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The horrific images of people stuck in their cars after a massive winter storm stopped traffic along the I-95 in Virginia a couple of years ago really stuck with me. Here’s an NBC News video.



“Thousands of drivers were stuck on the East Coast’s busiest highway for more than 20 hours with some of them forced to leave their cars behind.” You wouldn’t think this could happen with today’s modern technology but obviously, it can.

No matter the time of year, it’s important to be prepared for any emergency situation. Here in Southern California, there’s always the threat of earthquakes, wildfires and mudslides. It’s not really fun to think about these things but I think it’s better to be prepared so you don’t have to think about them. It will give you some peace of mind and you’ll hopefully feel calmer in the event of an emergency. Here are 10 items I have in case there’s an emergency, whether I’m traveling or at home.

Emergency Kit for the Car
I’ve always kept a basic emergency kit in my car, just in case I’m driving and there’s a massive earthquake or my car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. This 2-person, 3-day backpack comes with food, water, emergency blankets, a first-aid kit and two safety light sticks. As part of my car’s emergency safety kit, I also have Fix-A-Flat to quickly repair flat tires.

RELATED: What to Do When You Face a Travel Emergency

Car Safety Hammer Emergency Escape Tool with Seat Belt Cutter
I also keep this small but useful life-saving device in the side compartment of my car door. It allows you to break the car window and cut the seatbelt if, God forbid, you get trapped inside your car or somehow submerged under water.

Water Purifiers
It’s always smart to carry a LifeStraw water filter since it filters up to 1,000 gallons (4,000 liters) of contaminated water without iodine, chlorine or other chemicals. It doesn’t require batteries and has no moving parts. One of my travel friends uses this wherever he goes in the world. He claims he’s never drunk bottled water before.

RELATED: How to Protect Yourself From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning When You Travel

Duct Tape
Every seasoned traveler will laugh at this one because they all know to keep duct tape in their carry-on bag. It can be used for virtually everything, from taping curtains shut in your hotel room to repairing luggage. Heck, some people have even used it to hold their car bumper on after an accident. You can also use gaffers tape as it has strong hold but doesn’t leave any residue behind.

Portable Power Station
I keep a Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station in the garage and will bring on road trips to charge our devices in case of an emergency. We also have a larger one for home (scroll down).

Inside the house, I keep a VLES Go-Bag, which is a heavy-duty backpack filled with emergency, first-aid and personal supplies, as well as a hydration kit. Read more about it here.

Escape Ladder
Also inside the house, we have a two-story fire escape ladder with anti-slip rungs. So if there’s a fire we can escape from the second floor. This should go without saying, but we also have a fire extinguisher in our kitchen.

Portable Solar Panel Power Generator
This product was just sent to us by the PR team at Generark because of the high probability of the electricity going out, due to the risk of wildfires caused by climate change. Generark recently launched a couple of emergency power products, the HomePower ONE and the SolarPower ONE. The HomePower One offers up to 7 days of power supply to your crucial devices and home appliances on a single charge and can be charged with the SolarPower ONE solar panel power generator. The SolarPower ONE is an efficient portable solar panel power generator that provides eco-friendly recharging for your HomePower ONE backup battery in any emergency situation. It provides a continual emergency power supply to enable your family to overcome any disasters and accidents.

Pocket Escape Smoke Hood
For travel, I keep a pocket smoke escape hood in my carry-on. (God forbid there’s ever a fire but my family and I were in a hotel fire when I was a teenager and I wish we’d had these.) The scary thing about a fire is that there’s so much to worry about, not just burns but smoke inhalation, which a smoke hood should help you with.

TIP: Always leave your clothes, shoes and wallet ready to go by the door in case you need to jump up out of bed and run. This has happened to me numerous times, including during the aforementioned hotel fire in Puerto Rico when I was 16, a hotel smoke alarm going off in Toronto, a tornado warning in Dallas and an earthquake in Tokyo.

Let me know if you think something should be added to the list.


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11 Comments On "Be prepared: 10 items you need in case of an emergency"
  1. Greg Chinn|

    Cell phone+charger, hard cash for 3 days, emergency phone numbers on cell, your go-bag should have shoes and heavy clothing – dry rations for the family, what happens to the pets (food and cages), do you have a contact out of town to let everyone know you are ok (DON’T DEPEND ON LOCAL CELL TOWERS AS EVERYONE WILL BE CALLING OUT LOCALLY), emerg apps on phone (flashlight, 1st aid info, medical info, radio), a mtg place for the rest of the family if separated when not home (how much gear is in the car if not at home) – a Northridge survivor

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Good tips!

  2. Kenya F|

    Thank you so much for this list! This will help me to put one together.

  3. Susan McKee|

    I had to laugh. I did use my duct tape on a loose bumper on a rental car in Italy.

  4. Jan|

    Don’t want to pack a bulky roll of duct tape? I roll mine onto a pencil

  5. Phych|

    Gaffer’s tape provides most of the benefits of duct tape without the messy residue if you need to remove it for whatever reason

  6. Anonymous|

    Candles and matches

  7. Jody|

    Super important, especially for women:
    You must have appropriate footwear for walking long distances in whatever kind of weather conditions you might find yourself in, cold or hot.

    If there’s an earthquake in Southern California for example, you may have to abandon your car and walk many miles, possibly over rubble, broken glass, broken concrete… a woman does not want to do that in flip-flops or high heels! Must keep some tennis shoes and socks in the car!

  8. Carol Schlomer|

    If a wildfire is started by a burning cigarette butt or intentionally set by a person, will the Portable Solar Panel Power Generator still work?

  9. mark|

    link for hood broken, which one is best?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      You know what. I can’t find it. Will continue to look for a replacement

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