Have you had “the talk” with your family yet? And no, I don’t mean the birds and the bees talk; I mean the disaster preparedness talk. I know it’s not the most pleasant thing to think about, but it’s a conversation all families should have. So, my question for you is this: if some disaster struck tomorrow – say a blizzard, an earthquake, tornado, etc. – and you were left without electricity or running water and you had no way to get to the store for supplies, would your family prepared? How long could you survive based on what you have in your home right now?
First and foremost, before we discuss a supply list, the most important this is to have a plan in place. Have a designated meeting place if something happens that requires you to get outside, such as a fire. (Our family’s designated meeting location is our mailbox out front.) Also have a “safe place” to go in your home in the event of a tornado or other such disaster. If you do not have a basement or storm cellar, your safe place should be a small room towards the center of your home on the ground floor, with no windows. Avoid large rooms as they are more likely to see structural collapse. If you have a small room under a staircase, this would be best because stairs require extra structural support. (Our designated area is a closet under our staircase.)
Now, on to the must-haves! I have spent the past couple of years slowly building up a stockpile of emergency supplies incase disaster strikes. With all the hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and other such phenomena going on in the world lately in what seems like increasing occurrence and severity, the necessity of preparedness has really been pressed upon my heart. I don’t consider myself a “prepper,” nor am I looking to stir up fear in others, but I do consider myself a realist, and as such, I can certainly see the prudence in preparing for what could very well happen to any of us. I decided to compile a list of all the items on our family’s disaster preparedness must-have checklist. I’ve came up with this list after reading numerous articles and books, as well as consulting various government agencies’ recommendations. I recommend keeping as many of these items as possible in a backpack, duffle bag or some other type of grab-and-go bag, in the event that you actually need to leave your home in a hurry.
Emergency Supply Checklist
- Water (one gallon per person, per day, for at least 3 days). I also recommend keeping some water filter straws in your emergency bag.
- A supply of non-parishable food (enough for each member of your family, for at least 3 days), including extra formula/infant food if applicable. (We keep canned food, as well as long-lasting survival dried food and survival food tabs.) Be sure to routinely check expiration dates and change out before items expire.
- A manual can opener for canned foods.
- A pan in which to cook food as well as a means to heat food, if desired. (We use this collapsable camping stove and stocked up on extra fuel.)
- Paper cups, plates and plastic utensils.
- Extra food and supplies for pets.
- Radio. If battery powered, be sure you have extra batteries on hand. (We have this hand-crank radio/flashlight/phone charger combo so we don’t have to worry about running out of batteries.)
- Flashlights with extra batteries.
- A well-stocked first aid kit and first aid procedures book or manual.
- Blankets and pillows. (In addition to standard blankets, we also have these mylar blankets in a grab-and-go bag.)
- Maps of your area and any area you would attempt to reach in the event of an emergency.
- Personal hygiene items.
- Garbage bags, wipes (we have baby wipes), toiler paper and paper towels for sanitation. (We actually keep a potty training toilet in our safe room, in case we get trapped in there.)
- Feminine hygiene supplies for all applicable family members.
- Vitamins, prescription medication, and over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, etc. Benadryl is especially important if anyone in your family has allergies. Always include an EpiPen and inhalers for those who need to keep them on hand.
- Extra glasses, for those who wear glasses and/or contact lenses.
- Wrench, pliers, or another such tool for turning off utilities. (We have this 4-1 tool for gas and water shutoff.)
- Cash and change, and/or traveler’s checks.
- At least one warm change of clothing for each family member, including sturdy shoes.
- A “fun bag” filled with games, puzzles, books, etc. to keep children entertained.
- A notebook and pen/pencil. The notebook should contain the names of each family member and pet, important personal information, and a list of important contact information of relatives, friends, local agencies, etc.
- Matches in a waterproof container, or stormproof matches.
- A good blade or hunting knife. (We have this knife with flint-and-steel tool for starting fires.)
- An extra set of house and vehicle keys.
- Fire extinguisher.
- Plastic sheeting or a tarp and duct tape in the event that your safe room needs to be sealed.
- Dust masks for each family member, in the event that the air becomes contaminated.
- A whistle to signal for help.
- Power cords for cell phones and other electric devices. I also recommend keeping car chargers in your grab-and-go bag.
- Rags and/or towels for spills, hygiene, and other miscellaneous uses.
- Disposable and work gloves. You can also keep hard hats if you wish.
- Household chlorine bleach has many survival uses in the event of an emergency, from sterilization to sanitizing drinking water to make it safe for consumption. (Read more about bleach uses and cautions here. I recommend printing the water-to-bleach ratio table and taping it to the outside of your emergency bleach bottle.)
While this list certainly seems like a lot of stuff, most of the items are small and we have found that all we need fits perfectly into 2 duffle bags. Keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it includes all the emergency supplies that we have amassed. If you have any ideas of items to add to it, please share in the comments section below.
In the event of an emergency, be prepared so you can stay safe!