How To Prepare For An Emergency

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In honor of National Preparedness Month, we teamed up with our friend Cari Butler from Emergency Cafe to pull together some tips and tasks help you get prepared.  

If you’re a beginner to emergency preparation, have no fear!  We have 5 actionable steps you can take TODAY to get started (and an entire shop of items if you need to create or add to your emergency kit). 

And if you’re already an emergency pro, we salute you (and we may still have a tip or two for you to use).  Read on… or watch below!


Always Have At Least Half A Tank Of Gas In Your Car

This is a no-brainer as an idea, but it’s sometimes hard to put in practice.  

Some of us at Practically Perfect (OK, it’s Kitt) still struggle to make sure this happens!

We know it can be the last thing you want to do at the end of a long day or in between all the daily to-dos, but having at least ½ tank of gas means that if an evacuation or emergency does happen, you’ll be able to go at least 100 miles without heading to a gas station.

Joni’s trick?  Shift your thinking, and make the ½ tank of gas your new empty line.  This will ensure that you’re never too low on gas!

Keep Cash Securely Stored In Your Home

As our friend Cari says, in the case of an emergency, “cash is king.”  If the electricity goes down, you’ll want enough cash to get you through it.  And small bills are the way to go!

We can’t say how much you should keep, but consider what you’ll need to get you and your family through at least a few weeks.

Keep Paper Copies Of Your Documents In One Place

We’re all about a paperless filing system — but paper is the way to go for emergencies.  

You’ll want to store important documents in a fireproof safe or box in your home, in an easily-accessible spot.  Think passports, birth certificates, home and life insurance policy statements, car titles… any items you may need, should a disaster strike.

Have A One-Month Backup Supply Of Daily Medication

If you take any medications daily, you’ll want to have a supply of them on-hand.  If you’re already thinking “that’s not going to be possible with my insurance plan,” Cari’s got you covered!

She recommends storing 3-4 pills toward the end of each month, as that’s likely when you’ll be able to refill your prescription.  Eventually, you’ll have a large enough supply for your emergency kit.

Water, Water, Water!

We probably don’t need to say it, but we will — have a backup stock of water!  Of all the items to have in your kit, this one is the most important.

The recommendation is 1 gallon of water, per person, per day.  Cari let us know that disaster experts are now recommending that you have 2-3 WEEKS worth of water stored.  

There are tons of great options, from water storage barrels to pre-packaged water pouches or even bottled water, although you’ll need to keep swapping it out to ensure that the plastic doesn’t leach into your drinking supply.  

However you choose to store it is up to you — just make sure that you have it!

Now, if you’re feeling antsy, this next part is for you!  Here are a few things that you can do today to get prepared… 


Learn Where Your Gas Shut Off Valve Is

No matter where you live, this is an important one.  These will be outside of your home, in the area where the gas company usually checks your meter. 

If you have an automatic gas shut-off (which is fantastic!) you’ll see a little red dome on your meter.  That ensures that the gas line will be blocked if it’s disrupted by movement, i.e. an earthquake. There’s also an emergency lever that you can move just to be sure!

If you don’t have the auto-shut off feature, make sure you have this handy tool.  You can keep it attached to your gas meter with a rope or chain. 

Pick A Family Meeting Place

If there are multiple people in your household, sit down tonight and decide on a location where you can all meet if something should happen.  

As Cari told us, “keep it simple but specific.”  Choose a particular bench, sign, tree, what-have-you at the location so that everyone knows precisely where to meet.  

Make Grab-And-Go Bags

Not to be confused with emergency kits, these bags contain the clothes and items you would take if you had 30 seconds to get out of your house.  Add a few shirts, a few pants, a jacket, sturdy shoes, and at least SEVEN DAYS worth of underwear (it’s the one item you really don’t want to have to rewear).  

For kiddos, always size up for the clothing that you pack to ensure a comfortable fit! 

Strap Your Furniture Down

Okay, maybe you won’t be able to do this one completely today, but you can add straps to your shopping cart right now and also pop this task onto your to-do list for the very near future.  

The rules for what to strap down are: anything that has a gas line, anything that’s taller than it is wide, anything near a bed and anything that would block an exit or entrance.  Think about your dryers, bookshelves, dressers, etc.  

If you have a lot of items hanging in your home, consider using some museum putty to keep those safely on your walls! 

Have Adequate Fire Extinguishers

Cari’s recommendation is to have at least TWO fire extinguishers, possibly even three or more, depending on the size of your home.  And the areas to store them are:

  • Under The Sink – for any cooking fires that may occur
  • In The Laundry Room – for any dryer/gas related fires
  • In The Garage – for any workshop/tool fire occurrences


Emergency Food

This one may seem quite obvious, but the amount of options can sometimes make it more challenging to decide which food route to take!  From dehydrated to canned to food bars… how do you decide? 

Consider the way your family functions… do you have food allergies or picky eaters?  Maybe you want to consider stocking up on your favorite canned goods. Pick items that are high in protein + fat, plus some fruits and veggies to round it out. 

Or, if you’re a one and done kind of person, prepackaged meal kits may be the way to go.  The options with these are also endless, but this is one of our favorites.  

Whichever route you choose, be sure to note expiration dates and set reminders to swap it out at least a month in advance so that you can either use or donate the products and eliminate any waste! 


We said it earlier but we’ll say it again — water is vital!  Whether you choose water barrels or pre-packaged pouches, make sure to store your supply in a cool, dry place.  And remember that more is better!

Don’t forget to eye these expiration dates, as well.  

Light Sources

Never underestimate the power of a good flashlight/lantern.  There are a lot of different options out there — and again, what’s practical for you is perfect for you.  Would you prefer to have a flashlight in every room?  Or power failure lights in your outlets?  Want a wearable headlamp for hands-free access?  You do you!  

Go for LED if you can, to get the longest-lasting light.  If you opt for battery-operated light sources, be sure you check on those periodically for any leakage.  Whatever you choose, be sure to keep them in an accessible location!

First Aid

Your first aid kit should have all your medical necessities — bandages, antibiotic ointment, pain relievers… whatever you’d like to have on hand for minor medical emergencies.  

Remember, in the case of a disaster, hospitals and emergency services may not be readily available for non-life threatening issues.  So make sure your home is well-stocked!

While it’s certainly not a requirement to have First Aid + CPR training, Cari does recommend it… and hands-on is the best!

Shelter + Warmth

We do recommend being prepared for cold weather and the possibility of leaving your home behind.  This means blankets + tents!

You can certainly stock up on blankets you may already own; but as Cari says, a mylar blanket can help hold in up to 90% of your body heat! 

And don’t forget about a tent — shelter is a necessary item for that emergency kit.  These don’t need to be camping supply quality, as this should be for emergency use only.  Think utility. (But if you want to splurge on some cozy, comfy options, go for it!)

We hope these tips are helping you feel a bit more comfortable with your own emergency preparation.  We’re deeply grateful to Cari for her knowledge, and we highly encourage you to check out Emergency Cafe and all her services! 

And just remember — YOU CAN NEVER BE TOO PREPARED!