Emergency Preparedness

Let’s say a person were bracing for, at best, a period of civil unrest, and at worst something more like worldwide unrest. What might a person stock up on, to prepare in a calm, reasonable way that doesn’t include building a bomb shelter or converting all our cash to gold and burying it in the yard? My usual favorite kind of emergency preparedness is to buy things we’d use ANYWAY, but get significantly ahead of the supply we’d usually have on hand. I also like to buy things that meet a variety of emergency needs: things we could use in a power outage, a serious snowstorm, a presidential candidate calling followers to riot, sudden flooding, etc.

I’ve read enough books set in the second World War to know that coffee, tea, and sugar got scarce pretty quick. Those are easy to acquire in reasonable quantities, and easy to donate or use up if they don’t turn out to be needed. Canned things are handy, of course: soups, vegetables, fruits, legumes, tuna. Peanut butter is good dense low-perishable nutrition. Dried fruits, nuts. Crackers and dry cereals last a long time. Granola bars, meal-replacement bars. Rice, dried beans. Powdered milk. Water.

Good to have flashlights, batteries, candles, matches, oil lanterns; we have those things anyway for storms. We have nightlights similar to these; they come on automatically if the power fails, and they can then be unplugged and used as already-fully-charged flashlights. Extra can-opener. We have a crank-operated radio similar to this one, that can also kind of charge a cell phone (i.e., a few minutes’ worth, for making a quick phone call).

In a situation where a person might fear the general public, a weapon would be nice; if a person were not comfortable with a gun, a person could purchase a few pepper spray canisters (I have two black and one pink; now that I know it exists, I’m also getting one in turquoise). It’s not going to hold off an army, but it’ll help with someone who’s gotten a bit out of hand.

I’d rather not even have to worry about toilet paper, and it’s not like we’d need to worry about using up a surplus of it if it turned out the surplus were unneeded. Plastic bags: garbage bags but also I’m going to let the little Target-sized ones build up. A jug of bleach. Baking soda, vinegar, paper towels. Wet wipes. We have a couple of boxes of disposable plastic gloves on hand anyway (Paul uses them when cutting hot peppers), and a couple pairs of reusable cleaning-type plastic gloves. Duct tape.

I’m not planning to buy extra, but I’ll be making sure we’re nowhere near about to run out of our basic medicines: ibuprofen, antihistamines, prescriptions, antibiotic ointment. Maybe I’ll get a little ahead on bottles of multivitamins, just for the comforting aspect of it. We’ve got tons of band-aids already, and some bandages.

I’ll get a little ahead on cat food and cat litter, too.

I’ll plan to keep the cars fairly full of gas, rather than letting them run low. If there are things we WILL need pretty soon (socks, undies, printer paper), I’ll buy them sooner rather than later.

A clothesline is a nice multipurpose item; I got this one. Two hundred feet is enough to use it as a clothesline and still have extra to use as rope.

I already have a little survival-manual collection:

Department of Defense U.S. Army Survival Manual
The Forager’s Harvest
50 Most Common Medicinal Herbs

I have no idea if they’re any good. I’ve never opened them, let alone read them. It’s OWNING them that makes me feel better.

We have a pretty good supply of blankets and quilts already, and a sleeping bag per person I think. Actually, I think we only have enough sleeping bags for the kids. *adds “two sleeping bags” to list*

More ideas for the list?

76 thoughts on “Emergency Preparedness

  1. hope t.

    You may already have these but a camping stove and extra propane tanks are very important. During hurricane Sandy, we were without power for a week and it was chilly! The hot food we made on the stove in the garage was really helpful. Also, since then, we bought a super duper big Thermos that keeps water hot for 36 hours. We want to be able to have hot water always available.

  2. Suzanne

    Gasoline and/or propane?

    What about some sort of water-purification device or kit?

    My mother-in-law once bought a giant package of those little hand-warmer packets, where you shake them and it causes a chemical reaction that produces heat, and you can keep them in gloves or boots. I could see that those might be handy to have in stock.

    Now, this may be stepping a bit over the line from “reasonable preparedness” (or not!), but I found a “Basic Survival Garden Seed Assortment” package on Amazon that contains long-shelf-life seeds of a wide variety of vegetables. (There are LOTS of options on the same theme.)

