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Providing emergency items for a large number of people can be stressful, especially when that large number is a family of five or even ten. However, when you focus on what’s most important, it becomes a little easier.

As overwhelming as it is, there are some essentials large families can’t live without (aside from the obvious):

  1. Individual Hygiene Kits
  2. Time Occupiers and Distractions 
  3. Comfort Foods
  4. Lightweight Simple Toys 
  5. Face Masks
  6. Hand Sanitizer
  7. Sleep Aides and Medication (Melatonin, Valerian Root, Tylenol, Benadryl, Etc.)
  8. Individually-Packaged Hand and Foot Warmers

These essentials could be swapped out for others, but I’ve collected the items I believe a large family would benefit from most. These items will do more than you’d think on first glance.

1. Individual Hygiene Kits

Whether these kits are homemade or store bought, it doesn’t matter; as long as each member has their own (I would suggest putting names on each). You can even make them cute or colorful according to personality and gender. Each family member needs to have their own kit with their own set of these following items:

For Girls:

  • Sanitary Napkins/Tampons (I suggest homemade/fabric sanitary napkins)
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste/floss
  • Hairbrush/Hair ties
  • Wash bin & wash rag(for face and body)
  • Cup (for teeth brushing and to drink with)
  • Motrin/Pain Medication
  • Small amount of makeup (trust me on this)
  • Lotion/Soap
  • Easy Portable container to hold

For Boys:

  • Soap
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste/floss
  • Cup
  • Wash basin & wash rag
  • Lotion
  • Portable container
  • Razor/shave gel/after shave
  • Comb
  • Hand Sanitizer

Remember that generally, not always, girls need more care items than boys do. These are just the basics, but the importance of each person having their own individually packed hygiene kit allows the germs to be separated. In large families, especially with children, germs travel fast.

The kits also provide a way for you to tell who’s taken care of and who isn’t. It can be a counting tool and a monitoring mechanism. Whatever suits your fancy, there is a lot of positive that can come from it.

2. Time Occupiers and Distractions

You might think I’m talking about small children, but I’m talking about everyone. Everyone gets bored. Not only to people get bored, but they also become worried and restless. Their minds dwell on the cause of their distress, I guarantee, every time. If they have nothing to eliminate their boredom and distress, contention and dis-rest ensue.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Books
  • Anti-stress coloring books (with colored pencils)
  • A deck of cards
  • Dice

It doesn’t matter what you use as long as it interests you and fills up the time. If your family likes stories, do that. If one board game is the root of your family’s joy, do that. When there is an emergency, you never know where you’ll be or what you’ll be exposed to. Sometimes people are confined to small spaces, sometimes they are merely confined to their own homes.

As long as you have preset and well-planned out time-occupiers and distractions, you’ll be okay. Cater to your family and what they like. My suggestions are good, but what I’ve suggested are all things my family could get by on. Your family may be very different, it just depends.

3. Comfort Foodscandy for appetite fatigue

Something which is very common, but often is not general knowledge is the concept of “appetite fatigue”. You won’t see the definition of this phrase in very many places, but if you were to visit your local assisted living or nursing home, you might find it.

Appetite fatigue happens when people eat the same thing over a long period of time and some, primarily children and the elderly, would rather starve than eat the same thing for the hundredth time. Although it’s purely psychological, many people have starved to death because of it.

A great solution to this would be to purchase comfort foods. Comfort foods like gum drops, raisins, dried fruit, or anything that is sugary and tasty will help bridge that gap.

You could honestly be just fine by purchasing anything delicious that you really enjoy and saving it for when you have appetite fatigue.

With a large family this is important because whiners feed off of whiners. What I mean by that is, one child may be just fine eating the same thing over and over again, but if their brother or sister starts whining about how tired they are of eating the same thing every day there’s a domino effect. Suddenly, everyone is sick of eating the same thing everyday because one person complains; then no one is happy.

It happens in that exact manner almost every time. You think it’s funny now, and it is, but in a crisis it could really try your patience and stamina; and you need to keep as much of it as possible.

Wise Foods has a good starter pack for snacks and dried fruit here.

4. Lightweight Simple Toys and Comfort Items

This may seem like over packing, but with any children a single toy can be the difference between life and death. Children need toys. This goes along with the time occupier, but it also goes along with having something comforting.

