How to Start Prepping

Have you recently looked around at everything happening in the world and wondered if maybe it was time to start prepping? You know, just in case

If you are anything like me you the actual size of the project scared you. I was petrified at the thought of trying to store everything we may need as a family to survive for at least three months not to mention a year which is my ultimate prepping goal. 

Between the worry and overwhelming magnitude of prepping, an age-old question came to mind. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, obviously. 

So that’s what I did. The very next payday I took the first bite of my proverbial elephant. I bought a few cans of corned meat and lentils for protein, soap and toothpaste because we still need to clean ourselves, rice and pasta for starches to bulk up our meals, canned veggies for extra vitamins, salt, and my allergy meds. It didn’t cost a lot and it was a start. I decided to make a list of all the things that we may need to not only survive but thrive if we were to land in a situation where we couldn’t find these things. 

Food storage supplies

Needless to say, I was extremely proud of the extras I managed to get in month one and continued to get bits and pieces here and there. Over the months my prepping stash grew much faster than I could ever have anticipated. While determining what should go into my prepping stash I reviewed these important categories. 


I knew we would need to have foods that could last quite some time so I didn’t have to rotate our stocks too often. I added to my list cans of tuna in brine, bicarbonate of soda and many other items I knew would come in handy. Veggies take some time to grow and are essential if you want to keep a family healthy. I do not like processed foods but I figured that canned veggies are better than none at all so I kept adding those just like the starches and proteins I bought initially. I also stocked up on some Chakalaka, a traditional spicy fried and cooked vegetable gravy thingy. Absolutely yummy and loaded with calories and veggie vitamins for the days when the food is lacking. 

Sugar, tea and coffee are not negotiable in our house but I’m sure other families can do without it. Water is life and for this reason you need to store some away but take note that it cannot be stored for too long. We can still drink water from our taps so I simply started filling waterproof containers with water and stashing it. It doesn’t cost me much because I use clean cold drink bottles for this. Having a way of purifying dirty water is always a great idea too. I got a water filter and some gas so I can boil it to kill micro creepies that could cause illnesses. Our end plan is to have a borehole drilled but for the interim this will have to do.


Next was hygiene. Soap, toothpaste, toilet paper and bicarbonate of soda will go a long way and a few dish-washing liquid refill packs are sure to come in handy too. Water in this category is a must because if you have no way of cleaning yourself and your surroundings illnesses can be your downfall. Keep in mind that all water you use to clean with can be used to flush toilets or water your garden with after use. Although water contaminated with soap is not the best idea for your plants, it’s still better than no water at all. 

Bleach should also make up part of your stash because of the fact that it can be used to purify water and sterilize just about anything. Now, for releasing your body of waste you are basically set if you have toilet paper and a shovel. You can simply bury your #2 and used toilet paper and use the urine as liquid fertilizer. It can be used as is without dilution and your plants are equipped to use the minerals that your body doesn’t need. 


Think about your shoes and clothing too. Ensure that you have enough clean clothing and that they are all in good condition. In a crisis situation there will not be a chance to get new clothes and you will especially need them if you are forced to leave your home and flee into the outdoors. A good pair of boots and jeans can protect you against ticks and snakes while a proper jacket can keep out damp and keep your body temperature up.


You need to remember your pets during this arduous journey, too. Keep in mind that they will still need you to look after them. Their foods come in pellet and canned form which last very long as it is. All you have to do is ensure that they have enough to carry them through. Rice is also a great way to fill them up and add some calories to a canned meal. Peanut butter is good for them too and once again adds much needed calories. Many preppers will tell you to eat your pets rather than having to prep for them too but I am not that prepper. You took on that responsibility so it should remain that way no matter what happens. They may turn out to be a great early warning system that could save your life. 

Once again, there is no need to go big immediately. Save a few cups of food a month or even a few tins of food. Just keep taking a bite of that elephant every time you can.


In this part you will need to think about your daily routine. What medicine does your family need daily? What about sickness stock? Flu medication and pain tablets is a must. Be sure to rotate it out, though. You also want to be covered for emergency situations. Make sure that you have suture sets in case of deep wounds and any other pieces of equipment you may need if an emergency should occur. Start with something small like a packet of band-aids and a roll of bandage or the like. You can start as small as you can afford and build on that. 

A good multi vitamin can also help where nourishment fails. Vitamins C and D will go a long way in keeping your family healthy. Activated charcoal is another great item because it can help with the purification of water and it can also help to get rid of diarrhea or certain types of poison in your system. 

My prepping experience

As the months went by I started thinking about other items that will be needed and I added them in too. These included candles, matches, torches, batteries, needles and thread, and even a small luxury here and there (‘cause momma needs her sugar fix, you know). The point is, the earlier you start prepping, the more time you will think about it. The more time you have, the better you can plan and research.

When prepping it’s a good idea to take into account that you may run into a shortage of space. For this reason it will be best to look for things that are high in calories, lightweight and small, particularly if it’s going into your BOB (bug out bag). Simple things like peanut butter or other nut butters are good choices because it is ready to eat, can last for a while, and is quite high in calories and nutrients. There are many similar items you can stock up on so there should be an option to suit all preferences. If, however, you do end up with too little space, remember your vertical space. Shelves higher up on your walls can be exactly what you need to increase your storage space without impacting your floor space.

Four things you’ll want to remember are:
  1. Rotate your stock.
  2. Keep track of the expiration dates.
  3. Buy stuff that you enjoy eating and use regularly.
  4. Get something to spoil the family with every once in a while, even if it is just a toffee or two. In situations where we don’t know what the next day brings, a pick-me-up may be the only thing to keep us sane. 

Building your stock bit by bit gets you to your goal while not breaking the bank. This was my journey and how I got started prepping even though hubby thought I had finally lost the plot. I am just very grateful that he supported me in this regardless of his thoughts. I’ve eaten my elephant bite by bite and I may never be done. But in a way that’s a good thing. It means that no emergencies have happened for me. Yet… 

If you’d like to read more about food storage, check out our article Why You Should Do Food Storage.

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The Importance of Having Food Storage

Feeling unconvinced that you need food storage?

Let’s play out a few scenarios:

It’s the middle of the month, a week before your next payday, and you haven’t been grocery shopping in a week. You decided you could subsist from the food in your house until you get paid again. What you didn’t realize, was that because of all the natural disasters in the beginning of this year, we are now in a food crisis. Big government has stepped in, so food is being rationed, and you’re only allowed to shop once a month. So now you must survive off the food stored in your home until your number is called to be able to go shopping for your family. How long will you be able to last before you are forced to start skipping meals or thinning out the rations? 

Do you consider this an unlikely scenario? Well let’s bring up another:

You move to a new state, and you had a job lined up, but as soon as you get there, things fall through, the company goes under and you no longer have a job. New in town, you begin your search for a job. Though try as you might, no one is calling you for an interview. You keep searching but you’re coming up on a month with no income, you’ve run through your savings after moving expenses and a new place, and you’ve run out of food. What’s a person to do?

