Items for a work survival kit

A Work Survival Kit For An Emergency

Many people spend much of their day away from home, ‘at work’. A typical full time job puts you ‘at work’ about 1/3 of your available time. So, it makes sense to have a work survival kit. A survival kit for the workplace. For just in case…

When planning for preparedness, odds are that you might be at work during a given emergency situation.

While you might have a 72 hour emergency kit stored away in your vehicle (you do, right?), what about putting together a specific work survival kit?

A ’72 hour kit’ in your vehicle (highly recommended) could also serve you while ‘at work’ (assuming you drive to work). However, it may be a good idea to tailor a specific emergency survival kit to be kept at work. Maybe in a desk drawer, or wherever you have a bit of personal space.

Why? Because you never know when you might be temporarily stranded a work.

Here are some brainstorm ideas, some of which you might consider to keep in a work survival kit:

List Of Things You Might Keep For A Work Survival Kit

  • Comfortable walking shoes (as opposed to ‘dress’ shoes).
  • Backpack (in case you have to walk out).
  • Blanket, in case you have to sleep there.
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste.
  • A change of clothes and underwear (comfortable).
  • Sanitary supplies
  • Bottled water.
  • Small water filter.
  • Rain Poncho or Umbrella.
  • Emergency Whistle.
  • Pocket knife.
  • Ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking.
  • Canned foods can be eaten without cooking. Consider pull-top cans.
  • Manually operated hand can-opener.
  • Canned meats such as Beef, Chicken.
  • Dried ‘Jerky’.
  • Peanut Butter (very calorie dense), stores well.
  • Energy food bars.
  • Quarters and dollar bills for the snack (vending) machine.
  • Fork, Spoon, and Knife (be civilized).
  • Energy bars (e.g. CLIF bars).
  • LED flashlight or Headlamp, extra batteries.
  • Glow-sticks.
  • Local street (and regional) map.
  • First Aid supplies (basics).
  • Medicine kit (prescriptions if applicable, pain relievers)
  • Portable battery powered radio (for news & info.)
  • Fire-starter (lighter, or other).
  • Season appropriate outerwear (jacket, gloves, hat).
  • Folding bicycle in the trunk/bed of your vehicle.

Again, if you drive to work, you should keep some preps in your vehicle. Take into consideration that you might have to walk out. That said, do consider keeping additional survival kit items inside your workplace if you can.

The list above could get out-of-control. However depending on your available space, you should be able to choose a few things to keep for your own work survival kit, just in case…


  1. Good list Ken! Depending on what type of building you work in and where in the country it’s located I would consider safety glasses and work gloves and if you think you can get away with it a pry bar. We have the occasional earthquake in my AO and I used to work in multi story office buildings with tons of glass and steel framed doors. The prybar, gloves and glasses could help you get you and you pack out of the building if necessary. If you don’t think you will have to leave under adverse conditions just stick with work gloves and safety glasses.

    1. Great additions Jack. I’d add N95’s or better yet a half mask respirator or full face to anyone works in a high office building or areas near them. Unfortunately I know about this from being at ground zero on 9/11.

      1. @NY516: +1 on the N95’s. After the Northridge earthquake, there was a tremendous amount of dust in the air and many people got Valley Fever, a fungal infection of the lungs caused by spores in the soil, in the days and weeks after the quake.

        1. How many is “many” and isn’t the fungus only in certain parts of the country?

  2. I work 1.5 miles from home and it’s half that distance if I walk across the fields. I work in a car dealership so there are lots of tools here. I keep an assortment of shelf stable food because I often work thru lunch. In my truck I keep: tool box, extra shoes and cloths, rain coat, blankets, water, first aid kit, a 12 ga. and extra ammo. DW has all of the same except she has a 45 instead of a 12 ga.

  3. – The personal area I have at work is limited to a file drawer, and about all I can keep there is a bit of shelf stable food. Metal in the form of tools, pens, and the like is highly discouraged; I had to get permission for the P-38 I keep on my personal keyring. This is why the majority of my work preps are in my vehicle. There, they are not a problem.

    We have several 5-gallon bottles of water; first aid equipment, for a health care facility is a given. I carry a Bic lighter every day, although I have never smoked. I have keys, while at work, to an assortment of surgical instruments, which could in a pinch be repurposed. I also have the keys to the janitor’s closet, which has other tools which are capable of being repurposed.

    I have some access to a variety to riot control gear, although that is not as direct as is my gas mask. Tear gas and pepper spray are a form of non-lethal restraint. In all, though, I have a pretty good variety of tools and equipment which I can lay hands on. Sometimes, what we have is a matter of how we look at things. Take a fresh look around you while you are at work.

    – Papa S.

