If you’ve watched the news or the weather channel lately you know a huge amount of natural disasters have happened over the past several months. My heart breaks for all of those affected by the tornados, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and all the other storms that have caused so many issues. In the past, some of my family members have lost everything in Houston, Texas, and several close friends have been threatened by raging wildfires in Montana and California.
I grew up in a hurricane zone, so I am no stranger to natural disasters. There’s a long-standing story in my family of how my great-great-grandmother rode out a hurricane tied to a tree so she wouldn’t get washed away. My husband grew up in an area with lots of ice storms in the winter and tornados in the spring, so the loss of electricity was always a real possibility for his family as well.
For both of us, being prepared for disasters has been a part of our family cultures. When I was young, I remember spending a summer helping relatives remodel their home after a hurricane flooded and destroyed it. We’ve personally also had to deal with fire and water damage as well as extended loss of electricity at different times in our family’s history.
Being Prepared for Emergencies
Because of our personal experiences with natural disasters we have made it a priority to keep an emergency preparedness kit in our home. A recent Facebook post sparked questions about this so I’m sharing my personal list today in hopes that it will help anyone in the path of these natural disasters (or man-made ones as well).
September is National Preparedness Month, and Mother Nature is certainly giving us some serious reminders of why we should all be prepared for emergencies! When disasters hit, we can be without water, electricity, and transportation for days or even weeks. Certainly, we can’t predict every scenario, but having some basic supplies on hand in case of emergencies is always a good idea.
The point of putting together an emergency preparedness plan is not to create any undue anxiety, but to help alleviate some of the stress of a disaster in case it hits. Even in a strong thunderstorm, we’ve lost power for up to a day before, and these survival items have been very useful in such cases.
Feel free to comment below or reach out to me on social media with any questions or anything that the Wellness Mama community can do to help. Stay safe out there and hugs and prayers to all of you!
My Personal Emergency Preparedness List
Last year my husband the outdoorsman (and ever prepared Boy Scout) decided it would be a good idea to purchase camping and survival gear for our older children, you know, in case the zombie apocalypse happens or if they should ever be stranded all by themselves in the woods. While his list of emergency and preparedness gear might be a little (a lot!) more extreme than mine, there are quite a few excellent suggestions that he put together for our kids.
So this year, after all the recent storms and natural disasters, we began discussing what items we should always have on hand in case disaster strikes, and the following list is what our family now keeps around the house for emergencies.
This is the list that we used to stock our house for natural disasters. We also rotate through non-perishable food supplies so we always have a stock of canned foods on hand. Many of these items you’ll probably already have, but some are a little less common and may need to be purchased from a reputable source.
Water is a top priority in times of natural disasters as the water supply can be contaminated or cut off completely. Disaster preparedness recommendations suggest having at least three days of water per person (and pets) on hand at all times.
To prepare for this, we have:
- Personal water filters: Every member of our family has a personal water filter. We all have either a Sawyer Filter or a Life Straw filter. We use these to drink stored water to avoid any bacteria or contaminants in the water. These actually stay in each of our hiking backpacks unless they are needed, as these backpacks are our bags we would grab if we ever had to evacuate quickly.
- Bathtub water storage: We have water bob storage bags in every bathroom. These fit in a bathtub and can be filled up with clean water and sealed. They hold hundreds of gallons of water in big tubs and provide a lot of water.
- Katadyn portable water filter: This pocket-sized military grade filter can help filter gallons of water at a time and easily stores at the top of a closet when not needed.
- 3-Gallon AquaBricks: We have several of these stackable AquaBricks to hold water (or food stuffs) in. Each of these holds at least three days of water for each of us.
We can survive without food a lot longer than we can make it without water, but most of us don’t even have a few days of non-perishable food stored in our homes. If the power goes out, food in the fridge and freezer are only safe for a day or two (check the recommendations for your area), so some non-perishables are a good idea. We usually keep on hand at least a week’s supply of non-perishable canned goods for emergencies.
