The weather reports aren’t looking good and now the storm is about to hit. The wind is howling, the rain is pouring, or the snow is piling. You’re nestled safely at home when the power goes out, the toilets won’t flush, and you’re cut off from the rest of the world.
It’s probably just temporary; if you're fortunate lives aren’t necessarily at stake, and before you know it things will be back to normal. Or perhaps not and you'll have to evacuate at some point, realizing your life is more valuable than your property. For that reason, we offer this helpful list of stuff that will most certainly come in handy.
Think of the things you'll still want to eat after emergency passes. Some examples:
- Trail mix and other nuts (for those without allergies)
- Protein/Breakfast Bars
- Canned tuna, salmon, etc…
- Canned Soup
- Dried Fruit
- Ensure/ Non-refrigerated individual cartons of organic milk
TIP: Things that need to be kept cold (or hidden) can be put into the water tank of a toilet. It’s not gross in there. We swear. But only do this for items that are packed air-tight (might want to have a bunch of Ziploc bags at the ready, as well as bottles and cans. (Beer doesn’t cool itself, you know.)
If you want more of a variety of flavors, do what the military does and stock up on MREs (“Meals, Ready-to-Eat”).
An MRE can have a 10-year shelf life if the packaging isn’t compromised and it’s stored at the right temperature. It’ll stay fresh for years in a cool, dry cabinet, but it won’t last nearly as long in a marine’s backpack out in the unforgiving desert (and not just because it’ll most certainly be eaten).
Check on your supply every once in a while. If the packaging is bloated then it’s gone bad, so toss it. You should also rotate your stash every five years to be safe. You can even make it a fun family MRE night: Camp out in the yard, make a campfire, and be thankful you didn’t have to eat them under more pressing circumstances.
TIP: If you want to keep things more natural, apples, bananas, oranges, and cherries can last up to a week. If you have a cool, dry place then include some carrots and potatoes.
Simple Water Purification System
Let’s assume you’ve already stockpiled as much bottled water as you possibly can. As one Everplans staffer found out after being plunged into a terrifying natural disaster, you use way more water than you think and it runs out fast. Conserve as much as possible and know that whatever surplus you have after the emergency passes is still money well spent.
If you went completely overboard and bought way too much, you can also donate it since bottled water does expire. To be clear, the water never goes bad, but it absorbs the chemicals from the bottle and tastes quite disgusting.
For most emergencies, your water could be out for a few hours or days. If you’re worried about major infrastructure damage, where fresh water could be out for weeks, buy water purification tablets or a filtering system at a camping store or online. Also be prepared to boil your water before drinking.
If you’re taking any prescription medication, make sure you have an adequate supply on hand at the first sign of extreme weather. You may have an auto-prescription enabled, but extreme weather doesn’t care about schedules.
If you’re running low on anything that either keeps you alive or helps you manage a condition, you should contact your pharmacy benefits management company to see if they can expedite the shipment, or have your doctor call it in to a local pharmacy. You don’t want to realize a day into an emergency that you’re dangerously low on insulin, only have one blood pressure pill remaining, or never got around to picking up the inhaler.
Hygiene: Hands And Other Parts
To conserve water stock up on hand sanitizer and baby wipes, which are surprisingly refreshing for adults too.
You probably have a bunch of these scattered around the house. But will you be able to find them when you need them?
One of the most important things during an emergency is to remain as healthy and injury-free, and that won’t happen if you’re scurrying around in the dark. You might want to buy a headlamp as well, which allows you to rummage around handsfree. Perhaps to locate all the flashlights.
If you’re worried about running out of batteries, you can buy a crank up flashlight that works with good old fashioned elbow grease.
People often stockpile these, which is completely valid because you can never have too many. Plus, you can earn goodwill with neighbors if they run out and you have an endless supply.
READER SUBMITTED TIP! "Remember small, round batteries for such things as watches, hearing aids, and other similar items." (Thanks, Robert Graham.)
Tip in case you forgot to hoard a respectable battery supply
Go around to all the electronics you won’t be using during a power-outage (stack of remote controls, game controllers, toys...) and stockpile them. You can always replace those once the power’s restored. This is also a good time to make sure batteries left in electronics for a long period of time haven’t started to corrode. (That’s when they get all crusty.)
Scented are fine when you want your place to smell like a mixture of lavender, vanilla with a hint of aloe. But, unless you want your home to smell like a Yankee Candle warehouse on fire, get a bunch of the non-smelly ones. They’re usually cheaper too.
If you have soup or other foods that need to be heated and your electric stove has been rendered useless, this fire-in-a-can is your answer. It’s an alcohol-based cooking fuel that’s often used at buffets, BBQs, and by camping enthusiasts. It burns for around two-hours and can be reused.
