Being prepared for an emergency is, in my opinion, one of the most important things that a family can do. Yes, having a personal budget that works for you is needed. Yes, building wealth is important, but the plain truth is that if an emergency happens and you’re unprepared, with the exception of a few emergencies, you’re going to need more than money. You’re going to need supplies if it is a major emergency; especially if that major emergency is at a state or national level. When you’re an emergency prepper, you can easily look at your emergency preparedness items and make the mistake of thinking that you have all of the emergency preparedness items that you need. A lot of the time though, you have forgotten something and you don’t realize that until the “stuff” has hit the fan.
When I say the “stuff” hits the fan, I don’t mean a massive disaster that affects everyone. Sure, that could happen, but for our family personally, we prep for things that will primarily affect only us. Specifically, our main income comes from this blog. It is irregular and can show massive jumps or drops from month to month. This means that we could have thousands left over one month but be negative on income the next. Preparing is one way that we can protect our finances from a financial crisis. We also prepare for weather related emergencies since I’ve lived in areas that include all kinds of weather and have seen pretty much all of it and the damage that Mother Nature can do. Life is full of moments where we question what would happen. How many times have you asked “what if” or “what would we do” to yourself or your spouse? Preparing for an emergency helps you make sure that you would be better equipped to fully handle those moments.
Emergency Preparedness Items To Store for When “Stuff” Hits the Fan
Each person and each family will have their own version of “stuff” and each family will need different amounts of emergency preparedness items. A family that is preparing will need larger amounts than a single parent who is preparing for an emergency. In other words, what you’re preparing for and the way you prepare for it likely won’t be the exact same as the way that we do and how we prepare likely isn’t the same as the next guy. No matter what you’re worried about happening though, these 99 emergency preparedness items are pretty much a constant for most emergencies. Some of these items would be for your own family while others would be more useful in a situation where you need to barter. Some of these things may seem excessive, but they are all important for one reason or another in a major emergency situation.
Batteries in all sizes – We are a society that uses electronics in almost every aspect of our lives so having batteries on hand is just plain smart. You’ll want to primarily keep AA or AAA sizes on hand, but don’t forget about 9V, C and D sizes. If you’re looking to save money, Amazonbasics batteries are actually really good batteries, but your best bet is to buy a battery charger and rechargeable batteries.
Duct Tape – If you can’t fix it with Duct Tape? You need more Duct tape.
Flashlights – Picking up a few good flashlights is never a bad idea. They put off more light than a candle and they’re safer than an open flame. This is especially important if you have children in the home. See #1 for keeping your flashlights working.
Blankets – How many blankets do you have in your home? Three? Not even that? Storing extra blankets is always a good idea. They can be used for a lot more than just keeping warm. If you don’t have the room in your budget to go out and buy a bunch of expensive blankets, look into the moving blankets like the ones that Tractor Supply sells. They’re not exactly the softest but they will pad the ground and keep you warm when you need it. Trust me on that.
Wool Socks – While the Fruit of the Loom socks that you have in your drawer are great, they won’t keep your feet very warm if there is no furnace during the winter. They also won’t pad your feet very well if you have to walk more than a few blocks. To help protect your feet, invest in a few pairs of wool socks and keep them in your 72 hour emergency bag.
Coats and jackets – I know what you’re thinking. “Stacy, you live in Texas.” Yes, I do but you can bet your next paycheck that I have a light jacket and heavy coat for each of my family members. We also have extras. Why? Because even Central Texas drops below freezing at some point during the winter and North Texas gets even colder. No matter where you live, the weather is the one thing in life that you really can’t predict. You can guess, but things can change.
Mittens/gloves – See the above point.
Hats – No matter where you live, you’ll want to make sure you have enough hats to go around for your own family plus a few extras in case they get lost or wear out. Hats aren’t just for cold. Here in Texas, they go a very long way toward protecting your scalp, face and forehead from the blazing sun. For best results, use a wide brimmed hat like a boonie hat. If you don’t have those though, a baseball cap is better than nothing.
