Having an emergency kit at the ready is something that always sounds like a good idea—and you might already have some of the bits and pieces, like flashlights or bottled water, hanging around your home. But that’s much different than knowing that the batteries are charged and everything’s collected in one easily accessible spot. Though hopefully you’ll never need it, won’t you sleep a little easier with a basic go bag packed?
The best place to start is to figure out what, exactly, this pack should include, and The Red Cross offers some great general advice for covering your bases in case of power outages or natural disasters. They’ve even got a very helpful quiz you can take to help clarify some numbers—like how much water you should have ready for a weather emergency. You might notice that a lot of resources are geared toward couples and families, but it’s equally important for the more independent among us to have our own backs—scroll down to the second half of this info-packed New York Times piece for solo survival kit tips, like nailing down a communication plan to let your loved ones know your whereabouts. Essential for anyone: Take a minute to write down your most important phone numbers on an index card (it’s also worth going the extra mile and memorizing ‘em)! Your sister’s digits on a dead cell phone when the power is out isn’t doing anyone any good.
If the idea of having to piece together a pack yourself sounds exhausting (i.e., something that will linger on your to-do list until the end of time), consider purchasing a pre-made one from the likes of Ready America and Preppi. And, finally, remember that it’s not enough to just make a kit—if you really want preparedness points, set a cal reminder for a quick check-in every six months. Take a few minutes to make sure those batteries still work and to remind yourself that you totally stole the antiseptic cream to deal with those summertime blisters and never replaced it. REI has a great checklist to take the guesswork out of this step. Now get out there and make your childhood scout leader proud.