Why You Should Store Emergency Supplies at Work

Stockpiling emergency supplies in your home is a smart decision. But what if you’re at work and you suddenly find yourself in desperate need of a simple 72-hour kit? It won’t do you much good if it’s sitting in your kitchen pantry.

Most people spend a significant amount of time at work each weekday and some even do so on weekends, so there is a chance that emergencies could strike while you’re away from home.Here are a few situations that you should be prepared for at work:

Cut Off –What if an earthquake, flood, or other hard-to-predict natural disaster suddenly damages roads and cuts you off from your home? You’ll need enough supplies to make it through however long it will take for order to be restored and you may even need to treat injuries.A first-aid kit, water, food, and even blankets could come in handy in case the office starts to get cold and you’re stuck there overnight.

Power Outage – Most buildings are equipped with emergency lights and some even have backup generators. But it’s still a good idea to have a flashlight and other equipment nearby in case you need them.Don’t trust that you’ll have electrical power to microwave your food or keep yourself warm in the event of an emergency. Keep adequate supplies with you so you’ll be fine until power is restored.

Coworkers in Need –Your coworkers may not be as prepared as you, so you may want to be a Good Samaritan and keep some extra supplies with you to care for some of them if the need ever arises. You can encourage other people to be prepared, as well, so you won’t have to shoulder more burden than you’re able to. You can even pool your efforts with several coworkers so each of you gets one or two items. Pretty soon you’ll have an impressive bunch of resources on hand without anyone having to spend too much.

Quick Response – If a situation arises where you need to bring some supplies to a family member or someone else in a serious situation, wouldn’t you rather just go straight there from work than have to hurry home and grab those essential items? You never know when your preparation could pay off and how much of a difference a few minutes could make.

Casual Needs –Being prepared doesn’t have to be all about doom and gloom. Having a little extra food at work could save you a trip to the vending machine or the store when you get hungry in the afternoon. Keeping bandages and other simple medical supplies could ease your mind if the office runs out of those things when you get a cut or other minor injury. Nothing huge, but it’s just a nice little benefit of foresight.

There are many other situations that could require emergency food storage, medicine, or other emergency supplies at the office. The point is that you shouldn’t keep all your eggs in one basket. Have some of your stockpile in your car, at the office, and in other places that you frequently stay at for extended periods of time. That’s a good way to have peace of mind, no matter where you are.


Derek Smith is the owner of Acorn Supplies, an emergency preparedness company that helps people be prepared with emergency survival kits and food storage to sustain disasters.

This article first appeared on Ed That Matters.

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Todd Sepulveda

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2 thoughts on “Why You Should Store Emergency Supplies at Work

  1. Jack

    I try not to complain about ANY prepper-type articles/posts. I believe in communication, and sharing of ideas. Knowledge is power!

    But, this posting was a bit anorexic!

    Sure, we should keep supplies at our work/offices, too. But, you didn’t offer much in the way of suggestions and examples?

    So, I’ll try to expand a but on your posting here:

    First, BE AWARE of your company’s polices. Simply bringing a pocket knife into the office could be prohibited, and get some people fired!!!

    My next suggestion is to be fully-aware of your work environment, and your escape routes. One too often overlooked issue is to keep sufficient rope and climbing/rappelling gear handy if your are in a multi-floor building. During some disasters, the front/back doors or the fire exits may not be your best route? You might need to break-out a window, and rappel to safety (ditto for your coworkers.) Generally speaking, most stories of buildings are 10 feet tall. But, the first floor or two are often higher (12+ feet.) As a rule of thumb, plan on at least 12 feet of rope for each story of height, and then add about 40 feet (for tying-off and such to a column inside the building, etc.) Also, know that you might have to go UP a flight or two (or maybe to the roof) before rappelling down. So, plan accordingly. e.g. if you are on the third floor of a five-story building, you might as well plan to have enough rope to rappel from the roof.

    Flashlights are INSTRUMENTAL during emergencies (even during daylight conditions, in a building full of windows.) The reason: Fire escapes often DON’T have windows (to attempt to keep them fireproof.) Plus, smoke can fill a building FAST!!! I not only like to keep a couple of battery-operated flashlights at-the-ready, but also an emergency flashlight that plugs into a standard 100v outlet to charge itself. Many of these have either a night-light glow feature (always on while charging,) or they automatically come “on” when the power goes out. I prefer the night-light feature, because during a fire/smoke situation, the power may still be “on,” and you want to be able to find your light.

