Six Essential Survival Items for Any Emergency

In an emergency, bare basics are needed for survival. It doesn’t mean playing with modern toys. Living without a TV or computer may be difficult, even painful, but having no heat, hot water, clean water or light at night can be damaging to life, limb and mental fortitude. Super storm Hurricane Sandy blew into my area and left vast destruction in its wake. It killed many, put millions in the dark and cold for days or weeks, and heat and hot water were a dim memory for millions of Americans. Being without utilities for days focuses your thoughts. This is what I’d want the next time something even close to Sandy explodes on the scene.

Water Filters

Two days after Sandy left us near to living more like our primitive ancestors, word spread around town that water would be shut off. Tap water doesn’t taste great, but it’s essential. We bottled about four gallons of water pre-Sandy, but the thought of having no clean water soon was scary. Ultimately, water shut-off was a rumor, but if it had been real – or had water been affected in some way – filter systems may have helped. Water filtration systems can be faucet installed or used with pitchers, and there are loads to choose from. Of course if your town forbids you to drink water in an emergency, filters won’t matter. But at least having them is better than not if water is cloudy, yet potable. Filters, besides cleaning, also soften and make water taste better.


After the days following Sandy, as I walked around town to see the destruction, and to find any store open, I was jealous of those who had generators. These can be expensive – over 500 to 2,000 dollars or more – but with enough fuel, they can have a family up and running again. Before the storm, I found generators powered by battery or car jump start kits on websites like Amazon. These battery powered generators are backed by name brands like Energizer and Duracell. When fully charged, they can provide dozens of hours of power to things like lamps, TV’s, radios and cell phones. They range in price from about $100 dollars to $300 dollars.

Solar Cell Phone Charger

My cell phone – it’s a little old, dumb one, not a smartphone – lasted four days after Sandy overloaded or took out many of the mobile phone towers. On virtually its last power bar, I was lucky to get to a house with electricity to charge it up, but if I didn’t have that it would have died. Charging stations had sprung up around town, but the wait time was many hours, if you were lucky. Solar Cell Phone Chargers work with almost any cell phone and many have various adapter plugs for most any cell phone model.

Solar or Battery Powered LED Lantern

Flashlights are great as a temporary light in an emergency, but hour after hour of continued use drains those batteries real fast. We used four flashlights and electric candles during our Sandy ordeal, but after about 3 hours of continuous use, flashlights would get hot. A great, safe alternative to flashlights are LED lanterns – either battery powered or solar cell fueled. These energy efficient lamps provide lots of bright light, never get hot and last long.

Battery Powered Radio or Hand Crank Radio

We used an old battery powered transistor radio, after Sandy took out our TV’s and computers. Even with a few hours left on my laptop, our cable modem was out, and the Wi-Fi spots were also black. With the little radio, we kept informed and entertained for hours each day. We were lucky to have fresh batteries. A hand crank radio requires no batteries – only hand power to keep the radio waves audible. Some models even provide cell phone charging as a side benefit.


People can get creative during a crisis, and fresh food fuels that creativity and survival. I noticed many of my neighbors using coolers. These are the same ones you’d take to sports games, picnics and for a fun day at the beach. They would store perishable items in a cooler and stick them out on their fire escapes or near their windows. Coolers not only keep food fresh for many hours or even days, but can protect against vermin and other spoilage.