The Five ‘S’s of any Emergency Kit

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Your 72 Hour Kit, Bug Out Bag, Get Home Bag, or whatever you want to call it might be as fully equipped as can be, but if you haven’t covered the Five S’s, it may fall short just when you need it most.


In a crisis, sanitation and general cleanliness may be the last thing on people’s minds, and that’s just what evil microbes love to hear!  Make sure every kit has hand sanitizer, a supply of toilet paper, a small bottle of cleaning solution, and the like.


Food, not-so-glorious food must be included in every kit, including one you have prepared for your pets.  It’s important to pack the food in such a way that it doesn’t attract vermin and provide a breeding ground for bacteria while it’s waiting to be eaten.  Check out this list for plenty of suggestions, and be aware of the storage temperature your food will experience.  Remember, colder is better.


Think water, shelter, warmth/fire, and first aid.  Add a signaling device or two for good measure and pack a good First Aid handbook.  You’ll need a source of light, headlamps are my own personal favorite, and extra batteries.  Other necessities are a good knife, walking shoes with socks, duct tape, and an emergency radio.  You can find a more extensive list here.


Nothing beats a loaded firearm with an extra magazine or two, but that might not be your preference.  At the very least have on hand some pepper spray.  One of my best friends from high school used to keep a baseball bat near the front seat of her car, at her father’s insistence.  Whatever you choose, know exactly where it is at all times.  A list of emergency phone numbers and addresses is another good idea as well as copies of your identification, your Concealed Carry permit if you have one, and anything else you might need to prove your identity, such as an employee ID.


If you are slowly being driven crazy by your set of circumstances, including your kids, sanity-saving items are a must.  These might include a journal and pencil, a Bible, a deck of cards, a battery powered fan, foam ear plugs, and a book or two.  Never underestimate the importance of a healthy state of mind!  That’s what will keep your decisions sound and your reactions within the range of normal.

30 thoughts on “The Five ‘S’s of any Emergency Kit”

  1. Pepper spray is a great option for security. I don't think people think of personal security when preparing a 72 hour kit. I like that advice. Great way to help you remember, thanks!

    1. If I was an Intruder, Pepper spray would just make me made. Get a Gun , Take a safety class and learn how to shoot it. Enough said!

    2. You're right… hadn't thought of defensive items like pepper spray as a 72 hour kit item….. Thanks for the heads up! 🙂

    1. Wasp spray, while really obnoxious sprayed in the face, still isn't as debilitating as pepper spray. Most self defense sprays reach at least 6 feet, Bear spray reaches 20. It's also higher concentrate of pepper. Bear spray comes in a less conveniently small cans, but hey- what works on bears is good for me.

      1. Keep in mind wasp spray is made to kill wasps, not subdue humans: the upshot is that the perpetrator will of course sue the victim for using wasp spray and not pepper spray (when she should have used a gun to shoot and kill in the first place). I can hear the rapist's attorney saying how callous the victim is for using such a harsh chemical on his client and somebody's got to pay for his pain and suffering and hospital bills and loss of work. I know it's idiotic but it's the system we've voted in for ourselves.

  2. I love your postings. And the thoughts about sanitation and security are both excellent. I always seem to remember to pack the clothes, the food, and things to keep the kiddos busy, but I never seem to remember to pack anything for sanitation aside from the alcohol in my first aid kit. The idea about security is fantastic. I'll definitely have to get serious about checking out some gun safety courses.

  3. OT – altho it could fit – 1saleaday has the Houdine automobile escape tool – window punch, seatbelt cutter and microflashlight and whistle – 2 pack for $8. I have a pocket knife with awl with some leather gloves – pretty sure I'd get the window out and seatbelt cut with that, but at this price I may reclaim the knife and toss one in each car…

  4. As in so many things in life, I seem to be a bit of a Luddite. (And yes, I do appreciate the irony of the fact that I'm using a computer to type that.) I like my Smith & Wesson Revolver.