In both scenarios, the basic necessities of life are threatened. You can last 3 weeks with no food before you starve, but what a miserable existence! Imagine trying to explain to your children why they can’t eat, even though they are hungry.

Now imagine this third scenario:

Last year, you had a friend introduce you to the concept of having a year supply of food on hand. At first you thought they were a little misguided, but then you took a look at the events of the world and started to change your tune. You realized that we live in a very fragile system, where one catastrophe, even if it’s localized, could have a domino effect with far-reaching consequences

So, your thinking changed, and you began gathering food a little bit at a time. Each time you visited the grocery store, you’d buy double of what you would normally need for the week. After a year, you had quite the store of food, and you found that as you gathered more, you felt greater peace knowing that your family would be secure if anything were to ever happen. 

There had been talk about the truckers going on strike, no one believed that could ever happen, until it did. The grocery stores were bare, there was no gas in the pumps because they weren’t being refilled, so people were having a hard time getting to work. If utility workers can’t get to work, brownouts occur causing hours without electricity.

People are beginning to panic after two weeks, and though you have concerns, your basic needs are met. You can think clearly because your stomach is full, and your family is safe. You decide that you feel comfortable enough to share some of your food with your close neighbor even though they didn’t heed the advice of your mutual friend. And you can do this without putting your family at risk because you gathered more than enough food for your family.

When Crap Hits the Fan, you’ll want food storage.

Unfortunately, many people have the opposite mindset as the people in this scenario. When the topic of a crap-hits-the-fan situation comes up, they’ll say “Well because of my background, I have the skills and the guns to just take the food I need, so I’ll be fine, no need to store food.” But when questioned further, there are many holes in their plan. They think they’ll be able to band together with a few of their like-minded buddies and take over a grocery store and control the food supply. Well, how will they know in time that crap has truly hit the fan and it’s not just a false alarm? What good will it do to take over a grocery store if there’s already been a run on the store and all the food is gone? The fact of the matter is in a true disaster situation your brain goes into fight or flight mode. Things you never thought you were capable of, quickly can become your terrifying reality. That old adage is certainly true: it’s always better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

And that’s where the art of food storage comes into play! 

Option One for Gathering Food Storage

As with anything, it’s important to have specific goals in place, with plans to achieve those goals. If you calculate the amount of food you need for your family for one year, it would probably feel overwhelming trying to gather that all at once. That is one way to accomplish this task, but there are much better ways to go about it. 

First set a goal

The approach that tends to be more manageable, and helps create habits, is to first set out to gather three months worth of the foods that your family eats on a regular basis. These will be shelf-stable items like canned and boxed foods and other dry goods.

Break the goal down

Then you’ll break that goal down into weekly or monthly goals. Determine what meals your family enjoys, and each time you go grocery shopping, get a few extra of each item for your storage.

Create rotation schedule

After a time, you will have your three months of food in place. That’s when you’ll go shopping in your own pantry and cycle through that food. Eat the food with the closest expiration date, and your weekly shopping will be to replace the items in your food storage. It really becomes a lifestyle change, because it’s so much more convenient to run to your pantry for an extra bag of spaghetti, than to have to run to the store!

Move onto long-term storage

After you have your three months in place, you should begin gathering your longer-term storage. Typically, a year is recommended, but if you feel inspired to gather more, by all means! Again, there are a few different approaches with long term storage, but you’ll want to get items that have a longer shelf life. Things like sugar, flour, oats, wheat, rice, and beans are great staples that have a long shelf life depending on how they’re packaged and where they’re stored. There are also freeze-dried foods, which tend to be more expensive, but do well being stored for long periods of time while holding their nutritional value. 

Option Two for Gathering Food Storage

If that option seems too overwhelming still, or you consider it too much of a strain on the budget, here’s another option. To build up a fair amount of food storage to set aside a certain amount of money from each paycheck toward your three month or year supply. It could literally be any amount of money you are able to set aside to invest in your ‘self-sufficiency’ insurance. Even on a very tight budget you could set aside $5 – $10 to purchase a couple of canned meals or a few packages of bottled water. As you begin to see your supply grow, you will become more and more excited and willing to dedicate more time, energy, and money toward this honorable endeavor.

Option Three for Gathering Food Storage

Using resources from your own home can immensely help your ability to self-suffice. If you have a back yard or a front yard or even patio space, you can plant a small garden to help supplement some of the food items you and your family use regularly. Even in a scenario where you may not have said luxury, many shops and stores sell edible plants and herbs that are designed to grow inside your home.

If you’re one of the lucky ones who can claim a little bit of land, plan on designing a garden and consider raising animals as a step to being self-sufficient. Even on a quarter of an acre you can grow much of your family’s food through well planned gardening and keeping a few chickens for eggs. If your space allows, goats make great additions for milk or meat depending on your preference.

After harvest time, hopefully things go well, and you will have an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and then you can learn to can as another great resource for storing food. You feel a sense of accomplishment when you can open a jar of peaches in the dead of winter and know that you grew and canned those yourself!

More on Long-Term Food Storage

Let’s delve a little deeper into long term foods, there are many benefits to having food set aside that could sustain you and your family for at least a year. At first, start with the basics, here is a list of basic foods for one year

One adult for one year:
  • TOTAL GRAINS: 300 pounds (Wheat, Flour, Corn Meal, Rice, Pasta, etc.)
  • TOTAL FATS &OILS: 13 pounds (Shortening, Veg. Oil, Peanut Butter, etc.)
  • TOTAL LEGUMES: 60 pounds (Dry Beans, Lima, Soy, Peas, Lentils, etc.)
  • TOTAL SUGARS: 60 pounds (Honey, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Molasses, Jams, etc.)
  • TOTAL DAIRY: 75 pounds (Dry Milk, etc.)
  • COOKING ESSENTIALS: (Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Yeast, Salt, Vinegar)
  • WATER: (at least 1-gallon per person per day)

Now keep in mind, these are the very basics to sustain life. You won’t be gaining weight off this food, but you also won’t starve. To gather a long-term supply, just work it the same way you did with the 3-month supply, a little bit at a time. Set goals. Determine how quickly you’d like to gather this amount of basic foods and then decide if you want to buy a bag here and a box there, or if you want to tackle it by categories. You could decide that this month, you’ll purchase all the legumes, because they’re on sale and then next month you’ll start on the sugars. Just take it piece by piece and make adjustments where you’d like, to fit the needs of your family. 

Speaking of family, smaller children may not need as much food as an adult, and they may need slightly different foods. But, if you’d like to make things simpler, you could just use the same numbers for each family member and that way they will “grow into” their food storage.

