Could you survive after a disaster? While unexpected events such as power outages or floods can cause serious repercussions shortly thereafter, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notes that because of unpredictable weather, help might not arrive for hours or even days. In many situations, harsh environmental conditions mean you’re often best-served by staying put inside your home.
But should that be the case, are you ready to wait it out? Here’s a survival kit checklist to help you double down on disaster prep:
There’s no getting to the grocery store in a blizzard, and after a few days, anything perishable in your fridge won’t be safe to eat. As a result, it’s important to create a survival kit with enough food to feed your family for at minimum three days. DHS recommends a supply of canned goods that are high in liquid content — something that your family can depend on for a while and can accommodate many dietary restrictions. At the same time, it’s also worth choosing low-salt foods to help limit your water intake.
Pro tip: Don’t forget the manual can opener. If the electricity’s out, a good old fashioned can opener could make the difference between simple meals and angry can-smashing.
You also need water — the more, the better. As noted by The Statesman Journal, you can prep for two weeks without water by purchasing four cases of 16-ounce bottled water — combined with the water from your hot water tank, you’ve got 14 days of drinking and washing supplies. It’s also a good idea to include one bottle of unscented bleach and a medicine dropper to help clean “suspect” water if your bathing supplies run low.
Another tip? Toss in some antacids. Limited water availability plus canned food can cause heartburn and constipation; no need to be more uncomfortable than necessary.
What else should go on your survival kit checklist? Realtor.com recommends keeping a supply of any prescription medications, a flashlight and battery-powered radio and any important documents — such as passports, Social Security numbers and birth certificates — in an easily accessible location. Sleeping bags are a must in case the power goes out or disaster strikes in the dead of winter, and make sure you’re prepared with any pet food, blankets or treats for your furry friends.
Last but not least: Toss in some personal hygiene products along with some games and activities for kids. The more you can make post-disaster seem familiar and even fun, the better.
Another consideration to make is building your own backup power supply. You’ve got a few familiar options here: gasoline, natural gas or liquid propane-powered generators. The downside? While these provide power for essential home systems, you need to worry about refueling and power rationing.
There are emerging alternatives, however, such as solar panels combined with backup battery storage. The panels both generate power during the day and store excess energy in a connected battery, which in turn powers your home at night. So even if your local grid is down, you’ve still got power for the essentials.
Last on your survival kit checklist: Sort through your supplies regularly. Swap out water once every six months and, at the same time, check the expiration dates on all your food. Once a year, reevaluate your needs and see if any additions are required. For example, older kids eat more than toddlers and require different types of mental stimulation. If you do opt for a gas-powered generator, you’ll want to test it regularly and perform maintenance as needed.
You can’t predict disaster, but you can be prepared: Get your food figured out, have water waiting, don’t ignore key add-ons and make sure you’ve got a power backup plan in place. It takes some thinking ahead, sure, but an awesome strategy will give you peace of mind and make it much easier to weather the storm, should something happen. The more effort you put in upfront, the more likely you are to feel in control of the next ominous storm.