  3. Renée

    Cast iron cookware. A good Dutch oven that can go in a fire. Another good book is The Encyclopedia of Country Living. I also have a book of edible plants that is specific to my area of the South. If you search prepping stuff on pintrest and see something that you think is important, print it out on your printer instead of pinning it so that if you are without power you still have access to that information.

  4. Barb

    There are blogs out there that give you a task a week to do- making copies of important documents, getting a water filter, etc. You’ll need water- I think the guideline is a gallon/person/day. Start with a 72 hour supply. I’ve been saving my empty dishwashing soap containers, refilling (without rinsing) with water, and then labeling as “soapy water”, which can then be used for hand washing, or dishes or clothes. It’s so simple and easy.

  5. Melanie

    This post made me so uncomfortable. I’ve read it through 5 times now; clicking over to Amazon, filling my cart.
    It literally never occurred to me that I should be stepping up my emergency preparedness. I feel nauseous. I feel like I’m so far behind and I don’t even know when the deadline is.

    1. anne nahm

      Yeah, I spent the weekend binge watching THE WALKING DEAD, and this morning figuring out when/where to watch the debates. This post is my trifecta for suddenly feeling quite nervous about the world.

    2. Emily

      Stepping up? I haven’t even started! SEVERE ANXIETY. My husband would blow this off so fast. We don’t even have canned food in the house, let alone survival necessities. We are Dave Ramsey-style paying off our debt, so I don’t see how this would fit, but I do have the intense urge to blow hundreds of dollars right now on this stuff…

      Can someone please step in and assure me that this is unnecessary??

      1. Jodie

        How about this, I’ll say that while it isn’t unnecessary (depending on where you live, storms, earthquakes etc are possible anytime) but I will say, don’t go blowing your budget.
        Start slow, so say maybe next time you are grocery shopping pick up a few canned goods and a can opener–so maybe an extra $5 and just do this every time you shop (pick up one or two extra things) but limit yourself to a) spending $5 or less and b) things you can use or give away.
        If you don’t want to spend even the $5 right now, try doing this–find and clear out a space you can store this stuff, take inventory of what you do have (flashlights, batteries, radio etc) and put them all in one place. Check your flashlight batteries (last time we lost power we discovered our emergency kit flashlights all had corroded batteries) put all your important documents in a safe (preferably fireproof place) .
        Christmas is coming too so remember you can maybe put stuff on your Christmas list–like a manual can opener, good quality flashlight, or the books!
        Check the books that you think you might want out of the library.
        Bottom line: good to be prepared, not necessary to do all in one shopping trip.

        1. Maureen

          I think this is great advice! Not trying to scare you, but as my husband says “it’s always fine until it isn’t.”. If you start to gradually get a box of emergency supplies together, that is never bad thing. I don’t know where you live, but I have lived in 3 different sections of the country, and things I have dealt with are blizzards, tornadoes, wind storms and earthquakes. And now I live in place that has extreme northern weather, so blizzards don’t close anything down-if we know we are getting several feet of snow it is kind of a “whatever” response. I know the lower 48 doesn’t have that luxury. If you have ever lived through an extended power outage or where you are stranded because of a blizzard, you will be thanking your preparedness for that freeze dried coffee and cans of Spam! Baby steps…

          1. Emily

            Thanks to you both. Weather emergencies don’t stress me out, but it’s the thought of like, economic collapse/post-apocalyptic scenarios that make me feel really nervous. I like the baby step idea…that feels manageable and I can do that. And I’ll just tell myself that we’re preparing for a potential blizzard and not the end of mankind.

  6. Jenny Grace

    Feminine hygiene products, and I would want to make sure that I owned a good cooler. Oh also water. I have an earthenware water dispenser thing and the associated 5 gal water bottle keeping cool in the basement (our water gets mucky when there are heavy storms, but it would also be good for the zombie apocalypse, maybe I would want two water jugs as part of my preparedness).
    I have a solar panel charging station thingie in case there is no power but I still want to charge devices.
    Robust first aid kit.
    I like to make sure that I have plenty of dried fruits on hand. I feel like most shelf stable food is carb based.
    I also count all of my camping stuff as crossover emergency stuff. Tarp, tent, pocket knife, fishing equipment, dry bag/stuff sacks.
    Enough water bottles and backpacks for all members of the household.

