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Some emergency kits a recipe for disaster

A Consumer NZ report on pre-made emergency survival kits found most either lacked key items, contained gear of poor quality or weren’t good value.

The consumer organisation looked at 7 pre-made “getaway” kits that claim to have most of the gear 1 person needs to survive for 3 days when you have to evacuate your home in a hurry.

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Consumer NZ rated the kits on comprehensiveness, quality and value. It found 5 out of 7 didn’t have basic hygiene items, such as hand sanitiser and tissues, while four had inadequate torches or radios.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin says while there are a couple of pre-made emergency kits worth considering, you’re generally better off building your own.

“We put together a grab bag with 3 days’ rations and all the key items you’d need to see you through for $150, which is also considerably less than you would pay for many of the commercial kits,” Ms Chetwin says.

“It’s also likely you could put together your own kit for less than what we paid as most households are likely to have some of the items, such as a spare backpack or water bottles.”

Ms Chetwin singled out St John for having the worst kit. “Punters who shell out $200 for this disappointing grab bag will discover it lacks basic items such as a first aid kit, food rations, drink bottle or rain poncho,” she says.

Ms Chetwin says some of the kit’s items, namely its wind-up torch/radio, performed poorly in testing. “The radio has a fiddly little dial with unreadable markings that’s a nightmare to tune. To make matters worse, the radio only plays for 4 minutes from 1 minute’s winding, while the built-in light is significantly dimmer than cheap LED torches powered by disposable batteries,” she says.

Consumer NZ suggests the following items for an ideal emergency grab-bag: torch, radio, spare batteries, hand sanitiser, cash, photo ID, and other important documents, walking shoes, warm clothes, raincoat and hat, first aid kit, prescription medicine (if required), water, snack food, rain poncho, thick gloves, dust mask, hygiene items (e.g. tissues, wet wipes, toothbrush/paste).

However, taking the first steps to emergency-preparedness is far more important than compiling the perfect getaway kit, Ms Chetwin said. Your emergency planning should cover where you will meet if you can’t get home and a backup plan if you can’t pick up the kids, as well as:

  • The name and contact details of someone who lives out of town that your family knows to contact in case the phones go down
  • A list of family and friends who may require your assistance
  • Plans for if you’re stuck at home, including 3 days’ worth of food and water
  • Plans for how you’ll stay warm at night and cook food if there’s no power
  • Getaway kits if you need to leave in a hurry
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We've tested pre-made emergency survival kits and found most either lack key items, contain gear of poor quality or aren't good value. There are just 2 we think are worth considering.

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