Adding variety to your food storage

Once you have these basic foods, you can determine what you’d like to add to incorporate some variety. This would be a good point to add in some freeze dried or dehydrated items. Getting the basics is a good start, but you will learn (hopefully through study and not through personal experience) that food fatigue is a rough psychological effect. This condition can have very real physical consequences, especially amid an already traumatic disaster situation. Food fatigue occurs when your body gets tired of eating the same meal and convinces your brain that you would rather starve than eat rice and beans again. It becomes crucial to be able to mix things up a bit. Being able to add a tablespoon of sugar to your oatmeal or seasoning your beans with salt and pepper can have a huge impact on your health and the quality of your psychological state.


The great thing about food storage, is that it is so versatile. You can read articles like this and glean some good ideas on how you want to start your journey, but then it’s all in your hands. You have the liberty to add in your family’s favorites. You can research and get other ideas and opinions and formulate your own tailored plan for your unique family. Or, you can choose to keep it simple and decide not to reinvent the wheel. Either way, food storage is a necessity because it provides safety and self-reliance. Though it’s not a bad thing to ask for help when you need it, it is a much better feeling to be able to take care of yourself and your family. 

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Briana Patch lived with her husband in Idaho where they started a small farm with milk goats and chickens and practiced self sufficiency. There she learned to can extra produce, care for animals and assist them in birth, became CERT certified, and furthered her interest in self reliance and preparing for emergencies. Now they live in Missouri and she volunteers her time at her church as an Emergency Preparedness Specialist, to help her church family along their path to preparedness.

Best Survival Foods

A fellow raises his hand and asks, “What is the best survival food?” Another fellow stands up and says, “Why the last can of beans of course.” And there you have the answer to the article. And you know, in a way, it’s really true that the best food is that which is left when all else is gone. But that would mean that times are too desperate for such an article. So, lets maybe consider foods you may buy or foods you can grow which would be worth your time—short term or long term.  

Why Gardening Is a Good Idea   

Perhaps the very best foods are those which you can plant and replant from season to season. Even though it requires work, such food is a lot more healthy. Participating in food growth is something most people today have grown away from due to the fact that it is much easier to go to a grocery store than to dig and plant and harvest. However, a big part of survival skills is knowing how to grow your own food. And since most people nowadays don’t know how to do that, it is a skill you must learn and practice in order to become competent at. Being able to grow your own food is a necessity and will be appreciated by others when circumstances can’t support the conveniences everyone has grown accustomed to.     

The Basics of Gardening

Now, when it comes to gardening, there is much to know. Good soil is a must and good things can grow when the soil is good. But you may live in a place where good soil is not found there. What do you do then? 

That was the case with me. 

The ground where I planned to have a garden was all rocks, and without a tractor, soil from someplace else had to be dug (by hand) and put in 5-gallon buckets and carried to the garden spot. All in all, about 1,800 lbs of dirt was required. Now soil must be rototilled every year, and a lot of it would be lost with erosion, which would mean hundreds of 5-gallon buckets of dirt again. So I had an idea to place the dirt in large truck tires which would maintain the soil quantity and never need a tiller. And it actually worked great. A 1 and a ½ inch hose was also run from an uphill pond 100 yards away to gravity feed the garden. And all this was done in the short order of about 2 months!

What Foods Are Best to Plant? 

So what kinds of foods are best to plant? Well, whatever grows best in that climate and soil where you live. That can either be researched by zone or done by trial and error. To grow certain foods, which are really not suited for that climate, may require a lot of extra care, and you must be willing to give it that. Also, you have to ask yourself what foods you actually like that can be grown (sorry ice cream!). Good fertilizers and composting are a must for having a healthy garden, and you may know that composting is simply taking foods left for the garbage and placing them in an area to be broken down and added later to the soil to provide nourishment to that soil. The survivalist who is on the ball has a purpose for most anything and lets nothing go to waste. 

So here is a list of foods which would be great to plant and are very nutritious: spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, corn, beans, squash, kale, cucumbers, and purslane (which is actually considered a weed). A garden with these sorts of goodies would feed many people (providing your garden was big enough). Some things to keep in mind are that corn, for instance, requires a lot of dirt and nutrients. Crops like cucumbers, spinach, and beans may not require so much soil and can really keep you busy. The honest truth is anyone can grow a garden, but there are those who are really good at it and love to work in a garden. You would know if you are one of those people, and the great thing is, you can become one of those people too! It just takes practice.  

Now when a garden yields more than you can carry, then begins the task of saving your “earning,” and that is where the work begins with freezing certain items, storing in a cool cellar, canning, or all that goes into dehydrating. And dehydrating can be a job. 

For example, suppose you have buckets full of cucumbers. First, you have to slice them all up into thin slices, boil them for a couple of minutes, then dip them into ice water before you can lay them evenly into a dehydrator and repeat the process until you run out. After they are all dehydrated, it is time to place the cucumbers in a container as a food source for later on. Also, remember that it is extremely important to keep moisture out. Putting some white rice in with the cucumbers keeps them all nice and dry. Sound like fun? No wonder going to the store is so much easier, right? While it is true that a trip to your favorite grocery store is indeed easier, learning these important skills will give you peace of mind when it comes to a disaster situation. Survival skills require work, pure and simple, but that work and knowledge really pays off in the long run. 

Hunting and Fishing

Before moving on, I should really include that which you can catch or hunt for food. While catching fish can be fun for just about everyone, not everyone has a yearning to hunt. To hunt means to take a life, and somehow some people see fishing as different (even though life is also being taken). It’s really all a mental thing. Survival means doing what you may not be keen about or even comfortable with; however, you do it because it must be done in order to live. So the big question is whether or not you are up to the task? What are your priorities? It is what each person must answer in his or her own head. Along with the task of hunting, can you skin and process whatever you have harvested? It’s all part of being fit to carry out the task of survival, and those who haven’t “been there” might spend time to learn and find out more about themselves.  

The Grocery Store

Okay, with all that said, let’s go shopping. In this aisle you have cereal, cake mix, and a lot of other worthless foods which are not fit for survival. When you really think about it, most of the food in a grocery store is just “filler food.” As a survivalist, you must think about what foods are the most nutritious and cost-effective. Most folks only have a certain amount of money. Do you buy the absolute best foods possible at a high price or do you buy more bulk food that will sustain you over a longer period of time? Additionally, what foods you buy may have to feed others, maybe many others. So what foods are the best for the money? Among the many foods you can buy, there is one which is often overlooked: snack bars. Snack bars are made of several nutritious ingredients. These little meals come already in a wrapper and can keep for a long time. They can also be thrown into a bag on the way to wherever you are going. All in all, they are a wise choice to have.                                   

Now, in your shopping cart, you have 10 boxes of snack bars. Rice is another very important survival food. Get at least 50 lbs of rice, 20 lbs of white and 30 lbs of brown. And over on the other aisle are different types of beans. Grab 10 lbs of kidney beans, 10 lbs of black beans, 10 lbs of lima beans, and 10 lbs of pinto beans. (This will take you more than one cart!) Then you may get 30 cans of salmon or sardines, and after that, nuts. Grab several bags of almonds and cashews. But skip the peanuts. Why? Because our next stop is the peanut butter. Of course, this is all based on personal preference, but I like to grab the biggest containers and get extra crunchy peanut butter.  Maybe get 30 containers because peanut butter can last for years.  

