140+ Emergency Supplies Every Home Should Have Just in Case (Who Wants to Freeze, Starve, or Die, Right?)
I participate in a number of homesteading groups on Facebook, and this morning, a lady wrote in to one of them. She explained how she was busy preserving her Fall harvest to be sure she had plenty of food stocked away because of a near fatal incident that had happened to her last Winter.
Picture this elderly lady, in an area with such a bad freeze and such cold temperatures that the power is out for nearly a week! No electricity. No way to get to the store. Not much food in the house. She mentioned she nearly froze and had to get really creative with the little food she had on hand.
YIKES! Wouldn't that be scary?
As I was reading her story, it was just another reminder to me why we ALL need to be prepared for things that may happen. Really. If we are thoughtful, intelligent people, and we look around us at the news and have an understanding that sometimes unexpected things (and even expected things) happen, then why wouldn't we have some supplies ready in our homes?
Complacency? Apathy? The sense that "That won't happen to me?" Or maybe just being so fearful they really don't want to deal with it? Who knows?
I know many folks just take it for granted they can simply hop in their car and make a mad dash to the store for supplies---but what if, for some reason (EMP, economic crisis, severe storm, or other things), you couldn't just race to the store on the spur of the moment? Wouldn't you feel comforted if you had some emergency supplies tucked away for your family?
Maybe my words sound a little harsh. Some people would even say, "paranoid," but in reality, there are many stories just like the lady's above that happen daily all over the world. For Pete's Sake--just look at our recent fires and hurricanes right in our own country in the past month!
That's why I was inspired to create this segmented list for you. It's just a start. Do I have everything on this list? Nope. Not yet. It's a work in progress. No matter where you are in the preparedness journey, you should start putting some things aside right now.
If you're interested in survival and preparedness topics, you might also enjoy these articles: Emergency Preparedness: 8 Sort of in Your Face Considerations, What Must a Gal Have in Her Get Home Bag? 10 Considerations, Food Storage Basics: What You Must Have to Start Your Food Storage Off Right...and there's more on the website!
EDITED: I just added a few more things thanks to a reader's much appreciated comments!
Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you happen to click through and make any kind of purchase, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you.
Basic Emergency Supplies Every Home Needs
Just think. The power is going to be out for a week, maybe two. Or...as in the case of the realistic (based on facts and current information) EMP story One Second After, by William Fortschen, it could be out for the foreseeable future! Here are some things to consider having on hand to make up for not having power, either temporarily or the long term:
- Fuel for your cook stove
- A cookstove
- Extra propane
- Extra gasoline and containers for gas
- Solar power, even a small system
**You may also enjoy reading What are the Biggest Energy Suckers in Your Home?
If you live in an area where it freezes during the Winter, you'll want to be sure you have items on hand in case your normal method of heating your home won't work. If you rely on electric heat, you might want to consider having some other heat sources available for your family.
- Seasoned firewood. If you cut it fresh, it will take about six to nine months to dry.
- Charcoal & Lighter fluid (Can be used for heat and also for cooking)
- Propane Heater
- Thermals for everyone in the family
- Wood burning stove--If this is feasible
- Extra blankets---wool is best.
- Down comforters if possible
- Winter clothing for everyone
**You may enjoy this article by my friend, Mary at Boots & Hooves Homestead on How to Prepare for Power Outages.
Light is a necessity if the power goes out. You'll find you might need to extend your daylight a bit. Here are some things to keep on hand:
- Oil lamps, wicks, and lamp oil
- Mantles, if you have a propane lantern
- Flashlights (Maybe consider some solar powered flashlights, like this one.)
- Candles--lots of them! Learn how to make a Mason jar beeswax candle, in case you ever need to make your own (plus, beeswax cleans the air).
See my article, Food Storage Basics: Are You Ready?, but in the meantime, here are some essentials:
- Coffee and Tea
- Honey (good for medicinal purposes too)
- Flour or wheat to grind
- Canned goods
- Coconut and/or Vegetable oil
- Soup base/stock
- Canned Meat
- Keep chickens for eggs (if you can)
- Powdered Milk
- Drink mixes
- Nuts and Peanut butter (you can buy powdered peanut butter these days, too)
- Seed Bank (See this article on "Why You Need a Seed Bank, and What is a Seed Bank?")
