Mini Emergency Kits For Everyone

Since much of the southeast United States is dealing with a hurricane, with another one on the way, Houston is still drying out, and Tuscany is dealing with life-threatening flooding from storms, today’s post is about emergency preparedness. I don’t like to dwell on the negative aspects of life but lately that seems a more difficult task. As such, I may as well pass along what I can. Preparedness is about more than stockpiling water, lime, ad ammunition at the compound; it is about a more realistic set of steps to ensure you can deal with whatever disaster is around the corner, while still finding the beauty in the every day.

In situations like the current spate of never-before-seen hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding, and wildfires survival is key, especially if you are away from home. Disasters which occur during your travels mean that at the very basic level you need a safe place to shelter, clean water, some signaling device, a way to keep warm and dry, source of nourishment, and triage medicines. Remember the survival rule of 3.

A body can survive 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food!

Sure you can buy a pre-assembled emergency kit but those are usually overpriced with quantity of filler items over quality of personalized items. It is far better to make your own to meet your needs.

We are going to use the popular Altoids tin method of creating our mini kit. Altoids tins are not only marketing genius, they are the perfect size for portable kits. if you have some time to waste, enjoy this article on all the things you can do with an Altoids tin.

Keep in mind, this is a tiny space so ONLY the essentials for survival so the first step is to assess your needs. If you are in a city your kit will be different than if you are in the back-of-beyond. For our kit, we will think as generally as possible and include basics that everyone (regardless of age, location, need) can use. So, let’s get to it, shall we?

  1. Fire Kit – Being able to make a fire cures a lot of things. Fire can heat water for disinfecting, cook something, scare away animals, signal others, and keep you warm. A tiny item like this fire starter key is a must for your Altoids kit.
  2. Water Purification tablets – I cannot stress the importance of potable water. To be sure you always have clean water, add some water purification tablets to your tiny kit. I like these the best as they have the least amount of odd taste among the tablets I’ve tried.
  3. First Aid – You need;
    • Something to clean a wound like an alcohol wipe
    • Something to close small cuts like super glue
    • Something to close larger wounds like surgical tape and butterfly bandages
    • Something to coat the wound like antibiotic ointment
    • Something to cover the wound like a fabric plaster/band-aid
  4. Medicines – Things to treat pain, fever, gastrointestinal issues, and allergic reactions are sufficient for an emergency kit. For my kit, I place a few of each type of medicine in a slip of folded paper, then tape it in surgical tape and label it with medicine type, dosage, and date. These little pouches don’t take up any space and give me peace of mind.
  5. Sewing Materials – Being able to stitch yourself up (in real emergencies) and repair your clothes or shelter fabric is more important than you realize. The kits that you get in hotel amenity baskets are great for this.
  6. Compass – Being able to orient yourself is crucial if you are stuck without shelter. A button compass takes up no room at all. These aren’t the most reliable compasses but they are faster than creating your own and better than nothing.
  7. Magnifying card – If you are like me and at a certain age where you need reading glasses, this card will be worth its weight in gold. You can also use it to start a fire.
  8. Instructions – Type out instructions for basic field first aid, fold this and lay it in the bottom of the tin. Include instructions of dressing a wound, performing the Heimlich maneuver, CPR, and splinting a broken limb. Having these serves two purposes:
    • They provide clear details on how to treat injury with can help you achieve the best possible outcome in an emergency situation
    • They provide something to focus on which helps avoid panic. When panic sets in, all is lost. A clear head is the MOST important thing you can have in your kit and having something specific on which to concentrate is a great way to get your wits about you.
  9. The Altoids Tin – Obviously you need a tin in which to pack this. It may take a few tries to lay it all out in the kit, but once it’s in there, you are good to go. I use a plastic ‘tin’ that measures a 1/4 inch larger that an Altoids tin on all sides. I chose this because it accommodates my roll of duct tape, where the Altoids tin did not and a lady is never without duct tape.

This is not a complete kit, nor is it intended to be. When I am at home, I have a larger kit that is in a plastic tool box and small daypack. When I travel, I have a larger kit that inlcudes two pouches and the small tin. For the purposes of this post, consider an Altoids kit something to assemble, toss in the bag you carry every day, and hope you never need it. Here are some (poor) snaps of my kit.


A close-up of my pill/tablet packing method using paper and surgical tape


Various bits of kit


All packed snugly in plastic “tin”


An obsessed labeler, I had to list contents on the ‘tin’


My full emergency kit for travel (kept in hand luggage)

It’s a great idea to have kits for each member of your family, with age-appropriate contents of course.

If you have children, this is a good way to teach them about preparedness in a fun and personalized manner.  You can spend an afternoon over the kitchen table putting the kits together and talk to your kids about the scary things that happen in the world. This is a great article on how to do that. Helping them see that while they can’t control everything, being able to create a kit gives them control over something and that goes a long way in reassuring them.

The world can be a scary and confusing place but, for me, taking time to plan and prepare makes me feel like I can at least deal with whatever disaster is around the corner, while still finding the beauty in the every day.

Thanks for stopping by and here’s hoping I can post about frothy and frivolous things on the regular, rather than harping on doom and gloom!