  7. Maria

    Phone numbers to family and addresses, if it’s stored in a phone or computer you could be out of power. Copies of important documents or ID. Some medical records, lists of allergies, etc.

  8. Jenny

    A full set of the Little House books, which will explain how to skin most any animal/vegetable and make sausage/pie out of it, and also tell you details on how to make a sod house/ log cabin. Very satisfying.

    Most 19th-century Arctic exploration books, which make you feel Anyone Can Survive Anything (except the people that don’t.) Specifically I recommend books about Shackleton, who brought his whole team back alive. Lots of pemmican in those books!

    Other 19th-century exploration and travelogue books, like to the Amazon and the Nile. Skip the ones that involve cannibalism.

  9. Madeleine

    While I was reading these comments, my plug-in emergency light that is supposed to come on automatically in a power failure came on! Right this minute! My power is fine and it just went back off. Weird. I suspect the cord got invisibly joggled.

    But what I came to tell you is that our local cemetery has a cute video series about surviving various disasters that you might like! Some are silly (anaconda) and some are very practical (car under water, house fire). I am not linking you to the main page for the campaign because it has a lot of scary facts mixed in with the cute. Here is the YouTube channel that is hosting the ads.

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU-rDtNnYJhOh_ZDXW-IxRA

  10. D in Texas

    Birth control methods. Keep your vehicle’s gas tank at least 3/4 full. Hand sanitizer. Disposable plates and cups. Sense of humor.

    1. Amy H

      I am now extremely worried about the fact that I have IUD slated to expire in 2 years. What happens after the five year window of effectiveness? Will I be ok leaving it in place in the event of world wide disaster or will that cause my own demise?!?!

  11. Jean

    I’m not even in the States and this post is making me want to hide under my desk and then purchase a metric-tonne of nuts and dried fruit.

  12. Cherie

    Someone else mentioned it, but cash. All emergency lists include cash; don’t count on working technology.

    Because I live in a cold place and have been working on winter prep, I actually feel okay. It’s not uncommon (though not common, either) for us to get stuck for a few days because of bad weather, so each fall I try to make sure we’ll be okay. It also makes me feel less anxious to tell myself it’s “winter prep” instead of “apocalypse prep.”

    My one worry is water. We have a well, which has benefits (no one’s poisoning my water supply) but also drawbacks (no power, no water). They sell emergency hand pumps but they are pricey. Not sure how worried I am.

    1. Nadine

      We got a generator to power our well in case of extended power outage. We had to have an electrician put in a new outlet for the generator and a switch to keep our power from flowing backwards. I think it was money well spent for peace of mind especially during a severe winter storm.

  13. Celeste

    If you were really scared about a power outage, you could get a generator. Also, enhance your home security in case unprepared people find out you have all the peanut butter.

    Mostly I think that if you needed to stay home for a while until things got under control, entertainment would be needed. Maybe find a couple of new games , stock up on supplies for hobbies, or stash some books that no one has read yet.

  14. Robin

    After Katrina, my husband stocked what I like to refer to as our ‘apocalypse closet’ – 55 gallon drum of water, meal replacements. After I heard that people were abandoning pets, I made him get ‘cat-pocalypse’ supplies as well so we could take our 2 pets if we had to. Do you have pets? If so, don’t get low on their food either.

  15. Meggan

    We have a hand-crank flashlight/radio thing which has come in very handy in power outages, and I’m considering buying another that has a USB port so we can use it to charge our phones in an emergency. I considered the “power pack” type charge banks, and I might get those too, but those will eventually run out of juice and I like the idea of the hand crank thing never running out. (As long as you can turn the handle, I guess.)

  16. Shawna

    Some of this sort of stuff can be so variable depending on where you live (not just climate, but micro-climate – are you in a wet area or dry? – and neighbourhood – city, town, or country?) and what season it is when an emergency hits.

    A spark-making thing in case you run out of matches (flint and steel I think). A first-aid manual. A lifestraw (https://www.amazon.com/LifeStraw-LSPHF017-Personal-Water-Filter/dp/B006QF3TW4/ref=sr_1_1) or maybe more than one of these?

    My mom lives in the country, heats with wood, and cooks with propane, and the only thing she had issues with during the ice storm years ago was that the sump pump needed power. A lot of homes on her road would have had flooded basements if the neighbours with generators hadn’t gone up and down the road once a day so sump holes could be emptied.