- Root cellar or have a plan to keep foods cool.
- Fermented foods (Find out about "What is Fermentation?" and there are articles about how to ferment different foods on my website, too.)
- Fishing Tools: If you're near water, have some fishing supplies on hand and know how to use them
- Canning Tools and Supplies for preserving food you grow or forage
You'll need cooking gear ready, and knowing how to cook on an outdoor stove may become something you'll need to do. Cast iron cookware is emerging is a great choice both for home use and in case you need to cook outdoors. Here are some other things to consider:
- Manual can openers
- Manual flour/grain grinder
- Hand beaters
- Camp stove, or (know how to) make a rocket stove, if you don't have a camp stove
- Aluminum foil
- Heavy duty cookware you can use indoors or outdoors---I like cast iron best
- Grow Wormwood or Sagebrush or find out what plants are antiseptic--you can use these to clean your cast iron pans
- Sharp knives
If utilities were down in your area, would you be able to survive for a period of time without water? I know that in Las Vegas, NV, which is the large city we live about an hour away from, if the water ever went out there, it would spell death for millions. Having a supply of water on hand is just the smart thing to do, no matter where you live.
- Obviously....Please have water stored for at LEAST one week. One gallon per person per day is suggested by most state government emergency preparedness sites.
- Water filters/purifiers (Berkey brand is well-known and has all kinds of filters for home and outdoor use. Here's a link for a good overall home/travel set up.)
- Life Straws for hiking
- Containers to hold stored water or to catch rain
- A Waterbob or water storage bladder you can fill quickly and keep in the tub for extra water if need be
People get hurt, sometimes unexpectedly. It's a good idea to have first aid items on hand, and also be aware of plants you can use in your area, just in case you run out of supplies.
- A good First Aid kit that includes trauma supplies
- OTC Medications and/or Herbal Tinctures/Salves (See "What is a Tincture and How to Make a Tincture?") There are many other herbal resources on the website too, like this article on "How to Make a Pain Relief Salve."
- Insect Repellant, or know how to make your own using Essential Oils
- Essential Oils and Herbs---learn everything you can now. You can check out my INSANE Things to Know about different essential oils series on my website. Here is one about Tea Tree Oil and Why You Need It.
- Prescriptions: Try to have at least a two week supply of any prescription meds you take stored away; or at least have some herbal alternatives. BEST: If you know how to make your own medicines, using herbs correctly can often become an alternative to prescription meds.
If things ever got really bad for more than just three or four days, you may have reason to defend your family and home from invaders. Just saying. Some items to consider:
- Pepper Spray
- Clubs/bow & arrow/sling shot
- Plywood for covering windows
Depending on the situation, it's possible you might find yourself needing to build structures, place defense boards across windows, or rebuild if there is damage. Here are tools you should have on hand, just in case:
- Bow saw/other type saw
- Heavy duty screw driver
I bring up clothing because if you are going to have to get down and dirty hiking, building, gardening, cutting wood, etc., you are going to have to have the right kinds of clothes. Many people don't even own a pair of boots, and one time I ran across a lady who didn't even own a pair of jeans! Even if you're not into wearing Carhardts, consider keeping a stash of work clothes for each member of your family:
- Work boots/Hiking boots/Rubber boots (like my Bogs--I love these all-season boots)
- Denim jeans/Work pants
- Work Coat
- Hats/Beanies/Baseball caps
- Work shirts
- Back packs for everyone
- Sewing Supplies for repairs
- Cloth, if you can make your own clothes
- Rain/Snow Gear
- Work gloves
- Extra socks, undies, thermals
**You may also enjoy What Every Woman Should Have in Her Get Home Bag
These are items we just don't think about...until we don't have them. Can you imagine trying to keep clean without our normal amenities we're used to having? Consider keeping these items stocked up and on hand:
- Compostable toilet
- Baby wipes
- Extra towels
- Bleach--just plain, no fragrances
- Washboard and containers to wash in
- Feminine Hygiene: (Menstrual supplies, like the DIVA Cup; pads, tampons, and other skin and hair care products)
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Lots of extra cloth, in case your paper items get used up
- Laundry detergent
- Supplies to make your own laundry detergent (handmade soap, borax, washing soda)
- Extra body soap
- Supplies to make your own soap (lye, oils) See "How to Make Your Own Soap"
- Nail Clippers, Hair scissors
- Shampoo---or know how to go "No-Poo"
- Razors for shaving
**You may also enjoy reading Feminine Hygiene Choices for Emergency & Disaster Situations (Plus a History)
Kids have special needs, and these should be taken into consideration if you are interested in their well-being in an emergency situation.
