A recent power outage in my area that lasted up to nine days for many people prompted me to begin assembling an emergency kit of sorts. I realized that my family doesn’t keep any nonperishable food, and we never stock extra water. It’s become clear to me that having some basic supplies in case of an emergency is important.
There were so many great suggestions on my last post from many of you about what to keep in case of an emergency. Thank you!
In talking with others, I’ve discovered most everyone keeps some kind of emergency supplies. I know it can get out of hand (my cousin was telling me about her friend that has three years of dehydrated food stored!). But having at least a few days worth of food and water for you and your family just makes good sense.
The first thing I did was purchase a few gallons of distilled water. I’ll be adding to the water stores gradually — I plan to have a five day supply for my family. If you aren’t forced to evacuate, you can always use the water stored in your hot water heater if needed, which is usually about 40 gallons.
When assembling an emergency food kit, I wanted to accomplish a couple of things. First, I wanted to ensure the food included didn’t require water to prepare or have too much sodium. If water is in short supply, I certainly don’t want to use it to prepare food. Second, I don’t want to eat so much sodium that I’m tempted to drink too much of the water supply!
With those two motives in mind, the following food items are what I decided to include in our emergency food kit:
- Low-sodium canned soup (chili, lentil, minestrone, etc.)
- Vacuum packed tuna
- Canned chicken
- Canned vegetables and fruits
- Can opener
- Already prepared brown rice in vacuum pack
- Meal replacement bars
- Peanut butter
- Dried fruit
- granola bars
- Juice boxes
- Shelf stable milk
- Fruit snacks
- Instant Coffee
- Salt / Pepper
- Paper plates / cups / plasticware / paper towels
The food is all neatly tucked in a plastic storage bin in our basement that we could easily grab if we needed to evacuate for any reason. And to avoid any food going bad, I created a spreadsheet with each food item stored along with an expiration date for each. This way — if there is no emergency — we can simply use the food that’s approaching its expiration date and then replace as needed.
My food list will likely look different from yours. Make sure you choose food that your family will actually eat!
The next thing I added was a first aid kit, along with some over the counter medications. Having some basic meds on hand could be a huge help if you need to evacuate your home. The following medicines should be considered:
- Imodium (anti-diarrheal)
- prescription medications
- dust masks
In case we ever need to evacuate, I have assembled the following basic personal care items that would be helpful to have:
- Toothbrushes / Toothpaste / Dental Floss
- Nail clippers
- Coconut Oil
- Comb / Hair ties
- Insect repellant
- Feminine hygiene products
- Washcloths / Towels
- Toilet paper
- Wet wipes
- Plastic ziplock bags / trash bags / rubber bands (for securing open food packages)
- Change of clothes (including shoes) for each family member
We go camping a couple times each year, so we already had basic camping supplies. I simply moved the two tubs of camping supplies to the same shelf where the emergency water and food are stored so we could grab the tubs and go if needed.
The following supplies are in our camping tubs:
- Tent / stakes / stake hammer
- Tarp (for underneath the tent)
- Air mattress and battery operated pump
- Sleeping bags
- Battery operated lanterns (2)
- Mylar Blankets
- Clean burning candle (100 hrs)
- Storm proof matches / tinder-quik
- Multi-tool knife
- Mess kits
- Basic tool kit (screwdriver, pliers)
- Battery powered weather radio
- Extra batteries
- Basic cooking supplies (pot / lid / spoon)
- Sterno Fuel
When you have children, it’s important to have a few comfort items that can help ease anxiety and pass the time during an emergency situation. We decided to include the following comfort items in our kit:
- Age appropriate books
- Paper, colored pencils, small pencil sharpener
- Playing cards
- Small stuffed animal for each child
- Glow sticks (doubles as a light source)
- SAS Survival Handbook – More for us. Includes detailed instructions on first aid and how to handle pretty much any emergency you could encounter.
And of course, if there is a major power outage, it’s possible that you won’t be able to purchase things electronically. Having some cash and coins on hand could be a tremendous help during an emergency.
If you have a car and need to evacuate, it will be important to have enough gas to get out of the area being evacuated. Because everyone else in your area will be evacuating also, gas stations could be too busy or could run out of gas. We have decided to keep 10 gallons of gas on hand. That would be enough to top off our gas tank and avoid the long lines (or lack of fuel or electricity) at local gas stations.
We are using a gas stabilizer in our two five-gallon gas cans, and we’ll use the fuel and refill the cans each time the weather changes (every three to four months) to avoid the degrading that occurs when storing gasoline.
I have to admit, purchasing “just in case” items was an uncomfortable experience for me. I’m used to my minimalist ways of purging and keeping only what’s needed. Bringing items in the house that we may never need to use felt a bit unsettling.
That said, I think it’s necessary to be prepared for an emergency — especially if you have children depending on you for protection.
And keeping a list of expiration dates will help to ensure the items are used up and replaced before going bad. We discussed simply having an annual “use it up” camping trip where we use the emergency supplies that are close to expiring and then replace as needed!