If you search the web for “wedding emergency kit” or “party planner emergency kit”, you will find sites with general information about why you might need one and what they should contain. But what about the when, where, and how… and if this is even worth your time to create one? Here we explain the ins and outs, what to keep in mind, and when you do – or don’t! – need an emergency kit.

So, what is an emergency kit? It is a variety of items useful in an emergency that are kept together and can be accessed quickly. An emergency kit could be as simple as a first aid kit in a small box or as complex as a first aid kit, a tool kit, AND an office supply kit, all organized into plastic storage bins with corresponding labels and an inventory list.

Whether or not you need an emergency kit is subjective, but there are a few simple guidelines that can help. A small get-together with a handful of friends at your house doesn’t need an emergency kit, although it is always good to have a first aid kit handy. A medium-sized party of 10+ people or an event at another location (but still close to stores if more supplies are needed) makes an emergency kit helpful but, again, not an absolute must. A larger event of 40+ people or an event at a remote location (where it may take too long to get to the nearest store) could necessitate an emergency kit.

A few things about emergency kits that you should know:

You can build an emergency kit or you can buy them already assembled. Like any product, building them means you can tailor them to your needs, but it can also be time consuming and require more effort. If you don’t have that time and effort, you can buy them, but they may be more generic and not have everything you need. I haven’t yet seen an “event / party planner emergency kit” for sale, so the closest match you will find is a “wedding emergency kit”. You could get one and then add missing items to it, and that may serve your purpose. NOTE: An emergency kit is not the same as a survival kit, just like an event is not a natural disaster (at least, I certainly hope it isn’t).

You may not even need to buy anything. Do you have a first aid kit? Do you have a few basics supplies and tools? Take a look at our Emergency Kit Checklist, gather together what you have, and you now have an emergency kit. As long as you know where the items are and can quickly direct someone to their location in an emergency, then you do not need to do anything else! This works best for parties at your house where everything is stored in one place, but you can still put all of those items in a box and take it to events at other locations.

For first aid items, keep an eye on expiration dates and ask about allergies. The majority of medications and medical supplies have expiration dates on them, which means:

  • Never offer prescribed medications. If it requires a prescription, do not share it. With anyone. Ever. No exceptions.
  • Don’t take medication out of its original package and put it in another container. You’ll lose the expiration date and ingredients on the original package, and the new container may not be airtight. If your concern is conserving space, it’s better to buy travel-sized or smaller sized medications. They may cost more per dosage, but at least you won’t be wasting medication, using expired medication, or accidentally using the wrong medication.
  • Regularly check for and discard expired items. While some medications simply lose their effectiveness after the expiration date has passed, do you really want to take the chance that it could make you or one of your guests sick? It isn’t worth it. Toss it and replace it.
  • Be aware of your guests’ allergies. Ask before you offer any medications, and never give food or medication to a child without their guardian’s permission. Unless you truly are a trained member of a medical profession, do not diagnose, either. Keep a list of nearby urgent care facilities handy and always have a phone with a working signal for dialing 9-1-1.

Keep emergency kits in durable containers. Purchased kits generally come in reusable containers, making them easy to transport and store. For built kits, plastic bins with lids are a very cost-effective option. My personal favorites (although they do cost more) are tool boxes, fishing tackle boxes, and make-up organizers. Even Christmas ornament storage boxes work great! Anything with multiple compartments – especially if the compartments can be resized as needed – makes emergency kit organization and storage a breeze.

Emergency kits need to be easily accessible in a hurry. Whether the emergency is tape because a sign is about to fall off the wall or first aid supplies because a guest cut themselves, the fact that it is an emergency means you need it quickly and / or you need to direct someone else to find it quickly. If it is at the back of a garage buried under boxes or it is locked in a closet, it will not be as helpful in an emergency. Before the event pull the kit out and make sure it is at hand if the need arises. NOTE: The exception to this is to always make sure that any medications, cleaners, flammable liquids, etc. that should be kept out of the reach of children should continue to be out of the reach of children, whether it is by storing it on a higher shelf or in a child-proof storage container. It is always better to prevent an emergency than manage one.

Now that you know all about emergency kits, have fun creating your own and enjoy the relief of feeling prepared.

For ideas on emergency kit contents, please see our upcoming emergency kit checklist.