Ten Disaster Preparedness Needs To Satisfy In Your Prep

Most days, you can do what you want: work, relax, spend time with family. But, from time to time, days get sideways quickly. In my short life, I’ve experienced blizzards, fires, hurricanes, car accidents, tornados, and extreme heat events.

All of those have convinced me that being smart and prepared can get you out of trouble with less pain and suffering than you’ve otherwise endured. In this piece, I’ll offer you ten tips that have helped me get through sticky situations, as well as the stories that led me to those conclusions. I hope that you never need any of this information, but, if the time comes, that you find it useful.


Without clean drinking water, you have about 12 hours before you start to feel dry and sluggish. 12 more, headache. 24 after that, you’ll be seeing things or have lost most critical thinking.

No matter what, I have 10 or so gallons of potable water around, and I double that during hurricane season, filling up water bottles and freezing them to get some cooling out of it as well. I learned this the hard way during the aftermath of Katrina when we had no power for two weeks and nearly ran out of drinking water.


This one, like water, seems obvious. I prefer to think of it as fundamental, in the same way that before they jump out of planes in the middle of the night, special forces operators learn how to run well. A lot. Getting the basics right will help you survive.

For food, I recommend something portable and sealable that lasts a long time. For example, since I live many stories above ground level, every once of unnecessary packaging is another ounce pounding on my knees if I need to bring it up or down when the power is out.


I keep a bag of things that will help me survive in my current climate, in the back seat of my car in case of an accident or need to evacuate. Even in 100-degree weather, this includes a long-sleeve shirt and pants, as well as gloves, a hat, and a scarf. Why?

Go look at people who cut lawns all summer. The smart ones will be covered head to toe, because getting a sunburn is awful, painful, and will sap energy from you. If you can avoid that with a cheap t-shirt from a big box store, why not?

Baby Wipes

If you know a veteran of Iraq or Afghanistan, ask them right now what they always had in their packs other than food, water, and ammo. They’ll almost certainly say baby wipes.

So, picture you have ten gallons of water to drink, the road is flooded, and FEMA, as always, is about a week into trying to figure out their left hand from their right. No shower is going to happen, but you will give about anything to feel a little cool and clean. Even on a normal day, a little pack of disposable wipes goes into my teaching bag to clean the sweat off between classes. I recommend you keep a few packs on hand at all times.

Basic Medications

My evacuation bag always has a few kinds of painkillers and some general antibiotics I can get my (prepper friendly) doctor to prescribe me. A couple of times, these have come in extremely handy.

For example, there was this one time when the world did not know the dangers of a respiratory virus, and thus most major cities shut down totally. I happened to cut myself cooking, and the wound started to get red a few days after. Once I called that doctor for some advice, I took a course of those antibiotics and saved myself any further trouble. The same can be said of the painkillers, which might knock the edge off a fever if you’re stuck without good medical care for days.

Self Defense Tools

I’m not telling you to carry a gun. That’s an individual decision that you have to make with your lifestyle, people around you, and local laws. With that said, in emergencies, the veneer of civility can erode pretty quickly and bad things can happen fast.

I always carry a knife. Often, I find that the same people who seem a little weird about it end up borrowing it to open a package or a bottle. There’s a lesson in that: incorporating tools that you can use often makes you a lot more apt to have them with you when you need them.


One of the things I hate most about modern phones is that so few of them let you, the user, change out the batteries. In the days before this norm, I always kept two spare batteries in my evacuation bag.

Now, things have changed a bit. I recommend keeping not only a battery pack but also a hand-crank radio that has a powered USB as well. This will let you, as I had to during Irma, crank your phone to charge it as though it were some odd mix of a phonograph and a smartphone.


Aside from your phone, some interesting bits of tech can come in very handy during disasters. One example I’ll give here is a solar charger.

For example, while I was cranking my radio to charge my phone, one my friends, an electrical engineer, had a spare solar panel from his office which he managed to rig to a car battery, which ran his laptop, phone, and a lantern. I think he was on the right track with that one.


One thing you don’t think about most of the time in terms of disasters is boredom. If your mind becomes even a little dull over time, you’ll start to make worse decisions, or succumb to the anxiety, for example, of being stuck inside for a week during an awful blizzard.

That’s why I always keep a book that I enjoy in my emergency bag. It might seem an odd thing to grab when your building is on fire, but a copy of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is a great distraction from the 80-degree night while you’re waiting to be cleared to be let back in.


Similar to entertainment, don’t discount comfort. When things are bad, reminding yourself of your humanity goes a long way to improving morale. For me, that means a Hershey bar in a plastic bag for when I have to evacuate, or a bigger candy stash for hurricanes or the like.

Again, I hope this ends up just an entertainment piece for you. But, if it doesn’t, and the world goes a little sideways for a while, I hope one or two things you read here help make it better.
About author
Garrett is a writer and commentator based in the South. His areas of expertise lie in cooking, fashion, and the outdoors among others. He has been writing and educating professionally for years, and enjoys creating online discourses around positively masculine spaces.


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