10 Things You Need in Your Emergency Disaster Kit

Winter is upon us, and in many parts of the country, the cold temperatures can yield all kinds of nasty weather, some of which may even knock out power, block roads, and make it nearly impossible to get to a store for days. Even warm parts of the country may see torrential rains and extreme weather, so it’s never too soon to prepare for any kind of disastrous weather, no matter where you call home. Apartment dwellers may not have much room for a huge stash of stuff, but a few essentials can help you make it through days without power, water, or other essential services without feeling too miserable.

  1. Flashlights, candles, or lanterns. Without power you’re going to need some kind of light so you can actually see what you’re doing. There are a variety of options, but flashlights, candles, and battery-powered lanterns are the standards.
  2. Water. According to the Red Cross, you should at a minimum have one gallon per person, per day of water stored in your home, just in case.
  3. Non-perishable food. Just to be safe, stock your pantry with an assortment of non-perishable and easy-to-prepare foods. They can see you through times without power or gas, and even in non-emergency situations can help you whip up a quick meal. If you have pets, make sure to keep extra pet food for them on hand too, so your furry friends won’t go hungry.
  4. Important documents. While you don’t have to throw all of your important documents into an emergency kit, it is critical to be able to find these kinds of things quickly and easily if you need to. Be able to pull up contact numbers, insurance information, personal documentation, and other information without having to hunt around for it– you might really need it in an emergency.
  5. First aid kit and extra medications. If you take medications, make sure you have enough to last you a week or more around the house. You may want to refill your prescriptions as early as possible to make sure you always have enough on hand to last you. Keeping essentials like band-aids, antiseptics, pain medications, and other first-aid basics is also smart as you never know when you’ll need them.
  6. Hand crank radio. While you may be able to keep up with news on your phone, cell batteries don’t last forever. You can ensure that you’ll have a link to the rest of the world through a battery or hank-crank powered radio that will let you hear weather, emergency notices, and news about when your services will be restored.
  7. Cash. While credit cards and ATMs are great most of the time, they become much harder to use when the power is out. Always keep backup cash in your home in a secure but accessible location so you can buy essentials no matter what the situation in your neighborhood is.
  8. Toilet paper and other personal care items. You don’t want to run out of then essentials mid-blizzard and have to resort to using things that are less than ideal (newspaper isn’t a great substitute for toilet paper, nor is dishwashing soap for shampoo). If you won’t be able to shower, a few cleaning wipes should help you make it through a couple of days without hot water.
  9. Warm stuff. Even in the warmer parts of the country, it can get pretty chilly at night. That’s why its essential to make sure to have extra blankets on hand that can help you get and stay warm. If you live in a colder area, hand and foot warming packets (usually sold to skiers and winter weather enthusiasts) are also a really great idea.
  10. Batteries. If you’re relying on battery powered devices for light, information, and entertainment, then it’s smart to keep extras on hand so you won’t be left, quite literally, in the dark.