How to Build the Perfect Survival Kit

Building a survival kit, in my opinion, is far better than buying one for this reason: You’ve thought about and know how you’ll use every item in it.

Simply, you know what you’re getting when you build it yourself. Store-bought kits are good. Self-built are much better.

So what makes a perfect emergency preparedness kit? Let’s first consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. (C’mon, stay with me.)

In the 1950s, Abraham Maslow developed a system to rank all humans’ needs, from the most basic and essential to the more spiritual. These categories, in order of importance, are:

Biological (water, food, shelter, warmth), Safety (personal protection, law and order), Social (relationships, love), Esteem (recognition, respect) and Self Actualization (talent, creative pursuits).

This list is an oversimplification, and many researchers have since expounded upon Maslow’s work. But for our purposes, emergency preparedness primarily deals with Biological and Safety needs.

Why is this important?

Every disaster kit or bug-out bag, no matter for what purpose, must contain provisions to satisfy our biological needs and, ideally, our needs for safety.

Whether that’s a hook and line for catching fish or cans of 30-year shelf-life freeze-dried survival food, you need to have some way to satisfy these basic needs, or your chances of survival go way down.

Sorry to sound so dramatic, but hey, this is important stuff.

And survival kits that address our most basic needs actually serve double duty.

Oh, yeah? Please explain.

Sure. Meeting our most primal physiological needs provides important psychological comfort, reducing stress and worry.

And when stress and worry are reduced, we are less likely to panic and make ill-advised decisions.

Decisions that, in a dire emergency, could be the difference between life and death. (Pay attention, there might be a quiz at the end.)

If You Don’t Have a Survival Kit, You Need One Now

Following a natural disaster like a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or flood, those unprepared are left stranded and scared. And probably a little smelly.

Their power is knocked out, spoiling refrigerated and frozen food. Furnaces (and air conditioners) are useless. Sewage contaminates water lines.

Grocery stores’ shelves are quickly stripped bare. Gas stations run out of fuel. Public transportation shuts down. Highways jam with traffic or are impassible altogether. Phone, internet and cellular services are interrupted.

Cats and dogs living together – mass hysteria. You get the idea.

But seriously, just how long could you (and your family) survive under these conditions?

It’s a scary thought. First, you need to know just what nutrition the human body needs for survival.

Minimum Food & Water Requirements

Experts recommend that you have at least 72 hours (3 days) worth of non-perishable survival food and water for each household member.

In emergencies, this should be a minimum of 1200 calories and 1 gallon of water per person per day.

This doesn’t sound like much, but quickly look through your cupboards. Most people will be surprised to find that food isn’t the issue; water is.

But even if you have plenty of water, what if you are away from home or must evacuate? You cannot carry 72 hours worth of water for a full family in a backpack.

So what do you do? There are so many variables to consider. How do you prepare for it all?

You get organized.

With a little planning and creativity, anyone can be prepared for nearly any disaster.

Before you build or buy a survival kit for yourself and your family, first consider how it will be used.

How to Organize Your Survival Kit

  • What is your goal? Will the kit be used to facilitate a quick rescue? Should it be built for a long-term survival situation?
  • How many people are you packing for?
  • Will you need it in the wilderness or in urban emergency situations?
  • Will you be on foot or in a vehicle? Will you be using public transportation?
  • Where will you be sleeping? Will you need protection from wild animals/hillbillies?

Answering all these questions will help you determine what kind of kit will best fit your needs. Just remember, the most useful survival kits are built for specific tasks and time frames.

That said, there are a few core items no disaster kit should be without:

Top 7 Survival Kit Essentials

  1. Shelf-stable water (bottles, cartons, packets)
  2. Water purification system and container
  3. 72-hour food rations (per person)
  4. First aid kit
  5. Space blankets
  6. Multi-tool and Swiss Army knife
  7. Backpack (comfortable, easy to carry)