prices for cash (just be careful, because this is illegal in some states).  

7. Cash

Now, most of our money is held digitally. Most people don't even carry cash around with them anymore. If something were to happen to the economy and banks, we wouldn't be able to access any of our money that would be essential to our survival. It's important to have at least $50-500 in cash in a safe, accessible spot in case you need it during an emergency. If you live in LA or another large, over-priced city, you may want to keep $500-$1,000 available in cash. 

8. Compass and Map

When is the last time you tried to drive somewhere without Google or Apple Maps? For some of us... the answer to that is never. If someone where to drop you off in a random place with a compass and map, would you be able to find your way home? Sadly, for most people in the 21st century, the answer to that question is no. If something happened that limited our access to our phones, we would have a very hard time getting anywhere. That's why we suggest having a compass, a local (and country-wide) map, and the knowledge of how to use them so that you don't end up lost or stranded one day. If you don't know how to use one, there are plenty of tutorials on-line, or even classes you can take.

9. Fire Starter

Although it worked for our ancestors, I doubt any of us could actually start a fire by rubbing two sticks together (if you can, kudos to you!). Instead, keep a lighter and some waterproof matches in your survival kit so that you don't get stuck in the cold. It's amazing how much of a difference having a small fire can make in your ability to keep yourself warm, cook food, and keep your morale up. While you're at it, throw some marshmallows and a roasting stick in your kit too! 

10.First Aid Kit 

If you don't already have a first aid kit, you really need to buy one. There are plenty of first aid kits on the market, or you can create your own easily too. Here is a list of some items that everyone should have in their first aid kit: burn cream, Tylenol, ibuprofen, aspirin if you're over the age of 50, band-aids, gauze pads, blister cream, tweezers, a roll of tape, an ace wrap, steri-strips, and a reflective blanket. Reflective blankets are great not only for keeping yourself warm and avoiding hypothermia, but you can also use them to reflect light to create a signal to potential rescuers. 

11. Pocket Knife


You can purchase a cheap pocket knife for as low as $10. If you really want to be prepared, I suggest upgrading to a utility knife. If a major disaster were to happen, you probably wouldn't have time to look through the garage to find your favorite tools (if they're even still in the garage). If you have a utility knife in your survival kit, you won't have to worry about that! Utility knives have all sorts of tools built in that compact down to a pocket size. Now, when you rapidly have to evacuate your house, you can focus on more important things: your favorite outfit, chocolate, or even your dog! 

12. Flash Light

Every survival kit needs a reliable light source. No, the flash light on your phone does not count. You should have a real flashlight with extra batteries available in case you need it. Many people prefer to have headlamps because you can free your hands while maintaining light, pointed where you need it. Although headlamps may be a little more expensive, I think they are well worth it. Most headlamps range from $20-$150, and are powered with AAA batteries. Headlamps last for hours and use very little energy, so they are an efficient, lightweight item that is essential to have accessible. 

13. Medications

Yes, we already mentioned a few medications in our first aid kit section. That's not what we're referring to here. These medications are the prescriptions, supplements, or vitamins you take regularly to maintain your health. It's a good idea to keep at least a month's worth of these packed and ready to go. Consult your physician for prescription drugs and make sure to keep track of their expiration dates! 

14. Radio/ Cell Phone 

This may sound old-school, but having a crank radio around isn't a bad idea. Crank radios don't require batteries or a power source and can be very reliable if your cell phone dies or breaks. If you do have to depend on your cell phone, make sure you have a couple external battery packs available so you can charge on the go. 

15. Smoke Bombs

These are perhaps the most important part of your survival kit. Smoke bombs are great for signaling that your're in distress, warding off zombies if they attack, and entertaining yourself! Smoke Effect's RP90 is perfect because it produces smoke for 90 seconds (the longest lasting colored smoke bomb on the market). If you need to produce a large cloud of smoke quickly, look into a Dual Vent Smoke Grenade. Dual vents (also known as bursts) produce large clouds of smoke within 30 seconds, perfect for making your escape out the backdoor if zombies are attacking from the front! On a more serious note, using colored smoke effects as signaling flares can be very beneficial if you end up in a place and need rescuers to be able to find you quickly. 

You can find all of these smoke bombs and more at our website: 

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