Do you remember 2020 . . . when the coronavirus pandemic first hit, and we thought we were going to have to quarantine for days or weeks at a time?
Remember how hard it was to find toilet paper?
And hand sanitizer, canned food, surgical masks, and bottled water?
Even when you could find them, there was usually a limit on how much.
If you remember this, then you also remember why it happened. Once we collectively figured out there was a real emergency on hand, we also realized that we weren’t ready. Faced with the possibility of not being able to go to the store for weeks, everyone decided to stock up on essentials at the same time.
In short, we panicked.
But there was one group of people that didn’t panic-buy three months’ worth of baked beans and paper towels — the people who already had emergency supplies didn’t need to go out and buy them at the last minute.
See, there are two kinds of people in the world.
Most of us fall into the first category of last-minute worriers. We save up all our anxiety for a rainy day. When disaster strikes, we suddenly remember we forgot to stock up on bottled water the last time we went shopping.
The second category is composed of people who do their worrying in advance. They know emergencies are inevitable, and that’s okay. They channel their worries into advance preparation.
They aren’t extreme, they’re practical. They aren’t doomsday preppers, they’re pragmatists.
They’re not worriers. They’re warriors with the confidence to face emergencies head-on. And you can be, too.
If you find yourself in the first category, you’re not alone. If you want to join the elite ranks of the emergency prepared, all it takes is a commitment to preparedness and a checklist.
Oh, look, a checklist!
(by the way, you can download a PDF of this checklist here.)
Assembling an Infallible First-Aid Kit
In our opinion, the first aid kit is the most important item in your emergency kit. Given how common accidents are, it will likely see the most use out of any other item in your kit. In a true emergency, it can save lives.
So, what goes in a first aid kit?
Here’s what we put in ours. Whether you buy one pre-made, build your own, or some combination, be sure to include these items:
Some of these items are more important than others, so we’ve taken the liberty of separating them intomust-haves,recommendeditems, andadvanceditems. A bare-bones kit should, at the very least, include themust-haveitems. A more robust kit will have those plus therecommendeditems. And if you’re feeling especially ambitious, you can also add theadvanceditems on this list.
If you want to take it one step further, you can put a second first-aid kit in your car.
Building a Life-saving 72-Hour Kit
If the first aid kit is your most important item, the 72-hour kit is going to be your most versatile. Whether you’re snowed in, forced to evacuate, or stranded on the road, this kit will be your best friend. When well-stocked, it will have everything you need to survive for three days.
Unlike a first aid kit, which works for everyone in your home, each individual will need to have their own 72-hour kit. A kit will need to have food and water to last for three days plus some additional items. On this list, the food and water requirements have been listed for both adults and children under twelve.
In addition to the survival items we’ve listed, you’ll likely also want to include some recreational supplies like games or books.
Tips for Successful Food Storage
The foundation of your emergency kit is your food storage. This is what’s going to see you through an extended emergency like the quarantine we were all afraid of in 2020.
How to Pick Your Emergency Supplies
When building your food storage, remember that adults need about 2,500 calories and a gallon of water per day. Children under 12 need 2,000 calories and half a gallon of water per day.
Your storage should include enough food and water to last at least two weeks.
We’re going to depart from our format a little here by not giving you a checklist. Instead, here’s a list of items with long shelf lives you can consider for your food storage.
Knowing what items to store is important. Equally important is knowing how to store them so they last.
Food should be kept in a cool, dark, dry place that is free from pests and has a consistent temperature.
Non-canned foods should be stored in plastic containers. This will help keep bugs out.
Water should be stored in much the same way, but with an emphasis on keeping it out of direct sunlight. It also tends to store better at cooler temperatures (50 - 70° F).
Rotate your food and water storage regularly. That doesn’t mean replacing it all at once.
Instead, make it a habit to buy some of the same items you have in your food storage when you do your regular grocery shopping. When you get home, put the items from food storage in your pantry and the new items into storage.
Doing this regularly will keep your emergency supply fresh pretty much indefinitely.
Bonus tip: Once you’ve started building up your supply, consider cataloging it. This means keeping a list of where to find certain foods, when they were stored, and when they expire. Make sure you also note your water’s expiration date (Yup! Water expires).
This will make your supply easier to access when you need it, and keeping track of expiration dates will help you know when to rotate foods.
Creating a Customized Toolkit
Your top two priorities in an emergency are to make sure you’re healthy and that you have food and water.
Once that’s taken care of, though, there are dozens of other things that may need your attention. Having light, staying warm, making phone calls, etc. Your toolkit will have everything you need to make that happen.
It should also include backups of day-to-day supplies like toilet paper and personal hygiene items.
Here’s a very short list of things you can include in your emergency toolkit. Honestly, it could go on and on, but neither of us has time for that. Instead, write down potential needs that this list doesn’t address and add items to your toolkit that can help you with them.
The Final Tip
There’s no way to know what kinds of emergencies you may face. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter.
Your preparedness should be dictated by your needs, not the emergency.
That’s the final — and most important — emergency preparedness tip:Make it your own.
You know your family’s needs and wants.
You know that your husband has serious seasonal allergies, and that your son refuses to eat beans, and you know what kind of bottled water they like (because let’s be honest, it makes a difference).
Let that knowledge guide you.
The lists we’ve put together are just a starting point. A reference to help you create a tailored emergency kit that will meet all your family’s needs.
There’s nothing stopping you now. Start building your emergency kit and make the transition from worrier to warrior.
You’ll be glad you did the next time the world runs out of toilet paper.