Survival Gear For A Family

What Is the Best Survival Gear for a Family to Have?

Hank Robertson

In a world that feels increasingly unpredictable, the concept of preparedness has moved from the fringes of survivalist culture right into the mainstream family household. Whether it’s the threat of natural disasters, the unpredictability of global events, or simply the desire to be self-reliant in times of crisis, the importance of being prepared cannot be overstated. Today, we’re not just talking about stocking up on canned goods or checking the batteries in your flashlight—we’re diving deep into the heart of what is the best survival gear for a family to have.

For families everywhere, the question isn’t if we should prepare, but how. How do we choose gear that’s both practical and necessary, without succumbing to fear or overspending on gadgets we’ll never use? How do we ensure that our children, partners, and even pets are safe, comfortable, and able to withstand whatever challenges may come our way? It’s about striking a balance between caution and readiness, between everyday life and the unexpected.

As a survival enthusiast and a family person myself, I understand the nuances of preparing a family for emergencies. It’s not just about having a stash of goods; it’s about fostering a mindset of resilience, teaching valuable life skills, and creating a culture of readiness that can be passed down through generations.

In this article, we’ll navigate the vast landscape of survival gear, from the basics of water and food supplies to the complexities of shelter, first aid, and personal protection. We’ll explore not just what to have, but how to choose the right items that fit your family’s specific needs, lifestyle, and budget. With a friendly and informative approach, I aim to demystify the process and make preparedness an achievable goal for families of all shapes and sizes.

So, whether you’re a seasoned prepper or just starting to think about emergency preparedness, join me as we delve into the essential survival gear for families. Together, we’ll equip you with the knowledge and confidence to ensure that when it comes to the safety and well-being of your loved ones, you’re more than ready to face whatever comes your way.

Communication Gear

The ability to communicate, both with external sources like emergency services and internally among family members, is not just beneficial—it’s critical during a crisis. Here’s a more detailed exploration of the options and their uses.

Hand-Cranked and Solar-Powered Radios

Why They’re Essential: In the aftermath of a disaster, traditional communication infrastructures may be down. Hand-cranked and solar-powered radios ensure that you remain connected to the outside world, receiving live updates, weather alerts, and vital emergency information without the need for electricity or batteries.

Features to Look For:

  • NOAA Weather Alert: Radios equipped with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) capabilities can receive alerts about severe weather conditions directly from the National Weather Service.
  • Multiple Power Sources: While the focus is on hand-crank and solar power, models that also accept batteries or have a USB charging option offer versatility.
  • Built-in Flashlight or Siren: Additional features like a flashlight or a siren can prove invaluable in emergencies, serving dual purposes for your safety and convenience.

Two-Way Radios

Why They’re Essential: Communication within your group or family is just as critical as receiving updates from emergency broadcasts. Two-way radios allow for real-time communication between separated family members, which is crucial for coordinating movements, sharing resources, or simply checking in on each other’s wellbeing when cell phone networks are down.

Features to Look For:

  • Range: Look for radios with a range that suits your likely scenarios. Remember, the actual range can be significantly affected by terrain and obstacles.
  • Channels and Privacy Codes: More channels and codes mean more options for finding a clear line of communication without interference from others.
  • Water Resistance: Durability and water resistance are key for outdoor and adverse weather conditions.

Satellite Phones

Why Consider Them: For those in remote areas or where cell service is unreliable, satellite phones can be a game-changer. They allow you to make calls virtually anywhere in the world, independent of terrestrial cell networks.


  • Cost: Satellite phones and their plans are more expensive than traditional cell services, but for those who prioritize global reach and reliability, they can be worth the investment.
  • Ease of Use: Modern satellite phones are increasingly user-friendly, with interfaces similar to conventional smartphones.

Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) and Satellite Messengers

Why They’re Essential: In a true survival situation, especially in remote locations, being able to signal for help can save lives. PLBs and satellite messengers can send your location and distress signals to rescue services, even when other forms of communication are unavailable.

Features to Look For:

  • Global Coverage: Ensure the device operates in the areas you’re likely to be in.
  • Durability: Look for rugged designs that can withstand harsh conditions and accidental drops.
  • Battery Life: Long battery life is crucial, especially in situations where recharging isn’t an option.

