Today we’re going to talk about preparing and stocking up for emergencies without actually being a prepper. I’ll tell you right now, if you want tips on filling up a bunker with supplies for an impending apocalypse of some sort, this isn’t the post for you. Bing  “prepping” and you’ll find a zillion other articles to help with that.  If, like me, you want to be prepared for actual REALISTIC emergencies without going broke, read on!

Want to stock up for emergencies that you're actually likely to face instead of those of mythological nature? Check out a realistic list of supplies!

I am not a prepper. I don’t think zombies are going to attack, or the sun is going to explode, or the moon will move three inches closer to earth and knock out all our power. The way I see it, if zombies attack, I’ll just swiftly walk away from them. If the sun explodes, it’s game over anyway. Living without power, now that freaks me out.

After Hurricane Sandy, I lived without power for 8 days. Just saying that makes me shiver! It was quite an ordeal.  Insanity sets in after about the 3rd day, especially when you’re a few days out of a minor surgery and it turns out you have a UTI. Did you know bladder infections can literally make you act crazy? I digress, as usual. Back to the point: stocking up for REAL emergencies of the non-walking dead kind.

Stocking Up for Emergencies: What do You Really Need?

Affiliate links included below. I received the Valley Food Storage products mentioned in this post in exchange for an honest review.

I was going to say that stocking up for emergencies depends on the type of emergency you’re likely to face, but after thinking about it a bit, it really doesn’t. Whether your facing a potential hurricane or a blizzard, the outcome is often the same: loss of electricity and confinement to your house. So let’s look at what you really need in case of an emergency.

A hefty supply of water

Water is vital to human survival. You can go without food far longer than without fluids. If you can afford it, stock up on bottled water and keep it sealed in an area that’s out of the way. If you can’t afford it and you have safe drinking water from your tap, fill up a bunch of gallon jugs. I have about 20 of them on a shelf in my basement. My water sucks, so it’s mostly for flushing toilets and washing our hands. I also have good water on hand. You might also want to consider some sort of water purification system- be it tablets or a whole filtration system.

Food

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Although you can theoretically live longer without food than you can water, you will still need sustenance during an emergency. Preferably the kind that doesn’t require a whole kitchen to prep! Stock up on things like energy bars and other shelf-stable items with a long expiration date. Every so often, check your supply and use up things that are getting ready to go bad. Even things like breakfast bars start to taste nasty after that “use by” date. Canned food is also good, just make sure you keep a manual can opener with your supplies. Again, look for things that last a while and that don’t require much heat to prepare. Along with these items, it’s a good idea to have a few things on hand that are designed to last longer, like emergency food supplies from Valley Food Storage (see full review below).

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Shelter

Along with water and food, shelter is a basic human need. In most cases, your house will be your shelter. You’ll want to make sure you have a designated “safe room” in case of flooding or for during major storms. If you have a basement, set up an area down there with your supplies, a few tarps (in case of leaks and also to take the chill out of sitting on the ground) and maybe a few comforts from the upstairs (coloring books for the kids, a puzzle book for you, etc).

If your home isn’t an option and you can’t get to a safer location, those tarps can act as a tent (if you don’t already have one, of course). If you can get to your car, even if it’s cramped, it’s a better choice than staying out in the elements in the winter! I also recommend keeping a list of close neighbors who are willing to take you in and cheap hotels. Although in emergencies, the hotels fill fast. We couldn’t find any vacancies during the Sandy power outage.

A Way to Produce Heat for Cooking

While you can get by on eating cold canned food, MREs and energy bars, at some point you’ll actually want a hot meal. Trust me on this! We have a wood stove, so we stock up on firewood and starter to get it going. The top surface gets hot enough to almost boil water. Sure, it takes a while, but it works. When I was a kid, my grandmother used our fireplace to set up a whole cooking system. If you have neither, consider getting  a camp stove or some sort of small grill. Just make sure that you a) use it outside and b)get the stuff you need to make it go, be it coal, lighter fluid or whatever else.

Candles and Matches, Flashlights and Batteries

We have a whole supply of flashlights and batteries for when the power goes out. In short-term emergencies, that should be enough. However, it’s a good idea to also have a supply of good emergency candles and matches on hand in case the batteries eventually die. Don’t waste your light during the day. Try to let the natural light in as much as possible. At night, make sure you’ve extinguished all flames from candles. You don’t want to add a fire emergency on top of the one you’re already dealing with.

Warm blankets and extra clothes

Keep a few warm blankets and emergency clothes together in some sort of water-proof storage bag. During Sandy, my aunt was living in Asbury Park, NJ. Her entire apartment completely flooded and she lost everything at 4 feet and below in her place. It’s scary how fast water can rise.  Thankfully, she had already evacuated! If you live in a single-level house, stick these things up in a high closet or the attic. That way you know you’ll have something warm and dry to put on while you wait for rescue.