  4. I work outdoors, always have my pack with food and water, home is never all that far away, it would have to be an extreme event to put me on foot

  5. All in the vehicle Weather appropriate clothing, various types of gloves
    Backpack with xtra shoes, plastic baggies, trash bags(can be used as a rain coat), ball cap, cliffbars, simple first aid, ibuprofen.
    Over stocked lunch bag.
    Loose change
    Every day meds bag, with glucose tabs
    Small camo tarp, cordage.
    Mountain bike(front tire removed), with cresent wrench, foot and 12v air pump.
    Pocket knifes, flashlights, lighters
    Two sides with holsters 2 additional mags ea.

    …and only 16 miles from home and there is no room for passengers.

  6. You may wish to add a small bottle of eye drops to this list if it is not in your IFAK, a small notepad with pen (I have the small space pen) or deck of cards to leave notes (agree in advance on meaning for each suite of cards) and some paracord. I found a very small deck of cards about 2×3″ in a national park store in utah. Also great for backpacking.

  7. Most places of work have resources that could be useful. Raid the snack and drinks machine, chug down lots of water, boil some up for a last hot drink or instant meal. Note the first aid box, maintenance toolkit, warehouse sheet packing materials, refuse bags, ductape, broom handles, notepaper and pens, scissors, conference goodie bags/ laptop bags. Use the toilet, wash your hands and take some toilet paper. Wash your feet if you have a long walk ahead.
    Start out as fresh, well fed and watered as you can.

  8. I was in New Orleans on a business trip 9/11 and as soon as I saw the second tower was hit, I assumed the country was under attack. Not wanting to get caught in a popular city, I immediately called my wife told her I was on the way home and be ready to go to our cabin in the North GA mountains. I called the front desk of the hotel, told them I had a family emergency, needed an immediate checkout, to use the CC on file and have the valet bring my truck to the front.

    I met my business associates in the hall, had a quick discussion of the events and told them I was leaving immediately. When I walked through the hotel lobby other hotel guest and people from the conference I was attending were gather around the TV watching the news stories and making no plans whatsoever if New Orleans was attacked. They were engulfed in the moment with no thought of being caught in a high crime city for an undetermined amount of time during a national emergency.

    I drove to Pensacola (where I was living), listened to the radio to gather as much information as I could and updated my wife of my location along the way should I have to stop. I keep a get-home-bag in my truck with food for five days, shelter, water etc. and a firearm which luckily I didn’t need as by the time I arrived at home the attacks had stopped. I was scheduled an evening shift so I loaded my truck with extra supplies, told my wife to stay ready and went to work. Having a plan, having the supplies and not getting wrapped up in the excitement/hysteria kept a bad day from becoming worse.

  9. Interesting thread. I travel by air often. At one point 42+ weeks a year. This makes it beyond difficult to really carry anything more than small personal items in my backpack. Having slept on the floor of more than one airport over 17 years of this lifestyle has me carrying the following items in addition to the “list” I keep of items to grab at a store in the event I have to drive/bike/walk home.

    For every trip I have
    CASH and enough to buy my way to a rental vehicle or bicycle, keychain flashlight, battery operated radio, extra cloths location appropriate and maps. I always fly in walking shoes leaving the dress shoes in the carry on.

    The list I keep is for the scenario you describe above. I believe if I can get to a store I can grab enough items to drive/bike/walk my way home. Since I already carry a decent backpack for work I’ll just drop that gear and pick up new kit for the journey. List include
    Case water, gatorade. Granola bars, snack, gas’s cans if I am driving and I will fill up once I leave the store. Funnel, blanket or sleeping bag, trash bags, tools if available and a bike. I’ll get home sooner or later.

  10. Enough cash for a taxi ride home if you rely on public transit or if your car is seized for an investigation or evidence. I can walk home from work and when my city had a terrorist attack, our office was in lock down. People who had planned to go out to lunch that day were prohibited from leaving the building or if they did leave security told them they would not be permitted back in. The downtown was in lock down and due to the nature of my employer all departments even those in the suburbs were in lock down. I typically took the bus to work and sometimes walked home in very nice weather. I walked home that day as I felt more in control. Some bus routes were cancelled due to security issues. Always have at least a can of tuna in your office drawer, a bottle of water, plus cash in small bills in your wallet or purse. Enough medication for the day including pills you take at night in case you are delayed at the office for security reasons. A bottle of unexpired Tylenol in case someone gets a tension headache.

    1. Tuna envelopes are even more compact to carry, can even be carried in hip pockets . These envelopes go well with small cracker packages, but those must be protected from damage.

      I keep an emptied re-purposed large peanut butter jar with a few items inside, along with a 1qt. canteen, pot and belt pouch. A multi-tool, flashlight (perform battery check every now and again), some cordage, a sillcock key for accessing water sources, flattened partially used toilet paper roll in sealed baggie. and well broken in boots are all inside a string bag in my personal work space. Good call on the filling up with water before leaving – don’t forget to fill any water containers as well before leaving.

      1. Might be good to get a few of those collapsable water containers, could be handy for extra water. I found some pretty inexpensive gallon size on Amazon.
        I have a platypus water purifyer in my bag too.

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