    If you do get a generator, be sure to get a good lock/chain to keep it if it’s hooked up outside your house – there are always stories of people stealing generators during long-term blackouts.

  17. Ess

    Holy crap this post is stressing me out! This stuff has been on my mind and my husband thinks I’m a crazy person! I would add giant tarp to your list. They are useful and cheap.

  18. Feisty Harriet

    Tampons. Extra can opener (for all those canned items). Water purification method (pills, bleach + time, actual purifying pump). Cash in small bills and a flash drive (in a water-proof bag/case/something) with all your most important documents saved to it (include scans of birth certificates and passports, just in case). Current photos of you and your kids, individual ones, in case–heaven forbid–someone goes missing.

    I also think it’s smart to have an out-of-state contact person who can run point, a family member or whatever that everyone can contact somehow to let everyone else know they are okay. If city-wide communications are kaput, someone in another state can be a life-line.

    Also, a plan with your family. Will you meet at home? What is option 2 if home is no longer standing?

    xox

  19. Machesa

    I think that a lot of times, when people think about stocking up on things so that they can be prepared for a disaster, they tend to stock up on things they wouldn’t actually need. Like my brother, who bought a huge supply of diapers for his daughter in a more paranoid moment. Result: he had far more of that size of diapers than he ever needed because the disaster never came. Plus having a large supply of disposable diapers is only helpful as long as the trash people are coming. Had the civil crisis he envisioned actually come to pass, he would have ended up with a large pile of dirty diapers. I would assume that in a true crisis, most of the services that we take for granted wouldn’t be running– no trash collection, no water treatment, no power, etc. He focused on a shortage that was easy for him to imagine, without thinking about all the infrastructure that might be taken out of the equation.

    I have a similar thought about your thinking that you need a large amount of toilet paper. If your house is on municipal water and sewer, that supply of toilet paper may not serve you as well as you’d like.

    What I’d advise is to have the stuff you’d need for a natural disaster, which is much more likely. What would you need on hand if you had a flood or an earthquake? Or something went severely wrong at the power plant? Or if as a result of one disaster, the water supply was in question? The Red Cross has an emergency preparedness checklist, as do other organizations. Go look for one of them, and assume that if things were really bad, you’d evacuate to friends/family who live out of the area as soon as you no longer had to shelter in place.

    Oh, and– if you do buy a bunch of supplies, think about where you’ll put them. Because basements tend to flood first. If you have a flood, you don’t want you emergency supplies to be contaminated.

  20. Bethany West

    I didn’t see flour on your list. To store flour long-term, I recommend picking up some food-safe 5 gallon buckets at Lowe’s or Home Depot, washing them w soap/water, putting a 1-2 oz chunk of dry ice in the bottom, then filling with flour. Cap loosely until the ice has sublimated (you can tell bc water stops condensing on the spot where the ice is), then seal er up.
    Bugs will be killed at pretty low CO2 percentages, and this method will give you 90%+ CO2 concentration, which is more than enough to keep for a few decades.
    Source: offspring of a prepper nut, also Mormon

  21. Carrie

    I am friends with a Red Cross Disaster Recovery guy. He presented a large group of us a class on this. It was awesome. Down to how many gallons of water you might want to store. (And I am woefully unprepared.) That said, call the Red Cross. Those folks LOVE to share this knowledge with others. Seriously.

  22. Carmen

    Oooh, emergency preparedness! We have a 72-hour grab & go kit for earthquakey type emergencies, and it has a bunch of water and food and a set of these in it: http://totalprepare.ca/product/meals-ready-to-eat-mres-case-of/.

