Preparedness Supply List For A ‘Typical’ Disaster


For ‘ordinary’ preparedness at home, there are supplies that you might acquire that will get you comfortably through most ‘typical’ emergency/ disaster situations which may endure for hours to perhaps days or even a week.

Whereas there are more involved and deeper levels to preparedness for worse situations, the following list of preparedness supply categories will set you up for success with a short term mild to moderate disaster encounter (which occur much more frequently than the potential for a severe or SHTF event).

Here’s the list:

Hopefully the short list inspires you to check your own…



The following list is fairly short and simple, and as I said above – is purposed for a non-SHTF emergency situation where one’s modern lifestyle is simply disrupted for a time.


Drinking Water

Municipal water supplies rarely go offline during a typical (small to moderate) short-lived disaster. However it may happen that one’s water source might become contaminated. Therefore a supply of drinking water is highly advised. You might simply purchase cases of bottled water, or you might consider keeping several water containment vessels filled with drinking water (replace every 6 months for assured cleanliness and purity). If you rely on well water, this really is a necessity (power outage scenario).


Drinking Water Filter

As mentioned above, water may become contaminated (floods, hurricane, infrastructure damage, earthquake, other..) and one’s water storage might become exhausted. A quality drinking water filter will enable purifying thousands of gallons and is a lifetime investment that can be used anywhere and anytime – even for ordinary concerns regarding your existing tap water.


Non-perishable Food

Many typical disaster situations will result in a temporary power outage which may last hours, days or a week or more. Whatever food that’s in your fridge and freezer will quickly thaw and spoil (24 – 48 hours). Therefore you really need to keep an adequate supply of non-perishable food. Surprisingly many households do not have enough food to supply much longer than a few days or a week. It is very easy to stock up with food to last 3 weeks or even 3 months. Just do it… Don’t forget a manual hand can-opener.


Flashlights & Batteries

Again, a power outage will be common during many ‘ordinary’ disaster situations. A quality LED flashlight for each member of the household along with an LED lantern or two will keep you functioning after dark. I also highly recommend a headlamp which will enable both hands free for working. Extra sets of batteries should go without saying…


Camp Stove & Fuel

Although canned foods do not ‘require’ cooking (they’re technically already safe to eat), camp stove will enable cooking at home without electricity (use common-sense for safety). You might need to consume the foods that are in your freezer… You can also heat/boil water for hygiene, water purification, cleaning dishes, etc..


Portable Radio & Batteries

Information about the ongoing emergency/ disaster situation will be important for your decision-making. An AM/FM portable radio will provide that information – even during a power outage.


NOAA Weather Radio

Lets face it, lots of disaster scenarios are caused by severe weather. A NOAA Weather Radio will provide forewarning as well as updated information on the storm. It’s cheap insurance – and could potentially save your life.


First Aid Kit

Unfortunately some emergency situations result in the need for First Aid. Having a good quality general purpose Coleman Expedition First Aid Kit should patch up most typical ailments. I also supplement my kit with additional supplies (things like antibacterial ointment and any other such item which might not be in the original kit).


Shutoff Wrench For Utilities

Have a purpose-made wrench/ tool to shut off gas and water outside your home (e.g. at the meter). Useful following a disaster which causes infrastructure damage and potentially has damaged gas lines, water lines, etc.. (earthquake – hurricane – tornado).


Portable Propane Heater

Some disasters happen during the winter (e.g. severe winter storms). If you rely on electricity for your furnace (regardless of its fuel source) then you will be SOL without a house-wired generator. Having a safe indoor portable heater will help keep you warm.


Sleeping Bag

A sleeping bag for each person. If you’ve lost heat in the house, a cold-weather sleeping bag will be much more efficient to keep warm. Additionally, there are other circumstances where a sleeping bag might be a very good preparedness item to have on hand.


Solar Charger

During a power outage, often times the cell phone towers are still operating. However your cell phone will eventually drain its battery. A purpose-made solar charger (with USB ports) will charge your electronic communication devices (e.g. cell phones) and may keep you ‘on the grid’ with regards to outside communications.


Toilet Paper

Don’t laugh! While every household (hopefully!) already has a supply of TP, the question is do you have enough to last a week or more? It would be a bit unpleasant without it (which is why I mention it ;) ). This goes for any other hygiene supplies. Just check your inventory and be in the habit of having plenty of these consumables around in storage.


Heavy Duty Garbage Bags

Garbage bags for sanitation purposes. Again, everyone has garbage bags at home, but it’s best to keep a supply of heavy duty bags (and plenty of them) for temporary disposal of unsanitary things outside the house (e.g. do you have a baby in the house? lots of diapers?, etc..). If for some reason your plumbing (toilet) is out of commission, HD trash bags will suffice for a liner of a do-it-yourself toilet (got a 5 gallon bucket?). You get the idea…


Paper Plates & Cups, Plastic Utensils

You don’t want to be dealing with having to clean dishes during a disaster situation at home. Your power might be out and/or you have other things to be concerned about. So having paper plates, paper cups, and plastic utensils will enable you to simply throw them in your heavy duty garbage bags for trash.


