If history has taught us anything (including the dumpster fire that was 2020) it’s that disaster — whether local or global — can strike at any time. Having the resiliency and discipline to adjust to unforeseen circumstances is crucial. But it’s comforting to know when we’re at least somewhat ready for them ahead of time.
While we def don’t want to live in constant fear, there’s nothing wrong with being prepared!
So, with that in mind, here’s how to prep for the (hopefully not) next disaster.
How to prepare for a disaster
Key supplies to have in an emergency bag:
- canteen or reusable water bottle
- copies of important ID documents
- list of emergency contacts
- first-aid kit and any essential meds
- face masks
- lighter and matches
- emergency weather radio
- non-perishable food rations
- emergency blanket
Supplies to store over time at home:
- 1 gallon of water per person a day
- non-perishable food items
- personal care and hygiene products
- flashlights or lanterns
- a gallon of gasoline stored in a safe place
Some disaster situations require quick thinking and even quicker action. Below is a list of what you should have ready in an emergency bag in case you ever need to evacuate or shelter in place for a short time.
You should have at least one flashlight in your emergency bag. Solar-powdered options are your best bet if you don’t want to rely on batteries.
Make photocopies of your ID card, passport, proof of address, and credit card(s). This can make replacing the originals A LOT easier.
4. Written list of contacts
Since memorizing actual phone numbers is a thing of the past, it’ll take some pressure off you to write the important ones down. An emergency contact list can be a literal lifesaver. Even if your cellphone dies, you still might be able to make a call on a landline.
5. Top-notch first-aid kit
Most pre-packed first-aid kits will work if you’re in a pinch. But for a survival situation, you should stock one yourself. Some great items to include are:
- cold compresses
- medical gloves
- hand sanitizers
- antiseptic sprays
- antibiotic creams
- adhesive cloth tape
- hydrocortisone creams
- medical-grade scissors
- a pack of absorbent compress dressings
- adhesive bandages (a large box with multiple sizes)
- a 2-week supply of your necessary medical prescriptions
FYI: This might take up a bit of room in your bag, but it’s 10/10 worth it.
6. Masks or face coverings
This one should go without saying since we’re living the pandemic lifestyle, but you should always have at least 1 or 2 extra masks per person. Also, if the disaster involves smoke, you’ll def need these.
An emergency stash of cash can come in clutch if ATM machines crash. You can also use the money to barter if you need to.
8. Butane lighter and matches
Have at least two lighters and a couple packs of matches in your bag.
9. Emergency weather radio
These can keep you in the loop if you lose TV or cell service. Try to get the portable crank-up. They don’t require batteries and can fit inside your bag.
10. Food rations
Opt for lightweight nonperishable nom-noms that will keep you fueled for emergencies. Some great choices include:
11. Emergency blanket
Emergency blankets trap your body heat inside. They can keep you nice and toasty if you are in a place with no heat or power.
Where do I put my emergency gear?
Store your stuff in an easy-to-carry bag. You can buy a pricey survivalist bag, but TBH, any durable backpack with ample storage should work.
Unless you’re Hermione Granger, you can’t fit everything in your survival bag. And you may find yourself in a situation that requires you to stay inside. To prep for an extended period of hunkering down at home, you should stock up on the following items:
You should store 1 gallon of clean potable water per person per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They also suggest you store 2-weeks worth if possible.
PSA: Avoid drinks that dehydrate you (e.g. soda, booze, or coffee).
Nonperishable foods are where it’s at in survival situations. Have at least a 3-day supply of rations for each person. Have a stash of:
- protein bars
- peanut butter
- canned pastas
- powdered milk
- canned fruits, beans, or vegetables
- jars of baby food (some fruit flavors are *chefs kiss*)
P.S. Don’t forget the can opener!
3. Personal care and hygiene products
4. Pet supplies
Your fur babies need a stash of survival stuff too. Have an ample supply of dry and wet food stored for the long haul. Also, make sure you have appropriate documents on hand in case you have to temporarily relocate.
