Being prepared for a natural disaster or other emergency situation is never a wasted effort, but it is important to make sure that your efforts are focused and useful. Whether you're responding to the last winter storm or preparing for the next major hurricane there are certain tools, equipment and supplies that are always good to have on hand. You can save some effort by purchasing a pre-assembled kit, but by assembling all the individual components you have more control over just what ends up being included.

Rules for Tools 

Only you really know what you'll need based on your family unit and geographical location, but a few rules are constant. The most important being to make sure any potential task has at least two tools that can accomplish it. That means making sure there's more than one way to cut things, bandage wounds, purify drinking water, stay warm or any other survival essentials.

Another important rule to abide by when gathering tools for an emergency kit has to do with versatility. Avoid tools that have only one purpose unless that purpose produces a versatile resource, such as water purification devices. That means eschewing specialized tools in favor of more generalized equipment, such as basic cutting implements, metal and plastic containers of various sizes, and cordage.

Essential Supplies

Any consumable goods that aren't food should be on hand in sufficient supply to meet any demands that may come up. Bandages and suture line are good examples of this, since both can be essential to making it through a natural disaster. As with all medical supplies, these should be in sterile individual pouches, and you should have enough on hand to not only treat injuries initially but also provide clean dressings for any wound you do treat for the duration of the emergency status.

The guiding rule for most emergency situations is three days, so you should be able to regularly change out the dressing on a wound for a three day period. The same principle can be applied to things like water, toilet tissue, and other non-perishable supplies. Expand that supply for each person you expect to have with you during an emergency, so that each person has a 3 day supply of water and essential non-food supplies.

Finally, any good emergency kit should attempt to anticipate scenarios, such as the need to move, extreme temperatures or severe weather conditions. Build your kit around these ideas and you'll stand a good chance of making it through the emergency in good shape. To save time, you may even use a pre-assembled kit as the foundation of your preparations, until you can expand your supplies and preparedness efforts.