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Supplies Needed for and Emergency

Making A List

When planning your survival through a variety of situations, it is always best to make a list out of what will be needed. Divide the list into categories to make it easier to work with. Everyone in the family should be involved at some level in emergency plans, even young children will be glad to be able to participate. Do not expect a child of 5 or 6 to assume a great deal of responsibility, but they will be able to perform simple tasks. Accept a few suggestions from the younger members of the family, regardless of their practicality, just to help cement their participation. The list should contain everything you will need for water, food, shelter, and first aid.


Water is probably the most basic necessity of life. A person can live quite some time without food, but without water, most people will perish within days. Unfortunately, during a disaster or emergency, your access to clean water may vanish. Most water systems are dependent upon electricity, which is generally the first of our modern conveniences to disappear when earthquake, hurricane, tornado, or other crisis happens. Making plans ahead of time, to make sure that you and your family will have adequate water is of the utmost importance.

There are several ways to go about securing a water supply. Probably the easiest is to accumulate bottled water from the store. This water generally has a shelf life of several years, and should be rotated as the ‘sell by’ date approaches. You should consider that a gallon per person, per day, will be adequate, and you should have at least enough water to last for a week.

Besides purchasing bottled water, you can also bottle your own tap water. You should choose containers that have not held either dairy products or oil. Old soda bottles are acceptable, or you can purchase empty, food-grade containers. The bottles should be thoroughly washed out before use, and allowed to dry completely before being filled. After filling and capping the bottles, attach a label that supplies the date the bottle was filled. Water bottled in this way will be good for approximately half a year, at which time, the water should be poured out and the process repeated. Make sure you store this water away from the light, as sunlight can stimulate algal growth.

A more ‘permanent’ solution is to buy a water filter that does not depend upon electricity. There are several excellent filters that will remove every contaminant from whatever water you put into them. Make sure that you purchase a two chamber filter that guarantees pure water. These filters are fairly expensive, but will purify thousands of gallons of water before the filtering elements have to be replaced. A filter like this will assure you that you will have water for an indefinite period as long as there is the ‘raw material’ to put into the filter. Do not use a pitcher filter for purifying water, these are designed basically to remove the taste of chlorine from water, and will not remove organic or inorganic contaminants.


Right behind water in your list of necessities is food. If a major disaster has occurred, it could actually be days or weeks before food is available. Consider how long the people in New Orleans had to go without help, or the situation in Japan after the tsunami. There are, as with the water, several ways to go about gathering a supply of food for your family in case of emergencies, and simply accumulating food from the grocery store is one that can be done gradually. Of course, you will have to stick to canned or dehydrated food, and be aware that while these foods will have a shelf life of several years, they will have to be rotated to assure freshness.

It is also possible to can or dehydrate food yourself. These options are especially good if you plant a garden or are able to visit a local farmers market during the summer. Canning with a pressure cooker is safe, and you will be able to put up all your vegetable produce, fruit, and even meats. Dehydration is best for fruits and vegetables. Food that you have dehydrated should be placed in plastic bags, sealed, and dated. It is possible to purchase mylar bags that will not only protect against moisture, but against light. Food of this type will be good for up to one year, at which point it will begin to lose its nutritional value.

Many people prefer to purchase dehydrated or freeze dried food from companies that provide them. These foods, thanks to the commercial equipment used, have a very long shelf life. Some of these prepared foods will last for 25 years, if stored properly. These foods are available in two basic forms: bulk and meals ready to eat (MREs). The former will provide several pounds of dehydrated eggs or milk or grain that will have to be used within a certain frame of time once opened. MREs are individual meals that need only some water and heat to prepare. These latter are often taken along on camping trips due to their portability.

There are also emergency rations available in the form of bars that will supply you with the needed calories and nutrients for a daily diet. These bars are said to have a pleasant taste, and having at least a small supply on them on hand would probably be a good idea. When storing away your food supply, you should also include vitamin supplements, both for adults and children, if there are youngsters in the house.

Your emergency survival food needs to be stored properly if you expect it to remain viable. All food should be stored in a cool place, such as the basement. If you do not have a basement, store the food in an interior closet, as far from light and heat as possible. Survival food will maintain its shelf life if kept at 55 F, but higher temperatures will cause rapid deterioration.

Sometimes, due to food allergies or chronic medical conditions, people will have specific dietary needs. If anyone in your family falls into this category, be sure to have an adequate supply of these foods on hand. Be sure to check the ingredient list on any packaged food that you purchase to make sure that your supply will not cause harm to a vulnerable family member.