What’s In Your Bedside Drawer?

By James C. Jones

We spend about one-third of our lives in bed so there is a thirty-percent chance that the life or death emergency will strike while you are in bed. In that moment everything will depend on what you can reach right now.

Think about it. You wake up in the dark and the house is shaking from an earthquake, a bomb blast or a tornado. You wake up in the dark and smell smoke or noxious fumes from a chemical incident. You wake up in the dark to the sounds of an intruder or the screams of your family. No time to get out your survival kit or look in your survival manual. You may suffocate, be trapped in the rubble, or be attacked in the next few seconds. You open the bedside drawer and find _______..

First of all, only emergency items should be there. You don’t want to be wasting precious seconds rummaging around in there for what you need. First you should have two key items right on top of the bedside table. Your cell phone should be placed there every night. Don’t depend on a landline phone for emergencies. The landline phone may be dead when you need it most and you cannot take it with you if you are forced to flee for safety.

Your car keys should also be on the table. If all else is lost at least your vehicle will be available and you can also use the button on the remote to set off your car alarm as another way to call for help. Imagine escaping into the night and realizing that you cannot use your vehicle and you do not have a phone!

Now here are some suggestions for what should be in the bedside drawer. You should have a good N-95 dust mask in there. It will not protect you against poison gasses or carbon monoxide from a fire but it will offer some protection from soot and smoke and hot air as you escape. It will also protect you from dust in a building collapse.

Of course have a good flashlight. It should be one of the new LED lights that go a long way on a few batteries. Don’t be cheap. The light may have to penetrate smoke and dust. It may be needed to signal rescuers to your location or to blind a would-be assailant. Make it bright and tough.

You should also have one of those small, flat crowbars like the Stanley Wonder Bar or the combination hatchet, hammer, pry bar survival tool to smash windows open jammed doors, chop through plaster-board walls and pry yourself out from under things. It’s not a bad weapon either.
Your cell phone should always be there so you can call for help even if the power and the landline phones are gone. If your family is spread out in the house a whistle and walky-talkies might be worth considering so you can activate the appropriate emergency plan.

If you are 50-years of age or older you should keep a package of aspirin in that drawer. Many victims of heart attack wake up in the night with chest pain and don’t survive long enough for help to get there. If you awaken with chest pain you swallow the aspirin immediately and call 911 on that phone you have right there. Your chances are significantly improved.

And last but not least a defensive weapon. If you have family members that come and go at odd hours, you may want to have a less-than-lethal first response weapon such as a police size, 200 gram pepper spray or a taser. The choice of lethal weaponry is up to you, but it must be reliable, handy and easy to use. A 38-caliber revolver is one good, simple and reliable choice. Anything in a good quality 380, 40, or 45 caliber auto pistol should do well. In this case you don’t need to put out lots of rounds of high-velocity, high penetration rounds. You need to stop one or two intruders in close quarters without shooting family members and neighbors in adjoining rooms or houses.

If your wear glasses keep them there along with your wallet. These are items you will need to survive also. You may want to throw in a few light sticks and a good knife to complete the bedside drawer and you are one ready guy or gal when trouble come in the night.

Keys and cell phone on the table every night. Flashlight, respirator and escape tool are easy to access. Pepper spray can be replaced by a reliable handgun.


• Flashlight

• Crowbar

• Your Cell Phone

• Package of Aspirin

• A Defensive Weapon

• Dust Mask

• Glasses

• Wallet


James C. Jones is a Certified Hazard Control Manager and Emergency Medical Technician.  He has spent over 40-years teaching survival skills, family preparedness and self-sufficiency. 

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