Essential items for your home emergency kit

home emergency kit contents

Danny Baggs

Posted December 02, 2022

In a flood, fire, severe blackout or other emergency, it pays to be prepared. Here’s what you need to compile the ultimate home emergency kit, so you can deal with adverse situations.

In an emergency, you may not have access to power, water and other essentials. In these situations, having a home emergency kit prepared can help keep you and your household members safe and healthy until you can evacuate, or the emergency ends.

The items below should be packed together in a waterproof container kept above floor level in your house. Make sure that everyone in the house knows where to find the home emergency kit.

In general, your home emergency kit should last you for at least three days. If you live in a remote area, where emergency help may be more difficult to access, pack more supplies in your kit. Review your home emergency kit’s contents every six to twelve months to make sure things like food, baby formula and medical supplies haven’t expired, and spare batteries and charger cords are still operational.

Essential items for a home emergency kit in Victoria

First aid supplies

First aid supplies are the most important component of your home emergency kit. A comprehensive first aid kit can save lives, especially since injuries and accidents can be more common during emergencies.

Keep at least the following items stocked in your first aid kid:

  • First aid manual / instructions – so you know how to properly treat injuries with your supplies

  • Personal protective equipment such as a face mask and surgical gloves – to protect you against fluid-borne pathogens

  • Antiseptic swabs such as alcohol wipes – to prevent infections

  • Sterile saline tubes/sachets – to flush debris from eyes and wounds

  • Adhesive bandages such as band aids – to protect minor wounds

  • Wound dressing pads – to cover burns and wounds

  • Crepe bandages in varying widths – to hold dressings in place, apply a tourniquet to control arterial bleeds, or slow snakebite venom using the Pressure Immobilisation Technique

  • Triangular bandage – to stabilise fractured or broken limbs

  • Safety pins – to safely fix bandages in place

  • Stainless steel tweezers – to safely remove ticks

  • Stainless steel scissors – helps you cut through clothing to access wounds

  • Shock (thermal) blanket – for treating shock or hypothermia

  • Basic pain reliever medications – paracetamol or ibuprofen are standard

  • Notepad and permanent marker – to make patient notes such as tourniquet application time or snake bite locations.

You can add more items, such as instant ice packs or blister dressings, as you like. For extra measure, keep a smaller kit in your car and undertake some first aid training.


first aid kit

First aid supplies are the most important part of your emergency kit. Image: Getty. 


Bottled water and non-perishable food

The human body is made up of 50 to 80 per cent water. Water is necessary to enable digestion, body temperature regulation, and other vital functions. Even minor dehydration can adversely affect your mental and physical performance, which is why access to clean water is critical in an emergency.

In general, your family members will need access to this much water every day:

  • Men – 10 cups (2.5L)

  • Women – 8 cups (2L), or 9 cups (2.25L) if pregnant/breastfeeding

  • Teenagers – 6-8 cups (1.5-2L)

  • Children – 4-6 cups (1-1.5L)

  • Babies – 0.7-0.8L from breast milk or formula

Tap water should not be drunk during or after an emergency until authorities have advised that the water is safe to consume. To prevent serious dehydration in an emergency, store at least a three-day supply of bottled water with your home emergency kit. Water can be stored in airtight containers for up to 12 months. Label the water with when it was last changed to make sure it’s fresh.

Food is much less important than water, shelter and warmth. After all, the reason bodies gain fat is to survive short periods of starvation. In most emergency situations, you won’t need access to large quantities of food.

If you want the reassurance of available food supplies, however, pack energy-dense and long-life food items that don’t require cooking in your home emergency kit. Some good examples include granola or protein bars, breakfast cereals, jerky, canned fruits and vegetables, and peanut butter. Check expiration dates every six months to make sure food remains fresh.


Torches and headlamps (with extra batteries)

Power is often cut during storms and other extreme weather events causing blackouts. You will need to find other ways to see at night-time or in dark spaces. Keep a torch in your home emergency kit, with several sets of batteries left out of the torch for optimum charge retention. Check the batteries’ charge every six months, or consider a wind-up torch that doesn’t need batteries. In addition, you could invest in a solar-powered lantern or candles with waterproof matches.


battery-powered lantern, torches and glow sticks

Pack battery- or solar-powered lights like lanterns and torches. Image: Getty. 


