Nerdy confession…Emergencies sort of invigorate me. Tornado warnings are the most exciting. I jump into action, insulating the closets with pillows and craning my neck out the window to spot funnel clouds.
Nevertheless, it’s overwhelming to think about preparing my family for emergencies. I tend to struggle with anxiety anyway, so I sort of hyperventilate when I think about what we’d do for my asthmatic, food-allergic son without power or safe foods!
And there are so many questions:
- What kind of emergencies do I need to prepare for? Earthquake? Stock market crash? Apocalypse?
- What supplies and food do I need, and how much?
- How do I store it all?
- Can I stockpile on a budget?
Image by Laura Griffith
I recently decided hyperventilating was not an appropriate form of preparation. I started researching and came up with my list of essential stockpile items.
- Bottled water and water purifying tablets
- Camping stove and appropriate fuel source (My rugged and manly husband has certified that this reasonably-priced one would be an acceptable choice.)
- Manual can opener
- Protein sources – dry/canned beans, canned tuna or chicken, nut butters, shelf-stable boxed or dried milk
- Carbohydrate sources – white rice (usually we do brown, but white lasts longer), pasta, oats, couscous (good option as it requires little water)
- Condiments: honey (never expires), salt, spices, cooking oils
- Canned/dried fruit and vegetables
- A light source: lantern (with proper fuel), headlamps, flashlights and batteries. (Candles also work, but if you have little kids, you may be happier with a less “interesting” light source.) Our N.J. friends lost power for eight days during Hurricane Sandy, and they said their lantern and headlamps were invaluable!
- Warm clothing: Under Armor or long underwear, wool socks, fleece pants, good gloves
- Medical supplies. Along with your first aid kit, don’t forget a first aid book, doctor’s contact info, multivitamins, old/extra pair of glasses for those use them, and prescription medicines. (I was able to get a few months stash of my son’s asthma medications with one co-pay when I explained to my doctor that I was stockpiling for an emergency. I think he thought I was a little crazy, but oh well. :-))
- Cleaning supplies: white vinegar, soft soap, hand sanitizer, alcohol, peroxide
- Toilet paper
If you haven’t begun an emergency kit, it can feel overwhelming to begin. It helped me to list every single thing we needed, put them in order of importance, and try not to get discouraged while working slowly.
I started with a 72-hour stockpile. Instead of guessing at the food, I meal-planned like I do for the week. Then we’ll add to our pile. I’ve read that 2-3 weeks’ worth of water and food is a good goal. (Interesting fact: apparently you need a gallon of water per person, per day!) And if you have a pet, don’t forget water and food for him!
Here are a few of the basic emergency meals I compiled:
- Oatmeal: oats, coconut oil, dried fruit, brown sugar/honey
- Crackers & nut butter
- Chili (any combination of beans, rice, salsa, canned tomatoes and vegetable)
- Spaghetti with canned Sauce
- Chicken soup – broth, canned chicken, canned veggies, noodles
- S’mores – chocolate, marshmallows, graham crackers (nothing like a special snack to boost the morale!)
I’m on a budget, so my stockpile grows slowly. Some weeks it’s just a measly can of beans or gallon of water. I keep reminding myself that it’s like scrimping pennies for your savings account… every little bit counts. Here is a great resource on stockpiling on a budget. And as Stacy used to say, don’t forget coupons!
Gifts are another great way to add items to your stash! Don’t laugh, but here are a few things our family got for Christmas this year: emergency meals, water purification tablets, ammunition, a disaster-readiness book, and a pocket knife. And don’t tell my hubby, but he just might get some bottles of propane for Valentine’s Day. What’s hotter than propane, really? 😉
Once you start accumulating a stockpile, you’ll need somewhere to store it. I prefer my stash in a separate spot. Otherwise it tends to get absorbed into the normal stuff and used up. You can empty a cupboard, a pantry shelf, coat closet, even under the bed.
To keep items fresh, I read to label each item with the date you bought it in permanent marker. Every time daylight savings comes, use up the older items.
Eventually, we’d love to add to our stockpile a generator, water purification system like this one by Berkey, a battery-powered radio, and seeds.
Have you ever lost power for an extended period of time? What did you learn? What’s in your emergency stockpile?
* Want to do more research? Be sure to check out Stacy’s helpful post on GOODY bags (emergency kits). Here is my favorite book on the topic, and here is a comprehensive 52-week plan to for disaster readiness.
Click here for a printable Checklist for your stockpile —> 12 Essential Items for Emergency Stockpile – checklist
Jessica Smartt is a former middle-school teacher who lives in beautiful North Carolina. You can find her at Smartter Each Day where she enjoys poking fun at the everyday challenges of motherhood, sharing delicious allergy-free recipes, and rejoicing that God still loves her no matter what phobia she has recently developed. She is blessed beyond belief with two Smartt little boys and a husband who can fix anything.