Although supplies vary depending on where you live, having an emergency disaster kit on hand is vital. Earthquakes and hurricanes aren't the only reason to keep a store of food and supplies. Winter storms, prolonged power outages, and temporary food shortages can strike anywhere. You must determine what you need, along with where and how you will store it.
What You Need:
You should have enough supplies on hand for at least 72 hours, or longer if you live in an area prone to natural disasters. Your supplies should be enough for all the people and animals in your home, for the length of time you decided upon. The following are a few basic supplies that are necessary in any situation:
- Water. Store a minimum of 1 gallon and up to 5 gallons per day per person or animal.
- Food. Select dry or sealed foods, such as canned and packaged goods, that require minimal cooking and preparation to serve.
- First aid kit. Purchase the largest kit you can afford along with an easy-to-follow first aid manual.
- Prescription medications. Keep a supply of all necessary prescriptions along with backups of glasses and contacts.
- Cooking utensils. Stash a manual can opener along with pots, pans, plates and eating utensils in your supply kit.
- Camp stove. A small camp stove can provide warm meals. Remember to never use a camp stove indoors.
- Flashlight and radio. Wind up flashlights and weather radios don't require batteries to work.
- Blankets and clothing. Clean, warm bedding and clothing is a must, especially if winter storms are common in your area.
- Matches or fire starters. Keep these in a waterproof jar or bag.
- Documents. Place copies of important documents in your emergency kit.
- Hygiene items. Diapers, feminine hygiene products, and disinfectant fall into this category.
Where to Store It:
Preferably, you will keep all your disaster prep items nearby in your home. The basement or garage are common areas. If you prefer a large supply of food or water, or if you live in a small home or apartment, onsite storage may not be possible. In this case, consider renting a mini-storage unit that is within walking distance of your home.
How to Store Your Supplies:
You will need to rotate your supplies regularly, especially food and water. Water needs replaced with fresh every six months, and your food supplies should not expire. Heavy-duty food grade tubs work well for storing food items. If rodents or pests are an issue, or if you are using a mini storage unit, store food items in glass to protect against pests.
The contents in your first aid kit also have an expiration date, so you will need to replace these items as needed. Most other items can store indefinitely if they are kept dry. Place pallets on the ground in your storage unit, or use shelves, to keep things elevated in case of flooding.
If you go the storage unit route, keep a handcart or wheelbarrow in the unit so you can easily bring items home on foot if it isn't possible to drive. Keep enough supplies for 24 to 48 hours at home, in case you can't get to the unit right away.