Disaster prep on a budget

It’s easy to tell people to have a kit ready for a disaster, but that doesn’t mean it’s always simple for people to put them together. Purchasing all the items you need for you and your family to be ready for at least three days can seem expensive – but it is worth it!
a Red Cross emergency kit, red backpack surrounded by essential first aid items

Here is how to get your kit ready without blowing your budget
  • Before you go to purchase anything, take stock of what you have at home, including first aid supplies and non-perishable food items. Chances are you have things you can put in your kit now and don’t need to buy.
  • Start with essential items first, then add additional items as your budget allows (see list below).
  • Keep a list of the things you need for your kit in your purse or wallet. When you are out doing your regular shopping check your list and grab things when they are on sale.
  • Create a calendar where you purchase a couple of items from your list each shopping trip to help spread out the cost.
  • Check with your family and friends to see if they have any spare items they don’t need that are missing from your kit.
  • Some things to consider when you’re buying food for your kit:
    • Buy food items that have a long shelf life. Check the best before dates on cans, boxes, and bags and look for food items that will not expire quickly.
    • Make sure larger food items you buy don’t need to be refrigerated after they are opened. During a disaster the power may be out, meaning leftovers would need to be thrown out.
    • Regularly check the expiry dates on the food in your kit, when the date is getting close take it out of the kit and replace with a new item. You can eat the items that were closer to expiry so that they don’t get wasted.
Essential items for your emergency kit:
  • Water
  • Food (non-perishable) and manual can opener if this includes cans
  • Special needs such as medications, baby needs, extra glasses, etc.
  • Important family documents (i.e. copies of birth and marriage certificates, passports, licences, etc.)
  • A copy of your emergency plan
  • Crank or battery-operated flashlight, with extra batteries
  • Battery-operated or crank radio
  • Extra keys, for your house and car
  • First aid kit 
  • Extra cash
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Pet food and pet medication
  • Cell phone with extra charger or battery pack 

The idea of putting together a kit that meets everyone’s needs can seem pretty daunting but it’s worth it! Even small steps towards being prepared will make a huge difference during a disaster or emergency.

Related stories:
Whats in your parent bag?
Personalizing your emergency kit
What’s missing in your emergency kit?

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