    People should also make a “mental map” of their primary exit route. Literally pace-off the hallways, corridors, etc. to safety. Memorize these paces. During a blackout event, your eyes might be filled with smoke, dust, debris. You might literally need to pace your way to safety.

    A safety whistle should also be handy. I have one tied via a lanyard to one of my flashlights at my desk. If you are trapped, you will want to be able to reach the whistle and signal for help.

    I also keep three one-gallon jugs of water under my desk, plus a couple of bottles of Gatorade. Again, if you are trapped after an earthquake or collapse, you hope to have your water supply nearby.

    I also keep a handheld HAM radio at my desk on a charger, and have a copy of my amateur radio license framed at my desk. In the event of a city-wide grid-down situation, I want to be able to contact my family. Similarly, I can communicate with rescue workers if there is a hostage situation or such on the premise.

    Sure, I keep some breakfast bars and mixed nuts at the office, too. Like you said, it helps reduce trips to the vending machine.

    Another KEY item to have is some sort of filter-mask. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a military-grade chemical protective mask. Simple particle masks from Home Depot, or a physicians mask would be sufficient for most situations. I like to augment this with a pair of swim goggles, too (for hands-free eye protection, sealed to my face — better than your typical safety-goggles.)

    Gloves are another “must have.” Leather pair for work/rappelling and moving debris. A box of rubber gloves for medical assistance to coworkers (or for them to don before assisting YOU!)

    I keep a couple of knives at the office, too. Most of the time, I just use them to carve/slice apples and such for lunch. This includes a fixed blade, a folding blade, and a Leatherman Wave multi-tool. Some people keep these in their EDC (Every Day Carry.) I have them all over the place (EDC, inside each vehicle, in our bug-out bags, in our get-home bags, in our medical kits, etc.) And… in my desk.

    It’s about here that I should mention that I “demote” this type of gear to my office/desk/jobsite. There are too many passers-by and janitorial staff with sticky fingers to risk losing high-dollar items. So, as I upgrade my other/personal gear, the old gear gets demoted to the office.

    A couple-dozen glow sticks can also be VALUABLE in creating a breadcrumb trail for coworkers to follow you out of the building, or for first-responders to follow into the building. Just crack, shake, and drop as you exit the building/site.

    Cash: Some disaster events might damage your vehicle, too! So, you might need to take a cab or public transportation home? Or, the police may quarantine the area (including your vehicle!) So, having some cash stashed in the office/jobsite can be your ticket home.

    Sometimes, we may be called upon to “bug-in” at the office (either as part of our job responsibilities, or because going home/elsewhere presents and even GREATER risk.) Having a blanket and some sort of pillow-like device can make these overnight events a bit more tolerable. I traveled frequently for work, and ended up with a few airline blankets and airline pillows. Plus, the little “travel kits” they provide to business-class or international customers (ear plugs, socks, toothbrush/paste, etc.) I sometimes have to work 24-hour shifts/watch, and these have been helpful.

    THICK zip ties (to use as hand/leg cuffs.) You might need to subdue and secure a coworker? Or, secure a coworker that someone else subdued?

    Small binoculars, spare set of eye glasses. Again, you might need to become an embedded listening or observation post for the authorities outside (for your building, or a neighboring building.) You might be the ONLY person with “eyes” on the perpetrator!

    First aid kits were mentioned in the article/post. Thankfully, most offices indeed have some sort of minor first aid kit nowadays. What I like to do, is slowly pilfer some of those supplies, and relocate them to my desk. The janitorial staff or safety officer eventually restocks the primary cabinet. This allows me to stock-up on first aid gear at my desk, without any out-of-pocket expense to myself.

    Exacto blade: I keep one (with a safety cover) in my pen jar on my desk.