Copies of important documents

During evacuation or after an emergency, you may need to prove your identity, pick up medication, or make an insurance claim without access to your home or electronic devices. In this scenario, you’ll have a much easier time if you have backup copies of important documents. Ideally, you will have an electronic copy stored on a USB in your home emergency kit, as well as printed copies. You can also leave a third copy in a locked drawer at work or with a family member, just in case.

Here are the most important documents to consider backing up:

  • Passports

  • Driver’s licenses 

  • Birth and marriage certificates

  • Legal documents (wills, property deeds, mortgage papers, etc.)

  • Insurance policies (home, contents, vehicles, life insurance, etc.)

  • Prescriptions.


Battery-operated radio

In an emergency, radio is often the best source of information about weather, emergency updates, and evacuation orders. Store a battery-powered radio that doesn’t need electricity to work in your home emergency kit, along with plenty of spare batteries. To ensure that you’re not scrambling to find a working station in a crisis, mark the frequencies of your local radio stations on a piece of masking tape stuck to the radio.

man backing up important documents from his laptop to a hard drive

Copy important documents onto a hard drive or USB. Image: Getty. 


Phone with charger

Keep chargers and/or charged battery pack for your phone in your home emergency kit, so that you stay powered throughout an emergency. Keep important contacts such as emergency services and your next-of-kin on speed dials.

You may not be able to find mobile phone coverage in an emergency, especially if you live in a remote area. For this reason, you should also keep a safety whistle and a reflective object (like a mirror) in your emergency kit. You can use these items to signal for help: both are much more effective than yelling.

Protective clothing

If your home emergency kit has room, pack protective clothing for each household member. Long-sleeves shirts and pants with sturdy shoes or boots are best. Keep wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses and sunscreen with your gear to ward off harmful UV rays. Insect repellent and thick work gloves can also protect your skin.

Multi-purpose tool

A good multitool or a compact tool kit can come in handy in a variety of emergency situations. For example, a wrench and pliers can help turn off power, water and gas supplies. Pack some duct tape, masking tape, rope and a firestarter to round out your tool kit, so you can fix or dismantle almost anything.



A multitool can help in a variety of situations. Image: Getty. 


Spare cash

Bank cards, ATMs and money transfer apps may not be operable in an emergency. Keep some cash on hand to purchase any basic or urgent needs if you need to leave your home. Pack a variety of notes and coins in a discreet place in your home emergency kit, keeping the total amount small (for example $100 - 200) so you aren’t left out of pocket in the event of a theft.

Medications and essential toiletries

You should keep at least two weeks’ worth of prescribed medications in your home emergency kit, in case you aren’t able to access a pharmacy for a while. You should also pack any required medical aids, such as prescription glasses, EpiPens, hearing aid batteries, or medic-alert bracelets.

You can also pack some essential toiletries, such as toilet paper, hand sanitiser, sanitary wipes, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes and shampoo. Having these basic toiletries on hand can help keep you maintain hygiene and cleanliness if you’re unable to bathe or shower.

woman packing dog supplies in box

Remember your pets when packing your home emergency kit. Image: Getty. 


Families with babies or pets

Make sure to remember the specific needs of all household members when packing your home emergency kit, including pets, babies and the elderly.

For babies, your home emergency kit should contain enough nappies, wipes and food for at least three days. Pack a bottle and baby formula, making sure to check the expiration date every few months.

Pets should be registered and microchipped, so keep a copy of their registration, microchip and insurance documentation in your kit. Keep enough food and clean water to sustain your pet for at least five days, including feeding bowls. Other essential pet items include a leash and collar with ID tags, medicines with clear instructions, waste cleaning products such as a litter tray and litter or dog poop bags, and some bedding and comfort toys. Smaller animals like cats should be placed in carry boxes for easy transportation.


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The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions, please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s)issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia Pty Ltd ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.