10 (Cheap) Things You Might Need in an Emergency (but won't have if you don't buy extra now!)

When disaster strikes, there's often no time to run out for supplies. A few inexpensive household items can go a long way to maintaining some sanity and civility.  Here are my top suggestions:

Gallon zip bags
  • If you're using a cooler, these maximize space since bags are more compact than regular containers.
  • Ideal for keeping many things safe and tidy, zipper bags also help keep less desirable items (and odors) sealed away.
  • Perfect for various personal hygiene purposes, especially if there is a baby in diapers around.
  • Keeps things dry in your backpack or anywhere else.  (Think books, cameras, wallets, etc.)
Aluminum foil (rolls and bake ware)
  • Helpful to line pans in the oven to reduce clean up, especially when water is scarce.
  • Simplifies cooking some items on the grill or directly in a fire.
  • Reflects the suns energy back outside (and keeps your home cooler) when applied to windows in a summer power outage.
Large heavy-duty trash bags
  • Helpful for cleaning up debris in your yard or home.
  • Trash bags make lugging wet clothes to the laundromat easier.
  • You'll want heavy bags if you're storing household waste in the garage until trash pick is restored.
Duct tape
  • Useful for sealing windows, repairing cracked glass, and hemming pants instantly. (Been there, done that.)
Bottled water
  • Power outages can affect water treatment (or water pumping if you live in a building over three stories.) Flash floods, broken water pipes and waste spills can contaminate the water supply.
  • Bottled water may be sold out within hours of some disasters.  
  • And if shipments are delayed, sooner of later you'll be thirsty.  Buy a case (3 gallons) per person minimum.
Extra flashlight and batteries
  • There's never a flashlight around when you need one.  Buy an extra (or two) and batteries just in case.
  • You can get a flashlight and batteries for a couple of bucks, or plan to pay a bit more for quality and efficiency.
Radio and batteries
  • You may have a radio that uses batteries, but do you have extra batteries stored outside the radio?
  • And in an emergency do you really want to replace 8 D-cell batteries to power your radio?  
  • A small radio that takes AA batteries might be a good idea.
Glow sticks
  • These provide a low level constant light with no danger of combustion.
  • An extremely affordable item.  Several stores often carry a pack of 15 bracelets or two sticks (that tie to a lanyard) for $1.
  • A must for children in emergencies, glow sticks provide fun security for children (and adults) in dark situations.
  • These also double as a nice incentive for kids in non-emergency environments.
Disposable household products
  • Cups, plates, bowls, utensils, foil baking dishes, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.
  • When cooking and clean up are limited by power and water outages, you'll want to be able to simplify some household routines with easy clean-up.
  • Technically having some cash around the house actually won't cost you anything.
  • When the power goes out many stores operate on emergency generators and cash.
  • Cash on hand is also useful to pay for last minute, unexpected needs.  (Replenish it, please!)

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