Most of us spend the majority of our week at work. That means that when a disaster strikes, there’s a good chance that we’ll be in the office when it happens. This is where an office survival kit comes in.
This isn’t a cutesy article about how you need gum in your kit in case you have onions at lunch. This a serious look at the things that can help you in a serious situation!
An office survival kit should include everything that you may need in the event of a disaster. Food, water and medical items are needed as well as protective glasses and a face mask, flashlights, an emergency radio, knife or multi-tool, a prybar, emergency whistle and leather gloves.
Let’s get dig deeper into why you need each of these items in your office survival kit.
I was surprised when I went looking for office survival kits…there’s basically no good information out there on the topic! We’ll look at this logically and come up with a solid survival kit that will work for just about anyone.
As I describe things, just keep in mind that everyone’s situation is different so add or remove items as you see fit.
Anyone that works away from home should have an office survival kit. That goes for someone that works in a factory, mailroom, or any other building. If you work out of a truck, I would suggest just having a get home bag with you at all times.
You can put it in your desk, under your desk, in a locker or anywhere else. I know a lot of people are embarrassed to have any kind of emergency kits. You should work to get over that because it’s not you with the problem. Anyone that looks down on you for being prepared is the one with the issue!
If you’re still working through some kind of embarrassment or just don’t want anyone to know that you have a survival kit in your office, just bring it in early before everyone comes in or bring it in after everyone has left for the night.
This kit is basically designed for two scenarios. The first scenario is being stuck in the office for some reason where you’re better off staying inside. Extreme weather and similar disasters could easily cause this depending on where you live. This could also transition into the second scenario.
The second scenario involves being trapped in the office and having to escape or survive until rescuers can get to you. This scenario is much less likely, but also much worse than the first scenario.
When you’re building this kit, keep in mind that it’s for you!
If you feel strongly about preparing the entire office for a disaster, then I would bring it up with your boss or office manager. There are all kinds of pre-made kits out there that will work as a basic survival kit for an office of people (like this one from More Prepared) but they’re pretty bare bones. I’d beef them up if I was making a purchase for my office.
Water – Water is at the top of almost any emergency kit loadout and this one is no different. I suggest just putting a case of water under your desk and calling it good.
Drink four 16.9 oz bottles of water per day to stay hydrated while you’re not overly active. This one case of water will last you 6 days of being trapped in the office.
The minimum amount of water that you should drink for survival is about 1 liter (about 34 oz.) per day. It’s not ideal, but it keeps your organs functioning and you should only experience minor dehydration symptoms if you’re sitting relatively still in an office waiting to be rescued or waiting out a storm. You should shoot for drinking at least 2 liters per day to stay hydrated.
The chart below shows how much water you should be drinking per day based on body weight.
How Much Water Should You Consume Based on Body Weight
|Weight||Ounces of Water Daily|
|100 pounds||67 ounces|
|110 pounds||74 ounces|
|120 pounds||80 ounces|
|130 pounds||87 ounces|
|140 pounds||94 ounces|
|150 pounds||100 ounces|
|160 pounds||107 ounces|
|170 pounds||114 ounces|
|180 pounds||121 ounces|
|190 pounds||127 ounces|
|200 pounds||134 ounces|
|210 pounds||141 ounces|
|220 pounds||148 ounces|
|230 pounds||154 ounces|
|240 pounds||161 ounces|
|250 pounds||168 ounces|
Food – Food seems like it should really important in a survival kit, but it doesn’t even come close to being as important as water. Since we have 6 days of water, let’s get 6 days of survival food bars (this two pack of S.O.S. survival bars will cover it).
I’d also add a few Power Bars or Clif Bars so you have extra calories and can eat something other than emergency rations.
You can go for weeks without food! If you’re used to eating a lot every day, you’re going to feel like you’re starving with just the S.O.S. bars but I promise you’re not.
First Aid Kit – Most offices have some kind of centrally located medical kit that has bandaids and some other things to treat minor cuts and scrapes. For day to day work and to meet minimum legal requirements, these are fine. They usually don’t cut it for a real emergency!
These three items give you the basics to treat everything from scrapes to major trauma. You hopefully won’t need them, but they’re there in case you do.
Glasses/Goggles – A cheap pair of clear goggles or glasses can help keep your eyes safe if something happens that causes a lot of particulates like dust, dirt, dry, etc. to get thrown in the air.
