Given the countless variables, there are some basic necessities that are essential regardless of location or emergency. The following items are simply a starting point that will assist you in thinking about establishing some sort of basic preparedness. They will greatly improve not only your survivability, but your level of comfort in terribly uncertain times.
While FEMA recommends three days of emergency provisions, and it is a start, given the current climate, a week’s supply should be a good starting point, a one month stash would be better. Keep in mind that these items cannot be placed in order because of the countless variables.
You’ve made your decision, so now you need to get down to the business of survival.
1. Water. Absolutely essential for drinking, hygiene and cooking. Remember all of the people (who had ample warning) sitting on their roofs during Katrina? Imagine how much comfort a measly couple of bucks worth of bottled water would have done to reduce the misery factory. While one gallon per person per day is recommended, enough to drink would certainly be better than nothing at all. Even a few hours of thirst can cost you your edge. Several cases of bottled water would go a long way during an emergency and you can replace it as you use it.
2. Food. Another essential. You can go days or even weeks without food, but who wants to? Something you wouldn’t even consider eating under normal circumstances could look mighty good if you’re starved. Granola bars, canned food and crackers could mean the difference between a clear head or one thinking about a cheeseburger. Every time you go shopping, put in an extra few items that you normally eat. Check the expiration dates and get items with a long shelf life if possible. If something happens, you have food you’re used to and you can use it up as part of your regular food supply. Make sure you rotate it in and out to maintain freshness.
3. Shelter. You have to stay alive to ride out an event. For most of us, staying at home would be the ideal situation. However, any number of situations can require “bugging out” to a shelter or other safe location. Most of us have relatives within driving distance or know someone who might put up with us for awhile. If not, as a last resort the government or the Red Cross will usually provide emergency shelter. Have a plan nonetheless. If you have to stay and shelter in place at your home, business or apartment, or hit the road to get away from civil unrest, a chemical spill, fire or hurricane, you need to have a plan and be prepared to implement it.
4. Emergency Equipment. In addition to food, water and shelter, there are several essential items that will be required in the event you are on your own. Extra medicines are top of the list, particularly if they are required daily. A good first aid kit is another must have. An LED flashlight and lantern with extra batteries are essential. Warm clothes, sleeping gear, a camp stove and emergency sanitation gear are also essential. Last but certainly not least is some sort of self defense. You can easily find out what you need with a little online surfing of various websites, starting with ready.gov..
5. Time Killers. Even if the emergency is only a 48 or 72 hour event, you will want to have some playing cards, books, a Bible and board games on hand to help kill the time. You might even include some candies or other treats as well as coloring books and crayons for the younger ones.
Factors preventing many people from preparing are the “it can’t happen here” mentality, and plain old fear or a sense of being overwhelmed. People with the former attitude won’t see a need to prepare, and that’s their choice. (Until something happens and they expect the government to take care of all of their needs.) As for the latter, there is nothing wrong with fear, particularly the “where does one start” quandary, if it is turned into positive action. Instead of worrying about the future, prepare for it and get on with life. We’re talking about simple and subtle changes in your lifestyle, mostly relating to shopping and food storage habits. No one is advocating that you become a mountain man and live off roots and bark. Simply realize the need for a minimal amount of preparation, formulate a plan and get started working toward your goal, and pray that you never need to use it.