Integrating Communication Devices into Your Plan

  • Practice Makes Perfect: Regularly test and use your devices to ensure everyone in the family is comfortable and proficient with their operation.
  • Emergency Plan: Have a clear communication plan that includes who to contact, how to use each device, and what to do if initial communication attempts fail.
  • Redundancy: Whenever possible, have backups for your primary communication devices. This could mean additional battery packs, alternative charging methods, or even duplicate devices stored in separate locations.

Remember, the best survival gear is the gear you know how to use effectively. In the realm of communication, this means not just owning these devices, but integrating their use into your regular preparedness drills and ensuring every family member understands their operation and purpose. This proactive approach ensures that, in the face of disaster, your family can stay informed, connected, and ready to face whatever comes your way together.

Essential Water Purification Gear for Family Preparedness

When it comes to ensuring your family has access to clean drinking water in any situation, having the right gear is crucial. Below, we’ll explore the key pieces of water purification equipment every family should consider.

Portable Water Filters

Key Gear: Personal water filters (straw filters, pump filters), gravity-fed filters

Why They’re Essential: Portable water filters are versatile and efficient, making them ideal for purifying water from natural sources. They can remove bacteria, protozoa, and, in some cases, viruses, depending on the filter’s micron rating. Compact designs make them easy to pack in any emergency bag or kit.

Top Picks:

  • Straw Filters: Lightweight and easy to use, perfect for individual use.
  • Pump Filters: Offer a higher volume output, suitable for groups.
  • Gravity-fed Filters: Excellent for base camps or family use, requiring minimal effort to purify large quantities of water.

Water Purification Tablets

Key Gear: Iodine tablets, chlorine dioxide tablets

Why They’re Essential: These tablets are one of the simplest and most lightweight purification methods available. They’re effective against a wide range of pathogens and are an excellent backup to physical filtration systems. Their small size makes them easy to distribute among family members’ personal emergency kits.

How to Choose:

  • Active Ingredient: Iodine is traditional but has a taste that some find unpleasant and is not recommended for pregnant women. Chlorine dioxide takes longer to purify (up to 4 hours) but is effective against virtually all pathogens and leaves minimal aftertaste.

UV Water Purifiers

Key Gear: Handheld UV water purifiers

Why They’re Essential: UV purifiers work by exposing water to UV light, killing bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. They’re effective, work quickly (about a minute for a liter of water), and don’t alter the water’s taste. These devices are particularly useful for purifying clear water when you need to ensure it’s free from all types of pathogens.


  • Power Source: Most models are battery-operated or rechargeable, so consider carrying extra batteries or a solar charger.
  • Water Clarity: They work best with clear water, as turbidity can shield organisms from UV light. Pre-filtering may be necessary.

Water Filter Bottles

Key Gear: Bottles with integrated filters

Why They’re Essential: Filter bottles offer a convenient, all-in-one solution for purifying and carrying drinking water. They’re ideal for personal use, day trips, and as part of school or work emergency kits. These bottles typically include a filter capable of removing pathogens and, in some cases, chemicals and heavy metals.

Choosing the Right Bottle:

  • Filter Capability: Ensure the bottle’s filter meets the specific needs of your family, such as filtering out bacteria and protozoa or additional capabilities for viruses and heavy metals.
  • Durability: Look for bottles made from durable materials that can withstand rough handling, especially if they’ll be used by children.

Integrating Water Purification Gear into Your Emergency Plan

  • Training: Familiarize every family member with how to use each piece of gear, practicing in safe conditions, like during hiking trips or camping.
  • Maintenance: Regularly check your gear for wear and tear, replace filters or batteries as needed, and ensure tablets haven’t expired.
  • Accessibility: Store water purification gear in easily accessible locations, both at home and in go-bags, so it’s ready to grab and use in a hurry.

By focusing on the essential gear for water purification, you’re taking a significant step toward ensuring your family’s safety and well-being, no matter what challenges you may face. Remember, the best approach is a layered one—combine different methods and gear types for redundancy and reliability in your water purification strategy.

Essential Food Supply Gear for Emergencies

Food Storage Containers

Importance: Proper storage is key to preserving the shelf life and nutritional value of your food supplies. It protects against pests, moisture, and other environmental factors that can spoil food.


