This guide was developed with the average person in mind, while at the same time trying to cover all of the possible "what ifs" and recognizing the potential for situations to go from bad to worse. It is by no means all inclusive. There may be some items not included that you feel are absolutely necessary as well as items you may believe are excessive. It is divided into Home and Vehicle Supplies. Feel free to add/delete items as you see fit. The important thing is to have some level of preparation. Relying on others in an emergency due to a failure to plan ahead is selfish and inexcusable. Be prepared.
Any non-perishable food item will work. A plentiful amount of rice, beans, noodles, and peanut butter should always be kept on hand, and you can eat them even when there is not an emergency. Canned food will keep for a couple of years so keep around some beef stew, vegetables, and fruit. Raman noodles are also a good idea and they can be purchased by the case very inexpensively. Military meals are also an option, especially since you don't have to cook them. You can find them at most camping and surplus stores or through Internet suppliers. Remember that you will also have to have a way to cook your food. Do not bring a barbecue grill into your house. If you need a stove or fire, do it away from your house. (If it is safe) Some camp stoves could be used indoors. Old-fashioned kerosene heaters can also be used to boil water or heat up soup.
Ahead of time, stock up on bottled water. Buying it by the case at a local department store or even hardware store can be much cheaper than buying it one bottle at a time from a convenience store. Buying several cases, and replacing each case as you drink it, will keep several cases on hand. If you have to purify your water, you can always boil it for at least FIVE minutes. To store water, add a few drops of regular bleach to each gallon. Filters are available at any surplus or camping store, and so are iodine tablets. Take some time to become familiar with water purification techniques. Save your milk jugs now. At the onset of a power outage, in hot weather, soak a few washrags in cold water and keep handy to wipe yourself down with. This has a decent cooling effect. You might also wish to fill your bathtub, washtub, and other containers with water for washing or flushing purposes.
During the Blackout of August 03, many phone services remained operational. Having an electric cordless phone did not enable everyone to take advantage of this service. You should get an older style back up phone, that only plugs into a phone jack, and does not require the use of an electrical outlet. Many cell phones were also operational. Consider getting a cell-phone, and a battery charger for your car. FRS two way radios are also a good idea. You will also want an AM/FM radio to get updates. Some models use a hand crank instead of batteries. You will also need a list of emergency contacts including the address of someone out of state who you could use as a contact in the event all local infrastructure is destroyed. Make this list known to all your friends and family members.
It would be best if you took a Red Cross First Responder Course. They are taught at some community colleges, and private ambulance companies. Stock gauze, bandages, antibiotic ointment, and whatever medications you normally use. Pain-relievers, anti-diarrhea medicine, and cold and flu medicines should be kept handy, too. Keep plenty of reference books on hand, and learn some first aid BEFORE A DISASTER HITS. Avoid buying expensive surgical kits, unless you are a surgeon.
Any electrical items you have will need power. You could buy a generator, but they are expensive and the fuel that runs them is even more expensive. You should definitely consider keeping a lot of batteries on hand. At least enough to power all of your devices at least twice. Rechargeable batteries would be best. You can get a solar powered battery charger or you could use a household charger in conjunction with a 12 - 120v car to home power adapter.
Flashlights are a must. Do not cheap out on your flashlight. Maglites are excellent and are nearly indestructible. We suggest LED flashlights as they do not burn out and last longer for each set of batteries. You could also get an Everlite flashlight that don't require batteries, you simply shake it to turn it on. Chemlights (light sticks) are also a good idea. They are extremely cheap and will provide light for up to 12 hours. (The yellow ones are the brightest.) Kerosene or propane lamps could be used in a pinch, but you don't want too much flammable material in your shelter for obvious reasons. Tap Lights would work too.
Whether there is a disaster or not, it's definitely a good idea to have a stock of gas on hand. (Especially with the price of gas today) You can keep a fresh supply by filling up from your can and then replacing it at the pump. This is a hassle for some people so you could also use a product like Stabil to keep it fresh for longer storage periods. Keep enough to fill your vehicle at least once.