N95 Face Mask – N95 face masks are also useful when there’s a lot of stuff floating in the air. If part of your building collapses, you don’t want to be breathing in all the various toxins that may be in the air.
Leather Gloves – Leather gloves are there to protect your hands in case you have to break glass, dig out from a collapsed wall or section of the building. Make sure they’re sturdy and fit well. There aren’t many requirements beyond that.
Flashlight – Just about any kind of disaster can cause the building to lose power. Any sturdy flashlight will work, it doesn’t need to be some high speed $100 combat flashlight.
Throw in extra batteries and you’re good to go.
Emergency Radio – Look for a NOAA capable radio that runs off of batteries and can be charged by a hand crank, solar and USB. This radio is a good choice since it functions as a battery bank as well and can charge your cell phone.
A NOAA lets you monitor the National Weather Service’s emergency broadcast system which should be broadcasting about any major disaster in the area. They provide updates and changes in situations that you may not know about if you’re stuck in the office.
Knife or Multi-tool – I would go with a name brand multi-tool like a Gerber or Leatherman. They’re more expensive, but they also don’t break the first time you go to use them.
Prybar – A prybar may seem crazy when you first think about it. Why do you need a prybar in an office survival kit?
If things have really gone bad, something simple like this wonder bar could mean the difference between life and death! You can use it to pry open doors and windows to let you get out of the office.
A larger prybar is usually better. You’ll have to make a decision about how big you want to go but 15″ is a good all-around size.
You can also dig with it or just bang it on the walls to signal to rescuers that there’s someone alive.
Emergency Whistle – The emergency whistle is there as another way to signal to rescuers. It doesn’t need to be anything special, it just needs to be loud and not break when you need it most.
Blankets/Sleeping Bag – A blanket or small sleeping bag can help keep you warm and comfortable if you’re trapped in the office during the winter and the heating system fails.
Comfortable Shoes – Most people working in offices aren’t wearing the most comfortable shoes out there. Dress shoes and heels just don’t have the grip or flexibility that you need in an emergency.
Put a pair of old sneakers or boots in your kit. Don’t go out and buy new shoes! This will save you money and used shoes are already broken in so they won’t cause blisters or hotspots on your feet.
Backpack/Gym Bag – You don’t have to buy a backpack or other bag to put everything in. Even a simple cardboard box will work fine if that’s what you choose to go with. I like a backpack because it lets you grab it and go if you need to move from one room to another or go to a different part of the building.
Make sure everything other than the case of water fits in the backpack and put several bottles of water in the backpack. If you have to move to another area, put the backpack on and carry the rest of the case of water with you if you can.
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably the most prepared person in your office! It may fall on you to bring up questions about basic preparedness with your managers and you could easily find yourself in a leadership role during an actual disaster.
Your office should have a designated shelter in place room. This is usually a room that has no windows and is on the interior of the building. If there isn’t a plan in place, you can get the basics from osha.gov and work with your management to create one.
A disaster that strikes an office could be preceded with a shelter in place order. You should know the difference between shelter in place and lockdown. They’re two different things and require different reactions.
Know where the fire extinguishers and emergency shut-offs are located in your building. This seems basic but I bet a lot of us walk right past fire extinguishers every day and don’t even realize they’re there.
If you work in a building that stores, produces or deal with chemicals, you should know where the SDS (Safety Data Sheets) are for the chemicals that are used in your building. If your office is near a building that uses chemicals then you should try to find out what chemicals they use in case of a spill or disaster. You can find the SDS for any chemical by searching for the chemical at SDS Search.
Check your kit every quarter to make sure your batteries are still good and nothing has expired. If you find something that doesn’t work anymore or any expired items, replace them as soon as you can.
You should still have a get home bag in your vehicle. Your office survival kit is designed to keep you going if something happens while you’re in your office. If you need to use your get home bag while you’re at work, you can pull certain items from it if you need them but they serve two separate purposes.
The office survival kit is often overlooked, even in the preparedness community. You probably spend at least 40 hours at work every week. It only makes sense to have some kind of emergency kit where you’re spending 1/3 of your day.
It doesn’t need to be a challenge. Take a few minutes to put together the things that you have around your house to make a kit for your office, then fill in the gaps when you get cash or have more time. It’s really that simple!