18 Things to Have in Your Purse

18 Things to always keep in your purse. Small items, but they come in handy! | via www.TheSurvivalMom.comAll right, Survival Moms, what one thing do we ladies always have within easy reach?  Our purses, of course.  Most of us have preparedness items at home, at our BOL (Bug Out Location), and in the car.  But if we’re in the mall or at the park when an emergency situation occurs, our purses should contain the resources which will help us survive and enable us to reach our next level of preparedness.

These are the survival necessities I chose and carry in my purse:

Signaling/light devices:

1.  Emergency whistle (with a compass)

2.  A mirror

3.  LED flashlight with strobe feature

4.  Bic lighter

Medical supplies:

5.  Pill box containing 2 of each:  Tylenol, Advil,  Tums, Benadryl

6.  3 Bandaids

7.  2 alcohol swabs


8.  Six-function Swiss army knife or multi-tool


9.  Always some small bills ($1, $5), and quarters for machines

Comfort/entertainment items:

10.  Tic Tacs

11.   Gum

12.   2 moist wipes

13.   Small crossword puzzle book

14.   Small writing pad

15.   Pen and pencil

16.   Package of Kleenex


17.  Package of 6 Ritz cracker sandwiches

18.  8 oz. of water

While the list looks like quite a load, it actually takes up minimal space because many  items on the list are things most of us already carry (mirror, pill box, Kleenex, writing pad, pen/pencil, cash).  The comfort/entertainment items are things I carried long before I knew about “prepping”.  The items specifically for an emergency are in a small makeup bag (whistle, flashlight, pill box, Swiss knife, medical supplies, Bic lighter).

Food and water are the most difficult to accommodate in a purse.  I carry Ritz crackers because they’re inexpensive, easily rotated, packaged adequately, and I like them.

I’ve carried water in a small plastic bottle, but it sometimes leaked and was awkwardly  shaped.  My solution was to use an object designed for carrying liquids in tricky places:  an ordinary stainless steel flask, available in sizes from 4 oz to 18 oz.  It’s easy and inexpensive to refill once a week.

The purpose of my purse survival kit is to enable me to meet immediate needs if an emergency occurs while I’m away from my car or home.  As long as I have my purse, I know I’m prepared not only for big disasters but also for the little bumps of life.  Over the years I’ve needed most of these items at one time or another: a thunderstorm once knocked out the lights in the theater and I was the only person with a flashlight, new shoes rubbed a blister and I had a Bandaid, a two-hour wait in the doctor’s office was less miserable because I had the crossword puzzle book and the crackers.  The Swiss army knife has been the single most useful item I carry. I’ve used it to cut threads, pull out splinters, tighten glasses, and file broken fingernails.

The dangers of our modern world mean we must always be in a state of readiness.  This readiness isn’t adequate if it’s confined solely to our home, BOL, or car. Preparedness means “all the time”.  That will truly make each of us a Survival Mom.

Note: I extend deepest gratitude to Rangersquirrel for explaining modular survival levels and thereby giving a name to something I was kind of doing but had no name for.

 by Dr. Saundra Cooper Jinette

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

© Copyright 2010 The Survival Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Survival Mom
The following two tabs change content below.
I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 5 years. Come join me on my journey to becoming more prepared to handle everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios.

Latest posts by The Survival Mom (see all)

I want to receive updates and
EMP survival reports!


  1. Lori says

    What a great list. It makes me feel prepared that I already carry around some of these items, but I do need to improve on some of the items, such as small bills (they tend to spend themselves, somehow) and water. The flask idea is brilliant and I saw flasks just this morning at the grocery store.

  2. LizLong says

    I was in San Francisco on a bus several years ago when a women got on with a bad cut on her finger. As a mom of boys, I carry a tube of Neosporin and a selection of Bandaids all the time. She was quite surprised to have a passenger glob some Neosporin on her finger (yes, I asked first) and then give her not just a bandaid, but specifically a knuckle one at that! So, I agree with you that, like most prepping, these things can come in handy at the most unexpected times.