Freeze Dried Emergency Foods – Whether you’re looking for something to keep in your 72 hour emergency bag, your vehicle emergency kit or just your emergency stockpile, Freeze Dried Emergency Foods are a great thing to have on hand. They’re light weight, shelf stable and easy to use. We personally use Thrive Life Foods for ours. I love that they offer a personal Q so that I can set it and forget it and that they are absolutely delicious. We actually use a lot of them in our daily life right now! (Seriously, there’s a gallon of Thrive Life milk in my fridge right now)
Water storage – Ideally you should have water stored in several ways and have a way to purify it in case your stored water runs out. 5 gallon water containers are fantastic for drinking water as are 30 gallon and 55 gallon water storage barrels. Most barrels can be filled with a hose or sat outdoors and used as a rain barrel. Finally, you’ll also want to have a quality water filter, such as the Berkey water filter, in case you need to filter water. We use much more water than most of us realize each day and you absolutely will run out of what you have stored if an emergency lasts long enough.
Candles – I know that I said earlier that flashlights are better than candles, but that doesn’t mean you won’t want to have a few on hand. For best results, purchase long burning candles such as the ones designed for use with UCO lanterns or 100 hour candles. They’ll burn longer which means you’ll get more bang for your buck.
Plastic Tarps – Those blue and grey poly tarps might not seem like they’re good for much, but they are. Of course they can be used to cover things, but they can also be used to create a makeshift shelter, to cover the ground, to cover your body and more. Having a few on hand is never a bad idea.
Band-aids – You will get cuts in an emergency situation and if you don’t have a way to keep those cuts clean? You will be dealing with an infection that could very easily turn serious. Having a few waterproof band-aids on hand can save you from all of that trouble.
Anti-Bacterial Ointment – Those little tubes are fantastic for keeping infections away so making sure that you have a few tubes on hand is super important. If you’re worried about expiration dates or don’t want to use the store bought, making homemade antibacterial ointment is probably your answer. When you make your own, you can make as little or as much as you need without worrying about having spoilage.
Gauze Bandages and Medical Tape – Along with regular band-aids, you’ll want to keep something on and for deeper cuts. That is why your first aid kit should include a few different size gauze bandages and a roll or two of medical tape. It will allow you to bandage anything too large for a band-aid to cover.
Honey – Honey will keep indefinitely and is a great natural antibiotic, great for allergies and more. When it’s stored on the shelf for a while, it may crystallize but it just takes a little bit of heat and a good shake to bring it back. Raw honey is best, but if you can’t get raw honey, any will do as long as it is actually honey. For long term storage, freeze dried powdered honey is a fantastic option.
Essential Oils – Essential oils can be used to make homemade cleaning supplies and to help treat or relieve certain medical conditions which means that without a shadow of doubt,you need to include them in your preps. I personally prefer Plant Therapy essential oils for two reasons. First, they’re 100% pure essential oils which means they aren’t cut with anything and secondly, they’re extremely affordable.
Strike Anywhere Matches – Having a lighter is great for starting a fire, but what happens if your fluid runs out and you don’t have another? Keeping strike anywhere matches on hand can help with that. Just make sure to dip the match heads in paraffin wax lightly to help make them waterproof.
Tent – If you’re preparing for an emergency, you’re likely also preparing for the chance that you may have to leave your home. In this case, you’ll need a place to sleep so making sure that you have a good, quality tent that will sleep your entire family. For comforts sake, go 2-3 people larger than you actually need so if you have a family of 6, opt for a tent that sleeps 10. Make sure you pick up some waterproofing spray too since factory waterproofing often doesn’t do the job well enough.
Sleeping Bags – Depending on your area, you’ll want to make sure that you have sleeping bags that can handle any temperature changes that you might experience. This can include a lightweight summer sleeping bag for the warmer months or something as heavy as a 0 degree sleeping bag. Don’t simply rely on your memory for which you need. Find the average summer and winter temperatures for your area for the last 10-years to get a good idea.
