Life is full of surprises.
Some are pleasant, like a birthday party or a visit from a friend. Yet without careful planning, some surprises can put your life — and the lives of your family and friends — at risk.
To protect yourself against chaos and disaster, it’s important to have a clearly laid out plan, which includes stocking up on emergency and preparedness supplies.
Proper Emergency Planning
When forming any disaster plan, it’s important to consider all potential risks.
For example, someone in Florida should prepare for hurricanes, while a Minnesotan needs to have a plan in place for blizzards and sub-zero temperatures. Be sure to consider all possibilities. As Colorado residents learned in 2013, water can swell into floods where you least expect it — even on the side of a mountain.
Next, you should determine a plan of action for each situation.
In the event of a fire, a speedy evacuation plan and a meeting place can save lives. In a tornado, your family should have a secure place to hide, like the bathtub or your basement. To prepare for a widespread cultural collapse, you need a defensible position and well-hidden supplies.
You should update your plan as circumstances change, like adding on to your home or having small children in your family. Do (at least) an annual review of your plans, and make sure everyone in the family is on board and aware of their individual responsibilities in case disaster strikes.
General Supplies: Stocking Up
Once your disaster plan is in place, it’s time to stock up on the proper supplies. A few basics go a long way.
Keep the following in mind: you need to be able to eat without electricity, have access to clean drinking water, to be able to dress wounds, and a warm, dry place to sit and sleep.
To have a proper stock of survival supplies, you’ll need the following:
- Water — One gallon per person per day, a minimum of three days’ worth. The Red Cross recommends stocking enough water for two weeks.
- Food — Non-perishable, easy-to-prepare foods for the whole family, a minimum of three days worth. Aim for two weeks’ worth.
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Multi-purpose tool
- Personal hygiene and sanitation items
- A binder containing copies of essential personal documents, such as medical information, the lease or deed to your home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies, etc…
- Spare keys to your house, car, etc…
- Cell phone with charger (home and car)
- Emergency contact information
- A copy of your emergency plan
- Hiking backpack or bag to carry supplies.
Additional Emergency Supplies
Consult your list of possible threats. Determine any other supplies you need for specific your circumstances, including your family’s individual needs.
Some additional things to stock up on may include:
- Medical supplies (extra hearing aids, glasses, contacts and solution, etc…)
- Baby supplies
- Small games
- Pet supplies (bowl, food, ID, carrier)
- Sunscreen and aloe
- Insect repellent
- Heavy coats
- Wood for fireplace/wood stove/fire pit
- Snakebite kit
- Bear pepper spray
On the Road
Crises can hit anytime, anywhere — not just at home. Make sure your car is equipped with an emergency kit so you can get to a safe place.
Suggested supplies for your car or truck include:
- Change (for a pay phone) and cash in small bills
- Bottled water. It can be used for drinking or an overheating radiator
- Non-perishable snacks (granola bars, nuts, dry cereal, jerky, etc…)
- Jumper cables
- Windshield scraper
- Tire gauge
- Foam sealant or portable air compressor and plug kit
- Basic tools or a multi-tool
- Baby wipes/disinfecting wipes
- Flashlights or headlamps
- Glow sticks and/or road flares
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Small first aid kit
- Emergency phone numbers. Make sure to include the phone number of a trusted tow truck company
- Fire extinguisher
- Bright cloth or emergency road sign
- Toilet paper
You may need additional seasonal supplies. Some ideas include:
- Tire chains
- Cat litter (for icy conditions)
- Rain gear
- Sleeping bags
- A map of the area
- Extra socks, gloves, hats
- Emergency repair manual
- Tow strap
- Chemical hand warmers.
- Water purifier
- Small folding shovel
Prepare for the Long Haul
In some scenarios, you may need to survive on your own for a prolonged period of time. That calls for extra supplies and more planning.
Store the following supplies in a cool, dry place:
- One month of food storage per person. (Either prepackaged meals or a store of basic ingredients such as rice and beans or canned meat)
- Stored water
- Water purification system
- Store of small denomination silver or gold for trade
- Survival guidebook
- Store of seeds for replanting
- Bicycle or comfortable shoes with walking stick
- Propane stove with extra propane
- Weapons. Knives, machetes, handguns and rifles are all viable choices.
- Supply of toothpaste, bar soap, bleach, detergent and other hygiene supplies
- Medicinal plant guide/emergency first aid guide
- Fire safe cookware
- Hand can opener
- Toilet paper
- Fire starters
Circumstances can change in an instant.
Through careful planning, you and your family can be prepared for just about anything — and out of harm’s way.
Interested in more preparedness supplies and checklists? Get additional ideas and tips here.