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How to Create a DIY Emergency Kit for Your Apartment

By: Justin Chaplin
April 7, 2020

It's easy to get swept away in the doom and gloom of the daily headlines and start to worry. What happens if a natural disaster strikes, your city undergoes a quarantine, or you can't leave your apartment for days?

Instead of feeling overwhelmed and helpless, empower yourself with an emergency kit that's ready to save the day.

Does the Emergency Kit Have to Be DIY?

There's some pressure in putting together an emergency kit and making sure you’ve covered all of the essentials. No one wants to be the one that forgot the drinking water or extra bandages during a crisis. It's okay to skip the DIY route and purchase a kit online that has everything you need. 

Avoid the overpriced, overhyped kits, though. Instead, look to options through the Red Cross for a pre-made kit. Here are a few done-for-you emergency kits to consider:

However, a customized solution comes with its advantages. A DIY emergency kit includes all the essentials you need. It also includes items that are crucial to your personal situation. From protecting your pets to keeping yourself entertained, a customized solution covers it all.

Things to Include in a DIY Emergency Kit

A DIY emergency kit could mean the difference between thriving during a crisis and drowning in crisis mode. Empower everyone in your apartment with a DIY emergency kit that keeps you within reach of all the essential supplies. Here's what to include:

  • Water. The more, the better! Plan for one gallon of water per person per day for several days to cook, drink, and stay sanitary.
  • Three to four days per person of non-perishable, nutrient-rich food
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Matches and candles in a sealed, waterproof container or baggie
  • First Aid Kit with bandages, antiseptic, gauze, scissors, eye flush, and other supplies
  • Manual can opener
  • Backup cell phone battery
  • Wet wipes and moist towelettes to maintain hygiene and sanitation
  • Emergency numbers of utility companies, public services, and your loved ones
  • Multitool like a Swiss Army Knife or credit card multitool that comes with a knife, wrench, bottle opener, and more
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Duct tape 
  • Rechargeable hand-crank AM/FM/NOAA weather alert radio 

Once you’ve accounted for the essential emergency supplies, move on to personal items that are a must-have. 

These are items that aren't necessarily required for an emergency. However, they’re part of daily survival. After all, you could find yourself on lockdown or in a quarantine situation for longer than expected.

  • Prescription and over-the-counter medication to last at least a month. Remember to pack allergy medication and ibuprofen.
  • Glasses or contact solution and a month's supply of a spare set of contacts
  • Baby supplies including diapers, wipes, food, rash cream, and extra clothes for any little ones in the house
  • Extra pet food for furry friends
  • Cash
  • Paper maps in case you need to leave on foot without a GPS
  • Extra set of clean clothes
  • Water purification tablets
  • Sewing kit
  • Feminine products to last several days to a week
  • Paper, pencil, and pens
  • Activities like small games or a few favorite books to keep yourself occupied

There's no such thing as being over-prepared for an emergency. Unless you've turned your entire apartment into a prepper's doomsday base, you're probably in the clear when it comes to emergency prep.

Emergency kits usually only need a few day's worth of supplies. However, you can stockpile a few essentials like extra water, batteries, and non-perishables for greater peace of mind. 

Just keep it in perspective and within reason. A year's worth of supplies is probably overkill. However, preparing for a month of disruption is reasonable. 

Make sure to keep all your essentials organized and ready to go. Use a durable, weatherproof backpack or bag to keep your emergency kit within reach and ready to go. If you need to escape to a neighbor's or family member’s house, you'll be prepared to mobilize.

DIY Emergency Kit Storage and Maintenance

Everyone in your apartment should know where the emergency kit lives during a moment of crisis. Some situations require finding the emergency kit in the dark. 

Make sure to store it in an easy-to-access area that everyone can remember. Choose a dry, cool area where canned or boxed food can stay fresh as long as possible. 

It's also wise to jot down the expiration date. You could also leave yourself a calendar alert to replace supplies as necessary.

The best-case scenario is you never need your DIY emergency kit for your apartment. But if you do, it's packed and ready to go. You’ll have all of the essentials at your fingertips. 

You'll also appreciate the peace of mind that little bag gives you. With it, you can carry on even if the world goes dark.

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Justin is a Content Manager and contributing author at Apartment List, helping people navigate the world of renting. Justin previously spent his time earning his BBA in Marketing from Boise State University. Read More
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