Natural disasters are becoming more commonplace every season as climate change continues to do exactly what experts predicted it would. And while we encourage everyone to be proactive and do their part to reduce their carbon footprint, we recognize that natural disaster prep is essential no matter what. Extreme weather is hitting every part of the country, and it’s important to be prepared for whatever may come your way. Especially since oftentimes that extreme weather isn’t anything you’re accustomed to. (Spokane, WA is not meant to be 109 degrees!)
Out here in the Midwest, we keep an emergency kit for each of our family members in the event of an evacuation. Luckily, we haven’t had to use them yet—*knocks on sustainably forested wood*—but we pulled them out of our locked Forti Goods credenza to share everything we’re bringing with us if that day comes. From important documents to life-saving water filters, read on to find out exactly what you should have in your natural disaster prep kit.
First and foremost, having all of your family’s important documents together is necessary for natural disaster prep. You never know what you’re going to come back to after you evacuate, so you need to keep the essentials with you.
Here’s what we have in ours:
- Insurance policies
- Copies of tax returns and recent pay stubs
- Vehicle info (copies of VINs, titles, registration)
- Bank account records
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificate
- Social security cards
- Pet microchip numbers
- Map of local area
Other documents to include, if applicable:
- Adoption papers
- Divorce papers
- Green card/naturalization documents
- Military ID
- Any other legal documents you may need
This particular section is exactly why we keep our emergency kits in our smart-locking furniture. We can quickly unlock the piece with our phone if need be, but otherwise, all of our important information is stored away safely for a rainy day. Even if the power goes out, and with it our WIFI connection, we can still use Bluetooth to gain access.
Water and Food for Everyone
This is a big one, especially with the high heat that’s continuing to roll in. We do keep some emergency gallons of water in the deep freeze that we can pull out in case we lose power, but they’re not the most practical thing to travel with, and with a family of three, they’re easy to run out of.
Because we’re surrounded by a lot of water—rivers, streams, and a great lake within an easy 10-minute walk—we also have a LifeStraw Go Stainless Steel Water Bottle for every member of the family. The LifeStraw filter protects against bacteria, parasites, microplastics, chlorine, organic chemical matter, dirt, sand, and cloudiness, so we can safely drink the river or lake water if need be.
Food tends to be the last thing thought of because it can be a little trickier to store/pack, but it’s important. Remember this past winter when parts of Texas lost power for an extended period of time? Food ran scarce pretty quickly, but worrying about food is an added stress that can be avoided entirely. Below are a few items we always keep on hand and store at the back of the pantry.
Emergency Kit Food
- Beef jerky—a great source of protein, and it lasts quite a while if kept sealed
- Dried fruit—a decent source of nutrients and a nice complement to the salty and savory snacks that most emergency kits contain. Again, it’s important to keep these sealed properly so they last
- Peanut butter—an excellent source of fats and proteins, and most jars don’t require refrigeration after opening
- Nuts and trail mix—high-energy foods that offer good fats and proteins
- Shelf-stable drinks—canned or boxed milks and juices last when unopened, and Gatorade is always a great go-to for electrolytes
- Unopened bag of pet food—don’t forget the fur babies! Consider keeping some extra canned food on hand as well if that’s what your pet eats
Be sure to check all expiration dates annually and replenish as needed. We keep a yearly reminder in our phone calendars so we don’t forget, and if it's set to expire that year, it’s put on the grocery list to replace so we can eat it before it expires. Fortunately, many of these foods can last a couple of years if left unopened.
First Aid Kit
This one is obvious, but for natural disaster prep, there are a few things you should add to your standard drugstore first aid kit. This kit is in addition to our household first aid, which anyone with children probably already has in their home and in an easily accessible location. We keep the disaster prep first aid kit in our smart furniture so the kiddos don’t find new “toys” to play with.
What else to include in your first aid kit:
- Whistle (to signal for help)
- Duct tape
- Liquid bleach
- Emergency blanket
- Cold compress
- Emergency first aid kit guide
The American Red Cross has an excellent Deluxe Family First Aid Kit, though you still need to add the whistle, duct tape, and bleach.
And don’t forget to grab your prescriptions on your way out. We store ours in our Forti Goods piece anyway to keep little hands from getting into things they shouldn’t, so they’re already right there in our line of sight should we need to go for our emergency kit.
Hear us out—you’ll be grateful you packed this when your phone runs out of charge and there’s no power! Hand-crank radios provide emergency alertsand light, two things you definitely want in case of a natural disaster emergency.
One important thing to note: look for a weather alert radio, not a weather band radio. Weather band radios have to be turned on and tuned to a local weather station to receive alerts. Weather alert radios, on the other hand, will notify you no matter if it’s turned on or off and no matter what station you’re on.
Your best bet will be a NOAA Weather Radio, which you can find online or at just about any electronics retailer. You can also call the National Weather Service office closest to you. These radios are designed to relay both weather alerts and alerts from local authorities.
We know this may seem like a lot to have prepared, but we like to think of a disaster prep kit as an insurance policy. You may never use it, but in the event you do need it, you at least won’t have the additional stress that comes with not having it ready.
To us, preparedness is more about coming to terms with our changing environment and less about focusing on a doomsday scenario. Events like hurricanes and forest fires are becoming more prevalent in certain parts of our country. “Freak” weather events like flash flooding or what happened in Texas last winter are showing us how immediately things can go from normal to panic, especially when issues can’t be resolved quickly.
So while we’re all working to reduce our carbon footprint, natural disaster prep is still necessary as weather events continue to get more extreme. Make sure you have a natural disaster prep kit ready with copies of important documents, water and shelf-stable foods, first aid, and a crank radio. And make sure you have a safe and easily accessible place to store it in the meantime.