5. Beaucoup batteries
Get a variety of batteries. Keep in mind, batteries don’t have a limitless lifespan, so be sure to check that they’re still fresh on the reg.
6. Let there be light
Stock up on flashlights, emergency candles, and battery or solar-powered lanterns. You can also go old-school with a fuel lantern, but these pose a bigger fire risk.
If you experience a major power outage, you might not be able to get gas from your local station. It’s good to have a gallon of gasoline set aside in a safe outdoor space just in case.
Where do I store my survival stuff?
Safe storage areas depends on your living space. But here are some general rules:
- Make sure you store your food in a cool, dry place.
- Keep your water bottled upright and in airtight containers.
- Make sure your light sources are in an easy-to-find location.
- Always store your gas in a high quality fuel container.
Fuel PSA: Gasoline is obviously hella flammable. Be sure to store it in a very safe place away from direct sunlight, electrical power sources, or anything else that could potentially light it up 🔥.
Even if you live in an area that’s not known for natural disasters, you should still have a good lay of the land, so to speak. This means being at least somewhat knowledgeable about seasonal storms and receiving any local advisories and notifications.
You prob shouldn’t worry about a hurricane hitting the middle of Missouri, but it’s always better to know what to do and where to go in a similar event.
Have a digital and hard copy of your local emergency services on hand. It should include:
- fire department
- police department
- ambulance services
You can also check out emergency housing spots in your local area. Lots of municipalities across the United States have safe zones — areas you go to if you have to vacate your home due to a disaster. You can check out your city or town’s website for this info.
P.S. The American Red Cross has great resources for all emergency situations.
Communication is key in survival settings. But when your phone service is RIP, this can be super tricky. Here’s how to stay in sync with your friends and fam:
- Get some long-range walkie-talkies. Not only will you feel like a cool 90s kid, they can help you stay in contact with a trusted nearby family member, friend, or neighbor.
- Carry a wireless charger. Wi-Fi will be of no use if your phone is out of juice. Put a fully-charged battery pack in your emergency bag.
- Find a temporary roomie. Have a few trusted people you can safely bunk with if you’re unable to stay in your home.
- Plan B. Have a hotel or lodging situation in mind just in case you don’t have a person to stay with.
- Download an app. A lot of emergency situation apps don’t need to be connected to the internet to work. This can help you reach your in case of emergency (ICE) contact to let them know that you’re safe.
Emergency medical procedures
You don’t need to be certified in any emergency medical procedures to successfully make it through a disaster situation, but it can’t hurt to be knowledgeable.
Here are some handy methods to pick up in case the situation calls for them:
- how to treat a burn or wound
- Heimlich maneuver if someone is choking
- fireman’s carry if you need to lift and move someone
- cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if a person is showing no signs of life or if they’re not breathing normally
Though being prepared can ultimately bring about feelings of confidence, having to think about the worst case scenario can stir up plenty of stress and anxiety — especially if you’ve experienced a disaster before.
If thinking about the disaster prep process starts to make you feel a little overwhelmed, there are ways to lighten the mental load.
A few include:
You’re not alone
Living through a disaster can be extremely traumatic. It’s normal to have a hard time coping. Just know that you are NOT weak. It’s absolutely OK to feel what you’re feeling.
And remember, you’re far from alone ❤️.
While no one wants to live in fear, it’s always a good idea to be super prepared for any potential crisis. The most important thing is to come up with a “just in case” game plan and create simple, actionable steps to complete it.
Have an emergency bag stocked with essential survival items like water, food rations, and ways to communicate with your loved ones. You should also have a solid stock of supplies in your home in case you have to shelter in place for a while.
Preparing for an emergency can feel overwhelming. If you feel anxious or depressed at the thought of a potential disaster — or if you’ve already experienced a traumatic event — there are lots of positive ways to cope.