  • Mylar Bags with Oxygen Absorbers: Ideal for dry goods like grains, legumes, and powdered items. They’re durable, lightweight, and can protect food for years.
  • Food-Grade Buckets: Used in conjunction with Mylar bags or alone for larger bulk items. Ensure they have airtight lids to keep out moisture and pests.
  • Vacuum Sealed Bags: Great for portioning out foods and extending their shelf life significantly beyond traditional methods.

Portable Cooking Solutions

Importance: Being able to cook or boil water is vital, not just for preparing meals but also for sterilizing water and utensils.


  • Portable Stoves: Gas, alcohol, or solid fuel stoves are compact and efficient for cooking meals. Consider fuel availability and storage in your selection.
  • Solar Cookers: Utilize the sun’s energy to cook food or boil water. They’re silent, fuel-free, and effective, especially in sunny conditions.
  • Fire Starting Tools: Waterproof matches, magnesium fire starters, or a sturdy lighter should be included for their versatility in cooking and warmth.

Utensils and Cookware

Importance: Durable and versatile cookware and utensils are essential for preparing and eating meals safely.


  • Cast Iron Skillet or Dutch Oven: Heavier options but invaluable for their durability and versatility over open fires.
  • Lightweight Camping Pots and Pans: Made from aluminum or titanium, designed for portability and ease of use over portable stoves.
  • Eating Utensils: Consider compact, multi-use utensils or a full camping utensil set, including knives, forks, spoons, and possibly a spatula or cooking spoon.

Food Preparation Tools

Importance: Having the right tools can make food preparation easier, safer, and more efficient, particularly when dealing with whole foods or needing to make adjustments to recipes on the fly.


  • Multipurpose Tool or Knife: Essential for cutting, peeling, and preparing food.
  • Manual Can Opener: Critical for accessing canned goods without power.
  • Grain Grinder: For those storing whole grains, a manual grinder can convert them into flour or meal for varied cooking options.

Specialized Food Items

While not gear per se, incorporating specialized food items that require minimal preparation and have extended shelf life can significantly enhance your emergency food supplies:

  • Freeze-Dried Meals: Just add water for a quick, nutritious meal. They’re lightweight, compact, and can last for decades.
  • Energy Bars and Protein Bars: Offer quick, nutrient-dense calories without any preparation needed.
  • Powdered Milk and Egg Products: Provide essential protein and nutrients, easily stored and prepared.

Integrating Food Supplies into Your Emergency Plan

  • Practice Cooking with Your Gear: Familiarize yourself with cooking on your portable stove or solar cooker to adjust to the nuances of emergency cooking.
  • Regularly Rotate Supplies: Use and replace stored food and water to keep your supplies fresh and to familiarize your family with the tastes and preparation methods.
  • Plan Meals: Create a basic meal plan using your stored food. This helps in ensuring nutritional balance and variety, making the storage process more efficient and practical.

Focusing on the gear and equipment for food supplies not only ensures you have the means to store and prepare food but also enriches your emergency preparedness by adding depth to your planning. It encourages a proactive approach, from storage solutions that maintain food integrity to cooking options that afford warmth and nourishment. The right gear transforms raw supplies into sustaining meals, embodying the essence of survival readiness for your family.

Personal Protection and Safety Gear

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Purpose and Importance: In situations where you might be exposed to harmful particles, chemicals, or contagious diseases, having the right PPE can be lifesaving. It’s not just for industrial or medical settings—during natural disasters or pandemics, PPE can protect your family from a myriad of risks.

Key Items:

  • Respiratory Protection: N95 masks or respirators can filter out harmful particles in the air, providing protection against dust, smoke, or biological threats.
  • Gloves: Durable gloves protect your hands from cuts, exposure to harmful substances, and infections during tasks like clearing debris or administering first aid.
  • Eye Protection: Safety goggles or glasses can shield your eyes from harmful exposure to chemicals, smoke, or particulate matter.
  • Protective Clothing: Depending on the scenario, this could range from rain gear and thermal wear to hazmat suits. The goal is to shield your body from environmental hazards while maintaining mobility and comfort.