Be Prepared is a company that carries a good supply of non-perishable food items that will store for an extended period of time. While they might not be the healthiest of items, they will keep you alive in an emergency when nothing else is available.
Shelter, Heat & Light
Hopefully, in an emergency, your home will still be livable and you will have shelter. It is always good to have a backup plan and a place to evacuate to, but some supplies for shelter and heat are great to have on hand for power outages (especially depending on your location). If you’re in the path of a hurricane or tornado and are at serious risk, please evacuate if recommended and stay safe!
If you’re just in an area that is expected to lose power, these supplies may be helpful:
- Headlamp: A head flashlight (like this one) is helpful for doing anything with the power out. Cooking, looking for supplies, and filtering water are all easier with both hands.
- Small LED flashlight: We all have a small LED flashlight next to our beds for power outages at night.
- LED lanterns: We also have one of these super bright and long-lasting LED lanterns in each room in case of power outages.
- Beeswax 15-hour candle: We also keep long-lasting beeswax candles on hand for power outages.
- Tarp: If bad storms break windows or take off part of the roof, having some heavy duty tarpaulins is essential.
Electronics & Communication
In an emergency, the power may be out for long periods of time. Cell phone towers can be down as well, but in case they aren’t it is helpful to have ways to charge phones when electricity is down. Other communication sources like radios can also be very helpful for reaching emergency crews. It is recommended to have on hand:
- Solar cell phone charger: A solar-powered power bank that charges phones was helpful for one of my relatives during power outages and flooding due to Hurricane Harvey.
- Weather radio: A solar weather radio can also be helpful to know when there are warnings related to the situation.
- Portable generator: If the electricity is out for a while, having a small, portable generator can be a life saver.
Hygiene, Medical & First Aid
These items should be in your emergency preparedness kit. In an emergency situation, once things calm down, you’ll wish you had your toothbrush and you’ll need any medications you take regularly. Make sure to have:
- A month’s supply of any necessary medications.
- A bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb/brush, soap, deodorant, shampoo and other normal toiletries (and toilet paper).
- Portable first aid kit, including any natural first aid or remedies you use, and basic first aid supplies.
Backpack and Evacuation Bag
Most of these items can easily fit in a 72-Hour bag (or bug-out bag) for each family member. The idea is that this bag stays packed and goes with you if you ever have to evacuate. It should also include a few changes of weather-appropriate clothing. This is a good post on creating these bags, especially for kids.
We each have:
- A backpacking-style backpack: The kids each have a camping backpack in the appropriate size for them and my hubby and I both have bigger packs from when we backpacked in college.
- Stainless steel cooking kit: These are used more often when we take our packs camping, but the kids love these stainless steel cooking kits and they are a great size for heating up a can of food. They also have eating utensils and a stainless cup in their packs.
- Knife: We all have at least one knife in our packs. The kids have these swiss army knives.
- Cold/rain gear: Each pack also has a poncho and an emergency blanket.
- Fire-making supplies: Each pack also has waterproof matches and a fire starter.
- Pack towel: These pack towels are small and hardly take up any room but are great for drying off or showering.
- Natural hand sanitizer: I usually make our own hand sanitizer, but there are some great natural options available in stores too.
You can also buy pre-made emergency kits if you don’t want to go to the trouble of building your own bug-out bag.
In our safe, we also have all important documents in a waterproof bag that we can grab and put in one of our packs if we ever have to leave quickly. Make sure to have these (or copies of these) ready to go:
- Birth certificates
- Any necessary health records
- A list of important information for insurance, bank accounts, credit card accounts, etc.
- Enough cash to survive for a few weeks
Emergency Preparedness, Step by Step
While assembling an emergency kit can seems like a lot of things to buy and extra work, it can be done step by step over time. If you aren’t in a rush, Kitchen Stewardship has an excellent post with a 20-week plan for creating this kit, but if you’re in the path of an impending storm, just do what you can and stay safe!
Do you have supplies ready and an emergency preparedness plan? Please share any tips below!