The devastation that accompanies a major storm or a natural disaster often leaves Americans in the impacted area without power for hours to days or, even worse, displaces them from their homes. In fact, the U.S. experienced 91 weather, climate or geological disasters in 2016 and many news reports covered residents running to stores to gather much needed supplies for their families and pets.
Instead of waiting until a weather warning is issued, residents should stockpile supplies and store them in a safe place year-round, just in case. After all, we don’t want you to arrive at a local grocery or hardware store that has been picked clean and the shelves are now mostly empty.
Mercury Insurance has created a checklist of necessary and useful supplies to keep in your pantry, basement, closet and/or vehicle to help you get through a natural disaster or severe storm.
- Water – FEMA recommends keeping a three-day supply of water – 3 gallons of water per person – and we also recommend you keep water stocked in your vehicle in case you’re stranded away from home when disaster strikes. Survival pro-tip: purchasing a water-filtration device like water sanitation tabs or Lifestraws is a good and inexpensive investment. Both can purify 1,000 liters of water and are available for less than $20.
- Food– Stock at least three days worth of non-perishable food like beef jerky, peanut butter, nutrition bars, dried fruits, nuts and canned goods. Plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Be sure that canned goods are meant for single servings, as leftovers aren’t recommended if refrigeration isn’t available due to a power outage. Again, stash some food supplies in your vehicle in case you’re stranded away from home. Survival pro-tip: calorie-packed, gourmet emergency meal kits rehydrate with hot water and cook within minutes inside the pouch – no dishes required, just a fork.
- Batteries and Light Sources – If the electricity is out, batteries can be your best friend, powering flashlights, battery-powered lanterns, headlamps and radios. Lighters, matches and candles are also good to have on hand. Survival pro-tip: store batteries in your freezer to prolong life. Also, store lighters, candles and matches in a waterproof bag so they don’t get wet.
- Emergency Radio – A radio will help you stay abreast of the news and developing situation if the power goes out. Survival pro-tip: purchase a hand crank radio – no batteries needed!
- Cellphone Chargers – Bag up a couple of cellphone chargers and consider purchasing a solar charger in case the power is out. Survival pro-tip: Turbo chargers work at a rapid rate.
- Gasoline – If you own a generator, you’ll need fuel reserves. Store gas containers in a ventilated and shady enclosure and avoid low liquid levels because vapor can build up within the container. Survival pro-tip: Gas has a shelf-life of five months, but adding a stabilizer will increase its life to eight months.
- Camp Stove and Fuel – Camp stoves are great for when power or gas goes out. They’re fuel-efficient, easily storable and portable. Survival pro-tip: Jetboil stove systems can boil water within 2 minutes and are relatively inexpensive.
- Pet Supplies – Prepare emergency supplies for pets, including water, food, medications, a leash, treats, comfort items and kennels in case your home becomes a hazard and you need to evacuate. Survival pro-tip: some pets become anxious and upset in challenging circumstances. Antihistamine pills have been shown to calm cats and dogs, but before giving your pets any medication speak to your veterinarian to make sure it’s right for your furry friend.
- First-Aid Kit – Pre-made first-aid kits contain the essentials, or you can customize a kit for your needs. If family members require prescription medications, store back-up medication in the kit.
- Personal Hygiene Items – Personal hygiene is imperative in emergency situations like hurricanes, floods and earthquakes, according to the Center for Disease Control. Keep extra toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, deodorant and hand sanitizer available. Survival pro-tip: Get a package of wet wipes…they can be a game-changer.
- Multi-Tool – You never know when you’ll need a knife, screwdriver, spare can opener or scissors – they’re quite handy. Survival pro-tip: choose a Leatherman or a Gerber over cheap, generic alternatives because you get what you pay for
This disaster preparedness checklist will provide you with the basic necessities for three days. Remember that while you can't control the weather, you can prepare for it.