Preparing for a Disaster: Where to Start

Headlines claim food shortages are looming as inflation is rising. Are you wondering what steps you can take to help protect yourself and your family? Here are a few ideas and resources to get you started.

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After the Covid-era shutdowns and shortages, many people have taken the idea of preparedness more seriously and have made at least some preliminary efforts towards this end. If you have not yet done so, don't worry. You can start today with a quick visit to the grocery store.

What should be your main focus? Well, if you read any beginning survival or prepper post, they all recommend focusing first on water, food, shelter, heat, and sometimes health. This is a good starting place. The next time you are at the grocery store, purchase a few extra cans of food, some bottles of water, and some first aid supplies. You could throw in some good quality multi-vitamins as well. Make sure you have extra blankets on hand. If you don't have a non-electric source of heat, consider purchasing some hand warmers or an indoor-safe method of heat. When we experienced our own personal disaster many years ago, we started by stocking up more on canned goods, rice, and beans so that should another disaster strike, we could at least feed our family. We added other items as our knowledge increased and our budget allowed.

Here is a list by that can help you put together a basic emergency kit:  Basic Emergency Kit List

Below you will find some general comments on each section to help steer you in the right direction and some links to products you may find helpful. The links below are affiliate links - we may earn a bit should you purchase from these links. We thank you in advance for any and all support. : )


There are many options for creating an emergency food pantry. Among these are canned, dehydrated (or dried), and freeze dried foods. Perhaps the easiest way to start is by simply buying extra cans or packages of what you already eat to build up your pantry. Canned goods are a great item to start with because they can be easily heated or even eaten right from the can in an emergency. Dried beans and rice are also a good option because they provide important protein and nutrients and they store well for a long time. They do, however, require a lot of water to prepare, so keep this in mind if you find yourself in a situation where you have to ration water.

You can add freeze dried and/or dehydrated foods as you are able. One of our favorite brands for ready-made meals is Mountain House Foods. They are a Pacific Northwest company that offers high quality freeze-dried meals. You can buy pouches, cans, and premade kits, such as this 3 Day Emergency Food Supply kit.


Bottled water is easy to store, but the quality of some brands can be questionable, even without taking into consideration the microplastics that could be seeping in from the bottle itself. Nonetheless, it is better to have water in plastic bottles than to have no water at all. Look for BPA free packaging if you are storing bottles of water from the store. Another option includes storing water in your own water storage containers and having a method on hand to purify it later. If doing this, be sure to be aware of safe water purification, storage, and filtering options to use before you use or consume the water. 


Your home is typically your first choice for shelter. If this is no longer an option, such as in cases of fire, flooding, storms, etc., then having an alternate plan is helpful. You might want to talk to family members in other geographical areas to see if they would take you in should an emergency arise. You can pay back the favor by offering a safe space for them should they have an emergency. Other options include a camp trailer (if you have one) or a tent if you have the ability to travel to a safe area where camping is allowed.


Being as healthy as you can before an emergency is ideal, so do your best to get in shape now. Emergencies of any kind can be stressful, which can take a toll on your health, so starting out healthy helps. As mentioned above, having a bottle of multivitamins in your emergency kit is a good idea. Balance is our favorite - it consists of whole food, plant-based vitamins, patented amino-acid-chelated minerals, and includes an antioxidant blend. If you find yourself in a situation where your food choices are limited, multivitamins can help to fill in the nutritional gaps. If you take medication, it would be helpful to have extra on hand in case you are not able to get to a pharmacy for your next refill. I highly recommend having a first aid kit as well to be sure you can properly clean and bandage scrapes, burns, etc. If possible, it would be good to have an epi-pen (epinephrine) on hand for any potential anaphylactic reactions. While this affects a fairly small percentage of the population, anaphylaxis can be deadly. 


Lighting is not a problem if the electricity is running, but in the case of a power outage, you need to have other options.  We have several options at the house including oil lamps, candles, solar lamps, flashlights with extra batteries, and a crank charge lamp. Here are a couple of  my favorite options:

MPOWERD Luci Inflatable Solar Light

We use these and they are fabulous. They are lightweight. They store flat when not in use, but are still able to recharge while flattened. They can be blown up when you want to use them and can be hung just about anywhere.

Beeswax Candles

"Two is one and one is none." Have you ever heard this phrase? It is a good reminder to have more than one source for anything in your emergency kit. No matter what emergency lighting you plan to use, it is good to have two backup options. We use candles to backup our flashlights and solar lanterns. I like them because they provide both light and heat. While you can find scented candles on clearance in many stores, beeswax candles are natural option that offer a pleasant fragrance without the toxic fumes. My personal favorites are beeswax taper candles (see link above). Tapers provide a good amount of light for their size and are quite portable. We have a set of chamberstick candle holders with handles that make it easy to carry a taper whether lit or not. Our chamberstick holders are, similar to, but not as nice as, these


If you live in a warm area, heating your home or shelter may not be an issue, though even some warmer climates can get uncomfortably cold at night. If you live in a cooler climate, staying warm will be crucial if the electricity is out. Having extra blankets on hand is a good start. If you already have a non-electric heating option such as a wood or gas stove in your home you are better off than many people. There are a few options for heating even without a gas or wood stove, but they typically don't heat a large area. If you lose electricity and have no non-electric stove, choose one room to heat that you can close off since that will decrease the amount of square footage you are trying to keep warm. Some people even suggest setting up a tent in your bedroom or living room to sleep in. This gives you a smaller area that can better trap body heat.

Here are a few non-electric heating options to consider:

Candle and Clay Pot Heater

We tried this method when our electricity went out one winter day.  It involves using candles set under an elevated clay pot. While the pot gave off some warmth, it was not enough to heat a whole room. It might work better if you have a a tiny room or a tent (not something I care to try due to the fire danger), but I wouldn't want to be in a position where I had to rely on this method for heating. Nonetheless, it is an option and is easy to put together. I found a good article that discusses the pros and cons of this method: Click here for the article.

Vesta Emergency Stove and Heater

I love the idea of this stove.  It is small and compact, but has the ability to heat and cook. While in heater mode, the heat-activated fan turns to better distribute heat throughout the room. The grill allows you to cook using a small pot or pan. I don't know how much space it is capable of heating, but if you plan to close off a room or set up a tent, it will certainly help. Like with candles and any flame, beware of the fire danger with this type of heater. Also be sure to get indoor-safe canned heat to fuel it. Click here to view more details.

Indoor Approved Heaters:

Other heating options include indoor-safe heaters. These can be quite affordable and are much more powerful than the previous two methods. Some options include a Mr. Heater Buddy and Mr. Heater Big Buddy. These require propane canisters, but can heat more square footage. Please do your research on how to safely use any indoor heating options since many of these require or suggest you crack a window to prevent carbon monoxide build-up.