Fire Extinguisher

Surprisingly, not everyone has one (or several!) readily accessible fire extinguishers in their home. Make the effort and get yourself several. Ideal rooms include the kitchen, every bedroom, utility room… I keep several around the house in strategic locations.



During a regional power outage, it will be difficult at best to purchase items in your area. Although stores may be closed or damaged, having a supply of cash at home will enable some transacting where needed. Keep small bills (ones, tens) while avoiding large bills which may make it difficult to make change.


For those who are already prepared, “I’m preaching to the choir”, but not everyone has thought it through… A prepared household should be able to easily survive (fairly comfortably) for days (or longer) without external support, and it’s not that difficult to prepare for. It only requires thinking through the requirements of your daily life and having alternative methods in place to provide the basics (without electricity, for example). Don’t neglect the aspect of safety – think about what you might need to deal with injury, damage, or other potential hazards.

Apart from any physical or financial damage which may occur during a given disaster, a short period without our modern conveniences can even be refreshing – providing an eye-opening view on real ‘life’ (without all of our distractions)…

While preparedness lists are never-ending, and could drill down to literally hundreds or more items, the list above will hopefully set you to thinking about your own preparedness from a ‘top level’.

I welcome your comments on other higher level items for ‘ordinary preparedness’, the things that one might not have enough of at home (or at all)…


  1. It does not matter how short an emergency situation is ( or how long), never forget to have a firearm, ammo and the knowledge of how to use it. Your worst problem will always be someone who thinks they will take what they want and do anything to get it from you. I think of this problem as an emergency within an emergency.

    1. When considering firearms, I always use the bromide “more and bigger is always best”.

  2. My 11 year old Kenmore freezer contents took 96 hours to just “start” thawing when we had no power for a week. It was packed full at the time which helped keep it below freezing longer. I opened the door every day to get food, and it got up to 90 degrees inside(no fans) during the 4th of July.

    Since most power outages occur during storms, I think it is important to have a gas chainsaw, gas and oil for it on hand. I had to use mine several times when my power went out in order to cut the many trees blocking my driveway and take out the trees that landed on my roof, twice. People in town hand chainsaws or had to wait weeks to get trees out of the way to get out or to stop leaks in their roofs to put plastic sheeting down. A handsaw or my axe would not have helped me much during that July storm…. But then, I still couldn’t get out on the road when 300 downed trees blocked the highway to town ;-)

  3. about 2 years ago I had all these things (minus any fuel powered generators or heaters – against the lease in my apt). Then I got laid off for a year & a half. This list is a good reminder that I need to restock my non-perishable food & cash reserves – if nothing else for the next lay off. thanks!

  4. I read alot of lists ,and I am curious if there is a reason that I am not aware of , but I keep a defibrillator and an O2 tank in my first aid supplies and I never see it listed on anyone else`s list?

    1. I was trained in CPR defib, and I think defibrillator or oxygen should be a part of one’s personal preparedness if you have a heart condition or COPD with someone trained to know how to use them. These are added supplies and one should know what personal conditions require such supplies on hand. Ken’s article mentions emergency supplies for short term power outages, not when SHTF, but you never know when someone has their first heart attack. We have a defibrillator at my seasonal workplace, just in case because we have a lot of old farts working with me.

  5. I found my AED on kijiji I paid $400 for it with pads and battery that still had a fair bit of time left before expiring, I also found o2 kits are very common in the scuba diving first aid kits, in canada you can get your o2 privider certification with your cpr course I know these are big ticket items, but they do things you cannot do yourself, if it saves someone in my survival team it was worth every cent imho

  6. One thing about the AEDs is if you need one and don’t have it you won’t need it. Or anything else, ever again. First drug used after defibrillation is oxygen. Yes, it is considered a medication in the hospital. Small O2 tanks run out and may need a prescription to get refilled. Used O2 generators can be had on Ebay. Be sure to have a way to recharge the battery and maybe a spare battery.

  7. Should have added that after the oxygen take ASPIRIN, 4 81 mg tablets chewed and swallowed or 1 regular strength Aspirin (325 mg). Chewing tastes bad but it gets to work faster. I put aspirin in bold because some people use it as a catch all phrase. I’ve had patients tell me they took an aspirin and when I questioned them it turned out it was an ibuprofen or Tylenol.

  8. I would like to add ” Prescribed Drug’s” to this list. You would be surprised to find that most people do not have in the least a one month supply of their medicine . This could mean life or death depending upon the seriousness of the need .

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