Lets start with water. Water is probably the most important thing to have stored for emergencies. The human body can only survive 3 days without water, but you will start suffering the effects of dehydration much sooner than that. It is recommended that you store 1 to 2 gallons of water per person per day. That is a lot of water and it can get expensive. I have a large family so I have been collecting food grade buckets from my local Big chain grocery store that starts with a W. They throw them away and if you ask the bakery manager more than likely they will give you all you want. These buckets have rubber rings that seal them...this is important. I fill these buckets with water and add 5-7 drops of bleach per gallon. You can also save the 2 liter soda bottles and wash them well with soapy water and fill the same way using bleach as described above. Alternatively there are many water purification tablets and drops on the market.
Something else to have on hand is the Water bob bathtub storage insert. If you know that a big storm is coming or that your water supply might possibly be at risk you can put this in your tub and fill it with water. It hold 100 gallons.
Lets talk about what happens when the water supply is cut off for whatever reason. What happens to your toilet and your human waste? Well, if the water system goes down so does the sewage system and if your neighbors are still trying to use their toilets that waste can come up into you home. The first thing you should do if the water system goes down is to shove a rubber ball deep into the flush hole of your toilet. This will keep the sewage from coming back into your house and exposing your family to disease and costing you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in repairs.
If your toilet isn't working then where do you do your business. I suggest you create a sanitation kit. Your sanitation kit should consist of a 5 gallon bucket with a Toilet seat that fits on it securely. Like this one from Reliance.
Make sure you include in your sanitation kit some large black trash bags, cat liter to sprinkle on top after each use, a few rolls of toilet paper, some hand sanitizer, dish soap, paper towels, sanitary napkins, baby wipes, and disinfectant spray. Also basic hygiene items like bar soap, shampoo, dish soap, laundry detergent, and cleaning supplies. It helps to have some large Rubbermaid type containers for washing small children in, doing dishes and general washing up.When your "toilet" is full you can tie up the trash bag and put it in a hole dug in your back yard. When everything has been restored to normal you can properly dispose of your waste. You can also purchase a premade sanitation kit like this one.
Now let's talk about loss of electricity. We loose power here during Monsoon season fairly regularly. The kids actually look forward to our little power outages because we pull out the candles and tell stories. But what about when power is out for long periods of time, like days, what then. First of all and this one is fairly obvious have candles, flash lights, and batteries on hand. Even better than candles have some oil lamps and extra oil on hand. Don't waste your battery run flash lights on indoor home use, save those for when you have to move around outdoors and night.
You might also want to have a camp type stove for cooking.
And that brings us to food. First of all if you lose power DO NOT OPEN YOUR FREEZE AND FRIDGE unless absolutely necessary. Keep that cold air in. I would hate to loose my pork from this years pig or all the chicken and frozen veggies. If the power is going to be out for an extended period of time hopefully you are lucky enough to have a generator. I do not have one so we would start eating the food the is in the fridge first, then the freezer and finally start with the canned and dry goods. If you have an extended pantry that you are working on like I do, then you have canned goods and dry goods stored. But how much do you store and of what. The Church of latter-day saints has a food storage calculator that can help you work on building your food storage. They believe in storing a years worth of food, you can use it to calculate your families needs. Food storage calculator
What do you store food in? Those food grade storage buckets for the big W chain come in handy here too. You can also buy 5 gallon buckets with sealing twist on lids and Mylar bags. And don't forget to have a can opener on handy.
Or you can buy 1 month's worth of food already packaged and ready to go like these. Remember you will need one for each member of your family.
Don't let food storage overwhelm you. Start with a 72 hr. kit in mind and expand from there as you see necessary. Add as you go and do research about proper storage.
A First aid kit is also an important thing to have on hand.
Include in your kit things like bandages in different sizes, absorbent compress dressings, adhesive bandages, adhesive cloth tape, antibiotic ointment, peroxide, alcohol, aspirin, Children's pain reliever, Ibuprofen, blanket , breathing barrier (with one-way valve), instant cold compresses, non latex gloves, hydrocortisone ointment, Scissors ACE bandages, sterile gauze pads, Oral thermometer, Tweezers and a copy of a book like this one
Also include any medications your family may need for pre existing conditions such as asthma inhalers, heart medication, insulin. allergy meds.etc. and emergency phone numbers or other items your health-care provider may suggest.
You can also purchase a pre-made first aid kit.
If you have read this far and think that emergency preparedness is for paranoid people and that your local city, state or your country will bail you out, if you think it won't happen or you will have time to gather what you need when the situation arises. THINK AGAIN. Last year a power converter blew out all the power in my neighborhood. There was an explosion and then the power was completely out for blocks and blocks (city blocks). The streets were almost immediately packed with cars headed for the local Walmart to buy candles. I have a friend who works there and he told me that they were sold out in minutes, the lines were long and people were angry. This was for candles, not water, not food, CANDLES.
Ask anyone in the states that have recently been effected by tornado's and hurricanes how long they were with out there basic needs. How long before the local city,county or start officials came to help. I am not suggesting that you prepare for the apocalypse; I am suggesting that you prepare for emergency situations so that your family is cared for and their basic needs are met. Even the US government suggests every household have an emergency kit and instructions on how to create one. You can find their suggestions here.
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