  3. Barbara says

    Make sure that flask doesn't slide out of your purse while you're in church! : ) I did that once with a pistol. Purse sitting on the floor near the isle tipped over, and gun plopped out on the floor for all to see. I picked it up and ignored it. So did everyone else, surprisingly!
    That whistle you carry, affix it to the handle or shoulder strap by a little chain where it's quick to grab. No rummaging to find your defense items.

  4. says

    I quit carrying a purse because I heaped it full of useless junk, but I may make up a minibag with these items in it and carry it like one!

  5. says

    I love to hear what others keep in their "every day carry" kit. I've learned a lot about what is useful and some good products just from these kinds of lists.

  6. T says

    Good list – some additions for my purse.

    I recommend my big ol' 40 oz. stainless steel water bottle … but then, I get really thirsty. :)

    I can also add:
    glasses cleaning kit
    daily meds
    nail clippers (I hatehateHATE hangnails)

  7. Dealton says

    This is a great list for several reasons. Mainly, it’s nice to see someone who agrees with me <g>. But since a kit containing this really gets down to the basic level it should carry the basic supplies for every single person to have access to 24/7.

    As terror attacks ramped up (WTC 1993, 9/11, London subway etc.) around the world over several years I was struck by pictures of the survivors, many of whom were coughing, choking, and dirt smeared. As a result I put together my own ‘Urban Survival Pack,’ containing several things which would be useful. It contains most of the things in your list, (although I shorted the Comfort/Entertainment items). I added two items I really considered significant – a plastic poncho and an N-95 face mask and a triangular bandage to serve as bandage, bandana, sling, etc. I also chose to carry about 8 ounces of water, but I chose the mylar bags used by the Coast Guard.

    The addition of the face mask and poncho were based on the desirability of being able to walk away from a ‘dirty bomb’ explosion and other disasters without coughing and hacking.

    In 2003 The RAND Corporation (a think tank) issued a comprehensive report (RAND MR 1731, 2003) called “Individual Preparedness and Response to Chemical, Radiological, Nuclear and Biological Terror Attacks.”

    This report noted that the main goal of the individual response to a dirty bomb attack was to avoid contamination of the lungs by radioactive particles (dust, dirt) which result from the explosion. The easiest way to accomplish this would be to put on a face mask (and poncho to keep radioactive dust off the clothes and skin), walk at right angles to the wind, find one’s car, and leave, take off the poncho and wash thoroughly. This is logical, and the report confirmed that this is a great response.

    Instead, the report urged sheltering in place, with windows and vents closed until emergency responders could lead you to safety, even to the point of going indoors if you were outside at the time of the blast.

    I had to read the entire report and the appendices three times before I understood the unstated… people would never actually prepare for such an event, even to the point of actually buying and carrying a simple face mask, therefore the general population would not be able to take these simply steps for survival. Under those circumstances the only other possible group solution was to huddle together and wait for someone to come along. I prefer not to be part of a "second choice" solution.

    By the way, this kit fits nicely into a zipper plastic freezer bag, and the bag fits nicely into my wife’s purse, my jacket pocket, a backpack (think of it as a school kit) as well as being the core of Bug Out Bag supplies.

  8. Hawaii Honey says

    And don't forget to add tampons to your list! Men too! Besides the regular obvious use, they can be a first aid life saver! Recently, on a camping trip, a woman tripped and fell on the hiking trail, cutting a large gash in her leg which started bleeding profusely! Our 6 ft. plus Camp Director whipped out some tampons from his backpack and had the woman hold them against her leg she could get proper medical attention. Those tampons did their job!!
    And with a small tube of vaseline, they can be used as fire starters! They are small and light to carry in a purse, pocket , or backpack!

  9. DaveyBoy says

    As far as the medicine goes, I would add one more twofer of pills there: Two anti-diahrreal (Immodium). Not only is it a peace of mind to have at work/vacation, etc, but if you end up ever accidently drinking some bad water/eating bad food, it might give you an extra couple of hours to get some clean water/electrolytes in you/ preps ready/get home if close, before you are incapacitated. I always carry a dozen or so, because one of my worst case scenarios was played out in a book, where people got stranded in a barn for days from drinking bad water, and unable to get more to make potable, and all nearly died. It was an eye opener for sure, and has come as a real convenience to many a coworker…

  10. justincase says

    All great suggestions, and good to know that I am somewhat prepared. I would also add aspirin to the list of meds, in the the event of heart attack, or it could be used for other ills.

