How to Stay Safe in a Disaster: Emergency Preparedness List

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How to Stay Safe in a Disaster- Emergency Preparedness List
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My heart breaks for all of those affected by the pandemics, tornados, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and all the other natural disasters that have caused so many issues.

I grew up in a hurricane zone, so I am no stranger to natural disasters. 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.

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 Sources

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.

Emergency Food

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.

Make sure to also have on hand a manual can opener and a camp stove if you want to heat food.

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:

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:

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:

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.

Documents 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
  • Passports
  • 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!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


17 responses to “How to Stay Safe in a Disaster: Emergency Preparedness List”

  1. tizzy Avatar

    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. Some of my family members have lost everything in Houston, Texas, and several close friends have been threatened by the raging wildfires in Montana.

  2. Aaron Avatar

    A really good list. One thing I didn’t see listed is firearms. The adults should have one handgun each, with 3-4 spare magazines, and a long gun(rifle or shotgun). These will be needed in the event of looters. It might not happen, but it seems odd to neglect this area of preparation in your list.

    1. gina Avatar

      My thoughts also. I don’t know if it’s like this in other areas but where I live, with the exception of a handful of friends/family and neighbors, it would most likely be a looting free for all and it be a pretty scary situation. Especially if you’re the only or one of the few that prepared and had the necessities to survive. We have just started to get our bug out bags set up and the first thing my husband and I did was go to the range 5 times a week for a month to get very comfortable with our firearms. They will do you not much good if you’re scared to use one or clueless on how to. MAke sure you have extra ammo stored somewhere safe then some more somewhere else safe and then another supply for backup.. hahaha..

  3. Estee Avatar

    It seems like one of the disasters we could be facing is a bomb from N Korea. I’ve bought some iodine pills so that thyroid disease dosent set in from absorption of the toxic exposure…

  4. Shannon Avatar

    I also have batteries, a few essential oils (lavender,of course!) Plus protein bars with a couple of cans of tuna. A girl needs to eat ?

  5. Jessica Avatar

    What trips me up on this is the month’s supply of medications. I’m type 1 diabetic, so strips to check my blood sugar and insulin to adjust it are necessary, but also pretty much impossible to get “extra” when paid for by insurance. And do you know how much these are when NOT covered under insurance??
    The best I can do is to make sure to not run out. Thankfully our area is not prone to natural disasters like this and power outages are the more likely event.

    1. Carol L Avatar

      Try KetoMojo. They don’t require an Rx, are really affordable, and easy to order. I get 50 strips for $15. They have a great monitor, it was a bit pricy, but it also gives hematocrit and hemoglobin results. I don’t care for their ‘pokey’ thing, (lancet!) but use the one from my Rx…also get 204 for around $20 on Amazon…all of these can be stocked up however many you want.

  6. Emeline Avatar

    Thank you Wellness Mama for the very important info it was really a wake up call not only for me but also to all of your followers. ALWAYS BE PREPARED!!!!!!!!!


    I also recommend that contact information for loved ones, maps in case family members are separated with directions to meeting places, and extra batteries for all electronics. It’s also a good idea to have something to keep the young ones occupied.

  8. Teb Avatar

    I also in include a pack or two of glow stick bracelets for the kids. It helps keeps them entertained while sitting in the dark. And-may God forbit- I’ll know exactly where they are should we ever need to travel in the dark during an emergency.

  9. Bec Avatar

    This is great, but remember your pets! Have plans in place. If you’re going to go to a shelter that you know doesn’t allow pets, then think about who you know/can arrange to care for them. Consider ensuring that they’re up to date with appropriate vaccinations, have a kit for them and, if you have larger/less well trained pets, practice evacuations.
    We do a couple of practices at the start of each season just so that we’re clear on everyone’s roles and responsibilities. It also helps people, and animals, stay calm if you later have to quickly evacuate under emergency conditions.

  10. Jennifer Avatar

    This is such an important topic. Thank you for providing a comprehensive list with some thoughtful considerations.

  11. Fiona Avatar

    We live in an earthquake zone and have kits for each member of the family. Don’t forget the pets too. We have extra supplies for ours.
    As we’ve had ours for a while, it’s important to check the best before tags on the foodstuffs. I’m a bit lax on that and have had to throw things away.

  12. Lea Avatar

    This is a great list. Each of our family has their own appropriately sized bug out bag that we keep within reach of our bed, we took about 6 months to put them together, and are grateful for the peace of mind just having them. We also take them when we go on day trips “just in case”, and it’s great to not have to worry about things! In addition we have a few of the large waterproof ammunition cans packed, one with medical supplies, and 1 with mre style food and cooking gear for our family for 1 week. They’re easy to grab at a moments notice. We’re in central Texas and my hubby was able to grab his bag and Ammo can and head to Houston to help without much notice as well.

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