11 Things FEMA wants you to have

We face the possibility of disasters every day. As I write this we are in the middle of a pandemic with shortages of needed supplies. In the middle of this, a tornado has ravaged Tennessee. Reports from the area are that some people will be without power for over a week. This is hardly unique, Just ask Puerto Rico.

After an emergency, you will need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last until outside help arrives. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

FEMA has a list of recommended basic items. Lets go over the list and look at each item in detail. After the list, I'll add a few more suggestions of my own.

Basic items


This is the most important item on the list. Without water, you will start feeling the effects of dehydration within 24 hours. The recommendation is to have one gallon per person per day for drinking, cooking and sanitation. You actually have several sources of water.

You need to be prepared to treat your emergency water before you use it. This can be as simple as adding a couple of drops of Clorox to a jug, or you may have to resort to more intensive filtering and treating. In any case, you need to think of adding a filter to your emergency supplies.


No need to go overboard on this one. There is no need buy MREs and other shelf stable foods. Just deeply stock your pantry with extra amounts of the stuff you normally buy. That should hold you for a week or two.

You can use a vacuum sealer to make your own long lasting rations of dried beans, pasta rice, etc.



Extra Batteries

Cell phone

With chargers and batteries (see above). Not particularly useful if the cell system and your wi-fi are down.

First Aid Kit

Several good ones are available. You need to make sure that it contains a good amount of antiseptic and large bandages. You will be on your own to treat injured members of your family.


For signaling. You will go horse and loose your voice after an hour of calling for help. But, you can blow a whistle for much longer.

Dust Mask

To keep from breathing possible toxic dust and smoke. We are finding out that perfectly acceptable DIY masks can be fashioned from bandannas and other items.

Plastic sheet

And duck tape. better yet, a good tarp with ropes, pegs, and a pole. Use it for a makeshift shelter, covering broken windows, holes in the roof, etc.

Sanitation items

Moist towelettes, Garbage bags for poo and pee. Soap, towels, TP. Pretend that you are packing up to go on a trip. What personal care items do you bring with you? Also,see the article on putting together a flood bucket.

Wrench or pliers

To turn off utilities. Be sure that you know how to do this beforehand.

Can opener

Hand operated. You have probably stocked your pantry with lots of shelf stable canned foods. It would kind of suck if you didn't have any way to open those cans.

Paper maps

The Internet may be down. Can you get around without the navigation app on your phone?

Other items


You need a way to cook that food you stored away.


You need a way to stay warm if the emergency happens in winter.


And a ready source of fuel. You are not trying to run your house 24/7. As a minimum you want to power up your refrigerator once every 4 hours or so. If you have a well, you need to run that also. But, you will need to have a plan for when the fuel runs out.

Solar power