Now, what about things to drink? Coffee, tea, lemon mix? Grab whatever you like to drink and get lots of it. And let’s try to find some of that powder that’s called “sea vegetables.” Sea vegetables can be put in other foods for nutrition that is in vegetables you may be missing out on. Oh, and there is still room in the cart, so grab a couple dozen bags of jerky (but don’t eat it all on the way home!). 

Next, are the items needed for cooking and other uses, so off to the store again! As the shopping cart rolls along, 30 bags of 5 lbs sugar enter first. Then, lets get some salt. Grab about 25 of those round containers of salt and several pepper containers. Flour is also a must so load up on 40 lbs of that as well. Now, you still have room for some spices, and yes, you need cooking oil too. Next be sure to grab canned beans, fruit, chicken, stew, corn, soups, sauerkraut, beets, vegetables, chili, tuna, tomatoes, and some coconut milk. 

Organizing Your Food Storage

Now, when you have a pantry of stored food, you have to have some order to it. And there is always the chance that things get goofed up, but that is okay. Maybe there were some cans of something which didn’t get used first over newer stock. It is believed that canned food is edible for some 7 years after the expiration date. And if in question, don’t eat it or just eat a small amount. That way, you only get a stomach ache instead of being sick for days. If a can is bulged out, that is not good. If a can is considerably rusted, that is also not good. Also, you have to watch for mice because mice like to be fed without paying for it. You don’t have to worry about mice and canned food, but anything in a plastic container may be a target for those sharp little teeth. A good idea is to get 5-gallon buckets to put certain foods in so that they are sealed, and that works great for bugs as well. You can have several of those, and they stack nicely too.

Now, for those who have the money, there are companies who will sell you a year worth of supply of food in buckets which you just open and prepare. Those are great to have if you have the money to pay for them because they can run in the thousands of dollars and are usually for the long term. But for the majority of folks, it seems to make more sense to buy what they can afford and for what situation they consider important. It’s all a learning process as well. As stated before, gardening is definitely a learning experience, and in my opinion, everyone should learn how to grow his or her own food. Have you ever heard of wild lettuce? It is a strange-looking lettuce which, when eaten, acts like a pain killer. Also, did you know that you can take seeds from a lemon, apple, pear, and other things and grow your own trees? Yes, it takes time, but it’s all worth it in the long run.

Now one of the things which is on almost no one’s list is candy, for kids, right? Well, that would be one reason, but really it is for more serious things. Suppose you have someone who is a diabetic, and he is having low blood sugar. What do you do? Candy would be a wonderful thing to have on hand! That is if the children haven’t eaten it all. There are also things that people with a “sweet tooth” will miss, and to have something sweet would make any dietary transition more pleasing. Sugar, however, should be kept in containers that are sealed well so as not to allow any moisture. 

Additionally, did you know you can use sugar on a wound? “To treat a wound with sugar, all you do…is pour the sugar on the wound and apply a bandage on top. The granules soak up any moisture that allows bacteria to thrive. Without the bacteria, the wound heals more quickly” (BBC Future, 2018). Sugar can also be used to feed flowers and plants, keep cheese from molding, is a great cleaner for spice grinders, and most importantly, sugar makes great lemonade and great tasting cookies!

Water As Part of Your Food Storage

Now last, but not least in consideration is what to drink, and really it makes no sense to try and buy things to drink. Drinks should be made with whatever you have to mix with water and that makes water an essential element in the food world. Where do you get clean water at some point? Suppose a long storm hit, and there hasn’t been running water in a town. Suppose the only water is from a pond? What do you do? Do you know how to filter water to make it safe to drink? What if you have no water filtration devices? What do you do? 

There is actually a way to make a natural water filter using a 2-liter soda bottle. To make this simple filter, you cut off the bottom of the soda bottle so it becomes a sort of funnel. Then, you put a rock which is slightly bigger than the small end as you make that the bottom, or you can also use a piece of cloth. Next, you put several handfuls of charcoal in the bottle. After that, you put several handfuls of sand and then grass. All that gets covered with equal amount of rocks so that the bottle is full to the top. Start pouring your water through the filter at the top and catch it in another container, then take that water and run it again until it runs clearer and clearer. Now, you have a water filter. Always keep some 2-liter soda bottle around and anything else which can be of value for survival.

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Note: There are also edible wild plants, and knowing what is safe to eat and what to stay clear of. From mushrooms to acorns, berries, and even certain tree bark which can contain edible protein. These are covered in other articles for those interested.

Bill is known internationally for his art and has authored two books as well. Among his many interests is that of being a survivalist. He lives remotely and has learned much about the art of survival—from growing his own food, making his own natural medicine, to being inventive with what he has to work with. He has a long history as a big game hunter and understands what is required to live without the comforts of home when needed, and he doesn’t assume that tomorrow will be better, for it may just be the opposite. He considers it wise to be prepared in every way possible and believes what wisdom the Bible has promised. Bill is more than happy to share what he has learned because he cares and that care needs to be shared.

Why You Should Do Food Storage

I have held my hungry child in my arms as I stared at a nearly empty pantry. What no one ever tells you is the mix of emotions you feel: how it shreds your heart with self-disappointment, knots your stomach with guilt, and seizes your chest with a sense of panic—all at the same time. I’d like to share my story about why I now maintain a supply of stored food and why you should too.

I Learned the Hard Way

It was Friday September 19, 2008. Hurricane Ike had ransacked Houston six days earlier, shattering windows, flooding local businesses, and bringing life to a momentary standstill. Our natural gas and electricity were still out and would be for an additional five more days. Around seven in the morning, my 18-month-old son woke up hungry. I placed him on my hip, walked into the kitchen, and opened the pantry. I remember raking my eyes desperately over the white enamel painted shelves where I could see one or two faint rust rings left by cans that were unloaded during a downpour and carelessly put away damp. The usual, familiar smell of dried grains, pasta, crackers, and cookies were absent because our food was nearly gone. 

Whose Responsibility Was It to Warn Me?

I had been completely unprepared for my first hurricane. Unbeknownst to me, grocery stores were emptied within hours of a storm being forecasted to make landfall days before it actually happened. I did not know that stores were unlikely to be restocked until delivery trucks could safely enter the city, long after a storm had passed. It never occurred to me that if the grocery stores suffered water damage from 100 mile-per-hour rain forced through broken windows (like our local stores had) they would remain closed for almost a week until repairs could be made. No one told me I should have had at least a week’s worth of easy-to-prepare food and that two week’s worth would have been even better. It was the first time I had ever lived through a natural disaster, and I was painfully naïve.

