During a disaster, your emergency survival kit can mean the difference between comfort and discomfort, between having a plan and being disoriented, and, in some cases, between life and death itself. However, that doesn't mean you should pack the kitchen sink.
Having too much in the survival kit can prove almost as problematic as not having the right items in the kit to begin with. Leave the following out of your survival kit:
1 - Irreplaceable Documents and Valuables
Saving your irreplaceable documents and valuables from a fire, earthquake, tornado, or anything that can destroy your home probably sounds like a good idea. However, your emergency survival kit is not the way to do it.
You should store valuables and copies of your important documents in a fireproof safe or a bank vault. Put a flash drive with digital backups of your photos in this safe location as well. During a disaster, you don't want your kit clogged up with these items that you won't need for the next few days.
2 - Matches
You might think you'll have to light candles for light during an emergency, but storing matches in your emergency survival kit is potentially dangerous. They could spark a fire and light up everything else in your kit. It's also possible that, during a disaster, they'll get wet and won't work anyway.
You should instead rely on flashlights, lanterns and batteries. Replace the batteries in your kit at least once a year in case they die. If you want to include candles, remember to pack a lighter.
3 - Perishable Food
During an emergency, you won't be eating gourmet. Stock your emergency survival kit with enough food for three days. All of the food should be non-perishable. Granola bars, canned foods, and other preserved foods are good foods to include.
Don't forget to include a handheld can opener for your canned foods. You can replace the food items every year or so if they're past expiration dates.
4 - Weapons
Most disasters are caused by nature, and although there's the small chance that a huge disaster could cause riots, don't include weapons in your emergency survival kit.
When you're panicked and rummaging through your emergency kit, you could hurt yourself with the weapons. Weapons also breed mistrust and fear. You want to make sure your kit is as lightweight as possible.
5 - Too Much Stuff
While you'll want items such as food, water, blankets, flashlights, and medical supplies in your kit, too much stuff can make your kit unwieldy and difficult to access or carry during an emergency. Prepare for three days' worth of supplies for everyone in your home. You should be able to access help within three days.
You may benefit from including a small amount of clothing in case your clothes are soaked, but don't prepare enough clothing for all three days. Just pack what you need to survive. Items like toys might be a good idea to keep a child calm, but include only one or two.