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18 must-have items that help you survive any emergency

Life has a way of sweeping you off your feet. Not in the romantic, exciting way — in the dangerous way that turns your whole world upside down. Take, for example, the power outages that rippled across southern and central states last year.

Once this emergency struck, millions of Americans scrambled to survive without power or water. Speaking of which, tap or click here to prepare for power outages and blackouts. A solid survival plan helps you survive and thrive during the worst times of your life. 

So whether you need to make an emergency food kit or weather a dangerous storm, we’ve got you covered. We put together a list of the best gadgets that help you survive emergencies. You’ll find essential tools like first-aid kits all the way to stuff you may never even thought of.

First thing’s first. Find your first-aid kit

Before you start thinking about your fix-it tools or electronics, you need to have a first-aid kit. When things are crazy, and your whole world’s in disarray, the last thing you want to deal with is an injury. If you don’t have a way to call up a hospital, a little cut could easily become infected without proper care.

So make sure you and your loved ones are protected no matter what life throws at you. If you don’t already have a first-aid kit in your home, you can grab this one for less than $20.

No matter what emergency you’re facing, this kit helps you stop the bleeding until you find professional help. It’s compact and spacious, with two separate layers, so you can grab what you need ASAP.

Next, you’ll need a solid light source

Take a moment and think about the enormous role electricity plays in your life. It’s essential for communications, water, transportation and more. For example, if you have an online bank, a power outage could cut off your ability to pay your bills.

Plus, you need to keep your food and medicine refrigerated no matter what. You don’t want to be blind and shivering in the dark. Here’s what you need to survive sudden power outages.

A source of backup power can make or break your family’s well-being during an outage

Fortunately, you have a lot of options for backup power. If you know bad weather is on the horizon, you can ensure your phones, tablets, laptops, rechargeable flashlights and battery chargers have all the energy they need.

You have a lot of options, too, from hand-held chargers to large power stations from high-performing brands like Anker and Jackery. (Some of their devices hold so much power they can charge phones multiple times.)

If you want something higher-end, here’s our suggestion:

Don’t have as much cash on you? No problem. This lower-priced Anker should do the trick.

If you want to charge up either of these powerhouses, this foldable solar panel from ROCKPALS works well with portable power station generators and USB devices. It comes with three USB ports for all your charging needs.

Don’t forget your batteries!

We always need batteries in case of an emergency. But what about batteries you can recharge? These EasyPower USB AA batteries are super versatile. It takes less than an hour to fully charge them, and once they’re ready to run, they have long lives. One reviewer said they’re “98% comparable to the capacity of a regular AA Duracell battery.”

To recharge your batteries, you’ll need a power bank

A portable charger is helpful for keeping your devices from running out of juice. They’re a great backup in case you can’t afford an enormous power station.

We recommend the GETIHU portable charger. For less than $25, you’re getting a ton of features, like:

  • 1 lithium polymer battery included
  • LED display to let you know how much battery is left
  • 1 USB C cable
  • 1 travel pouch

You can also grab Anker’s portable charger, which usually goes for around $20. Although it comes in a slim size, it packs a punch. It provides 2.25 charges for the iPhone 12, for example. It can deliver tailored charges depending on your devices, and it comes with a micro USB cable along with a travel pouch.

CAN YOU SPOT FAKE PHOTOS? Whenever there’s a storm, fraudulent pictures swirl around. Click here for signs a storm photo is fake

Of course, flashlights are a timeless tool to take you through dark times 

This is much more than a simple flashlight, though. This 10-in-1 gadget works as a portable car jump starter. It’s also a power bank, with two USB charging ports attached.

It’s a versatile multi-tool that does a ton of legwork to help you slog through emergencies. You’re getting a compass, thermometer and even an emergency audible alarm. Whether you’re stuck at home in a power outage or hiking in the wilderness, this tool can help you through a ton of sticky situations.

Caught up in a natural disaster? A good radio ensures no man is an island

First off, you’ll probably want a radio to get in contact with others. You might think they’re unnecessary if you have phones and chargers, but you should always have a backup plan.

If a brutal storm slashes your home to pieces, radios are indispensable. Mijke Hertoghs says there’s no way to understate the way radios help us amidst an onslaught from Mother Nature. (As the head of MyITU’s Environment and Emergency Telecommunications Division, he knows what he’s talking about.)

In times of emergency and disasters, radio broadcasting is one of the most powerful and effective ways of delivering early warnings and alerting the general public by broadcasting before the disaster occurs so people can evacuate to safe places and save their lives.

Mijke Hertoghs, quoted in “The value of broadcast radio in an emergency

But even if disaster’s already struck, you’ll still want radios to help you keep in contact with your loved ones. Maybe you want to call up your family member who’s checking out the damage a fallen tree did to your roof. You’re busy downstairs and you want to see how things look where they are.

Or maybe someone’s in the basement checking out a broken pipe while you’re surveying the damage upstairs. Either way, a two-way radio helps you keep in contact in case of an emergency.

Motorola’s Talkabout radios come with two belt clips as well as a handy user guide. For less than $30, you have a range of up to 16 miles. Plus, you can access 22 channels that help you instantly reach family, friends and neighbors. Even better, they work for up to 18 hours, thanks to their AAA alkaline batteries.