In the event an emergency occurs in the fall or winter, heat will be an issue. Should the power fail, chances are your furnace will, too. A fireplace or wood-burning stove would probably be the best alternative here, if you can find/stockpile enough wood. Kerosene heaters may work also, but again, you must have kerosene already on hand. None will be available in the event of a mid-winter power failure. Do not bring gas grills or charcoal grills into your house. You may wish to consider acquiring good, high-quality cold weather gear, such as cold-weather sleeping bags, for yourself and your family. Many fires have been caused by the use of alternative indoor heat sources, so use extreme caution.
All of your disaster preparedness will be a waste if you can't protect yourself and your family. Buy a gun. To protect your home, we suggest a good pump action shotgun, like the Mossberg 500. Buy plenty of shells, preferably 00 Buckshot. If you want, buy a good rifle, like an AR15, or something similar, and LEARN HOW TO SHOOT AND MAINTAIN IT. Get plenty of magazines, ammunition and a cleaning kit. If you can, get a handgun, too. LEARN HOW TO SHOOT. YOUR LIFE MAY DEPEND UPON IT IN AN EMERGENCY. Your local Militia people will be happy to teach anyone who wishes how to shoot, and they are more than happy to offer advice on which guns to buy, and which to avoid.
Fire-extinguishers; tools (axes, saws, and shovels, too); extra blankets; plastic sheeting; NIOSH masks; PVC rain suits; plywood; good boots; extra sets of eyeglasses; plenty of duct tape; rope, string, or twine; fishing, camping, and hunting gear; good heavy cooking pots; plenty of salt; cold-weather socks; rain gear; a sewing kit; a wash tub; and any books, playing cards or other entertainment items can all come in handy in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. The best survival tool you have is your mind. Careful planning and preparation will help you through almost any situation. The time to prepare is NOW, not when the lines are long at the market, and the shelves are empty, and the power goes off.
Aside from the many options you have for a home supply, necessity requires that your car kit be kept small. Here is a simple list of possible items. Feel free to add or remove certain items.
FOOD: You never want to be without food. Granola or energy bars are perfect for a vehicle kit.
WATER: You definitely don't want to be without water. If the weather is hot you will need to drink a lot of water. A minimum of 2 bottles should be kept in hot weather.
POWER: Even if there is no disaster it's still a good idea to have jumper cables. A 12-120v power converter wouldn't be a bad idea either.
LIGHT: A completely blacked out city at night is darker than you would expect. At least one flashlight with extra batteries should be in your kit.
FIRST AID: There is a good chance you will be involved in a traffic accident if you are out when the power fails, keep some gauze, band aids, Tylenol, and an ice pack in your kit.
FUEL: If you are away from your home during an emergency, you can expect two things to occur.
One: Gas prices will jump immediately.
Two: Everyone will try to get gas all at once. Keep your tank at least half full at all times, and an additional 5 gallon tank in your trunk would be a good idea.(in case you need to leave the area ASAP)
COMMUNICATION: If you have a cell phone, great. But you should seriously consider a car adapter for it to keep it charged. An FRS radio or CB would be a good option as well. Don't forget your contact list. Always let people know where you are going, and how you're getting there.
DIRECTIONS: There's no guarantee that the roads you know will be passable. Get a map. Another option is to drive around in areas you don't know and have at least one alternate route to every place you might need to go.
PROTECTION: Being alone on a commute is bad enough, but compound it with power failure and any number of other variables inherent in disaster, and you have an invite to every parasite within a hundred miles. Get a handgun and a concealed carry permit. At the very least have one in your car. (Don't leave your gun in your car all the time) Remember, you are doing this for your loved ones. Don't let yourself become a victim of some nut job just because you are afraid of what people might think. At the very least get a stun gun, or pepper spray or both. But beware, some criminals have developed immunities to these non-lethal methods. Nobody is immune to a bullet.
BREATHING AID: On September 11th, Many people nearly died from inhaling all the smoke and dust. It is a good idea to have some NIOSH breathing masks in your vehicle as well. This will help protect you from dust caused by falling debris, smoke from fires, airborne biological or chemical agents, and yes even radioactive fallout. (It will not stop the radiation, merely prevent you from inhaling it directly. If there is fallout, take cover immediately.) You may also want to keep a PVC rain suit available. This will protect you from the immediate effects of fallout or chemical/biological agents, and it can be easily hosed down and removed before entering a shelter.