Camp stove – If things go south, you’ll need a steady way of cooking meals. Sure, cooking over an open fire is always an option, but it will make things much easier on you and others who are cooking if you pick up a camp stove. If you’re only looking for something that will carry you through a day or two, a backpacking stove will work, but if you’re looking for something to use on a longer timeline, consider something along the lines of a Coleman camp stove. Just be sure to pick up propane canisters for your stove as well if it needs them.
Propane Heaters – Speaking of propane, having a couple of propane heaters on hand is not a bad idea. Having a secondary heating source ready to go will help if your furnace happens to go out during the colder months of the year. I personally prefer to use the Mr. Buddy brand heaters since they put off an incredible amount of heat, but you should use whichever ones you’re most comfortable with. If you don’t like the idea of a propane heater, consider a kerosene heater instead. Like with the camp stove, be sure you have extra propane on hand. If you’re using a kerosene heater, you’ll want to keep a supply of K1 and extra wicks on hand.
Chapstick – Not only are empty Chapstick containers incredibly handy, but having lip balm or Chapstick on hand can save you from painful chapped lips. We personally make our own homemade Chapstick recipe instead of buying it. I prefer to know what is going on my lips than to apply a bunch of chemicals that I can’t pronounce.
Lighters – Eventually you’ll likely run out of matches. Having a few lighters on hand will save you a ton of trouble when that happens. Just be sure to keep them out of reach of the kidlets.
Coconut Oil – Coconut oil has an incredible shelf life (for an oil anyhow) and has so many benefits that it just makes sense to have it on hand. Not only that, but in addition to the cooking and health benefits, it is also a staple ingredient in homemade beauty supplies such as homemade deodorant and homemade shampoo. Opt for an organic coconut oil so that you are certain you’re getting pure coconut oil and store it in a cool dark place. It will keep on the shelf for 12-18 months. If you want to store more than one option, choose to stock both fractionated and “regular” coconut oil.
Wipes for both bathing and cleaning – Both your body and your home will get dirty quickly in an emergency situation which means that you need to store both reusable and disposable wipes that can do both. For bathing, consider stocking disposable adult wipes. The adult versions are much more thick than a baby wipe and are generally larger as well. For cleaning, store things such as Lysol disinfecting wipes or learn how to make homemade reusable cleaning wipes.
Vinegar – Vinegar, both white vinegar and apple cider vinegar, should be a staple in any home that practices emergency preparedness. White vinegar is a staple in not only preserving foods, but also cleaning due to its natural properties. Organic Apple cider vinegar has an incredible amount of health benefits. By keeping both on hand, you’ll be ensuring that you will be able to reap those benefits should the “stuff” hit the fan.
Mason Jars – If you’re looking to preserve your own food, you’ll need the supplies to do so. Mason jars are a staple for home canned foods. You will want to pick up an assortment of sizes including half-pint, pint and quart. Do not attempt to use jars that aren’t specifically for canning. You run the risk of exploding jars if you do. If you’re new to canning, make sure to pick up the Ball Blue Book before you get started and that you start off with a few easy canning recipes until you learn.
Water Bath Canner – Water bath canning or a boiling canner is what you will need to can most fruits. Basically a water bath canner is just a huge pot with a lid. They’re super cheap to buy which means that you have no reason not to have one.
Pressure Canner – Other items such as meat and most vegetables can not be water bath canned and instead, must be preserved using a pressure canner to be safe. When you buy one, you’ll need to make sure that you don’t buy a small pressure cooker. They are not safe to can in. If it is labeled as a cooker only, you’ll need to find something else.
Food Dehydrator – Having more than one way to preserve meat is always a good idea which means that you’ll want to have both a regular food dehydrator and a solar dehydrator ready to go. Dehydrator recipes are not hard to follow and if properly done, your dehydrated meat will last for years. You’ll get the most bang for your buck by dehydrating meat that you buy in bulk. We often order farm fresh meat from Zaycon Foods for the sole purpose of preserving it.
Vitamins and supplements – Try as you might, in a true emergency situation, it can be very hard to get all of the nutrients that your body needs. That’s why one of the most important emergency preparedness items that you can stock for your health is vitamins and supplements. Because vitamins and supplements are not regulated, be sure that you are only storing a reputable brand. We personally use NOW Foods brand since we have felt in our own home the quality of the ingredients.