  11. says

    Wow, I'm totally a bad mom! I'm going to take this list and go shopping. My mom-bag includes diapers, an iPhone, one bottle (no matter how long we'll be out) and a book. A book for me.


    Okay, I'm not the guilty type, so I'll get over it… Okay, I'm over it. But still, I need to beef up the mom-bag.

  12. TammaraG says

    I live in Nevada, and work 7 miles from home, 10 minutes by road 45 or so cross country. My jeep and my car are both kept stocked with extra water (gallon and personal), pulaski or small shovel, light weight shawl/scarves, a variety of hats, gloves and extra socks and an extra pair of shoes. My purse has most everything on the list but I will be updating that asap. By the way, would you say that a mini leatherman work as a good substitute for the Swiss army knife? I have that and a mini (4") pocket knife that never leave my purse and a large leatherman in my jeep kit.

  13. says

    A few days ago on your “lists” section there was a list of many items to have in case of an emergency. It had been printed by another person several years ago. One item listed was a generator + many others.

    It is no longer on your website!! Where is it? Would you put it up again as our printer was out of ink and we were unable to print it and we would like to do so now.


    Tom Hosier

  14. katzien says

    You can put your crackers in a hard-sided and hinged sunglasses holder. You might fit two in there, maybe some nuts too. Now they won't get crushed. Great list!! I need to pull together this mini-kit.

  15. Debra Ruegg says

    Diabetics carry a mini/small meter and extra lancets and test strips. If you have an ostomy appliance 1 or 2 changes of supplies including disposal bags,in a tote bag of urinals[hospital/medical supply store,male & female] male for emptyingpouch,female for the obvious,small bottle of water to rinse pouch,tissues/paper towels to clean tail of pouch,towels to cover door windows[privacy],small trash bag to cover seat in case of a spill, anti-bac wipes for cleaning hands. If you get stuck in a traffic jam for hours,well this is a lifesaver for me in the floor board. everybody knows what you can go through at airport security checkpoints,now add hospital ER's. They took my mini Leather man tool,my mini swiss knife and anything else they consider a "weapon". I've carried these forever on a key ring. Actually came close to panic attack. Just be warned people.

  16. Christine says

    I have read a lot about guns, etc. on prepper and survivalist sites. But I have yet to read about pepper spray. I actually used it once, to great effect. I lived in Miami and commuted every day on the public transportation system. One afternoon, I came down the elevator from the Metrorail (raised rail system) and when the door opened, there was a man who said "Give me your purse." Well, I always travelled with a pepper spray right in my skirt pocket with my hand on it. I pulled it out and shot him in the face with it. I missed his eyes (probably useless with a gun, anyway) but did hit his cheek and he ran. I went back up to the platform and hollered after him, jeering want some more? I would really recommend this for any one living in a city or town environment and I think the whistle is a good idea too. But now that I live in Texas, in a more rural area, I am thinking of getting one again. It could be useful answering the door. Even with armed marauders, you have the element of surprise and the stuff is really potent! Unless they have heavy artillery (in which case a handgun isn't going to help much), it could really make them run!

  17. Jess says

    Let's see… I have a swiss army compact, a swiss army memory stick, a paracord bracelet(i use it as a key chain), two small flashlights(one cheap dollar store led, and a mag-light solitare) my grandmothers zippo(its from the 50's, )enough over the counter meds for a small army, a really nifty bandana, a whistle, bandaids, paper and pen, you name it… I have it, and it's all in a purse that is no bigger than a small lunch box. Oh and my water bottle is reusable and has a built in charcoal filter.