Safety Gear for Environmental Hazards

Purpose and Importance: Nature can be unforgiving, and the right gear can mean the difference between safety and exposure to harsh elements.

Key Items:

  • Sun Protection: Sun hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are essential, especially in scenarios where you might be outdoors for extended periods without access to shade.
  • Thermal Layers: Hypothermia is a risk in cold environments, making thermal wear, hats, and gloves necessary to retain body heat.
  • Waterproof Clothing: To stay dry in wet conditions, waterproof jackets, pants, and boots are crucial. Wet clothing can lead to hypothermia, even in mildly cold conditions.

Navigation and Signaling Devices

Purpose and Importance: In many emergency scenarios, being able to navigate to safety or signal for help is critical. These devices can help rescue teams locate you, making them indispensable for wilderness survival and urban disaster scenarios alike.

Key Items:

  • Whistles: A simple, effective tool for signaling help. Whistles can be heard over long distances and require minimal effort to use.
  • Signal Mirrors: Useful for signaling to aircraft or distant rescuers during daylight hours.
  • Flares: Can signal your location to rescuers at night or in low-visibility conditions. Ensure you understand the safe handling and use of flares to prevent accidents.

Multipurpose Tools and Self-Defense Gear

Purpose and Importance: Versatility is key in survival situations. A good multipurpose tool can serve many functions, from repairing gear to preparing food. Self-defense gear, while hopefully never needed, can provide peace of mind and protection in situations where you or your family are threatened.

Key Items:

  • Multipurpose Tools: A high-quality multitool can include knives, pliers, screwdrivers, and other essentials in one compact package.
  • Self-Defense Gear: Options can range from pepper spray to more personal defense tools, depending on legal regulations and personal comfort levels. The focus should always be on evasion and safety rather than confrontation.

Integrating Personal Protection and Safety Gear into Your Emergency Plan

  • Training and Familiarization: Owning the gear isn’t enough. Regularly train with and educate your family on the safe and effective use of each piece of equipment. This includes practicing wearing PPE correctly, using multipurpose tools, and understanding the basics of navigation and signaling.
  • Maintenance and Inspection: Regularly check your gear for any signs of wear or damage, and replace items as necessary. Ensure batteries in electronic devices are charged or replaced regularly.
  • Customization for Individual Needs: Tailor your family’s personal protection and safety gear to the specific needs of each member, considering size, medical conditions, and personal capabilities.

Incorporating personal protection and safety gear into your family’s survival plan is a proactive step towards ensuring everyone’s well-being in various emergency scenarios. From basic PPE to advanced navigation and signaling devices, the right gear can protect against environmental hazards, aid in rescue efforts, and even save lives. By choosing quality gear, familiarizing yourself with its use, and integrating it into your emergency preparedness strategy, you’re taking a significant step towards safeguarding your family’s future, no matter what challenges you may face.

Shelter and Warmth

Emergency Shelter Options

Purpose and Importance: In many emergencies, your primary shelter (home) may be compromised, or you might find yourself outdoors. Having portable, reliable shelter options can provide temporary refuge from the elements, preserving body heat and potentially saving lives.

Key Items:

  • Tents: A quality, lightweight tent can serve as a temporary home, offering protection from wind, rain, and cold. Look for tents that are easy to set up, durable, and adequately sized for your family.
  • Tarps: Versatile and lightweight, tarps can be used to create various shelter configurations. They can serve as wind barriers, rain covers, or ground sheets. With the right skills, a tarp can be as effective as a tent in providing shelter.
  • Bivy Sacks: For individual protection, bivy sacks are an excellent option. They’re compact and designed to keep a person warm and dry in harsh conditions. Bivy sacks are particularly useful for solo family members on the move.

Warmth and Temperature Regulation

Purpose and Importance: Maintaining core body temperature is essential for survival. Hypothermia can set in quickly, particularly in wet conditions or when the body is idle. The right gear can help prevent this, keeping your family warm until you reach safety or conditions improve.