Want something larger? We love this battery-powered portable radio:

Tools like the one above are indispensable because they help you out in many different ways. But sometimes, you may not have the strength to lug large equipment. In that case, it’s good to go back to the basics.

Communication’s so important. But what if you get lost and walk out of your radio’s range?

In that case, you’ll want a good compass to find your way home. You can always use the compass app on your phone, but if you’ve run out of juice, it’s a good idea to get a good old-fashioned tool to guide your way.

COSTIN’s multifunctional compass is a metallic, waterproof compass with high accuracy. It comes with a map measurer and a distance calculator. Even in the dark, it’s easy to use, thanks to its fluorescent design. Basically, its magnet arrow and compass card light up in the dark so you can read the data even when the sun’s slipped from the sky.

SPEAKING OF WHICHTap or click here to learn about the best gadgets for your outdoor adventures

Maybe you like the idea of a compass, but you don’t have too much room in your backpack. Good news: We found a handy accessory that comes with a built-in compass … along with a loud whistle so your friends can find you if you’re lost.

The Atomic Bear paracord bracelet is a nifty wearable that can help you when you’re out hiking, camping, fishing, hunting or just trying to navigate rubble from a storm.

The compass and whistle are built into the bracelet’s clips, so everything you need is right on the wrist. It also has a fire starter. Plus, since the bracelet is made of paracord, you have enough material to make a trap, shelter or even fishing line.

“Honestly you’ll probably never need all of the paracord, but it’s nice to have it in excess in the event you need to make an emergency stretcher or maybe a sled to drag equipment or gathering firewood and so on,” one reviewer said.

What if you’re stuck at home after a storm or a tornado hit? These tools help you stay safe, no matter what

If a storm smashes your roof open and water’s leaking from the ceiling, you’ll want to stay warm. That can be tough in the dead of summer. That’s why these stormproof matches from Amazon make a world of difference.

For less than $15, you’re getting 25 windproof and waterproof matches, along with three strikers and a case that can hold up to 40 matches. They’re easy to light and burn up to 15 seconds. Even cooler than that is the fact that they’ll light up even if a bucket of rain washes over them.

…and you can light them with this

Sometimes, you just need to light a fire. This metal-ring sealed lighter cover and locking clasp ensures water stays away from your fire source. It’s perfect as an emergency fire starter tool. After all, you can buy a ton of amazing tools, but if your hands are shaking from the cold, you won’t be able to use them properly.

If your home’s a mess and you need to make some repairs ASAP, this Wingman multitool is amazing

  • This gadget provides the uses of 14 tools in one easy place
  • It works like pliers, screwdrivers, wire cutters, a knife, scissors, a package opener, a file, a ruler and more
  • You can use it all with only one hand

“It’s a great balance of useful size versus pocketable compactness,” one reviewer said. “Solid metal, great quality rolling and finishing, and the belt-mounted pocket that it comes with is extremely heavy durable nylon with a solid snap.”

Cut seatbelts, escape from danger and rescue others with this glow-in-the-dark multipurpose hammer

This eight-inch tool is perfect for your car. You can find it in the dark with its glowing design. Plus, the handle is long enough for you to grip it and hit your car windows if you’re trapped inside. It’s easy to use and you have multiple ways to install it.

“I’m a qualified rescue diver and this tool is well-made and serviceable in an emergency when you want to egress your vehicle mount it near the center or someplace you can reach it easily, even if the airbags go off” one reviewer said. “Well designed, well made, and I hope neither you nor I will ever have to use it.” Still, it’s good to buy this tool just in case you do have to use it.

Now that we’ve covered some life-saving tools let’s turn our attention to some of the most basic human needs: food and water. Here’s how you can prepare to keep your belly full when life makes it difficult for you to access a grocery store.

If you can’t get your needs met outside the house, it’s best to have a solid plan within your walls. Here’s what we recommend.

By now, you know how to keep your refrigerator running … but what if it runs out?

This enormous variety pail comes with 92 servings, 21,170 calories and 557 grams of protein.

It’s a great backup to cans. Sure, you can reheat chicken noodle soup, spam and beans. But sometimes it’s nice to have a fully prepared meal. In that case, this variety pail has your back.

Speaking of which, you’ll also want a source of clean water. The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter removes 99% of waterborne bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella. It even removes microplastics from your water. It will provide 1,000 gallons of clean and safe drinking water.

We’ve talked about threats from Mother Nature. This tool will help you in case of burglary

Sometimes, the scariest threats don’t come in the form of summer storms or winter winds. When a stranger’s jiggling your front doorknob and you’re the only person home, it can feel like you’re the unwilling star of a horror movie.

SimpliSafe’s panic button is your ace in the hole. Press this button and you’ll instantly trigger an alarm that opens up a line from SimpliSafe’s monitoring center. If you don’t answer or provide the code word that lets them know you’re safe, they’ll send an alert to the police.

If that’s not enough to make you feel safe, you can secure your entire home with SimpliSafe’s Home Security System. From the palm of your hand, you can control your entire security system through the SimpliSafe App. (It also works with Apple Watch!)

Go to and get a FREE HD home security camera when you purchase a SimpliSafe system. You’ll also receive a 60-day risk-free trial, so there’s nothing to lose!

We may receive a commission when you buy through our links, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.
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