    I have also considered the shelter-in-place business, as you are here, so we also have these: http://totalprepare.ca/shop/freeze-dried-emergency-food/legacy-premium-food-storage/meal-packages/ A 360-serving kit, which will last our family of 4 for one month without food. The total cost is a lot, but the expiration dates are very very far away. Once we’re getting close to them, we’ll start eating them on camping/hiking trips I think. Or when we’re old and decrepit and no longer want to be cooking meals. :)

    I do worry about the water situation. In order to survive for two weeks without running water, that site I linked to says you need 28 gallons of water just to stay hydrated and alive. It is recommended that you have 14 gallons because you may need just as much water as you drink, to cook and clean. And that’s just for one person! So factor in the whole family and holy crap! I don’t have enough water! We have water purification tablets and a pump filter as well so that helps, but we don’t have water stored somewhere other than our hot water tank. :)

    We have flashlights, radio & batteries, books/cards/dice, multifunctional solar & hand-crank charger for flashlights & phones, some money, out-of-city contact phone numbers. Tampons/maxipads. We have copies of our passports, birth certificates, driver’s licences, etc. in our grab & go kit, and we have a digital copy saved on a cloud somewhere.

    I’ll be sure to read these comments to see what I’ve forgotten. :)

  23. Matti

    “Gold Box Deal of the Day: Eton Radios | American Red Cross Emergency Preparedness Deal”
    So these two things both showed up in my in box today! That’s relaxing.
    :Reading the comments and taking notes:

  24. Katy (aka Taxmom)

    I gave this a lot of thought c. 22 years back because we were living in the greater LA area shortly after the ’94 Northridge earthquake. By the way, my husband, who is a geologist, swears he will take an earthquake over pretty much any other kind of natural disaster. What some of your commentors went through after Sandy/Katrina etc … ugh, I saluate you. In CA if you have to pick up your broken life after a major quake, at least you are doing it in the same weather you had immediately prior, which typically does not include 102% humidity. Anyway, from the emergency preparedness class I remember (offered by the local PD), the takeaway was water (can never get enough) and sanitation (buckets, heavy plastic bags, lye or sanitizing chemicals, I’m sure my memory is outdated). It doesn’t have to be a zombie apocalypse for you to need a place to poop without spreading disease.

    I like your commentor’s use of ‘grey’ (i.e. pretty clean but not potable) water for washing up etc.,

  25. caro

    Maybe a survival blanket? (One of those silver blankets that runners use because it reflects 90% of your body heat back to you). Folds up small and compact, too.

  26. Alison

    I’m having a baby in a few weeks and this post is making me decidedly…panty. My husband is already side-eyeing my pre-baby non-perishable stash. Now my purchases don’t seem nearly survivalist enough. (What is the civil unrest value of all the paper towels??) Maybe I can disguise my paranoia as hurricane preparedness.

    Also, the need to prepare is so weirdly at odds with my natural inclination to get rid of things and declutter. I hate what feels like excess, yet I keep nodding along with everything in the comments. It makes me feel even more crazy.

    1. Haley

      I was coming here to right the exact comment. My recent years of minimalizing my home/life which was already so at odds with my desire to always be prepared and I had finally come to terms with it. Now I’m getting pant-y and anxious. I want to be prepared but I don’t want so much stuff everywhere!

  27. Sarah!

    I’d grab a camping water filter and a simple camp stove. You can get ones that run off canisters, or ones that run off refillable cans that you can put any kind of fuel in, including gasoline.

    I keep my camping gear in the trunk of my car, including several nonperishable meals that just need water/stove. Most important is sleeping bag(s). It’s never happened, but it’s extremely comforting to know I could easily survive a night in a ditch when I’m driving in the snow!

    Also makes me feel good to know that if I needed to evacuate, it’s there.

  28. Alexicographer

    Huh. For the unrest that I believe is what you are anticipating, I am counting principally on our current passports and credit cards, plus the thought that November 8th lies more than 2 months prior to January 20th, so one hopes there will be time to, um, explore other possibilities. Am I proud of that? Well, no, not in the slightest, but all the same. I guess we can stash water and canned goods once we arrive where we’re headed.

    An older copy of the Joy of Cooking (possibly newer copies as well) will advise you on how to butcher and dress large and small game, and such, though I don’t think it’s such a help on sod houses.

  29. Shawna

    Following up on the sanitation remark above, I suppose a shovel for digging a latrine would make a lot of sense!

  30. Dawn

    Swistle, I love you. But please stop with the over the top, OMG what if Trump wins nonsense.

    Ok, now I’ll sit back and watch the hatred pour over me.

    1. Swistle Post author

      I hope this is not the kind of blog where the commenters would pour hatred over you. But I had also hoped this was not the kind of blog where someone would leave such a provocative comment and then sit back hoping to see hatred.

