In an emergency, you’re not going to be able to pop out to the local store if you run out of essentials. Instead, you must make do with what you’ve got until normal life can resume. That means having access to a well-stocked emergency larder, water, and other provisions.
Below is a list of supplies you should have handy in case of emergency. How much you need to stockpile depends of course on your location, your storage space, and the likelihood of an emergency in your area. For those who have limited space, many of the items on this list can do double duty and be used in everyday life—just be sure to restock your supply regularly.
People can survive for weeks, if necessary, without food. Without water, lifespans drop to a matter of days.
Clean water is the foundation for any emergency stockpile. At a minimum, you’ll need a gallon of water per person per day. Most disaster experts recommend at least a three-day supply. Depending on your location and local weather conditions, you may need more.
Choose heavy-duty, stackable containers for water storage, and refresh your water supply every six months. Keep some bleach on hand to disinfect containers as needed. Adding a water filtration system to your disaster kit is recommended if you have any concerns your stocks will run out.
Like water, you need at least enough food for three days—longer if you anticipate relying on your own devices for an extended period. Freeze-dried emergency food lasts for years, is easily stored, and can be quickly prepared with a little water and access to a camp stove.
If you buy food with an eye to emergencies, you can prolong your supply of freeze-dried food. Canned fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish can be eaten right out the can in a pinch.
Peanut butter needs no refrigeration and is a source of protein and healthy fats, while dried fruit, granola bars, and trail mix can be used for quick snacks. Non-perishable pasteurized and powdered milk adds some variety to drinks, and access to your spice rack can help add some zest to canned food.
If you have children or one of you is pregnant, be sure to stock up on formula and baby food. Also consider pets and livestock, which will still need food during any disaster.
A well-stocked first aid kit is vital, as access to medical services may be delayed or suspended during a disaster. In addition to a trauma kit, be sure any prescriptions are refilled regularly, to lower the risk of running out of essential medication.
During a disaster, personal hygiene and body odor probably aren’t the first thing on your mind, but it’s amazing what a morale booster being able to clean up a bit can be when you’re dealing with an emergency. Stock some spare toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoos, and deodorant, and invest in a portable camping shower.
It takes up space, but stock up on some toilet paper as well. Even if you’re having to dig pits outside, you’ll be glad you did.
Whether you factor guns and ammunition in your disaster plan is a personal decision, but if you do, be sure you and all family members are properly trained in their safe use. Always keep both guns and ammo securely locked up away from children.
As for what type of weapon you choose, a handgun is fine for self-defense, but a rifle is the better choice if you think you’ll have to hunt for food.
The following list includes a wide range of items that make life easier during an emergency. Whether you’ll need them depends heavily on your individual circumstances and the type of emergencies you’re most likely to encounter. None of them is a waste to have in your emergency kit.
- 7 x 9-foot blue tarp
- Solar charger for electronics
- Blankets and sleeping bags
- Camp stove and fire starters
- Camping knife
- Duct tape
- Additional first aid supplies
- Hand-cranked flashlight
- Portable hand-cranked radio
- Lighter and waterproof matches
- Parachute cord and bungee cords
- Pen and paper
- Spare cash
- Work gloves.