Survival 101

Survival 101: The Very Basics You Need to Survive During an Emergency

Emergencies and disasters can strike without warning, leaving you to fend for yourself and your loved ones. Whether it’s a natural disaster, power outage, or unexpected crisis, being prepared can make all the difference. Here’s a guide to the very basics you need to survive during an emergency.

1. Water: The Lifeline

Importance of Water

Water is crucial for survival. The human body can go without food for several weeks but only a few days without water. Dehydration can lead to serious health issues and even death.

How Much Water?

It is recommended to store at least one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days. This amount covers drinking and basic hygiene needs.

Water Storage Tips,

Water Purification

If your water supply runs out, knowing how to purify water is essential. Boiling water for at least one minute kills most pathogens. Water purification tablets and portable filters are also effective.

2. Food: Sustaining Your Energy

Non-Perishable Food

Store a minimum of three days’ worth of non-perishable food. Choose items that are easy to prepare and have a long shelf life, such as:

Special Dietary Needs

Consider the dietary needs of your family members, including infants, elderly, and those with special dietary requirements.

Food Storage Tips

  • Keep food in a cool, dry place.
  • Use airtight containers to prevent spoilage.
  • Rotate your food supply to ensure it remains fresh.

3. Shelter: Protection from the Elements

Safe Location

Identify a safe location in your home or nearby where you can take shelter. This could be a basement, interior room, or storm shelter.

Basic Shelter Materials

Maintaining Warmth

During cold weather, staying warm is critical. Layer clothing, use extra blankets, and if safe, use a fireplace or portable heater.

4. First Aid: Handling Injuries

First Aid Kit Essentials

A well-stocked first aid kit can save lives. Include the following items:

Basic First Aid Skills

Learn basic first aid skills, such as CPR, wound care, and how to treat burns and fractures. Local Red Cross chapters often offer training courses.

5. Communication: Staying Informed

Emergency Contacts

Create a list of emergency contacts, including family members, neighbors, and local emergency services.

Communication Tools

  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio to receive emergency broadcasts
  • Fully charged cell phone and portable charger
  • Two-way radios for communication when cell networks are down

Staying Informed

Stay updated on the situation by listening to local news and weather reports. Follow instructions from authorities regarding evacuation or shelter-in-place orders.

6. Tools and Supplies: Essential Gear

Basic Tools

  • Multi-tool or Swiss Army knife
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Matches or lighters in waterproof containers
  • Whistle for signaling
  • Rope or paracord

Personal Hygiene

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Moist towelettes
  • Toilet paper
  • Trash bags for waste disposal

Important Documents

Keep copies of essential documents in a waterproof container, including:

  • Identification (IDs, passports)
  • Insurance policies
  • Medical records
  • Emergency plans

7. Emergency Plan: Be Prepared

Family Emergency Plan

Create and practice a family emergency plan. Discuss what to do in various scenarios, such as fires, natural disasters, and evacuations.

Evacuation Plan

Know the evacuation routes in your area. Plan how to leave your home quickly and where to go.

Practice Drills

Regularly conduct practice drills to ensure everyone knows what to do and where to go during an emergency.


Being prepared for an emergency involves planning, preparation, and practice. By ensuring you have the basics—water, food, shelter, first aid, communication, tools, and an emergency plan—you can significantly increase your chances of survival and protect your loved ones during unexpected crises. Stay informed, stay prepared, and stay safe.