Minimalism Gone Wrong

As a young mother, I used to enjoy my tidy pantry with ample space between the food items so you could clearly see everything. The airy organization had a pleasant, minimalist feel, and it was easy to maintain by simply shopping every three days. I never kept extra food on hand; I would rather spend my money on décor or clothes. Indeed, my house was charmingly decorated as I stood holding my hungry child. 

What Will We Eat?

On my nearly bare pantry shelves was a box of dog biscuits, one-quarter of a bag of old and very sticky roasting marshmallows, a container of bread crumbs, a can of cream of mushroom soup, a bottle of vinegar, a bottle of olive oil, a can of baked beans, a box of orange Jell-O, an unopened bottle of mustard, and an almost empty bag of brown sugar. We had eaten the last of the white rice mixed with Campbell’s broccoli and cheese soup the night before. 

I remember feeling a deep sense of personal failure. How had I let this happen? It was not other people’s responsibility to tell me what to do if a hurricane came. I should have had enough common sense to realize living within thirty miles of an ocean brought such risks. Bemoaning my lack of wisdom, I gingerly took the can of baked beans from the shelf and went outside to heat them on the propane grill since the natural gas to our kitchen stove was out. Rumor had it that our repaired grocery store would be reopening today around 8 am, which I was grateful for. As I served my toddler a bowl of baked beans for breakfast, I vowed that I would never let my family face a disaster unprepared again. 

I Kept the Promise to Myself

We were living in the same house when Hurricane Harvey tore through Houston nine years later. Floodwaters trapped us in our neighborhood, surrounding us like an island and isolating us from nearby grocery stores. This time, my pantry was stocked with ample food, and I had even learned to bake bread from scratch. When neighbor children showed up five days after the storm, quietly confessing their own pantries were almost bare, I happily fed them lunch and snacks, understanding how scary that felt. My son, who remembered nothing from Hurricane Ike but still likes eating baked beans for breakfast, was free from the fear and food insecurity his neighborhood playmates experienced. 

A Well-Stocked and Rotated Pantry

When I set out to create an emergency-ready pantry, I recruited my best friend to join me. Together, we learned the value of using airtight storage containers to keep foods fresh longer and rotated our supplies from front to back, just like how grocery stores restock their shelves. We stored only the foods our families ate, which included boxed dinners and sides, pasta, mac and cheese, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, chips, popcorn and cookies. We used whatever was in the front, and when I got home from the store, the row of food was scooted forward and the new item I had just purchased was placed in the back. It was a great way to keep everything fresh. 

Can You Put a Price on Peace?

One afternoon out of the blue, I got a call from my friend in tears. Her husband’s company had been bought out, and he had been unexpectedly laid off. Once the shock and heartbreak subsided, pragmatism set in. Ready and waiting to support their family was her well-stocked pantry. By the time the severance was spent and the stored food eaten, the first paycheck at a new job was on the way. Her advance planning allowed her to successfully navigate the family’s personal emergency. 

It Can Never Happen to Me

This is the most dangerous thought a person can entertain. I once assumed the same thing before a hurricane taught me otherwise. While hard experience is a good teacher, heeding another’s warning before you must face a challenge is always the best route. Learn from my mistake! If you stock your pantry with delicious foods your family enjoys eating, the worst thing that can happen is you eat it all! It is there if you ever need it. It’s even there if you throw an impromptu get-together and need to feed a crowd. What a convenience preparedness can be!

Your Pantry As Insurance

Our cars carry a spare tire, just in case we ever get a flat. Our homes have smoke detectors, just in case there is ever a fire. Our families have insurance coverage, just in case we break a bone or need stitches. Our cars use fuel to haul the weight of that spare; we pay to power the smoke detectors with electricity or batteries and agree to insurance deductions from our paychecks, willingly trading a bit of money for peace of mind. Why not invest in a little pantry peace of mind as well?

Everything Is Fine Until It’s Not

Perhaps your area of the country is free from hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, landslides, wildfires, blizzards, ice storms, flooded roads, and downed power lines. The trouble is that most farming states are not and neither are all the roads between the food producers and your local grocer. Our just-in-time food delivery systems have worked out all right. This fact doesn’t really cross our minds because trucks bring food to the stores every day, which are restocked in the wee hours of the morning while we sleep, so the aisles always appear full and plentiful. Sadly, this is a façade that has become so familiar we forget reality until something out of the ordinary wipes the shelves clean in mere hours. 

Where Do I Begin?

My advice is to start by simply preparing space in your pantry or cabinets where you want to store food and maybe a few supplies, like dish soap. Once space is open, begin slowly adding various foods you regularly eat in a first-in-first-out type of system where you eat the oldest food first. (None of your food should pass the best by dates if you use this method.) It is better to store one or two of something you are sure to use than ten of something that was on sale which may end up going to waste. Products that may quickly go stale (like chips) or rancid (like peanut butter) should be stored in smaller quantities. Canned foods, grains, rice, pasta, and baking supplies can be stored in greater amounts for longer term. If you don’t eat it, don’t buy it just because you think you might eat it during an emergency. You won’t. In an emergency, you’ll want your favorite, most comforting, and easiest-to-prepare foods. 

Invest in Airtight Storage Containers

Spending a little extra upfront to buy sturdy, airtight storage containers will save you money in the long run as it keeps the food you have purchased fresher longer. The secret is that they must be airtight. I’ve kept Rice Krispies brand cereal crisp for six months this way. Yes, it may add to the cost of your pantry project, but in the long run, this is the best investment. Plus, airtight storage containers let you take advantage of buying items in bulk or splitting a large package of something with a friend or family member. My container of choice was gallon-sized grip jars from with white metal airtight lids. They have held up beautifully for over a decade of daily abuse!  

Know Which Foods Last Longest

Most people know that honey does not go bad; it just crystallizes. But did you know that molasses is similar and keeps for years, especially if stored in a glass jar? Sugar, vinegar, and salt are all preservatives themselves so they don’t expire if kept closed and are not contaminated with foreign substances. These products can be a good place to begin your food storage journey. Dish soap, bar soap, and laundry detergent all have long shelf lives, too. Paper products, including most feminine items, do not expire. 

How Much Do I Store?

Start by having three days worth of food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Build up a small supply of toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, hand soap, and shampoo. If space allows and you enjoy the feeling of being prepared, consider maintaining a two to four week supply of regularly rotated food. 

How Do I Rotate All This? 

The best free rotation system I have come up with involves creating a single row of items I want to store. Whether the shelf holds three or eight, I neatly store only one row of that item. I grab and use whatever is in the front then make a note on my shopping list to buy another when I’m at the store next and go about my day as usual. When I get home from the store, I scoot the entire row of items forward and place the newly purchased item in the back. This keeps your inventory fresh and the products are used well in advance of their best by dates with no waste. 

What If I’m Just Not Ready to Do This? 

