In The Calm Before The Storm
Part I: The Hardware
Most people don’t think of being prepared for an emergency until the emergency happens. For some, it’s because they’re sure nothing will happen worth preparing for. For others it’s a matter of not know how or what to prepare for. This series will break down the how, when, and why of emergency preparedness.
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the city of New York. The storm was a major one, and left the city paralyzed for days and in some cases weeks. It also left millions without power throughout New England. Prior to that, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in the city of New Orleans, and that city is still struggling to recover. Katrina, too, caused damage far outside Louisiana, costing millions in damages all over the Gulf Coast. In both cases, food and clean water started to become scarce after the storm and quickly became hard to find. Medical care became harder to access in the short term, and property damage lingered for years in the long term.
Some people decided to leave these cities before the storms hits, probably to take refuge in a hotel of with friends and family. Most remained either by choice or by necessity. Those who remained faced flooding, road closures, food scarcity, water scarcity, and a delay in access to medical attention. Some of these people, however, had some supplies set aside in their homes and were able to ride out the storm more comfortably than those who did not.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of essential tools to keep in your home that will help you face any emergency. It goes without saying that you’ll need a place to put all this stuff, so I recommend storing it all in a 40 gallon clear storage tub with a lid.
Batteries of Various Sizes
When the power goes out, you’ll have to rely on batteries to keep your radio, internet router, and flashlights running. It’s wise to figure out what sizes you’ll need and stock up on 24-48 batteries of each size.
Keep a few spare outfits, including underwear and socks, for every member of the household. I recommend storing clothing a little heavier than you think you’d need, i.e. a light jacket for summer. You may not need to wear it, but you’re better off having it than not having it. I keep my extra clothing and blankets in a clear plastic bag that I got when I bought a set of sheets.
Extra Food and Water
Having extra food and water is the most basic and essential thing you can keep on hand. Canned and dried foods last a really long time, which is why we stock things like canned beans,dry beans and pasta, rice, soup mixes, tuna, canned herring/sardines, and instant coffee. The amount shown here is enough to get one person through three days. I omitted the water in the photo, but plan for one gallon per person per day.
Hygiene/First Aid Kit
Hygiene is important in emergencies as it helps prevent sickness and disease. Store a bar of soap per person along with a bottle of hand sanitizer. If you go to a hotel, snag some little bottles of shampoo and conditioner and toss them in with the soap. I also include my first aid kit in the same pouch, because hygiene and medicine go hand in hand. In the medkit I keep bandages, antibiotic ointment, suture kits, ibuprofen, petroleum jelly, gauze wraps, an Ace wrap, and a prescription painkiller for more serious injuries. This is also where I’d keep any personal medicines I needed on a daily basis.
Hypothermia is a concern during 3 out of 4 seasons. Having extra blankets helps mitigate the concern. Blankets can also be used to insulate windows, fashion a sling for first aid or as comforting objects for kids. I keep mine rolled in the same plastic bag as my extra clothes.
Having a small tool kit can be really useful for fixing minor storm damage or boarding up broken windows. See our tool kit article tool kit article for the basics you should have.
Basically a smaller version of the tool kit, this has really basic stuff that can be used for any number of repairs, or even taken with you if you need to leave the house. Mine contains a spare hat, work gloves, 20 feet of parachute cord, a multi tool, a knife, matches, a lighter, and two flashlights. The box I house them in is from a cologne set, but it’s really the perfect size for this mini-kit.
You don’t need a propane grill, but you will certainly need a heat source to cook food and possibly boil water. We recommend a camp stove with two fuel tanks. The stove is a little heavy, but it’s crucial for both health and morale, since hot food can go a long way to cheer an otherwise rough day.
Having copies of your important papers important papers in your emergency box is a great idea. Include birth certificates, driver’s licenses, social security cards, car titles and home deeds.