Cooking herbs – Food cooked without herbs and seasonings is often bland, so making sure that you have them stocked is a fantastic idea. Not only that, but there are quite a few cooking herbs that can be beneficial medicinally which makes them a must include in your emergency preparedness items. Cooking herbs that can be grown in your kitchen are a great place to start. Once you’ve got them going, take a look at preserving dry herbs in mylar bags.
Seeds – In any emergency that lasts for more than a few weeks, you will likely need to start thinking about what happens after the food you have stored runs out. In other words, you’ll want to have seeds stored in your emergency preparedness items so that you can plant a garden. If you’re only preparing for short term, keeping them in the freezer should suffice, but if you’re preparing for long term, you’ll want to consider picking up a seed vault. Also make sure that you have a good quality organic fertilizer recipe on hand so that you can help your plants along.
Charcoal Grill and Charcoal – Need a place to cook outdoors, but can’t build a fire? Pull the grill out!
Cast Iron Cookware – If you would need to cook outdoors, what would you do so in? A good cast iron skillet or cast iron dutch oven is what! Thrift stores and yard sales are great for picking up cast iron cookware. Make sure that the ones you pick up are quality but don’t pay attention to rust. You can always remove it and you can always learn how to clean and season cast iron cookware pretty easily.
Aluminum foil – Aluminum foil; not just for hats. It can be used for so many things that it makes sense to make it one of your emergency preparedness items.
Rubbing Alcohol – In an emergency things will get dirty and will need sanitized. Make sure that you keep rubbing alcohol in your emergency preparedness items so that you can do so when you need to. It’s also smart to keep a bit of isopropyl alcohol on hand as well.
Your chosen method of security – Not getting into security here, but make sure that your chosen method is in working order with all of the supplies you would need.
Bleach – See rubbing alcohol then add water preservation to the list of why you should have it in your emergency preparedness items.
Shampoo – Commercially sold shampoo is fine, but this homemade coconut shampoo is a much better option and the one that I personally use.
OTC Pain Medicines – Ever had a toothache without medicine? How about a migraine with no pain medicine in sight? In an emergency that is the lat thing you will want to see happen. Keeping OTC pain medicines in your emergency preparedness items will cut will ensure that you can handle most minor emergencies such as a headache, toothache or fever. If you want to take it a step farther, keeping tart cherry juice or tart cherry juice concentrate in your stockpile is a good idea too. It works as a natural ibuprofen.
OTC stomach medications – Tums, Maalox, Pepto and other stomach medicines are necessary emergency preparedness items as well. You’ll also want to stock up on the natural versions too.
Hydrogen Peroxide – Not only does Hydrogen Peroxide make an effective mouth rinse, but it is great for cleaning minor scratches. It will also act as a natural bleach too.
Cotton Swabs and Cotton Balls – If you have ointments or something else to apply to a minor wound, you’ll need these on hand. Not only that but they’re great for applying essential oils if you don’t have a rollerball and for a ton of other uses.
Toothbrushes and toothpaste – Did you know that your health can be directly tied to how healthy your mouth is? For instance, certain conditions in your mouth can cause you to have a higher heart attack risk. This means that you’ll want to make sure that you have he emergency preparedness items to take care of your teeth and mouth. Keep extra toothbrushes, toothpaste, a good homemade toothpaste recipe and a DIY mouthwash recipe on hand so that you can handle whatever may come along for your mouth.
Dry Skin Lotion – If you’re having to work to feed your family, to clean up debris and what not, your hands are going to get raw and rough pretty quickly. Keeping a few bottles of hand cream or a homemade healing lotion recipe handy will help.
Soap – In any emergency, you run the risk of inviting harmful bacteria into your life if you can’t stay clean. Storing bar soap is best, but once that runs out, you’ll need to have the ability to make your own. This means that you’ll want to keep a few homemade soap recipes on hand as well as one for a DIY hand soap and homemade body wash. We even keep a homemade castile soap recipe in our emergency prep binder just in case.
