Are you prepared for an emergency? Do you have supplies to last multiple days if you lose power or must be quarantined? Most Americans don’t and until a few weeks ago – we didn’t either.
Recently we decided to start a stockpile of supplies and emergency needs in order to weather different emergencies – from coronavirus shutdowns to weather events and power outages.
Why We Decided To Start Building A Stockpile
First, I dont think there is any need to get hysterical about the current virus circling around the world. Mostly it is a mild virus going around even if the death rate is higher than the flu. Most people won’t die, most people will be fine and it appears kids hardly have an issue with it at all.
The problem is that people do panic and throw things off because as the CDC website says, most people don’t have supplies or plans for health and safety doing a natural disaster, power outage or flu pandemic.
What we are doing is not necessarily to prepare for this specific virus but more the potential of having our lives disrupted by not being able to go to work due to a shutdown or having to stay home due to daycare and school shutdowns.
Having a stockpile and being more prepared also applies for things like a tornado or power outage which is something we’ve been through multiple times. It’s similar to preparing for a major weather event too. We are very likely to lose power during a storm since it happens at least once a year in our area. We’ve been lucky they haven’t lasted long but we want to be prepared in case it does!
What We Are Doing To Prepare
Being prepared is just something responsible to do before you end up in a situation where you need something essential but can’t get it.
So here is a rundown of what we are personally doing to prepare:
- Building a basic food supply in cupboards focused on canned goods, dry goods, and foods that we won’t have to store in a fridge.
- Making sure we have all the basic medicines you might need if you have a cold or small problem that wouldn’t require a hospital or doctor visit.
- Having a job and daycare plan in case either closes down. Kids are actually doing well with this virus and it’s super mild but again hysterical notions can end up closing down daycares and such.
- Having pedialyte and fever reducers in the house in case illness does occur and we want to treat it at home.
- Improving hygiene habits. I’m bad about biting my nails, obviously, so I bought fingernail clippers and lotion for my purse so I’m better about taking care of my nails before I want to pick and bite at them I also am just making sure I routinely use hand sanitizer at work and home, which we were better about when our daughter was small.
What we focused on at first was what we were already completely out of or near the end of our current supply: hand sanitizer, children’s Tylenol, cold/flu medicine, emergen-C, paper towels, toilet paper and pantry foods. These are all things we would have bought in the next couple months during regular grocery shops anyway, so we just decided to buy ahead of time and stock up. This ended up being a good decision because people started panic buying things and many stores near us ran out of items on this list.
For pantry foods we made sure this is stuff we can use and store even if power goes out during a storm, which is actually a pretty big problem in our area. Many of our neighborhoods have had multiple day outages so stocking up on pantry food can be useful in this case especially.
We also made sure it was food that we would actually eat at some point so it wasn’t something in danger of never being consumed. The great thing about stockpiling food for emergencies is that much of the food is very frugal and the total amount spent isn’t very high.
Here is a current rundown of what we have included in our personal stockpile.
- Canned vegetables
- Canned beans
- Canned fruit
- Canned tuna
- Peanut butter
- Rice (5 lb)
- Frozen meals ready to be reheated
- Cold/flu medicine
- Children’s tylenol
- Children’s natural cough syrup
- lysol wipes
- paper towels
- dishwasher soap
- laundry detergent
Additional things we added to our buying list that we have never previously stockpiled before included
- extra dog food
- ramen (which Jason actually likes but I never buy)
- cleaning supplies
We actually have been meaning to better stock our cleaning supplies so the decision to stockpile these came at a good time.
Things we already had stockpiled from big sales and freebies were counted and considered too: toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant. Our existing stockpile was mostly personal care items.
It’s not about being hysterical over current sensational news headlines but instead just about good planning. We will use all of this stuff eventually and it’s stuff we needed anyway, but it feels even better to know that we are prepared for a potential emergency situation.
Building A Basic Emergency Kit
One thing to do when thinking about emergency preparedness is to build a basic emergency kit.
The CDC says after an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.
A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
- Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
- Download the Recommended Supplies List (PDF) and continue to add to the stockpile of supplies
Additional emergency supplies recommended to have:
- Prescription medications
- Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
- Glasses and contact lense solution
- Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Cash or traveler’s checks
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Those are all things that we either have or will have within the next couple weeks as we continue to build our stockpile!
Long-Term Survival Foods
We also plan to increase our supplies for long-term survival foods beyond just the initial emergency survival supplies. We’ve been looking into what we need to include for longer term foods and through research have made the list below. Most of these items are freeze-dried or designed to last for years.
- Water. Water is always the most important survival item and it’s quantity would increase for long term survival needs.
- Canned food. We have a good bit of canned food for our short term stash and it also works well for long-term disasters.
- Freeze dried fruit. Freeze dried food is a great way to prepare food for long term use and it doesn’t take up much space either.
- Freeze dried veggies. Again, this style of preserving food saves space and you can easily add water and rehydrate vegetables.
- Dried meats. Dried meat can last up to a year and is a great medium term food option.
- Freeze dried meats. You can store this kind of meat in mall spaces and it lasts much longer than canned options.
- Beans and rice. Beans and rice are cheap and have incredibly long shelf lives. They require more cook prep than many things on this list but offer a great option for storage long term.
- Instant mashed potatoes. These potatoes make it easy to have carbs without lots of prep and they store well.
- Powdered milk. Powdered milk in cans will last a lot longer than many items.
- Emergency instant meals. You likely won’t find these in grocery stores but many companies sell meals designed to be stored for long times.
- Honey. Honey lasts for a long time and can also be used to flavor other foods that need it.
- Preserved food. You can make pickles and other preserved foods that can be stored for long times.
It is really unfortunate that most Americans don’t have anything prepared or planned in case of an emergency, but if that is you then you can make plans to change it today!
Mary is the founder of Pennies Not Perfection where she shares her journey to build wealth through online income. She quit her day job in 2021 after she paid off her debt and doubled her 9-5 salary.
Mary's favorite free financial tool is Personal Capital. She uses their free tools to track net worth and work toward to financial freedom.