You have to be extremely careful because this blue-flamed stuff burns fast, hot, and is virtually invisible in bright environments. It needs to be placed on a non-flammable surface and you should never touch a burning can because it will hurt. You extinguish the flame by carefully putting the lid back on or smothering the top of the can with something sturdy that won’t catch fire.
READER SUBMITTED TIP! "You will need a fondue pot or similar device that sits just above the burning Sterno to place the can of food on." (Thanks again, Robert Graham)
How else will you light the candles and/or sterno?
This seems obvious, but odds are there are some houses in this world without a lighter or matches. Maybe you don’t light candles normally, or have an electric stove. If you’re feeling adventurous, get some white-tip waterproof matches so you can feel like Rambo.
We have so many media options available when the power’s on, but when it’s off a simple battery-operated radio will be your salvation. It will keep you up-to-date on emergency-related progress (especially if it has a NOAA band) and can even prevent you from going stir crazy.
Because why not? It can temporarily fix broken windows and seal up other cracks.
Fun Medical Fact: Did you know that duct tape can also remove hand warts? Seriously. Just wrap some around the wart for a few days, take it off, and the wart will be gone within a week. Like magic. So if all else fails, at least you won’t have any unseemly warts on your hands once the emergency passes.
First Aid Kit
Here’s the Red Cross’ anatomy of a first aid kit:
- 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
- 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes), 2 triangular bandages
- 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
- 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram), 5 antiseptic wipe packets
- 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
- 1 blanket (space blanket)
- 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
- 1 instant cold compress
- 2 pair of nonlatex gloves (size: large)
- 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
- 1 roller bandage (3 inches wide), 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
- 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches), 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
- Oral thermometer (non-mercury/nonglass)
- First aid instruction booklet
Rather than piece this together yourself, head over to the Red Cross and buy a kit.
You may already have these for camping adventures. You may have wanted an excuse to buy them for possible camping adventures. You may hate camping but love the womb-like comfort of a sleeping inside a cloud. Whatever the reason, a sleeping bag is a like a portal to happiness. An all encompassing puffy hug that will keep you nice and toasty when there’s no heat.
Just be sure and keep them handy and clean. It’d be a bummer during a power-outage to dig them out of the basement or attic only to realize they reek of mildew. (Remember, the washing machine won’t be working.)
As for blankets, you probably already have plenty of those. If you don’t, buy some more. Or learn to knit and make them since you’ll have some time on your hands.
Bucket To Flush The Toilet (Not To Use As A Toilet...Unless Things Get Extreme)
No matter what the emergency, you’ll still have to go to the bathroom. Possibly even more so if it’s a particularly scary emergency. But what if your toilet won’t flush? If you still have water, or if you thought ahead and filled your bathtub with water, then fill up the bucket and pour it down the toilet.
It’s an old trick people use to get rid of dirty mop water without messing up the sink. Just be sure to pour with some velocity or else you’ll end up with an overflowing toilet.
Actual Books/Board Games
In an age when we take all the amazing media and electronic options around us for granted (iPads, Kindles, smart phones, etc…), being cut off from technology can get very lonely and isolating. For this reason always keep some books and board games around to help pass the time, have some fun, and escape for a while.
Manual Can Opener: Not every can has an easy open lid.
Work Gloves: In the event you have to move pieces of wood or glass.
Hand/Feet Warmers: You can get a box of these at store like Home Depot for a reasonable price.
Utility Tool: A Leatherman or similar multi-tool is always useful.
Ergo Shovel: If you have to dig out of a blizzard, this is the type of shovel with the bend in the middle and the hard plastic front loader. According to a responsible Everplan staffer, it’s way better than the old time silver flat shovel, or red plastic one with wood shaft that’ll snap.
(NOTE: Don’t try and be a snow shoveling hero. Every year people die from over-exerting themselves while shoveling snow and we’d hate for it to happen to you. The neighbor down the street who “borrowed” your snowblower and never returned it? That’s a different story. He should be run over by a plow.)
Gas Generator: If you have the space and means, these are extremely useful. Just don’t forget the gas. You also need to make sure it’s regularly cleaned and maintained or else you’ll pull the starter and end up with nothing but disappointment. READER SUBMITTED SAFETY TIP! "Make sure the fumes can be vented away. Snow, ice, or downed limbs, for instance, can clog or block an external vent." (Mr. Robert Graham goes three for three!)
Portable Chargers: Most techies already have at least one of these. Always keep it charged so you can power small electronics (phones, mp3 player, tablet). You’ll need to find a power source when they run out (car, place that still has power), but they work really well in a pinch.
Printout of Your Everplan: You didn’t think you’d be getting out of this list without some sort of plug, did you? This has all your vital information, which will most definitely come in handy in an emergency. Keep a pen handy for any changes you need to make. When the power’s back on you can go online and make some updates.