That’s okay! A great first step can be using the notes app on your phone to make a thoughtful shopping list of what you would need to buy if you had advance warning before a natural disaster. Such a list can keep you clear-headed when the grocery store is full of hurried people frantically trying to stock up just like you are. Arranging the list in the same aisle order of your favorite store will help ensure nothing is forgotten. Adding some needed preparedness items to your list such as batteries, a flashlight, a grill lighter, a propane tank refill, paper towels, disposable bowls, and cutlery and rehydration drinks can help you overcome the mental blanking-out that happens when we must think quickly during an emergency. Once your list is made, you could later use it to slowly build up a supply of favorite foods you always want to have on hand. This simple task can be a perfect start to preparing yourself and your family no matter where you live!

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Tay Silver is a writer, graphic designer, avid gardener, chicken keeper, and experienced hurricane survivor. She and her husband live outside of Houston, Texas. 

Best Animal Tracking Tips

Suppose you went camping on some weekend, and on the first evening, it rained. 

You got your tent up just in time and put most of your camping gear inside the tent, but you forgot a couple of food items. The next morning, you notice mud outside your tent where the ground had been dry the previous evening, and you see torn pieces of food wrappers in the mud. You quickly understand that the food you left out had been munched by some wild animals.

But what?

This is where knowing animal tracks come in handy. Why is that important? Well, the tracks left behind could be from a raccoon, a squirrel, or even from a bear. How would you know if you didn’t know how to read tracks? If it was a bear (especially a big bear), it could mean you need to move your camp. If it was a squirrel, not so much. Tracks tell you what you missed seeing, and at times, it becomes very important to know how to read signs. Being able to read tracks can also tell you if you should set up camp there to begin with. Would you want your tent set up on a bison trail? I think not (and I speak from experience).

Hunters usually need to know the signs of the animal they hunt, or they may be wasting their time in a place where there is no such game. Tracks tell them how big (and even the sex) of the game, if they know the difference. They can also tell you animal has been hit and if you need to track the animal for who knows how far. In one spot, they may have a clear print, and then ten feet later, nothing at all. 

What do you do? 

It’s not a matter if you care to find it, it is a responsibility to find it at all cost, and the better the tracker, the better chance of finding the animal. I have personally tracked wounded animals when not the slightest sign was found, and I had to think about what the animal would do. Where the animal would go and base that upon the color of the blood. For instance, if the blood is more watery and a weak red, then it means a possible wound in the intestines, and an animal often would go to a water source, so look for that. Also, tracks can get confused with other tracks. How do you know which is which? You go by direction of travel, and you do that by placing tissues (or whatever you may have) behind you on the trail of that animal so you can look back and determine the direction of travel ahead. Most animals will not be all over the place, but will generally walk or run in one direction. 

So how do you get to know tracks? Well one way is by seeing them in the wild and taking a snapshot or maybe even drawing them and looking them up later on. Or, you can have them made up on paper and compare them to the real tracks in the wild. (That could be some fun learning for the entire family.) Also, tracking can come in handy if a pet ever decides to go sightseeing, and you are able to have tracks to go by. You probably know your dog tracks from seeing them, but would you know them apart from another dog? This is where studying tracks comes in because most animals have individual tracks that they make, and if we don’t spend time to study certain tracks and their characteristics, then we don’t really know what to look for.                                                                   

Fresh snow and fresh mud would be the very best time to track any animal. But what if there is none of that? Well, then you look for things like scat, eaten food items, fur, broken branches, smashed-down grass, etc. When tracking, you must try and figure out (based on available signs) the pace of that animal, and maybe even the age of the print. You must remember too that weather plays an important influence on tracks (especially rain). The depth of a track generally determines the weight of the animal, but then the ground could be soft too, so that needs to be tested. In short, you have to make believe you are a detective trying to figure out a scene—which can be a lot of fun! 

Now, suppose you are asked to help in a neighborhood search for a missing girl in the nearby woods. It would really help to know what to look for with the individuals who are part of the search team. Having learned to do some animal tracking can really come in handy in this situation. You would, of course, not be looking for animal tracks, but then what if an animal tried to hurt the girl—heaven forbid—and drug her away? Animal tracking would definitely help here while others may likely be looking for shoe prints. Another example is what if a person just got lost and is injured and can’t respond? Walking miles and yelling his or her name would not accomplish much but having some tracking skills just might.  

Now tracking animals is one thing, but what about tracking people? What if someone was tracking you in order to harm you? Tracking can become a serious matter. It could spell out the difference between life and death. Learning how to track a human can be used in reverse if you are the quarry. So say you really don’t have any footprints to go by, what do you do? Well, just like with animals, you look for things that have been moved, broken, mashed or anything out of the ordinary. This requires a slow study process, no speed reading. Someone running will leave much more signs than if they are going slow and trying not to leave any sign. So if it was you who didn’t want to be tracked, which would you do? Tracking humans can be much more complicated than animals tracking, because most of the time, the animal is not trying to outthink you. I say “most of the time,” because whitetail deer have been known to outsmart hunters by doubling back around the hunters in order to keep an eye on their whereabouts. To be a successful tracker, you kind of need to be smarter than what you are tracking because you can also end up running animals away with your tracking methods.                                                           

So what is the right outlook to have for tracking? For one, you have to be able to spend the time to do it and have a certain amount of patience. You have to be interested in the “class,” or you won’t be paying adequate attention. You have to want to get dirty and wet and maybe even smell the ground. Can you tell where a red fox was by just the smell of his urine? Well, that is also part of the tracking process. Animals in the wild all know what animal left a certain scent behind. In the case of whitetail deer, they can even tell the sex and age of another deer by their urine. They rub twigs with their glands to let others know who they are. They also make scraps, rub trees, and nibble on branches to communicate to all who care to know. You might have seen squirrels running up a branch and suddenly stop and sniff for a time. Squirrels have “scent checks” as well. They have their own travel routes planned as well as we take our roads to go to a specific place. Animals have a wonderful communication process that most people haven’t a clue about, and it’s all part of the bigger picture of knowing the animals who made a certain track.

You must also be careful to not disrupt whatever tracks you may find. Remember the detective scene and to not step on any “evidence,” for it may be the only one you have to go on. And you may think that one little track isn’t that important, but then again, who is to say you won’t find yourself in need of it later on? It’s better to have and not need than to need it and not have it. This is especially true if we end up being the ones being tracked for some reason. If we think that won’t ever happen, then we probably also believe we don’t need a spare tire because we will never have a flat or that our cell phones will always work, so we don’t have to worry about getting stuck or stranded. Well, you can only hope, but why not take the time to be ready for what could happen? Even if there is only a 1% chance? 

