Preparing Your Home for an Emergency

Category Advice
We never know when a disaster may strike in our neighborhood, and it's important to have the essentials and a plan ready just in case. This page is about preparing your home for an emergency.


Share on ThriftyFunThis page contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!

I teach in an international school in Tokyo. At 2:45 p.m. on Mar. 10, 2011 we had an earthquake and evacuation drill. At 2:46 p.m. on Mar. 11, we had the 8.9 earthquake. Because we had just "rehearsed" the same thing the day before, all 470 students and all staff knew exactly what to do and there was no panic. Most of the time we feel "ho hum, not another drill interrupting my class," but yesterday proved to us that they are very important.

We evacuated to the playground where we waited for parents to pick up their students. Many students live on train lines which were not running. Cell phones and land lines were not working, but we discovered we could use the Internet and Skype. Make sure your children know how to contact you in an emergency! Think through what you would do if you were at work and they were at school. Designate a neighbor or friend to take care of your child if you are unable to get there, and let the school know who it is.


Those who could not return home because of the trains, stayed in the houses of those of us who live near enough to walk. I was scrambling to find an extra toothbrush, but otherwise we had no trouble housing people. Simple living aside, it might be a good idea to keep a few extra toothbrushes around.

Kindness was seen in all directions, from the moment we evacuated to the playground: Children comforted each other; High school students prayed together in huddles; The librarian sat on the ground and read a book to a group of kindergartners and first graders; Staff members and visiting parents who just happened to be there sat near enough to the building to get Wi-Fi on their computers and helped children contact parents.

I think the clincher for me was when the parents of a first grader, who stayed at our neighbor's, picked him up. The mother said, "I had two strangers in my home last night, because we nearly got stuck on the subway together. We were just going to get on the train when the earthquake happened. I couldn't help but invite them to sleep at our house."


This is not a thrifty tip, but it is on my heart today - practice for disaster, be prepared, and most of all, practice kindness every day and it will stay with you in a disaster.

Source: my experience during and after the earthquake

By Denise from Tokyo, Japan

Editor's Note: This is a stock photo, not from the recent damage in Japan.

Comment Pin it! Was this helpful? 43

Since you never know when an emergency is going to happen, I stay stocked up and prepared year round. I have a specific cabinet set up with canned foods, cereals, powdered milk, water, pet foods and other necessities. Anything that doesn't come in a water proof container gets put in one and labeled before going in the cabinet. Everything in there is arranged by month/year. Every 3 months I rotate everything out and restock.


Instead of buying bottled water, which can get awfully expensive when you're buying a lot, when I finish with a 2 liter soda bottle, I wash it out good, then bleach the inside good to sanitize it. After it's been rinsed good, I fill it with water and label it. I can stock a lot more water this way without spending a fortune on buying it. I keep a minimum of 50 two liter bottles of water. This way I don't have to worry about not having enough to cook with, drink, or wash and clean with if we lose water.

As I rotate the water, I put some on a separate shelf for use for cleaning with. That gets rotated only once a year. The rest all gets rotated every 3 months. Everything in the cabinet is dated with the rotation date so there's no mistake about when to do it.


In a spare bedroom (since I don't have a basement or garage), I keep a kerosene heater (kerosene is kept in the shed outside), spare batteries of all sizes, flashlights of all sizes, battery powered lanterns, blankets, battery powered radio TV, and DVD player, books, pens, cat box and litter for my cat.

I also have a 12v stove and coffee maker that I can plug into the cigarette lighter in my car to cook with. This way we are all set in case of loss of power for an extended amount of time.

By Cricket from Parkton, NC

Comment Was this helpful? 26

I live in southeastern NC and although we don't get the full force of hurricanes like you do in FL, we do get the damaging winds, rains, and tornadoes spun off from the storms. So keeping disaster bins is important here too.

Comment Was this helpful? 15

Are you prepared for an emergency? Be prepared for almost every emergency with lots of canned food items. You should also store water and a hand can opener with the food.


Make sure you have meats that are canned as they give you energy.

Comment Was this helpful? 18

Ever since my kids were small, we have designated my mother, who lives in another state, as the family emergency contact. All school forms had her name and phone number in the emergency contact section, as did any of the wallet emergency cards we all carried.

