In my last blog, I touched upon why you should develop an emergency plan for your family and some of the initial steps to creating it. Today, I want to delve into some of the emergency supplies you should have in the house. As with the previous article, the pointers I’m offering are broad brush strokes, so if you’re an experienced prepper, you may feel they’re a bit obvious. Even if this is the case, though, forward this link to friends and family members who are not well versed in urban survival.
Let’s go over three of the major essentials:
Most people probably think that cupboards full of food translates to days or weeks of sustainability, but it’s not the case. First, without power, food in your fridge is going to be a write-off after the first or second day. Secondly, pre-packaged food that requires boiled water or the oven may also be useless, since water treatment plants often go off-line during a power outage. (Trying to make your mac ‘n cheese in untreated water could get you very sick!) Make sure that you have food on hand that is easily consumable and doesn’t require preparation. Some canned goods are good for this (tuna, for instance), but others definitely require eating. MRE, or meals ready to eat, are another option, since MRE is specially packaged to stay fresh for long periods and can be eaten right from the package. Experienced preppers know to use the food they have on hand to keep the inventory turning over to ensure freshness and enjoyment.
Emergency water is a critical item that many people underestimate the need for. A normal household uses over 2 gallons of water per person for cooking, cleaning and drinking. So plan on 2-4 gallons per person per day. Sure, you may use less, but what if the situation lasts longer than you planned? You’ll be happy you had the additional safety margin. Store the water in a containers approved for keeping water sanitary and put it in a cool dark place, such as your basement, if you have one. Rotate your water ever six months or so, by using up what you have in your cooking, washing or even flushing the toilet, then replenish the supply.
First Aid and Supplies
If you’re like most people, your First Aid kit probably needs a serious overhaul. It’s more than just bandages, so make sure it has medication that you might need (asthma inhaler, prescription medication, pain medication, etc.), gauze, medical tape and scissors. Get all your flashlights, rope and rain ponchos in one place (including fresh batteries) and check that they are in usable condition. My favorite item for tying things together is military paracord, since it’s extremely strong compared with ordinary nylon rope. It’s also good to have duct tape, bungee cords and zip ties among your emergency supplies.
Bear in mind that the types of emergency supplies you keep on hand are somewhat impacted by the type of natural disaster you are most susceptible to. But certain things, like a flashlight, First Aid kit, water and food or MRE will be useful in almost any situation, including power outages and severe storms. The more organized your house is in the first place, the easier it will be to find items when you need them. If you need a bucket to bail water or a hose to siphon with, you don’t want to have to rummage through the entire garage just to find it.
So those are some pointers for items to store in your house, but what about a civil emergency that requires you to evacuate your family quickly, such as a hazardous chemical spill, a wildfire or a natural gas leak? Urgent emergencies like this require what’s known as a “go-bag,” and in my next column, I’ll cover which items you should consider packing in a single container for quick evacuation.