Key Items:

  • Sleeping Bags: Choose sleeping bags rated for the lowest temperatures you anticipate. Bags are categorized by season (3-season, 4-season) and temperature rating. For families with young children, consider sleeping bags designed specifically for kids, offering proper fit and warmth.
  • Emergency Blankets: Also known as space blankets, these lightweight, reflective sheets can retain up to 90% of your body heat. They’re compact, making them easy to pack in every family member’s personal survival kit.
  • Insulated Pads: Sleeping directly on the ground can sap body heat. Insulated pads provide a barrier, keeping cold at bay and adding an extra layer of comfort.
  • Portable Heaters: In situations where open flames are safe and viable, portable heaters can offer warmth. Ensure you understand the safety requirements, particularly regarding ventilation, to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Clothing for Protection and Warmth

Purpose and Importance: The right clothing acts as your first line of defense against the elements. Layering allows for flexibility and temperature regulation as conditions change.

Key Items:

  • Base Layers: Moisture-wicking fabrics keep sweat away from the body, reducing the risk of hypothermia in cold conditions.
  • Insulating Layers: Fleece or wool layers provide insulation, trapping warm air close to the body.
  • Outer Layers: Waterproof and windproof jackets and pants protect against rain, snow, and wind, preserving body warmth.
  • Accessories: Hats, gloves, and socks are essential for minimizing heat loss, as a significant amount of body heat is lost through the head, hands, and feet.

Integrating Shelter and Warmth into Your Emergency Plan

  • Practice Setting Up Shelter: Familiarize yourself and your family with setting up tents, tarps, and using bivy sacks before you find yourself in a situation where you need them. Practice in different weather conditions to build confidence and competence.
  • Regular Gear Inspection: Check your shelter and warmth gear regularly for any damage or wear and tear. Ensure that everything is in working order and that you have the necessary tools and repair kits to fix any issues that might arise.
  • Customize for Your Environment: Consider the specific environmental conditions you are likely to encounter in your area or during your travels. Customize your shelter and warmth gear to suit these conditions, ensuring you’re prepared for the most likely scenarios.

Shelter and warmth are not just about comfort; they’re about survival. The right gear can protect your family from the elements, preserve body heat, and provide a sense of security in turbulent times. By choosing quality gear, practicing its use, and incorporating these essentials into your preparedness plan, you can ensure that your family remains safe and warm, no matter what challenges you face together.

A Comprehensive First-Aid Kit

Essentials for Your Kit: A well-stocked first-aid kit goes beyond the basics of band-aids and antiseptic wipes. It should be tailored to your family’s specific needs and the challenges of the environment you might find yourselves in. Here are some key components:

  • Variety of Bandages: Include adhesive bandages in various sizes, gauze pads, elastic bandages for sprains and strains, and butterfly bandages for deeper cuts.
  • Wound Care Supplies: Antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, and hydrogen peroxide for cleaning wounds, along with sterile dressings to protect them.
  • Tools: Medical scissors, tweezers for splinter or tick removal, a thermometer, and a manual suction device if someone is choking.
  • Medications: Pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamines for allergic reactions, and any prescription medications family members rely on.
  • Specialized Items: Burn gel, blister treatment pads, rehydration salts, and a tourniquet for controlling severe bleeding.
  • Protection for the Caregiver: Gloves, a CPR mask, and safety goggles to protect the person administering first aid.

Advanced First-Aid Supplies

For families willing to undergo additional training, your first-aid kit can be supplemented with more advanced medical supplies:

  • Splints and Slings: For immobilizing and supporting broken bones or dislocations.
  • Hemostatic Agents: Substances that promote rapid blood clotting, useful in controlling severe bleeding.
  • Suture Kit or Sterile Stapler: For closing deep wounds when professional medical care is not immediately accessible. Note: These should only be used by those with proper training.

Knowledge and Training

Possessing the supplies is only half the equation; knowing how to use them effectively is equally critical. Consider the following:

  • First-Aid Courses: Many organizations offer basic and advanced first-aid training. Investing in this education can empower you and your family members to respond confidently to a range of medical emergencies.
  • Practice Drills: Regularly review and practice what you’ve learned, including how to use the items in your first-aid kit. Simulated scenarios can help reinforce knowledge and reduce panic in real situations.
  • Tailor Kits to Individual Needs: If family members have specific medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, or severe allergies, ensure your kit contains necessary medications and supplies like inhalers, insulin, or epinephrine injectors.
  • Multiple Kits for Different Locations: Consider maintaining a first-aid kit in your home, car, and any other location where you spend significant time. Portability is key for kits designed to be carried on outings or in bug-out bags.