    Softball bat (and glove.) I don’t play softball. I just keep the bat in the corner of my office/cube or whatever, with the glove looped over the handle of the bat (like we did as kids.) This looks “sporty” and most people will dismiss it as just a sporting item — not realizing that it’s REALLY a self-defense item. Don’t BRAG about your bat being a weapon!!! OPSEC (operational security) is as important at the office, as it is elsewhere.

    Speaking of self-defense, I keep a canister of full-strength bear spray in my EDC. This can be deployed from a much longer range than the aluminum softball bat. I don’t leave this at the office, however, since it may indeed be perceived as a weapon by some people?

    Spare shoes/boots (especially for women.) When the SHTF, high heels or office shoes aren’t the most comfortable for climbing through debris, or trying to make a RUN to safety, or a long walk home. (Don’t forget a good pair of socks shoved down into them, too.) Naturally, you will want to match them to your worst-case weather situation. e.g. if you live in the Great White North, you probably need warmer shoes/boots for snow/ice conditions (which Floridians may not need.)

    Spare jacket, and/or poncho. Personally, I use a water-resistant jacket, plus a hat. Sprinkler systems may go off, or it may be raining outside when you evacuate? You might have to stand outside in the rain for a while waiting for police to “clear” everyone? Or, walk home in the rain?

    List of coworkers names and cell phone numbers (pocket contact list.) Historically, I kept these on a laminated 3×5 card (small print.) Nowadays, I have it stored in my contact list “in the cloud” of Google GMAIL, which I can access via my smartphone, or someone else’s smart phone, or via any Internet-connected computer in a neighboring building/business, etc. This if for taking head-count at mustering stations, or calling on co-workers for help, ride home, etc.

    Folks in the Great White North might also want some sort of portable hand-heater. The little chemical gel packs nowadays work WONDERS!!!

    Hand sanitizer: For first aid purposes, or just cleaning grease or other office crud off your hands as needed.

    Large bandana: This can be used as a mask for yourself, or a coworker. It can also be used as a head-wrap to help keep heat in your head. It can also be used as a bandage/wrap on a wound. It can be used for an ice-pack on a wound. It has dozens of uses!!!

    NO CANDLES or open-flame devices!!!

    I usually keep one or two “current reads” from my survival/prepper library, too. I rotate these as I finish them. (Prepping isn’t always what you physically have onsite, but when you MENTALLY stockpile as well.)

    I keep about a dozen PDF cheat-sheets in my smartphone, too. I don’t keep ANY of this type of material on my office PC, however. Again, think OPSEC! I keep a list of local radio frequencies (HAM, police/fire/ambulance channels, air traffic control channels, local radio/news channels, etc.) Some of these are publically-available PDFs (like Army field manuals.) Others, are self-made PDFs (contact lists, etc.)

    Fire extinguisher: In my lower desk drawer. The closest work extinguisher is in the kitchen, and in the OPPOSITE direction of the fire escape. So, I keep my own in my desk. (I keep another in the car. I know this isn’t about get-home bags and such. But, I feel that not enough people keep a simple fire extinguisher in their cars. So, it’s worth special mention here.)

    I’m a nonsmoker, and don’t really see the “need” to keep fire-stating gear at my office? Maybe this is an oversight on my behalf? I know that fire is a #1 prepper/survivalist “tool.” But, there are dozens of coworkers with lighters, and I have several in my car, and one in my EDC kit. Plus, I know a half-dozen ways to start an electrical or chemical fire if necessary. So, I don’t keep any sort of lighter of fire-starter in the office. I also don’t plan to COOK at the office. I also live in a moderate climate, so I have no fear of freezing to death if the HVAC goes out in the winter, etc. (Your situation may be different?) When I worked blue-collar on the night shift, I indeed kept a pocket lighter (disposable Bic) in my pocket at all times. Within an office, I feel that a lighter is more of a risk, than an asset.

    I hope this helps illustrate a more-complete example of what a posting should be like? We can all benefit from the advise of others — detailed, real-world, well-thought-out articles and postings (and comments.) I’m 100% confident that I’m overlooking something within my own office inventory, or forgot to mention a few things. I feel if something is worth saying, it’s worth saying right, and as completely as possible.


    1. Todd Post author


      Great job expanding on Derek’s post. Where Derek’s post is more “big picture” yours took it down to specifics. Examples are always powerful.



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