  18. Chris says

    Several weeks ago I made up my every day carry following the "18 things to have". Yesterday I travelled in a train as a young muslim woman approached me and asked: "Do you have any Aspirin by chance. My sister has got terrible belly ache". So I pulled out my little food container I use and gave her an Aspirin. She was so grateful and said: "I should make up such a thing myself"! What else have I used: On a ride with the car we saw that the gas prices had dropped significantly. Since neither of us had any card in the pocket, I payed out of the cash reserve. Ibuprofen for back ache. Knife for opening one of these incredible blister-packages. Alcohol wipes for toilets a lot. Lamp on the key chain when I am on call during nights in the hospital and have to cross the area between different houses. You can find your way but not the key holes in the dark.
    With greeting from Germany, Chris

  19. Mizpah5 says

    Not for your purse but good self defense is wasp spray. Think about it! It will shoot 20 – 30 feet. You don't even have to get close to shake up an intruder enough for you to escape. Keep a can close to your bed and also where you watch TV. With so many home intrusions these days, it may help send the jerks running for their lives instead of taking yours.

  20. Mikala says

    And germ-x Lol im thrteen and i carry a bunch of junk to lol i am cleaning out my purse and makeing a mini shopping list . I usually carry a knife and my wallet and book with me .

  21. Linda Bass says

    In additon to the OTC meds you mention I would suggest a couple enteric-coated aspirins. A life saver in the event of a heart attack.

    • Linda Bass says

      I need to correct that. Not enteric-coated because you need to be able to chew it so it will act quickly.
      Sorry if I confused anyone.

  22. Mari says

    I would add a small sewing kit to that list. You don’t need much I made a kit in home-economics out of a few different threads, 2 needles, a safety pin, button all wrapped or taped onto a small piece of thin cardboard. I’ve also used sewing kits from hotels. A small sewing kit has come in very handy, just the other day while in school (college student here) my tank top strap broke because some little plastic piece broke. I didn’t have to worry I just got my EDC bag out of my purse got the sewing kit out & took the safety pin out and fixed my strap. My EDC bag is a makeup bag I got for xmas it has all my essentials in it from perfume, pill box, nail file, my asthma pump, and most of what’s on the list above. So when I switch my purse I simply take that bag out and move it to the new purse.

  23. says

    Good list! I make sure I carry some tools in my bag as I am always in situations in my job where I never know from one minute to the next where I may be. I might be driving 400 miles that day and going to need a few things to help me along the way! =) and besides that ya never know where else you might have these items come in handy! I always stop for goodies in the morning and 2 large bottles of water. Peanut butter crackers and a bag of pretzels help me get though a little hunger issue and my mini leatherman’s tool is great for all kinds of things! I could go on and on with the stuff in my bag that have come in handy. HEY —>SAFETY PINS!!! add them to your keychain!! =)

  24. deniseinark says

    The flask or stainless water bottle could hold a lot of the small items on the list, saving space. Individual peanut butter, like you see on a hotel buffet, would offer more protein, calories, and nutrition than peanut butter crackers.

  25. says

    Your defiantly on the right track, I have everything on your list in my purse, But I do have a few more you could add to your list, 1- feminine hygiene products 2- burn cream 3- antibiotic ointment 4- bio freeze gel, for back & muscle pain 5- sewing kit 6- safety pins 7- Chapstick 8- toothpick 9- folding scissors 10- tweezers 11- nail file 12- Bobbie pins 13- nail nippers 14- sharpie 15- travel toothbrush kit 16- phone charger 17- handkerchief, for many more uses than a sneeze 18- comb 19- ponytails 20- lotion 21- makeup 22- hand sanitizer 23- toner 24- nail polish 25- zip lock bag, I have re-used these items many times over the years, as a Mom, a girls out lady, a sub teacher, work, Church, ECT ( I add one more very important item in my purse my I pad & accessories )

  26. Rue says

    I am new to this site. I love this list, and the comments are excellent too. I live in the city but have always carried certain things in my purse or bag. Having small, lightweight items is essential, because We often travel without a car, on foot or bicycle. In urban areas, it is easy to think that everything is always available in nearby stores, but you just never know and should have certain things, especially with kids. I love the idea of a simple flask for water! I have always struggled with the bigger water bottles on short trips.
    This past summer, I know many people who were stranded underground on the subway for two or three hours at a time in the heat, no AC. Happened on two different occasions. That is an example of a time when you want some water and food and maybe some entertainment! I would add energy bars to the list. Crackers and peanut butter are great, but if you are in a rush, energy bars are available in many places and will tied you over. Thank you!