      1. Kate

        Agreed. Any comment that includes the words “sit back and watch” as whatever reaction they are looking for happens is not a comment that belongs here.

  31. Squirrel Bait

    Thanks for the reminder that being prepared is always better than being unprepared. I immediately went out to buy cat food (priorities!), but now I need to give the rest of our supplies a thorough check.

  32. Kay

    I went through a big preparedness crunch a few years ago after our (urban, decidedly unprepared) area was swamped by a devastating hurricane. Power was restored to most of our neighborhood in 3-4 days, but our building had an extra issue requiring a cherry picker to reconnect the power; the power company was severely short on cherry pickers; we had no power for 2 1/2 weeks. By then it was mid-November and getting very, very cold at night. (You should be able to guess by now which storm I’m talking about.) We slept under numerous blankets and discovered that candles DO add heat to a room, plus we took to hanging out at neighborhood places that did have power back and going to bed by 9 pm.

    Anyway, I discovered beprepared.com and stocked up on most of the things you listed. I also went through a period of manic survivor manual consumption. It seemed like the #1 suggested material item to have on hand is a hand cranked/solar powered weather radio with cellphone charging capabilities (which you have).

    Beyond all of the material prep, the other take away I got is how valuable immaterial support structures are. Do you know your neighbors? Do you have a network of people in a 5-mile radius who have different skill sets and resources, who could help form a block of support if there was a time of civil unrest or extended natural disaster? (With the latter, thinking less of hurricanes and that kind of thing than a devastating, unexpected earthquake or a solar flare that fries all communication systems, etc.) Unfortunately, a network like that is way harder to build and maintain. Even just having a set of safe places identified where your kids could go if they couldn’t reach you (anyone you trust within walking distance from their schools?) is a start.

  33. LeighTX

    Having been through two hurricanes that left us without power for nine days each time, I can attest that a camp stove is crucial. Make sure you have a way to make your coffee! If you can get caffeine into your system each morning, it makes the rest of the mess a little easier to deal with.

  34. Phancymama

    We have recently moved to an area that is populated by many LDS families, and we were beyond excited to find our new home has a great emergency storage area.
    I like to buy things that will last and keep for emergency, but that we can also use up and rotate. The freeze dried fruit are great (we shop emergency essentials online) because my kids will snack on them regularly. Flour because I use it to bake with. Etc.

    It just occurred to me that I have three pets who are getting quite older. Two have pretty tough medical stuff going on, and I anticipate them needing to be euthanized in the near-ish future. I can’t decide if it is rational or panicky that I am wondering what I will do if the option of the vet euthanize get them is not available and they are suffering. Oh dear.

    1. Cayt

      It’s sad to think about, but if your pets are fairly small, you can create CO2 with baking soda and vinegar in a ziplock bag and euthanise them that way.

  35. CC Donna

    I’ve wondered how long water lasts before getting bacteria in it? Someone mentioned a 55 gallon drum of water. Surely that’s not like bottled, bacteria free water. I suppose it’s for washing up but even at that, doesn’t it need to be recycled weekly and the drum thoroughly washed? I think a generator sounds practical and that means a stockpile of gasoline is needed. This would also come in very handy with winter storms and lack of power that is routine in my area of the country. It would keep the well pump, heat and refrigerator running.
    Swistle, with all that rope in your emergency stockpile, you could use it in the event of family unrest!

  36. DoingMyBest

    Oh! CHOCOLATE. If one were to need to use one’s emergency supplies, we can assume it would be a time of serious stress. CHOCOLATE.
    (Or whatever one usually uses to soothe one’s nerves in times of serious stress.)

  37. Bec

    Speaking as someone who got her Master’s degree in Emergency and Disaster Management, I don’t think any of these types of preparations are over the top. FEMA recommends that everyone have many of these things – one gallon per person per day for drinking and minimal cleaning is recommended as a baseline. There are lots of other good suggestions in the comments and FEMA and the Red Cross have TONS of good materials on these topics.

  38. Maureen

    I live in Alaska, where we know if it all hits the fan, the federal government won’t be rushing in to rescue us. We tend to have more emergency supplies anyway, a few years ago we lost our electricity after a bad wind storm in September, for 2 weeks. Luckily we have a portable generator that runs off gas, it is really loud, but it has several outlets, and we would do a rotation, Freezer, fridge, TV (my husband was in withdrawal), and a strip where we could charge our devices.

