10 items every parent should have in case of emergency

If you've got kids you need to bulk up your emergency kit

Credit: Getty Images / Izmabel
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As a born-and-raised Californian, I'm pretty laid back about earthquakes. In fact, I slept through one of the earthquakes that marked the July fourth weekend here in Southern California. While I'm certainly not one to panic about the Next Big One, I also probably shouldn't be quite so laissez faire about having an emergency kit on hand, especially now that I'm responsible for the health and well-being of two small children.

So, where does one begin when preparing for a natural disaster—earthquake or otherwise? Our resident safety expert, Seamus Bellamy, put together helpful guidelines for creating your own survival kit and we tested all of the ready-made emergency kits available for purchase. However, many of the commercially-available emergency kits are designed for one or two adults.

When you're preparing for the worst with babies or kids in tow, you also need to take into account the items they'll need in order to stay safe and relatively comfortable in a scary situation.

Here are 10 items to add to your basic emergency kit if you have babies and/or kids:

1. Bottles & baby formula

Formula and bottles
Credit: Earth's Best / Playtex

It's a good idea to have a can of formula and a few bottles in your emergency kit, even if you're nursing. Traumatic events—as well as a significantly reduced caloric intake—can affect breast milk supply, so having a back-up option for your babe is a must. The amount of formula your baby will drink depends on his or her age, but a good average to work from is 20-25 ounces per day, so one can of formula should last you about five days. Be sure to check the expiration date of the baby formula when you do your yearly emergency kit inspection, and replace it as necessary. Keep in mind that you may not have access to clean water in which to wash a lot of dishes, so opting for a bottle with a disposable liner, like the Playtex Baby Nurser, reduces the amount of dirty bottle parts you'll need to wash with your limited water supply.

Get the Playtex Baby Nurser Bottle with Disposable Drop-Ins Liners on Amazon for $17.99

Get Earth's Best Dairy Baby Formula on Amazon for $26.12

2. Diapers & wipes

Diapers and wipes
Credit: Huggies / Water Wipes

Don't get caught in a natural disaster without diapers and wipes. I suggest stocking your kit with a variety of diaper sizes, so that you aren't having to contend with too-small diapers that don't contain the blowouts. Children who have been potty trained will sometimes regress when faced with a scary situation, so adding some larger-size night diapers in your emergency kit is a good idea. Wipes come in handy for more than just diaper changes—they're an easy way to sponge bathe when water is limited (as are our favorite wipes for grown-ups)

Get a pack of Huggies OverNites Diapers on Amazon for $22.06

Get a three pack of WaterWipes Sensitive Baby Wipes on Amazon for $15.15

3. Extra clothes and shoes

clothes and shoes
Credit: Primary / Natives

I keep an extra set of clothes, warm jackets, and close-toed shoes for both kids in my car and my (new) emergency kit. Don't forget to include extra underwear and socks in your kit, either: In the heat or wet, having dry pairs of both can go a long way towards keeping kids comfortable and healthy. You don't have to spend a fortune on these "just in case" items—see about finding a kids consignment shop in your neighborhood—since it's very likely that they'll never actually get worn. If you prefer one stop shopping, and high-quality items, Primary's basics in solid colors are an excellent choice. For close-toed shoes that can take a beating, I'm a big fan of Natives. Keep in mind that children grow quickly, so you'll need to stay on top of updating the sizes every six months or so. It's also a good idea to add a package of child-sized disposable ponchos to protect your little ones from the elements.

Shop kids clothes at Primary

Get Natives Unisex Kids shoes on Amazon starting at $32

Get Furry Smile Disposable Rain Ponchos for Kids on Amazon for $11.99

4. Baby food

Baby food pouches
Credit: Plum Organics / Munchkin

The standard emergency kit fare of protein bars isn't going to work for babies who are only able to eat purees. Baby food pouches are much lighter to carry than glass jars, and you can even purchase a disposable spoon attachment that screws onto the neck of the pouch to make feeding easier. A one year old baby eats about 1000 calories per day, so you'll need to order at least two multi-packs of Plum Organics pouches to ensure that your baby has enough food to last her at least three days (each pouch has 100-110 calories).