Feminine Napkins – Just because an emergency happens, that doesn’t mean the Mother Nature will stop visiting the ladies. Because of this, it is incredibly important to keep feminine napkins in your emergency preparedness items. If you don’t want to store all disposables, consider making the switch to cloth pads. There are several fantastic companies that you can buy cloth pads from that will last and work well. If a cloth pad isn’t your thing, a menstrual cup such as the Diva Cup may be.
Razors, razor blades and shave cream – Shaving supplies will always be handy. Razor blades especially will be since they can be used for more than just shaving (chopping herbs, etc) if needed. Making sure that you have razors, blades and a good homemade shave cream recipe on hand will make any emergency easier to deal with. We use Dollar Shave Club to get our razors and blades since we can get our razor blades each month for only $3.00.
Toilet paper – ‘Nuff said.
Paper Towels – You’ll need a way to clean up messes so keeping a stockpile of paper towels on hand is just plain smart. Even better, swap the disposable paper towels for unpaper towels. Not only will you save money buying them, but they will last much longer
Laundry Detergent – You’ll need to clean your clothing so make sure that you keep a few bottles of your favorite laundry detergent in your emergency preparedness supplies too. Or learn to make homemade powdered laundry detergent or homemade liquid laundry detergent.
Disinfectant – Germs and other harmful organisms are your enemy in an emergency which makes a good disinfectant one of the most important emergency preparedness items you can have. Either store a few cans of Lysol or make your own homemade disinfectant spray.
Powdered milk – Have kids? You’ll want to store milk in your emergency supplies. They are little bodies that are still growing and will need the calcium. We store Thrive Life powdered milk in ours. You of course, can use any brand of powdered milk that you prefer. We store Thrive Life because it is the only powdered milk that I have tasted that doesn’t taste sour like most do.
Eggs – Did you know that eggs can be preserved to be shelf stable for 6-9 months when stored correctly? Most people don’t, but since they’re a great source of protein, you should consider storing them. If you don’t want to preserve them in shell, storing powdered eggs or pickled eggs are other great options.
Diapers – Whether or not you have a baby, you’ll want to store both disposable diapers and cloth diapers. Doing so will allow you to help others or barter with them if needed. Keeping other diapering items such as supplies needed to make homemade baby wipes and homemade diaper rash cream is smart as well.
Infant Formula – Diapers aren’t the only baby item you should stock. Infant formula can be incredibly valuable too. Having a few unexpired cans in your emergency preparedness items will allow you to help a mother who has a hungry tiny one or if nothing else, to trade for something that you need. To save on this if you don’t have an infant, look for different baby coupons that are available. You can also take this one step farther by requesting free baby samples to keep on hand as well.
Flour – Flour is a staple in most recipes which means that you need to have plenty stored in your emergency preparedness items.. When stored correctly, flour will last for years. If you have the extra room, it’s not a bad idea to store hard wheat and a grain mill as well.
Manual kitchen tools- If the power is out, how are you going to mix or chop something? Your mixer and food processor won’t work. This is why you need to keep manual kitchen tools such as a potato masher, mandoline chopper, and an egg beater in your emergency preparedness items.strike
Sewing supplies – What happens if there is an emergency, you rip your pants and Walmart isn’t open to get a replacement? You’ll need to sew them. At the very least, keep sewing needles, sewing thread and a good pair of sewing scissors in your supplies.
Crochet and knitting supplies – For the same reason as sewing, keeping crochet and knitting supplies on hand is smart. Crochet hooks, knitting needles, and yarn can all be used to create everything from dishcloths to clothing and blankets. If you don’t know how to crochet or knit, you can take crochet lessons online for a fairly reasonable price.
Baking soda – Baking soda is needed not only for cooking and baking, but for cleaning as well. Make sure you store it. When stored correctly, it will keep for years.
Plastic Bags – Plastic bags, such as the type you get from the grocery store, have numerous uses in an emergency situation. They can be used for everything from protecting clothes and shoes to disposing of waste.
Trash bags – This one should be common sense, but you have to put your waste somewhere in an emergency so that you avoid getting sick. Stock both 13-gallon trash bags and 33-gallon bags. You may also want to consider what you will do with your trash in if there was a true emergency.