Incorporating a comprehensive approach to first aid into your family’s preparedness plan enhances your resilience in the face of emergencies. By assembling a tailored first-aid kit, investing in training, and fostering a proactive attitude towards health and safety, you can significantly improve your family’s ability to navigate the unexpected challenges of survival situations. Remember, in moments of crisis, a well-prepared first-aid kit and the knowledge to use it can truly make a life-or-death difference.

Entertainment and Morale Boosters

Games and Puzzles: Board games, card games, and puzzles are excellent for all ages. They not only entertain but also stimulate the mind and encourage problem-solving and strategic thinking. Choose games that are compact and suitable for your family’s age range.

Books and E-Readers: Books offer an escape to other worlds and perspectives, providing comfort and relaxation. Consider an e-reader loaded with a variety of genres to save space and cater to different tastes. Remember to include a solar charger to keep it powered.

Art and Craft Supplies: Drawing, coloring, and crafting can be therapeutic activities, offering a creative outlet for stress and anxiety. Pack lightweight supplies like sketchbooks, colored pencils, and compact craft kits.

Music and Instruments: Music has a profound effect on mood and morale. Small, portable instruments like harmonicas, ukuleles, or compact keyboards allow for music-making and singing together, fostering a sense of camaraderie.

Physical Activities: Don’t underestimate the value of physical play and exercise for boosting morale. Simple items like a frisbee, a football, or jump ropes can provide an outlet for physical energy and are essential for children’s well-being.

Integrating entertainment and morale boosters into your survival preparedness plan is essential for maintaining mental and emotional health during emergencies. By carefully selecting a variety of activities that cater to the interests and needs of all family members, you can enhance resilience, strengthen family bonds, and ensure that everyone remains engaged and uplifted, no matter the circumstances. Remember, survival is not just about enduring; it’s about thriving together, and sometimes, a simple game or book can be just as vital as a warm meal or a safe shelter.

Survival Gear For A Family Summary

With a comprehensive look at the essentials of survival gear for a family, we’ve navigated through the critical domains of communication, water purification, food supplies, shelter and warmth, first aid, personal protection, and not to forget, the importance of morale and entertainment. Each of these facets plays a vital role in not only ensuring physical survival but also in maintaining mental and emotional resilience during challenging times.

In preparing for emergencies, it’s crucial to remember that the objective is not merely to survive but to maintain a level of comfort and normalcy that can sustain your family through potentially prolonged periods of adversity. The gear and supplies you choose should reflect a balance between immediate survival needs and the longer-term well-being of your family members.

Communication devices keep you informed and connected, while water purification gear ensures access to life-sustaining hydration. Food supplies and the means to prepare them offer nourishment and comfort when regular food sources may be unavailable. Shelter and warmth gear protects against the elements, creating a safe haven in the midst of chaos. First aid supplies prepare you to address medical needs when professional care may not be accessible. Personal protection and safety gear safeguard against environmental hazards and potential threats. And, importantly, entertainment and morale boosters play a crucial role in keeping spirits high, fostering a sense of normalcy and psychological resilience in the face of adversity.

As you assemble your family’s survival gear, consider each item’s utility, durability, and applicability to your specific needs and circumstances. Remember, the best survival plan is dynamic, evolving with your family’s changing needs, the environment, and your growing skills and knowledge. Regularly review and update your gear, practice using it, and ensure every family member is familiar with the equipment and the overall emergency plan.

Investing in your family’s preparedness is an act of love and responsibility. It’s about equipping those you care about with the tools and knowledge to face the uncertain future with confidence. By taking a holistic approach to survival preparedness, focusing on both physical necessities and the psychological aspects of surviving together as a family, you build not just a survival kit but a foundation for thriving in any situation.

Let this guide be a starting point for your family’s journey toward comprehensive preparedness. Embrace the process of learning, adapting, and preparing together. After all, the strength of a family’s survival strategy lies not just in the gear and supplies but in the unity, resilience, and love shared among its members.


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