1. Water. Absolutely essential for drinking, hygiene and cooking. [ ] While one gallon per person per day is recommended, enough to drink would certainly be better than nothing at all. Even a few hours of thirst can cost you your edge. Several cases of bottled water would go a long way during an emergency and you can replace it as you use it. A good quality water filter could be worth its weight in gold. [ ] There are 40 or more gallons of water in your water heater that is potable. I wouldn’t have a problem drinking water that is years old if it was properly stored.
2. Food. Another essential. You can go days or even weeks without food, but who wants to? Something you wouldn’t even consider eating under normal circumstances could look mighty good if you’re starved. Granola bars, canned food and crackers could mean the difference between a clear head or one thinking about a cheeseburger. [ ] Canned food are terrific for affordable disaster prep. [ ]
3. Shelter. You have to stay alive to ride out an event. For most of us, staying at home would be the ideal situation. However, any number of situations can require “bugging out” to a shelter or other safe location. [ ] A bug out bag or get out of Dodge bag contains emergency supplies if you have to go mobile, and is an art form in itself when it comes to putting one together.
4. Emergency Equipment. In addition to food, water and shelter, there are several essential items that will be required in the event you are on your own. Extra medicines are top of the list, particularly if they are required daily. A good first aid kit is another must have. An LED flashlight and lantern with extra batteries are essential. It sounds impossible, but there are several lights from one to three dollars that fit the bill in the form of solar garden path lights. While they don’t put out tons of light, they provide enough light to navigate around a dark house and work as a flashlight and reading light in a pinch. They can be recharged in the window sill in the daytime and will run 8-10 hours every night. I recently purchased several at a local superstore for $1.00 each! Ten bucks worth allows you to put one in every room and several in the main gathering area. Now granted, they aren’t as good (or as expensive) as a battery operated lantern, but they are safer than a candle, and have the ability to recharge themselves. In short, they are not designed for emergency use, but work incredibly well for it.
Warm clothes, sleeping gear, a camp stove and emergency sanitation gear are also essential.
Hygiene can be a real challenge, but a roll of heavy duty trash can liners can have numerous uses. If your sewer is down as is common after an earthquake, flooding or power outage, you can line the toilet with a bag and when it is full, change it out. A couple of large trash cans can hold the waste until service is restored. Several boxes of wet ones will allow you maintain basic hygiene as well. A bottle of regular unscented bleach is another dirt cheap, yet invaluable item.
Last but certainly not least is some sort of self defense. [ ] whatever you get, make sure you become proficient with it.