5-gallon buckets – A 5-gallon bucket in an emergency can be your best friend. Thy can do everything from haul water to a makeshift toilet. If you’re planning on storing food in them, be absolutely certain that you get food grade 5-gallon buckets. Never store food in a bucket that isn’t food grade due to the chemicals that are in the plastic that a non-food grade bucket is made of.
Beans – Beans are high in fiber and high in protein which is why you hear oso many people that prepare for emergencies talk about them. In addition, they will store for years when kept cool and dry. Dry beans are incredibly cheap which makes it easy to keep a few pounds in your food storage.
Rice – See beans.
Tuna – Tuna is another high protein food that is incredibly cheap if you buy it at the right time. Follow the grocery store sale cycles and stock up when it drops below $0.89 per can. If you’re worried about expiration, tuna will last 2-5 years after it’s best buy date as long as the can is intact with no dents or rust and it has been stored in a room temperature environment.
Canned Chicken – You can’t live on tuna everyday though so be sure to add a few cans of canned chicken to your emergency preparedness items as well. We stock both commercially canned chicken and I buy chicken in bulk from Zaycon Foods to home can it. Home canned chicken can last upwards of 15 years and commercially canned will last 2-5 years past its best buy date.
School supplies – Whether you homeschool kids or not, having pens, paper and the like on hand in your emergency preparedness items isn’t a bad idea. You’ll never know when you need to write an actual letter. To stock up cheap, wait for back to school sales to start.
Hand tools – Along the same lines as the manual kitchen tools, having hand tools in your emergency preparedness items is needed too. This would include things such as a hand saw, level, screwdrivers, wrenches and even a hand drill. You can usually get really decent deals on Craigslist and if not, Ebay is full of listings for hand tools.
Dark Glass Spray Bottles – If you’re going to be making homemade cleaner recipes, you’ll need dark glass spray bottles to store them in. Light can destroy the properties of a homemade cleaner so the bottle needs to be a dark blue or amber color. If your cleaners have essential oils in them, you’ll need to use glass. Essential oils can degrade plastic and those toxins can leach into your cleaner causing it to not work as well.
Solar Charger – Take a look at the most recent natural disaster or extended power outage in your area. How many people were without a way to contact their family because of a dead battery? Having a solar charger allows you to keep not only your phone charged, but your tablets and e-readers as well. If you have kids, those tablets and e-readers will be invaluable in keeping them occupied.
NOAA emergency weather radio – Video did indeed kill the radio star, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have an emergency weather radio in your emergency preparedness items. You want one that receives both AM?FM signals and NOAA weather channels. If you get one that runs on batteries, make sure that it also has a hand crank or solar option too.
Fire Extinguisher – Whether you’re an emergency prepper or not; no home should be without a fire extinguisher. It’s as simple as that.
Mylar Bags and Oxygen Absorbers – If you’re planning on storing dry food goods in your emergency preparedness items, make sure that you keep mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. You’ll need to do some research to determine the appropriate size of O2 absorber hat you need for your bgs. Mylar sealed dry goods can last for years since oxygen that causes spoilage is removed.
Dishpan – A lot of folks that prepare for emergencies, also plan for the chance that they will have to leave their home or “bug out.” If this is the case, you’ll want to have a way to not only wash yourself, but to wash your cooking and eating utensils. Keeping an old school dishpan in your emergency preparedness items is great for your home. For the chance that you might have to leave, a collapsible sink is a good choice.
Oil lamps with plenty of fuel and extra wicks – While flashlights and candles are great ways to prepare for a power outage, they will only be convenient for a day or so. After that, you’ll want to have another source of light. Oil lamps put off quite a bit of light and use very little fuel in the long run. Just be sure to store plenty of extra lamp oil and extra wicks in your emergency preparedness items too.
Other shelf stable foods with long storage life
Manual Can Opener
Nails and screws
Axe to cut firewood if needed
Sharp skinning knife to be used for hunting
Good quality work boots
Latex or rubber gloves