    We have a small camping stove that runs off the propane canisters, drinking straws that purify water (we have a stream at the end of our street), we keep canned protein and vegetables on hand. Sleeping bags of course, cold weather clothes, matches in ziplock bags along with a flint, and plenty of firewood. Ibuprofen, antiseptic materials, and bandages. We always buy large bags of food for our animals, so they would be good for quite a while. Lots of batteries for our lamps, and we do have several space heaters we could run off the generator. We keep gallons of gas on hand.

    I once read somewhere that if the infrastructure collapsed, we would be 48 hours from chaos. I tend to believe this, because all the things you take for granted would be gone. Credit cards would be worthless if there is no electricity.

    This book scared the crap out of me, and prompted a big shop at Costco “Life As We Knew It” by Susan Beth Pfeffer, it is a YA novel, but a realistic portrayal (I think) of what would happen if things went nuts.

  39. Meg

    Oh boy this is all so scary. I worry about you guys very much.

    Obviously I hope that no matter what happens politically, you won’t need anything like this. But I understand that making preparations is really helpful in terms of feeling like you’ve got some control over the elements that you actually can control.

    I would suggest lots of blank paper and things to write/draw with. For reasons of needing to take notes / send letters / etc. but also for Art When One Is Really Freaking Bored. So maybe some coloured pencils, markers, pencil sharpeners, as well as just a few blue pens. And also some books of crosswords, colouring/activity books, sudoku, postcards, greeting cards. Small things that don’t take up much room but might give you 5 mins relative sanity. As you know, you can print out all kinds of great colouring pages or puzzles online for free, you don’t have to actually spend money on buying them, either.

    ALSO. Maybe some printouts of some of your favourite bloggers’ archives. Like someone you read every day, if there’s a way to print a digest of everything they wrote in 2008.

    Playing cards. A few packs so it’s not the end of the world if you lose a few from one pack or another. Good for various games, and making card houses, and also they just don’t take up lots of room.

    Some treat food for each person, even if it’s the kind of thing that would perish after the first week or so. Maybe a little bag per person that’s just for them, no one else. Other treats come out of the general foodstuffs, shared by everyone.

    Maybe some printed instructions on various card games, and party game type activities that you could get the kids going on (though in your shoes I would be very carefully filtering that kind of thing to make sure it’s either something the kids won’t drag me into, or if they will, it’s something I can actually freaking stand doing) (so I understand if you’d be the same!).

  40. Nancy

    We had a huge power failure in my city last night and I wished I had given this whole disaster preparation thing more thought.

  41. JP

    We had no real emergency items on hand/stored/gathered for any disaster of any kind prior to reading this post. By the end of the coming weekend, I expect to have a basic 72-hour Kit gathered and stored for our family. Thanks for bringing this up! I do prep prior to expected bad weather and keep appropriate cold weather emergency items in my car in that season, but it hadn’t occurred to me to keep emergency things stocked and gathered since the early 2000s.

  42. Janet

    This is the perfect time to plug the branch of the CDC where I work! On our webpage (https://emergency.cdc.gov/) we have links dealing with different types of emergencies – both preparing for them and coping with them; and for different groups of people (e.g., older adults, children and caregivers, those with chronic illnesses).

    Hope this helps!

  43. Erin

    I live on the East Coast of Florida (yep, right where Hurricane Matthew hit). This post helped remind me of things I needed to get before the hurricane and I’ve added to my list in case of any other unrest in the future. We ended up evacuating, we live too close to the beach for comfort during a storm, and it was nice having things on hand that we needed. Now that we are back home I’m preparing my stock for any other emergencies hat may arise since depleting some of our stock. Thanks!

  44. Alissa

    If it helps, think of it as helping future you instead of preparing for something super bad – having extra food on hand an extra supplies of everything will help if your main income earner loses their job, if you’re all really sick for a week and can’t make it to the shops, or if the weather is so bad (flood, snow, storm) that you need to stay inside.

    We stock up on what we already use, then make sure it all gets rotated.

    Probably important is prepping for the children – have extras of their favourite foods on hand. No wants to be stuck indoors in an emergency with children who are stressed and expressing that through extra whining and tantrums over x food not being available. Prep to minimise whinging.

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