Unless you have a “cabin in the woods” that you know you can get to quickly no matter what, or water gushing under the door, your first and best place to have prepared is your home. Home is where you have the majority of your needs covered and in place. Or at least where you can have everything you need if you are prepared. Home is where you can find just about anything almost without thinking. So what do you need at home?
The following list is extremely basic and is to be used as a starter. Add what you need based on the types of emergencies you think you may encounter and the length of time you think each will last, along with the specific needs of where your home is located.
Your home is your shelter. Have everything you might need on a routine basis that maintains the structural integrity of your home. Besides the everyday “household” tools be sure you have the following for any situation of a week or more.
- Plywood for broken windows or structural holes in the roof or a wall and the like.
- Tarps of various sizes. These can cover a hole in the roof; keep you off a wet floor and a number of other things. If bugging out a good tarp can provide a pup-tent or canopy.
- Nuts, bolts, nails, screws, hinges, etc.
- Plumbing tools. Extra pipes, threader, caps, plumbing and electrical tape.
- An extra plumbing fixture or two, extra door knob and or locks and padlocks.
- Electrical wire and or baling wire. I like electrical because it can usually be used for anything that baling wire is used for as well as for electrical items. Nice and multi-functional.
- Trench shovel, pick axe, sledge hammer – even if you are urban.
- Replacement parts for any major item you may have to rely on. Camp stove, grill, portable non-electric heater, vehicle (if you are lucky enough to have extra fuel or make your own), tent patches and the like.
- Misc. Non-electric tools as well. Like a manual hand drill and saw. Always have plenty of the miracle invention – Duct Tape.
Other home considerations are anything to replace electrical machines, tools and functions in the house.
- Camp commode and it’s chemicals (Utility water is usually controlled by electricity in some way)
- Heat – Fireplace or Wood Stove & Fuel
- Portable Fire pit or stove – Have extra wood or pellets on hand for it.
- Bar-B-Que Grill – Have extra charcoal and or propane for it.
- Camping Equipment – If you are a camper, you probably have tents, sleeping bags, lanterns, camp stoves and the like. Be sure these are organized, in good working order and easy to reach. Be sure you have fuel for the camp stove and lanterns or camp heater.
Other Important Items for the home:
- Food Storage – Long (more than two weeks) or Short term (two weeks and under). This includes drinking water. Remember the rule: 1 Gallon per person per day. This is the BARE MINIMUM and can cover hygiene as well. This includes your pets; Dogs and cats require a little less than humans, but use the 1 gallon rule and don’t forget their food or first aid needs. If you have some other kind of pet, ask your vet what you can do in an emergency situation. Be sure to read my Food Storage mini-book/letter sent previously for specifics.
- Water for hygiene – Brushing your teeth, washing hands, arm pits and dishes, etc. I prefer to consider this a separate need since every time my family camped, at least one person had an “accident” with the water, where water was wasted and lost. Remember you can re-use “washing” water for more washing, or waterless anti-bacterial gel for washing your hands and arm pits, thus stretching your supply.
- A small portable tub or basin or two to use for hygiene functions.
- Reference books and documents. This should be for anything that you have to stop and think about how to go about doing and includes recipe books. These too should be organized and easy to reach. DO NOT count on the internet for this. I have all my eDocuments printed out and organized in my emergency binder. Ok this is really three binders now.
- Expanded Sewing kit. This should include patches to repair clothing as well as the usual thread, needles, buttons, hooks, snaps and that other miracle invention – Velcro (the dots and various sized cut-to-fit strips).
- Expanded First Aid kit and first aid book. Again if for the long term or injury inducing situation, add splints, slings and plenty of ace bandages. See the lists in the appendix.
- Clothing and Footwear. Yes, clothing. Don’t think fashion here, think functional. This clothing should be able to assist in keeping you warm or cool and as dry as possible. Think flannel lined denim bib overalls and shirts or sweat shirts and pants for cool to cold weather. Overalls are great as they are just about one size fits all, except for the length. For warm and hot weather, think light weight long pants and long sleeved shirts. You can roll the pant legs and sleeves up, but if you have to bug-out the legs and sleeves will protect you from insects and sunburn. Have wicking socks and undergarments (t-shirts, panties, socks). Think two sets: One for cold weather and one for hot weather. Your footwear should be multi-functional and water proof or resistant as well. The tread should be good for traction on ice, snow, etc. and insulated for winter wear. Lightweight with good traction for sand, rocks, etc. for summer wear. This is NOT the place for sandals, water shoes or fancy snow boots.
- Household 72-Hour Go Bag. This is in case your family must bug-out and can’t get to your individual go-bags. If all go-bags make it with you – all the better, you have extra. The basics, the minimum, are in this bag. Here is where MRE’s and food bars are your food. The household go-bag should cover food, water, shelter, first aid, duct tape and plenty of those space age emergency blankets to cover each person in your family. These blankets can replace jackets and ponchos as well as serve as shelter in a pinch. Very multi-functional.
- Individual 72-Hour Go Bags. Each one should contain what the household one does, but tailored to the individual and or pet, hence it will be smaller. Here you have the advantage of adding a jacket or poncho, extra socks and the like because you are not covering the entire household, just that one particular member. These go-bags should be lightweight and can be stored under each person’s bed. For pets, store in their travel crate or if the dog is large enough have its go-bag as a dog backpack but stored in an easy to reach place. For children the bag or backpack should have plenty of handles and or wheels to facilitate the child in handling the bag by themselves.
- Waterless anti-bacterial hand washing gel. This is really optional, but if you are at home, have plenty you can use this to wash hands and arm pits and stretch your water supply. These are great in individual go bags too.
- Emergency Grab-n-Go Binder. All important information, documents and references are stored here in case of bug-out and useful during the incident when staying put at home too.
A Little More On 72-Hour Go-Bags
The goal of a 72-Hour go-bag is to sustain human life for 72-hours for one or more individuals. It is to cover the basics, bare minimum, needed for that timeframe. These are your primary survival grab and go items for when you must evacuate or are away from home.
My preparedness plan calls for four. A home go bag in case of bug-out, an auto go bag for any situation that may leave me stranded while with my vehicle, my personal go bag which is always with me and my dogs go-bag.
Your home go bag is the most extensive, followed by the auto go bag. That is because both of these will normally account for more than one individual. See the resources in the appendix to review specific checklists on these.
- Vehicle 72-Hour Go Bag. This will be more extensive than the individual go bags, similar to your household go bag. This will contain the same bare minimum basics along with an extra fan belt and tools or other small items for quick repairs to your vehicle. Consider this go bag to be for at least two individuals, or your total immediate family head count, including a pet.