- Diapers/Baby wipes/formula/baby moisturizers
- Snacks stored up
- Games: board games, dice, cards, (things to do to keep kids occupied and happy---good for adults too!)
- Coloring books, crayons, etc.
Pets are considered part of the family for many people! In fact, at our place, we tend to put our animals' needs before our own. I can't believe I left this section out of the original article, and thanks to a generous reader who took the time to make a helpful comment, this super important section is now here. Here are things to consider for your pets in case of emergency:
- Food---You should have extra feed on hand at all times.
- Water---Your pets should also be taken into consideration in your water allowances.
- Any pet medications that your pets need.
- Collars, identification tags, extra leashes/ties
For "Luxury" or Barter:
If things ever got really tough, items that people love to have but are not available will be good to have on hand for bartering---or just for keeping spirits up. Some of these things, I list I don't use or have (like cigarettes), but they may come in handy. Just a thought.
- Liquor (also can be used medicinally)
- Feminine Hygiene supplies (I'm including these here because these could be great barter items.)
These are items you'll want to have on hand. These items either don't really fit in any of the above categories, or they fit in several, depending on use, so I've included them here.
- Garbage bags (use for cleanliness, but can also double as a rain coat or tarp)
- Clothes pins or clips
- Clothes line or at least a fence you can use to hang things
- Fire extinguishers (because accidents happen)
- Batteries (regular plus rechargeable batteries if you have solar power)
- Matches---lots of them and/or fire starters
- Writing Tools: paper, pens, notebooks, things to jot down thoughts
- Garbage cans with lids, metal or plastic--be sure the lids fit snugly (storing feed, keeping things watertight, etc.)
- Duct tape
- Twine or baling wire
- Knives and tools to keep them sharp. Consider a whetstone.
- Transportation: Bicycles (and bike supplies) are a good choice if typical transportation is not an option.
- Extra sleeping bags and blankets.
- Battery operated fire and carbon monoxide alarms
- Hand pumps
- Wagons---remember the little red wagon? These can be useful, especially with the right tires!
- Paraffin and beeswax
- Packing tape/Masking tape
- Zip ties
For Resources and Information:
You'll want some "REAL" books around, in case you need to look up information without the internet. Here are some we own, and that provide some excellent information:
- Survival books (Bushcraft 101, Prepper's Long-Term Survival Guide, Survival Hacks: 200 Ways to Use Every Day Items for Wilderness Survival, and more)
- Homesteading books (Suburban Microfarm, Welcome to the Farm, The Survival Medicine Handbook-For When Help is Not on the Way, and many more)
Final Thoughts on This Basic Emergency Supply List
Some people may think this list is a bit histrionic. Others may agree with me and may already have most of the items here. Regardless of where you fall on the continuum, I think we can all agree that having basic supplies on hand in case of an unexpected emergency is just the smart thing to do.
I hope you'll give your home and emergency supplies some thought, and try to have basic items stocked away--especially if you have kids. I can't think of anything worse than having to look into your child's hungry eyes if a disaster were to happen, and have to say, "Sorry."
At any rate, just some food for thought!
Do you have supplies started in your home? Can you think of anything I left out? I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions! Please leave a comment in the comments section!
Hugs & Self-Reliance,
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