There are those things in our life which entertain us, and there are those things that comfort us. What if in the emergency a family member was taken or missing? A mother? A father? If a child has some toy or object to hold on to they won’t be as afraid.

They are great to pass the time, but they are also great to bring emotional stability when everyone is barely holding together as it is. You might find you should pack some for the adults as well. Bring one thing that will remind you of good things and help you to remain emotionally stable. (Even if that something is that teddy bear you’ve been keeping with you for years. I promise, I won’t tell anyone.)

5. Face masks

Have you ever heard that phrase, “If Mom’s mad then everyone’s mad.”? The concept applies to getting sick. If one child is sick, you know the rest will follow suit. Sickness is a hard thing to deal with in a crisis because sickness, in itself, is a crisis.

Face masks are something large families should keep around and stored so that if ever the need arose, the family could help each other without inhaling all the nasty germs that are in the air. There may be complaining about how silly you look, but silly or not, you’re protected.

6. Hand Sanitizer

Face masks and hand sanitizer go hand-in-hand. Hand sanitizer could be a life saver if you’re in a situation where you need to conserve water. Now, in many cases, hand sanitizer is not going to get rid of all the germs and make everything squeaky clean, but it can cover a lot of nasty stuff.

It’s a water-conserver, bottom line. It’s not always necessary to use water when you have hand sanitizer. Each person should have their own, but then I think there should also be a giant one. You can purchase bulk at any grocery store like Walmart, or Sam’s club.

7. Sleep Aides and Medication

This is an instance where a sleep aide could come in handy. What do you do when the food runs out? I can tell you that what you aren’t going to have is a full belly. When we’re hungry we get cranky and I am certain that I would not be able to sleep.

Some people can sleep, but I’m not one of them. If I’m hungry all I can think about is eating. A sleep aide can put you to sleep when you are hungry.

Not only can it put you to sleep when you are hungry, but when you are stressed and worried about “tomorrow” a sleep aide can help you push passed that anxiety to fight on.

Medication is an obvious one. If you get sick, if someone is injured, pain killers and flu medicine could be the difference between night and day. I know there are some people who don’t believe in certain medicines, so I’ll suggest that there are natural sleep aides and medications that also help.

Heirloom organics has a wide variety of professional medicinal herbs which can be grown and used by you. Growing them and harvesting them will give you more than enough for an emergency.

“Herbalism is a traditional medicinal or folk medicine practice based on the use of plants and plant extracts. Herbalism is also known as botanical medicine, medical herbalism, herbal medicine and herbology. The Professional Medicine Garden contains 21 varieties of natural healing herbs for the extensive professional herb garden. Whether you are growing herbs for your family medicine chest or to heal the world, this seed pack is the advanced seed pack of choice.” *this information can be viewed in the online shop

Things like Melatonin, Chamomile, and Valerian Root are all natural sleep aides that can be used to calm those with anxiety and worry. They are harmless.

8. Individually Packaged Hand and Foot Warmers

Hand warmers! This is just a simple addition of something I find useful for those emergencies that would require you to be a little colder than you’re used to. While I understand not all places in the world are cold, you can take this concept of combating the weather and apply it to wherever you live.

If you live in a hot environment, put away/store resources and items that can combat the weather so your family is as comfortable as possible in whatever crisis may come your way.

We often only think of the big things when we are planning, but what about the little things? I’ve focused these essentials on what you may not have already thought of. Fighting the weather will help your large family be comfortable. Complaining is due to discomfort. We cannot always control our situation, but we can create methods to deal with what we are given.

Situations of emergency are just such situations. They are opportunities to expand our creativity and problem solving. Everyone will be okay as long as we use what we have to improve our circumstances.

Why these items?

There are many items a family would need to be prepared for an emergency, but these eight are things people wouldn’t think of. In an emergency, what are the things that put the most strain on us? We get hungry, we feel dirty, we lose sleep because of hunger, we get bored. All of these things create stress, especially when there are a lot of people in one space for extended periods of time.

I come from a family of ten children. It’s hard to know what to provide for each and every child all the time, but one thing is for certain, siblings bicker and get contentious when they are hungry and sleep-deprived.

Depending on the person, some people thrive in emergency situations; for others an emergency reacts in their brain just like trauma. The best way to prepare when you have little children and the elderly, and there are many, is to prepare for boredom. At the root of all of this is boredom and certain psychological needs or expectations.