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.


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