  5. I made my car kits back in Januray and have been driving around with them ever since. I love the feeling of security and being prepared for various what-ifs. I think it's time I review the contents and round out the kits with items that I meant to get but never did, or replace things like food and bleach, or check batteries and such. I haven't been visiting you as much lately, but I LOVE your Survival Mom Minute emails. xoxoxo

  6. I lived on a boat in the Caribbean for many years. We had two cans of Bear Spray Velcro-ed next to the bed. We had to use it once when an intruder swam up to the boat. he was in the cockpit and trying to steal electronics. I reached my arm out a porthole and sprayed him. He had no idea what happened, he jumped overboard. Cleaning up took lots of time, but we replaced the can of spray.

  7. Make sure you routinely check your vehicle kits, especially in the summer months. I had a first aid kit and something inside…..leaked. I'm not certain as to what it was but I believe it was the sting-pen I had in there for bee/wasp stings. I was using a small pelican case and the residue was all over the inside of the lid. It didn't coat the contents so much as it did the lid. Very peculiar. At any rate, I'm still trying to clean the lid.

    Just make sure you put stuff in there that won't explode, or put it in a baggy if it will so you can contain the contents.

    Also, this is a good point for making sure your vehicle is properly ventilated during the summer as well. 100+ degree heat outside will ruin some of your preps in your vehicle.

  8. Hi,
    I am new to this being prepared. I have a few questions. Is there a difference between a keep in your car bag and your bug out bag? If so what? I am trying to get organized, but if feel like I need to have 6 bags ready to go.

    1. Yes, there is a difference. Think about what you might need if you were stranded in your car for any length of time. Whatever you list should be in your car at all times. A Bug Out Bag is something you would put together to keep at home (some people keep one at their place of work) and contains what you would need to survive for three or more days, including clothing. For some people, their vehicle bag is the same as their BOB.

  9. An important "S" in the mix is "Situational Awareness". Being aware of one’s surroundings and identifying potential threats and dangerous situations is more mindset than kill. SA can be exercised effectively by anyone having the will and the discipline to do so. To stay safe you must be able to "size up" your current situation, evaluate options in order to choose the safest action to avoid hazards. Avoidance is almost always the best action, but to do this effectively you must be alert and aware of your surroundings so that you aren't surprised by something unpleasant or possibly dangerous. I recommend reading The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker if you are unfamiliar with this concept. This isn't being paranoid, but instead improving your awareness so that you can be prepared, self assured and safe, without your being controlled by things that go bump in the night.

  10. I carry my Glock 27 (always) as well as pepper spray- I hate to shoot a dog and spray gives me the option to avoid shooting and hit them with the spray. Pepper spray will not stop someone that really want to get to you so if that is your only option then you better have a baseball bat if you do not carry a firearm. My BOBs each have a box of .40 cal and a box of .22 just incase… -Matt in TEXAS

  11. Be it bug out bags for home, vehicle, work or where ever; owning a firearm; pepper spray; home security systems; safe rooms and everthing in between. These are all worthless unless you train with them. Thats not just reading a book. Get out and use/practice with what you have. Everything you know, own or plan to use or plan to do you must validate it. All these things are tools and having a tool you dont know how to use is more dangerous than not having it. For those of you that talked about home defense, a gun, pepper spray or even the 10" cast iron cooking pan, they are great but you need to make YOU, YOUR HOME and YOUR FAMILY less attractive to the criminals. Just like key4sky said. Sit Awareness is the great start but MINDSET is what matters the most, that is your foundation.

  12. Has anyone ever considered wasp spray which will shoot 20 ft away instead of pepper spray as a defense item?

  13. Pepper spray is designed for stopping people. Wasp spray is designed for wasps. Using wasp spray on people is a good way to get sued.

  14. Great ideas on the sprays. I have several bear spray cans as I live in the woods. But I my service dog as I am an amputee, right arm by the way. My German Shepherd is also a trained protection dog.
    I had to evacuate yesterday due to a fire and had my truck loaded in 20 min.

    Love the ideas!


  15. Pingback: Survival Kit Preparation: 3 Key Points to Remember | The Survival Forum

  16. I wonder if anyone has any good ideas for the UK? Here only criminals are ‘allowed’ to own guns, so that’s not an option for us. Also pepper spray is unlawful so we can’t get that and there are no bears do bear spray isn’t an option. I think our wasps are pretty wimpy compared to yours so guess the spay wouldn’t be up to much either, do I’m looking for realistic ideas.
    Thanks in advance.

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