Get the Plum Organics Variety Pack on Amazon for $24.99

Get Munchkin Click Lock 4 Count Food Pouch Spoon Tips on Amazon for $10.49

5. Security blanket, stuffed animal, or pacifier

Pacifier and blanket
Credit: Wubanub / Little Giraffe

When disaster strikes, you may only have seconds to escape; don't run the risk of being stuck in an emergency shelter with a child wailing for his blankie. Whatever your child's preferred method of self-soothing—security blanket, stuffie, or pacifier—add an identical one to your emergency kit. I realize that the newer, less-loved version won't have quite the same aroma or appeal, but a back-up will do in a pinch. Plus, it's an invaluable tool for helping to reduce your child's anxiety during a time of immense stress.

Get a Little Giraffe Chenille Blanky on Amazon for $36

Get a WubbaNub Infant Pacifier on Amazon for $17.49

6. Toys, games and coloring books

Kids card games
Credit: Peppa Pig / Hoyle

Don't count on electronic devices to occupy your kids when the next big quake hits. If there's no electricity, your trusty digital babysitter won't be available. Put together a bag of no-need-to-charge activities, including coloring books, simple card games, and small toys that can be used for imaginative play. Plan to dole out one activity at a time so that your kids spend longer with each specific item, and if you want to make it especially fun for them, wrap the items in tissue paper so that they feel they're receiving a present each time. Keep your emergency game stash in some big ziplock bags so they don't get wet if you’re evacuating your family under severe weather conditions.

Get the Peppa Pig on the go coloring activity book on Amazon for $7.95

Get a Hoyle Kid's Fun Pack of Card Games on Amazon for $6.99

Get a Toysery Realistic Looking Dinosaurs Toys Set on Amazon for $10.95

7. Medicine just for kids

Medicines
Credit: Delsym / Little Remedies

While most first aid kits contain basic pain relieving medicines, the dosages are for adults, not children. Bulk up your emergency first aid kit with a selection of any of the OTC or prescription medicines you give your children on a regular basis. I put together a big ziplock bag with kids Tylenol, kids Melatonin, our favorite cough syrup, a homeopathic remedy I use for tummy troubles, and a tube of Calendula cream that I can use on diaper rashes, bug bites or burns. Be sure to include a dosing spoon or syringe to ensure that you administer the correct amount of medicine.

Get Little Remedies Infant Fever & Pain Reliever on Amazon for $4.89

Get Zarbee's Naturals Children's Sleep on Amazon for $12.10

Get Delsym Children's 12 Hr Cough Relief on Amazon for $12.47

Get Boiron Nux Vomica on Amazon for $7.57

Get Boiron Calendula Ointment on Amazon for $14.45

Get Ezy Dose Kids Calibrated Oral Medicine Syringe on Amazon for $3.49

8. Their favorite snacks

Kids are, for the most part, incredibly picky. While it can be tempting to think that one's children might be willing to eat anything when faced with starvation, the odds are that your kid will simply whine, cry, and sob about being hungry rather than try emergency food rations. A natural disaster is traumatic enough without forcing your kid to eat something he wouldn't normally touch, so avoid any hunger-related meltdowns by stocking your emergency kit with non-perishable snacks that your kids love. Nut butter pouches are a great choice for something that's kid-friendly but also has protein (not so, tuna fish).

Get Justin's Classic Nut Butter Squeeze Packs on Amazon for $11.90

9. Sunscreen & hats

hats and sunscreen
Credit: Blue Lizard / i.play

Babies and kids have incredibly sensitive skin, so prolonged exposure to the sun can be extremely dangerous. Living in always-sunny Los Angeles means that we never go anywhere—including Armageddon—without sunscreen and hats. Throw in a bottle of Dermatologist-recommended sunscreen, as well as wide-brimmed hats, to keep kids protected from the sun if you get trapped outside.

Get Blue Lizard SPF 30+ Sunscreen on Amazon for $25.94

Get the i play. Flap Sun Protection Hat on Amazon starting at $7

10. Extra flashlights & batteries

Flashlight and batteries
Credit: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles / Energizer

Kids love flashlights. Get them involved in your doomsday preparations by letting them select the flashlights they'd like to have if disaster strikes. Whether it's our top rated flashlight or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle version, there's no wrong choice. A shopping expedition is a good opportunity to discuss your disaster plans with older kids, but it's also a chance to tell little kids any basic, age-appropriate information about what to do in the case of an emergency. Kids who need a light source to feel safe sleeping will love the Goal Zero Crush Light Solar Powered Lantern; it runs for up to 35 hours on a single charge, and can be charged via a built-in solar panel or USB.

Get the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles LED Flashlight on Amazon for $8.99

Get a 48-pack of Energizer AA Batteries on Amazon for $14.99

Get the Goal Zero Crush Light Solar Powered Lantern on Amazon for $24.95

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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