  27. George says

    Throw in a couple of mylar space blankets..they don’t take up much space, but they can save your life.

    Cold outside – wrap up. Use as heat reflector.
    Hot outside – use for shade/solar reflector

    You have a much greater chance of dying from hypothermia/hyperthermia than anything else in a bad situation. Mylar space blankets are dirt cheap, and are quite small when folded (just don’t try to fold it back up…it’s worse than those old road maps that gas stations used to have!)

  28. Lori says

    I would suggest using small empty Altoids’ tins and making a sewing kit and another with several fishing hooks and fishing line.

  29. Chris sindone says

    I stock up on medicines& band aids,anti diarrheal medicine, isopropyl alcohol at Walmart every fall they have a display set up where everything is only 88 cents. Now it’s not top grade stuff but it’s better than nothing & it has come in handy more than once

  30. BarbiegirlWi says

    Why not take the weight out of that purse?
    Make a “Car Purse”
    Think of your life. Make categories ie. Sara, Felix, mom ,dad, dog besides some of those categories she listed above..You should see my trunk. Gloves, work, non-latex, etc. Tissues , toilet paper, towels. Rope, chain, bungee cords. Travel needs: toilet paper (when a roll is getting altitle low, I change it and pack them for emergency stops, smaller ones can be carried easier too.) paper plates, napkins, decent ones, plastic, reusable , spoon, fork, knifes, plastic bags for garbage, 1 bag with warm soapy wash cloth, or wet ones, 1 bag with soft drying cloth or two. Boots, extra shoes, underwear for all, anti diarrhea pills, medicine. H2O. Gum, candy, protein bars or drinks. Life is busy, appointments run ov r r or long. Books , puzzles, doodling pad to help patiently wait. Patience is a gift…use it to develop it.
    I changed it according to the season. Be safe, good luck, God bless!

  31. Wendy says

    I would add a few things … Instead of ritz crackers I would use some type of oackaged electrolyte and protein source/energy which would take your body or that of your child’s much farther then um… The nutritional value in ritz crackers lol also cayenne pepper can be carried in sandwich bags or a travel shampoo bottle etc… It will stop massive bleeding instantly – btdt a bunch of times with kids , hubby and myself in remote locations …. And no it doesn’t sting, a small bottle of dr Christopher’s cayenne tincture will also take you far and just might abort a heart attack or stroke as can the powder …read up on it :-) arnica 200c or 1m works amazing for shock ! Phone card doesn’t hurt either in case cell networks are down or you are in a different city , assuming land lines are operational. Small bottle of lugols iodine can purify water and disinfect cuts and gashes…..

  32. texsgirl says

    Maybe you should include:
    your drivers license or ID.
    Your insurance cards in case of an accident.
    A calendar for writing appointments, etc.
    ATM or check card or check book
    A book for long waits

    I’m just back from a doctor visit and needed every one of these items.

  33. Jenn says

    I have been carrying these items, plus a few extras for yrs. My purse is VERY small and I got a large pill bottle to put almost all of them in. I like things organized lol. My whistle is clipped to the ring holding the strap. It’s also where I keep my keys, it keeps me from digging in the purse for them. Good info. Keep it up

  34. Elaine says

    When I was working I had a small plastic case, like they have in the dollar store. I had many of those things and more. More than once people where surpised that I had screw driver for my glasses or nail clippers. We had a lot of other things because, we worked in a group home, but my emergency kit helped me with small emergencies. I love your list and reminds me to update my purse.
    Thank you.

  35. says

    umm I think Im going to need a bigger purse lol..oh wait that would mean i have to actually carry the stupid thing..dang. Ive gotton out of the habit of carrying my purse..I grab my wallet, my phone and my smokes and im out the door. ooo time to go shopping for a new purse yay


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *