20 Must-Have Items to Stock at Home for Disaster Preparedness

Like much of the country recently, I’ve been glued to the television to find out every detail possible about Hurricane Sandy’s devastating effects on the East Coast and how everyone has been faring throughout. I’ve been reaching out to family, friends and colleagues in order to keep abreast of the situation we might not be seeing in the media. So far, so good, alhamdullilah (thank God) in that they are all safe and sound, albeit a bit shaken up by such events. I know so many other people have not had such an outcome and my heart goes out to them.

Niagara, New York

One thing that is a bit disheartening is the lack of coverage in so many other places such as Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut and my home state of Ohio where there are still people without power and heat and many areas are completely devastated and suffered loss of life. Let’s not forget them, either.  
20 Must-Have Items to Stock at Home for Disaster Preparedness
I have always been somewhat of a survivalist in the sense that I try my best to be ready for everything. I carry big purses on trips to the city stocked with snacks, bottled water, aspirin and plenty of things to read in case we’re stuck in traffic; anywhere further and my bag just gets heavier with extra clothes, first aid kits and more. I am definitely not the minimalist I wish I could be at times. Needless to say, the charge by airlines per suitcase is killing my travel dreams…
Regardless, at home there are things I think we should have on hand when and if natural disasters knock on our doorstep, like it quite literally did for those on the East Coast. Here’s the list in no particular order with a little explanation of why I chose each item- things I would have ready if I were told we needed to evacuate and/or if we were stuck at home for an extended time without any help. I’m certainly not suggesting hoarding, but since these items are readily available now, they’re also available to others and not scarce, alhamdullilah.
And remember, being prepared is like tying your camel and trusting God to give you the best outcome according to His will.
  1. Bottled Water- this is particularly important in a power outage for extended periods of time, as it could affect the water filtration plants in your area, thus drinking from the tap a bit scary to say the least.
  2. Water purification tablets- well, if you’re out of bottled water but have your own purification tablets, it’ll be a huge deal. They’re not expensive but go a very long day when you need the one thing that could keep you alive in a state of food and water scarcity.
  3. Canned or jarred food- I am so glad that home jarring has made a comeback. It is one of the most sensible things we can do to take control of our food sources and avoid purchasing fresh produce out of season. In a time of emergency, well, these foodstuffs were made for the situation.
  4. Can opener- how would you open the canned food without one?
  5. Flashlight – so very necessary for so many reasons when you’re without power, but particularly if you need to leave your home, it could mean the difference between life and death when trying to avoid downed wires or something else in harm’s way. (You can also find wind-up flashlights that don’t require batteries)
  6. Batteries- unless you have devices that are all wind-up or powered in another way, you’ll need at least some for things like flashlights. Solar powered devices may not be so helpful in the winter months.
  7. Candles- very helpful for keeping a flicker of light on at home
  8. Matches- needed not just for candles, but also to start a fire outside if you need to cook or keep warm indoors by your fireplace.
  9. Sleeping Bags- I think this is one of the biggest helps ever. I’ve brought my L.L. Bean Camp Sleeping Bag with me on numerous vacations and homestays with relatives who like to keep a very cool house and recently slept with mine when our heat wasn’t working.  When you’re in a tough situation, especially when you have to leave your home and find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings, trust me- you’ll want to wrap yourself in something familiar, soft, warm and clean.
  10. Tall Rubber Boots- have you seen how many people are wearing boots during the coverage of Hurricane Sandy? They’re mostly the reporters covering events or those in a position to now help out with the clean-up. But my heart goes out to those wading in water up to their knees (or higher). Who knows what’s in the water? Often times during storms it’s sewage and waste water full of contamination that could make you very, very sick. Even if the water were clean, there’s nothing worse than being wet, cold, hungry, tired and somewhere other than home.
  11. Ponchos- they may not be pretty, but they will keep you somewhat dry. When you’re out in the elements, you’ll need to try and avoid hypothermia any way you can.
  12. Fire Safe Box- If you were told you had just one hour to evacuate your home, would you be able to find everything you need to take with you? Firesafe boxes are also waterproof so if your home does experience water or fire damage, keeping really important things in one can make your life a whole lot easier. Things will all be in one place, too.
  13. Waterproof document holders- these are great if you’re only able to carry a few essentials. Keep things like birth certificates, social security cards, passports, car titles, college diplomas, insurance information and home ownership or rental agreement documents in these. It will be a nightmare to prove yourself without these originals.
  14. Passport cover- Just in case, I would encase the family passports in these inexpensive plastic covers and put them in the waterproof document holder. You can also use them for social security cards, which is one of the hardest documents to recover if lost.
  15. Cash- in an emergency of epic proportions, don’t expect technology to be in working order. That means credit cards, ATM machines and your PayPal account. You’ll need cash to get the basics, if anything is open to the public.
  16. REI RFID money belt- for those who aren’t prepared, they’ll be looking for cash, too. Keep yours close to your body by using a money belt, similar to what you might use when traveling.
  17. Back up of your computer’s hard drive- one of the most sensitive pieces of equipment we have at home is our laptop. Any little bit of liquid on them and they are toast. Back yours up constantly then store it in the fire-safe box, which is also water safe. If you can’t save your computer, you can at least have that.
  18. Backpack- I knew that backpacks were a good idea when I decided to write this post. I mean, how can you possibly maximize the number of things you can carry with you if you need to leave your home on foot if you don’t have one, right?
  19. Baby Sling- After watching the news and hearing about one mom of a very small baby who had to jump a fence to escape rising waters in her home, I think the next item is also worthy of being on the list. If you have to carry other items, you’ll need to have your hands free to do so, and keep your baby warm and close to you.
  20. Wind up radios- no electricity means little to know communication with the outside world. With wind-up radios you are instantly in touch with what’s happening, or at least with what is being told to the public.

There are many reputable organizations where you can donate your money to help the victims of Sandy. Do you research and align yourself with an organization that you trust. I understand many people want to donate their time, food, medical supplies and other items right now but until authorities figure out exactly what is needed, cash is the best thing you can provide right now, Allahu’alim (Allah knows best).

What would you add to this list? Let’s not miss anything important!

4 comments

  1. Yvonne, I’d suggest taking a look @ this clip:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CTj5KZk7eg&feature=related
    and checking out: http://www.ready.gov/basic-disaster-supplies-kit

    Thanks so much for posting this important topic!

  2. It’s a pretty good list…..but I’d add a few other things. You should add wool blankets….cold can be a killer and wool warms you even when wet. Add dry beans and rice….they store well and make a complete protein together and are so versatile with herbs, etc. And honey will store indefinitely and sweetness is one of the joys of life.

    You have a great blog and I’m slowly working my way through it. I decided to comment here instead of FB because, well….I just don’t usually comment in FB. I’ll try to break that habit. Thank you for all your hard work. …………. jenness

  3. Prescription Medication.

  4. Salaam and thanks for this. This is quite helpful.

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