A VERY GOOD First Aid Kit

It goes without saying that you’ll need a first aid kit, but I’m not talking about any old 10-piece kit that fits under your bathroom cabinet. You want a really good first aid kit. Something that has the obvious things like multiple types of bandages, pain relievers, peroxide, alcohol wipes and ointments plus other items like bandage scissors, a thermometer, tweezers, etc. The industrial first aid kits that are meant for businesses are pretty good. I still feel like they’re lacking a few things (thermometers, for example), but most have a little leftover space in them to customize them a bit. You will need to update the medications as they expire, so set a time each year to check and replenish your supplies.

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Other things that you should have, but can probably survive without include:

  • An emergency radio and batteries to keep up with the news. Although as long as there is still cell coverage, you can probably get all this on your phone.
  • A cold weather sleeping bag to keep you warm if the emergency happens during winter. You can also get by with a bunch of blankets.
  • Personal hygiene items, like deodorant and dry shampoo. Hey, no one likes to be stinky!
  • A big hiking backpack to carry supplies and sentimental items in, in case you have to evacuate in a hurry and can only bring what’s on your back.

Remember, these are the things that you’ll need to survive an emergency inside your home. I’m not talking about zombie apocalypses, war or other “OMG, we’re all fighting for our lives in the wild frontier” emergencies. I’m not a survivalist. Just a mom who wants to make sure we have what we need to deal with another situation like an 8-day power outage due to hurricanes that really shouldn’t be this far up to begin with!

Now, read on to find out why I recommend Valley Food Storage for your emergency food needs, then check out the types of realistic emergencies that you could feasibly face in your lifetime.

Why Valley Food Storage

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When our power went out back during Hurricane Sandy, FEMA sent in a ton of MREs for us to eat. I was grateful, but wow, those are kind of gross. The peanut butter and crackers rocked, but the rest was mostly stuff that I wouldn’t eat even if I was starving. I started to wonder how I would survive as such a picky eater. Then I got a few items from Valley Food Storage and found something that I could actually live on.

I tried out their Strawberry Cream of Wheat first, because it’s the easiest to make. Just add 1 cup of boiling water to 1/2 cup of mix and let sit for a minute. I actually like mine thicker, so I think next time I’ll use less than 1 cup of water. If you have produce on hand that will go bad, this is a good chance to use it. Mix in a little fruit to give it more texture. If you’re already past the point of no return for your produce, it’s also good as is.

Strawberries not included

Cream of Wheat, strawberries not included

Valley Food Storage emergency meals come in packaging designed to last much longer than most emergency food supplies. Up to 25 years! They use “high quality individually nitrogen flushed Mylar bag.” I’m not going to pretend to understand the science behind the packaging, but 25 years is a pretty good shelf life!

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A few other things I really like about Valley Food Storage:

  • They have a pretty good selection of foods, including snacks and desserts. Just because you’re in the middle of an emergency doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy a sweet treat. In fact, something sweet and yummy could really help lift your spirits and give you the energy to go on.
  • They don’t add fillers or other junk to their products, just good nutrition that you’ll need when you’re exhausted and trying to get through the day.
  • Their food is non GMO and no MSG. They even have gluten-free options, so those with celiac disease don’t have to suffer during an emergency.
  • They offer a wide variety of supplies, from individual bags to huge long-term kits.

Another thing that I absolutely LOVE about the Valley Food Storage website: it makes food storage supplies accessible to everyone, not just preppers. I feel like when I go in search of emergency supplies, I can’t figure out what I really need because of all the doomsday language on the sites. Valley Food Storage isn’t a doom and gloom prepper site. Even their blog is filled with great tips for everyone. I feel comfortable shopping there, like I belong.

What realistic emergencies could you face?

Just what are those realistic emergencies? They will vary depending on where you live, but most likely scenarios include:

  • Weather-related emergencies such as hurricanes, blizzards and other powerful storms.
  • After-effects of weather- flooding, being trapped by a ton of snow on untreated roads, downed trees blocking your only exit, live power lines tangled around down trees making exiting deadly, etc.
  • Land-related emergencies such as earthquakes, landslides and, for some, even volcanoes.
  • Wildfires
  • Chemical spills in your immediate vicinity
  • Communicable disease outbreaks- while we haven’t really seen a major case of Outbreak in a while, this is still far more likely than zombies. Unless, I guess, the disease makes people act like zombies. I still say that’s not likely. Sorry.

All of these things are scary enough without imagining zombies coming to get us, don’t you think? I’ve been through ice storms, blizzards and hurricanes. The hurricanes are a relatively new thing, growing up we never really dealt with them this far north and inland (I’m about 1.5 hours from the nearest ocean access).

In some of these emergencies, you’ll evacuate your area as soon as humanly possible, especially if you have notice. For things like blizzards, we’ve never been evacuated. Even during Sandy, my area wasn’t evacuated because we weren’t expecting to get hit as hard as we did. Sometimes, though, you either don’t have time to evacuate. If a big truck dumps chemicals near your house, the powers that be may decide it’s safer to stay indoors and follow safety procedures than to try to evacuate and end up more exposed.

The supplies above should get you and your family through the worst of these emergencies. I’m not a professional, though, so be sure to listen to authorities like FEMA and the Red Cross, and follow their directions.

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Can you think of any important emergency supplies that I forgot to mention that you’d need for a realistic emergency? Tell me in the comments!