Learning to track is actually a really big part of a much larger picture in being more connected with a world that brought humanity to this era. Technology, as wonderful as it may be, really takes us away from the natural order of things. It makes what is real into a non-reality, and I believe that unless we partake of things like tracking and getting to know what those who came before us knew. Unfortunately, we have become attached to a world that offers a lot of things… until the main component is missing, and that component is electricity. Without electricity, we are back 200 years in time when almost nothing we have acquired would work. Then what? Then all who didn’t bother with learning the most basic things of life won’t survive, and that is really sad.

Tracking is way more than just looking at some little feet in the dirt. It’s using your mind to learn something that you may not otherwise learn, and also to think about what is real and how reality works, apart from the electronic devices we are so attached to. Be it learning about tracking or what plants that are edible, how to purify water, or a number of things, you are using your mind beyond the parameters you may have grown so familiar with. A good student is one who delights in learning new things and bothers to ask questions. And there is a great reward for those who bother to learn about the natural world. It’s that world that we go to get away from the caged world we often grow up in and feel the stress of it all. Real freedom is only found when you are at peace with your surroundings, and that almost never includes confusion, noise, timelines, etc.  

One of the bonuses as well of tracking animals is that it makes you have to be aware of where you are (without road signs) and you get to do what a lot of people don’t care for, and that is dealing with those bugs that seem to be everywhere and make you itch and itch. But again, that is all part of the world as well and getting used to those little pests (like it or not) is part of life. And while many are afraid of the diseases they might get from certain bug bites, there are of course insect repellents available and even common sense ideas like wearing rubber boots and putting a ring of Vaseline around the top to trap any bugs crawling up. Then again, getting bitten is not always a bad thing because the body gets the chance to build up resistance to diseases. Again, it’s all about understanding the bigger picture of life.                                      

Now as for this writer, he actually lives in a peaceful place where wild animal tracks are seen every day. He lives in the middle of a National Forest and is blessed by the most wonderful visitors. Just this morning, he looked out his window (with sleep yet in his eyes) and beheld a Whitetail buck licking on a salt block. He hurried to get some salted crackers and went out to win this buck’s friendship, and of course, the buck moved away when he approached, but after several minutes, he came closer and finally ate a cracker out of my hand. And then a couple more. Now, I didn’t have to bother tracking him because he stood right in front of me…lol. But you never know, tracking an animal could just get you a new friend, and that would be a great prize and make for some great pictures as well.

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Bill is known internationally for his art and has authored two books as well. Among his many interests is that of being a survivalist. He lives remotely and has learned much about the art of survival—from growing his own food, making his own natural medicine, to being inventive with what he has to work with. He has a long history as a big game hunter and understands what is required to live without the comforts of home when needed, and he doesn’t assume that tomorrow will be better, for it may just be the opposite. He considers it wise to be prepared in every way possible and believes what wisdom the Bible has promised. Bill is more than happy to share what he has learned because he cares and that care needs to be shared.

What to Put in a Disaster Survival Kit

Every disaster is different, which is why every disaster kit will be unique. What you or your family may face will vary, but plan-ahead thinking is always a wise idea. We have put together a thorough list of disaster events and simple items to consider having on hand should one of these nightmare scenarios become your reality. 

Just Imagine for a Moment…

The worst has happened. Your family is moments away from suffering through the effects of a natural disaster. It is the first time you have experienced the visceral feelings of uncertainty, danger, and fear that overwhelmingly dilute your rational thinking. News anchors are issuing serious warnings; your children are scattered about town at different schools, and out-of-state family members are blowing up your phone which you are desperately trying to use to gather local information. The grocery stores are emptying by the minute, and traffic rivals the worst holiday congestion with emotionally distraught, enraged drivers endangering everyone on the roadways. It is difficult to battle the dull panic this situation has created.

Why Have a Disaster Kit?

For most American families, there is a high chance that when disaster strikes, your family will be separated from each other by Monday through Friday jobs, school, and activities. Disasters are hardly convenient enough to happen when everyone is home together. How much comfort would a bit of preplanning provide for your loved ones should a disaster force them to be separated from you? A kit prepared in advance, on a normal day when you are clear-headed and thoughtful about what to include, can be a true asset should the unthinkable occur.

What Do I Put in a Kit?

Your kit should contain the items you will most desperately need during the first 24  hours of a disaster. Because many disasters involve flooding of some type and mud whether from hurricane rains, tsunami waters, raging storms, or plumbing lines broken by earthquakes, sturdy footwear and a waterproof jacket are useful. A flashlight with a bright beam is always handy, and a basic first aid kit is a must. Here we will break down what you may want to consider having in your kit. 

The Bag 

Selecting a way to contain your disaster kit is the first step. This can be as small as using a traveler’s packing cube or as large as a hiking backpack. Small and portable is generally better because you are more likely to keep it with you (or somewhere nearby). Invest in quality because when it is time to use it, the bag will need to be able to handle dirt, mud, grit, scuffs, maybe a bit of broken glass, and general abuse.

Minimalist First Aid Kit 

I’ve been in emergencies multiple times where I needed to use my first aid kit. Time and time again the only things I used were sterile gauze squares and self-adherent wound wrap. Stopping the bleeding, protecting the wound from additional bacteria, and stabilizing the injured person for transport to medical help is all you need to be prepared for. Also, the perfect kit is about the size of a hand and contains band-aids, sterile gauze squares, a roll of 2 inch self-adhesive, nonwoven bandaging wrap, and a pair of tweezers to remove splinters or shards. Additionally, if you have room, add individually sold, properly labeled packets of an over-the-counter pain reliever.


Power outages accompany many disasters, so a flashlight is wise to have. Opt for a bright LED light that takes a common-sized battery. Also, it might be best to leave the batteries new in their packaging so corrosion does not ruin the interior of the light. During disasters I have found the hands-free convenience of headlamps to be the most useful.

Prescription Medicines

You should keep prescription medicines regularly refilled. Anticipate pharmacies being sold out and closed for up to a week after a disaster. I have seen a mother trying to get life-saving medication for her child after a hurricane, and no amount of screaming on the phone could get that medicine trucked into our ransacked, flooded disaster area. You must be prepared in advance. 

Your Customized Disaster Kit

Assess the types of disasters your area might be prone to experiencing and plan accordingly. The above four itemsa sturdy bag, first aid kit, headlamp, and prescriptionsshould be included in every kit. In addition, these checklists can help you start assembling a well-thought-out, helpful bag:


Preparing for flooding and emergency home evacuation.

– Kit Recommendations

  • Sturdy bag 
  • First aid kit 
  • Headlamp 
  • Prescriptions
  • Quality rain jacket
  • Mud boots/rain boots to protect feet from contaminated floodwaters
  • 2 full changes of clothes (fast dry athletic or outdoor work type ideal)
  • Laundry detergent and dryer sheets for 1 load of laundry per person
  • Roll of quarters for coin-operated laundry
  • Travel toiletries for a 3-day trip (tooth care, hair care, comb/brush)
  • Phone charging cord
  • Sturdy work gloves (for returning to the damaged home after the storm)
  • N95 masks (for returning to the mildewed, flood-damaged home after the storm)
  • Anything you would need if you were evacuated to a hotel room an hour away from home

Before You Go, Grab…

All vital documents in jumbo Ziploc bags (to protect them from rainwater), digital backups, small valuables, pets in welded wire or hard plastic carriers and their pet kits (see the bottom of this post).

