If there’s one thing that should be learned from the long list of recent devastating natural disasters is that we all need to get prepared BEFORE an emergency occurs. Now, most of us have some sort of emergency preparedness kit shoved in a closet, or maybe a basic first aid kit in a glove compartment, but we’re guessing that yours needs some updating— we know ours sure did!

If you’re a bug-out bag beginner who is starting from scratch, don’t feel bad— creating your own is much simpler— and much more cost-effective!— than you might think. We’ve included a video for you below to quickly get you up to speed on the very basics. Once you’ve watched it carefully, take a look at the next 7 items for more advanced emergency preparedness must-haves.

  1. Emergency Contact List/Health History Information

    Adding an emergency contact list to your bug-out bag may force you to face some unpleasant thoughts, but it’s an incredibly important step to take. Jot down the names, addresses, and phone numbers of trusted loved ones, as well as the emergency contact info for your primary care doctor.

    In addition, be sure to include any pertinent medical history information, like allergies to medications and existing conditions. And, as always, fill in your Medical ID info on your smartphone so that first responders can have easy access. For a full tutorial, on this potentially life-saving mobile feature, click here.

  2. Small Tool Kit

    Every trunk, camper’s backpack, and home emergency preparedness kit should include a small tool kit. Be sure yours is equipped with a small handsaw, a mini hammer, sharp scissors, pliers, nails, and a screwdriver. If you can, place a versatile multi-tool somewhere else on your person—especially if you plan to venture into the backcountry on a camping trip.

  3. Water Purification Tool

    Whether you opt for ultra-portable water purification tablets, a personal water filter (like the one shown above), or a larger purifier, it’s important that you have the option to have access to safe, filtered water (beyond your emergency H2O supply) if a disaster were to strike.

  4. Extra Clothing

    Clothing is an easy detail to forget about— and one that is rarely included in even the most comprehensive of emergency preparedness bags. Before throwing in a few lesser-worn clothes, first, consider your climate. If it gets cold in the winter, pack gloves, long johns, a warm hat, along with a basic outfit of underwear, socks, a shirt, and jeans.

  5. Tarp

    A tarp is the one thing that could keep you warm and dry when exposed to stormy conditions. Buy a basic tarp—or better yet, spring for a durable survival tarp— and take some time to learn how to transform it into a shelter tarp. This tutorial’s a good place to start!

  6. Waterproof Matches and Firestarters

    Matches and firestarters may seem like an obvious addition the list, but the one detail that so many people forget is an important one— they must be WATERPROOF! Make sure that yours are able to handle water, and if they’re not, check out this brilliant waterproofing DIY to transform your existing ones into bug-out ready options.

  7. Spare Pair of Glasses

    If you are as “blind as a bat” without your glasses, then you must include an extra pair in your emergency preparedness kit. These days, you can order a cheap pair of plastic-framed glasses for around 20 bucks online, a small investment that could mean the world to you in a dangerous situation.

We hope this inspires you to upgrade that bug-out bag! What are your thoughts on this list? Did we miss any key items? Where do you keep your emergency kit? Do you have a survival story of your own that you would like to share?