What emergency supplies should I have on hand?

Preparing for an Emergency

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Disaster Preparations

Emergency Supplies

Preparing for an Emergency

After all the tornadoes, I'm concerned about being ready for an emergency. We probably could afford a few dollars each week to buy what we need. The question I have is what do we really need? Beyond batteries and some groceries what emergency supplies should we buy?

Visit FEMA.gov

FEMA.gov is a comprehensive website for emergency planning. I will also share two things to keep in mind from my own personal experience:

  1. If you have a landline, you will need a corded phone. Cordless phones do not work when the electrical power is off.
  2. After the disaster, it may take several days for your local government to test and certify that the water supply is safe. You must plan on using bottled water during this time. Even if your electrical power is on, you may not use the icemaker in your freezer. You must use ice trays filled with bottled water if you need ice.


Use Time Changes to Check Supplies

Your first stop should be Internet sites set up by the government on emergency preparedness and get their lists. Then go to other sites and check out what is included in the pre-packaged emergency packs. Print out these lists, and you will have a pretty good idea of what is required.

Personally, I have two packs (plastic totes with locking lids). One contains items that don't have expiration dates or are items relating to personal hygiene and clothing. The second one has to be checked on a regular basis. I use the spring and fall time change to check on the perishables. They tell us three days as a starter kit, but you will find that most sites suggest two weeks of necessities.

Cash Is One of the Most Important Emergency Supplies

One of the most important and often forgotten items needed in an emergency is cash. My son, while on a special task force in the Coast Guard, would get called out on a moment's notice. He quickly learned that he always needed ready access to some cash, so he purchased traveler's checks to have whenever the moment arose. Also, he kept a certain amount of money in small bills.

We have followed his example, so we are ready for whatever life throws at us in a hurry. Also, Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, and your pain medicine of choice would be good additions.
Sarah S.

Make Yourself Comfortable

You'll be much more comfortable if you add:

  • A medication packet of all prescriptions along with a list medical procedures you've had, current conditions you're being treated for, current prescriptions including dosage, and contact information for doctors, dentist, pharmacist, etc.
  • A basic first aid kit with wet wipes
  • Personal items like a couple of changes of clothes (extra underwear), sturdy shoes, comb, toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, washcloths, towels, and water that you've put into the bathtub or refilled gallon jugs, etc.
  • Some sort of "entertainment" like books, colors and coloring books, paper and pencils, playing cards, and small games.
  • Blankets and pillows (air mattresses)
  • Special "comfort" items like a doll, toy, blankie, etc.
  • Supplies for pets


It's a Start

First off, check online for government-issued emergency plans! I have seen their free pamphlets, and they are extensive. I would check the websites of the Red Cross and FEMA.

Off the top of my head, your list looks very bare. You need to consider everything you and anyone with you will need. A clean change of clothing, toilet paper, first aid equipment, aspirin, antibiotic cream, and stomach acid relievers are helpful. Also include glasses, routine medications, feminine hygiene products, soap, a towel, a way to heat food (from a solar oven to a gas camp stove). Consider rain gear, snow gear, and sun protection as needed for your environment. Keep flashlights that are either hand-powered or battery-operated. If you use battery-operated, keep spare batteries. Dried fruit, hard candy, and peanut butter are great to have for variety and quick calories. Blankets, sleeping bags, and a small tent might even be worth including.

Hopefully, you will never need this stuff, but remember to check regularly to make sure things haven't expired.

Can Opener Will Come in Handy

Don't forget a can opener! You'll also need a first aid kit, medications, and a blanket or quilt for warmth and/or for comfort. Have on hand a battery- operated radio and extra batteries. You might want a couple of books, including the Bible. Also, if you have pets, consider what they'll need.

Take the Next Step:

  • For more on emergency supplies and emergency preparedness, please visit here.

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