What You Don’t Expect

Food and water tend to be brought in by rescuers, so having kits full of food is not usually necessary. A well-stocked pantry, a packed bag, and an evacuation plan are usually all you need. If you are evacuated to a hotel, some toiletries will be provided, but laundry detergent usually is not. 

Disaster Type: WINTER STORM

Preparing for loss of power/heat.

– Kit Recommendations

  • Sturdy storage bag/container 
  • First aid kit 
  • Headlamp
  • Prescriptions
  • Reliable source of light: lanterns, flashlight, oil lamp, etc.
  • Batteries for 1 week
  • Several long-burning candles
  • Brand new box of matches and/or new, full grill lighter
  • Propane camp stove with propane fuel canisters for cooking during power out
  • Large water storage container
  • Easy to prepare food and snacks for 1 week
  • Hand warmers
  • Axe (if needed for firewood)
  • Battery-powered radio
  • A way to charge your phone

Before It Happens, Grab…

Enough groceries to last 7 days and have the cooler handy to place outside if power to the refrigerator goes out. Keep firewood and a propane heater with propane or extra coal/pellets on hand for your backup heater type.

What You Don’t Expect

Without power, you won’t get water. Store 40 gallons indoors for drinking, cooking, and washing hands/dishes. You also must prevent the water from freezing. 

Winter Storm Car Kit

Ice scraper, snow brush, small/collapsible shovel, warm gloves, winter clothing, hand warmer packets, blanket, flashlight, jumper cables, reflector, road flares, rock salt/sand/kitty litter, first aid kit, water, and non-perishable snacks.

Disaster Type: TORNADO

Preparing For loss of electricity and home damage.

– Kit Recommendations

  • Sturdy bag 
  • First aid kit 
  • Headlamp 
  • Prescriptions
  • Quality rain jacket
  • Tennis shoes
  • Sturdy work gloves (for clean up after the storm)
  • N95 masks (for clean up after the storm)

What You Don’t Expect 

Tornados happen so suddenly that the best preparation is to keep the room where you will seek shelter free of clutter at all times with a flashlight waiting. Keeping a large tarp, a box of felt roofing nails with plastic washers to secure a roof tarp, sheet plastic, duck/gorilla tape, and basic tools can help you shore up home damages quickly to stop further loss. 

Disaster Type: WILDFIRE

Preparing for an emergency home evacuation.

– Kit Recommendations

  • Sturdy bag 
  • First aid kit 
  • Headlamp
  • Prescriptions
  • N95 masks (to protect lungs while driving through smoke)
  • Map with 2 or more possible escape routes
  • 2 full changes of clothes (these should be long sleeve and pants with 100% cotton or wool. Do not use synthetics).
  • Sturdy boots
  • Leather work gloves

Before It Happens, Grab… 

All important documents, digital backups, and easily carried valuables like pictures and meaningful jewelry/heirlooms.

What You Don’t Expect

Pack an evacuation bag of your favorite clothes and valuables as soon as you hear of nearby wildfires. You may be forced to evacuate even though your home will be spared.

Disaster Type: EARTHQUAKE 

Preparing for the possibility of being injured and separated from family without means of communication.

– Kit Recommendations

  • Sturdy bag 
  • First aid kit  
  • Headlamp  
  • Prescriptions
  • 2 full changes of clothes appropriate for the season and weather
  • Sturdy shoes or boots
  • Leather work gloves (protect hands from glass and debris)
  • Expanded first aid kit with SAM splints for immobilizing broken limbs and fingers

Before It Happens… 

Tape a whistle under any large table you may seek shelter under in case of entrapment. Own a shovel, pry bar, and fire extinguisher. Plastic sheeting and duck/gorilla tape will allow you to secure broken windows.

What You Don’t Expect

Power lines, cell towers, water, gas, and other utilities will be down after a significant earthquake. Have a plan to collect your children from school after a quake.

Workplace Disaster Kit

Often called a Get Home Bag, this kit should have the items you need to handle a short-term emergency while at the office. The perfect bag would be small enough to fit in a desk drawer or under the seat of your car but have enough room to hold a pair of tennis shoes similar to a gym bag.   

– Kit Recommendations 

  • LED Flashlight
  • Tennis shoes
  • Socks good for long distance walking
  • Change of clothes (workout clothes are ideal)
  • Hair tie/baseball hat (if desired)
  • Sturdy refillable water bottle
  • 7-8 inch pry bar (if your office building has an elevator where people may become trapped)
  • Minimalist first aid kit

Disaster Kits for Children 

School backpack space is at a premium right now and is a great kit for your child. Additionally, these are the items that could help her stay calm, follow her teacher’s directions, treat any accidental scrapes, and be prepared to safely evacuate the school building, even in foul weather.

– Kit Recommendations

  • Small, single battery LED flashlight
  • 1-3 band-aids (the type with antibiotic ointment embedded in the pad)
  • Packable rain jacket
  • Children’s gardening gloves (to protect hands from earthquake debris)

Pet Disaster Kit 

Pet stores keep less inventory than grocery stores and sell out quickly. A kit for your companion animal(s) will keep them comfortable and give you peace of mind. Animals will not be emergency evacuated by government agencies unless they are in a welded wire or rugged plastic kennel. Consequently, it is wise to have one, even if you do not regularly use it. 

– Kit Recommendations 

  • Small plastic organizer with a locking lid in which to store the items
  • 3 days worth of canned or dry food, rotated yearly (kibble goes rancid after 9 months)
  • Manual can opener (if needed)
  • Disposable paper bowls for food and water
  • Disposable spoons (to scoop out wet food)
  • Bottled water, rotated yearly
  • Plastic lid to cover open canned pet food (optional)
  • Index card with your pet’s microchip numbers
  • Scanned copy of rabies vaccine certificate

Optional: A fresh collar and tag with multiple phone numbers clearly engraved ( has metal tags for under $2)

If You Have a Cat 

A portable, emergency litter box can be made by filling a short, rectangle lidded storage container with kitty litter and burying a new, inexpensive litter scoop in it.

Now Imagine Again

Something has happened, and you feel concerned but calm. Now, your family is well-prepared, and each person has a small kit with them for this type of situation. You can now focus on soothing your loved ones and helping others. The disaster was very unfortunate, but you are already in the process of bouncing back.

It is our hope that these lists will help you quickly and efficiently prepare for whatever circumstances you may have to face with confidence! 

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Tay Silver is a writer, graphic designer, avid gardener, chicken keeper, and experienced hurricane survivor. She and her husband live outside of Houston, Texas.