Comment Was this helpful? 17

What everyone recommends is 3 days worth of everything such as WATER; drinking water and water for cleaning yourself up. In a case where we know it's going to hit, have everyone take showers or bathe and be clean. Fill tub up with water.

Comment Was this helpful? 12

September 15, 2011

Add a few "booklights" to your emergency kits. Mine came in very handy during the recent blackout. I just clipped it to the front of my shirt and as it is adjustable I just pointed it where I wanted it and had a hands free flashlight!

Comment Was this helpful? 10

With the storm bearing down on the Eastern seaboard, I thought I'd share some things I learned while living on the Gulf Coast.

A car in a flooded street

Comment Pin it! Was this helpful? 4

Growing up, even though our family was low income, my mother always made sure she had extra food for storms, power outage, etc. When we would hear the bread and milk rush, when snow was mentioned, she would always say, "Do people wait until their cupboards are bare before going to the grocery store?"

Comment Was this helpful? 4

When dangerous weather strikes, be prepared in advance by having a couple of very easy things in place beforehand.

Comment Was this helpful? 2

This is an excellent suggestion that was printed recently in our local paper as a tip for power failures during storms: make freezer packs by placing water filled water jugs, plastic pop bottles, or gallon ice cream containers in the deep freeze.

Comment Was this helpful? 2

September 6, 2011

Know what you have before a disaster strikes by putting down on paper everything you have with serial numbers, make, and manufacturer. You can also take pictures of your items so they can be referred to if something should happen.

Comment Was this helpful? 3

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh
June 22, 2011

Many of us are wondering if there's something we can do to better protect our homes from devastating storms. The first step is to listen to authorities and evacuate dangerous areas before the storms arrive. Homes can be replaced; families cannot.

Fallen tree on house

Comment Pin it! Was this helpful? Yes

Save some dry wood cut into small pieces in old recycled jars. Pat down to pack it or carefully pack it from the top, using a hammer to further break pieces so more will fit. You could also place small bits of paper to ensure your fire will start.

Packing Away Fuel For Emergencies  - small sticks in jars.

Comment Pin it! Was this helpful? 2

November 23, 2005

Tips for organizing emergency numbers.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

September 12, 2005

Here's a great .pdf file with information about emergency preparedness, preparing your house, surviving during and after an emergency and a check list of things you will need. It is from the Seattle Times.

Comment Was this helpful? 1

December 19, 2007

Last year, at least 65 people died from generator-related CO poisoning. Many of the deaths occurred after winter storms knocked out power.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

February 16, 2005

This is for all my Caribbean friends or anyone who is everyone living on this earth to at least prepare your home family in case stuff happens or an event of a hurricane or disaster.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

September 29, 2004

The best way is to prepare before winter (or bad weather). Stock up on things that disappear literally in hours from stores: batteries, water, flashlights.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

September 1, 2009

I was just wanting to know if any of you have anything prepared just in case of an emergency, if so what? I was thinking of doing this and I wanted some ideas. Thanks for any ideas you may share with me.

By Teresa from VA


September 1, 20090 found this helpful

I have some aluminum blankets, candles, lighter and matches, flashlight. Put the batteries in this way, one normal position and one backwards, it will preserve the batteries for when they are needed, water, powdered soup mix, cocoa, coffee, milk, small pkgs of fruit such as raisins, military MRE's and heaters, scissors, band aids, kotex or panty liners, individually wrapped. They work as bandages as well as the obvious use! Don't forget pet food if you have a pet.

Coffee can, old fashioned "church key" and charcoal wrapped in a little newspaper. You can make an emergency "stove" with these items; just punch a few holes in the SIDES of the bottom of the can with the church key to let air flow in & keep fire going, use a wire coat hanger across the top to hold a small pot or use foil to cook things on.

Bisquik is also good to have. I could go on forever but it really depends on where you live and what you are "preparing" for. I have lived through some bad earthquakes and I can tell you one of the most important things I learned is to have toilet paper!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Read More Answers

I live alone and I want to be prepared. I am in the process of cleaning up my very disorganized condo. I have many friends cheering me on because well this is very hard for me. Anyway I have cleaned out a walk in closet that is in the interior of the building. I am thinking it will be a nice reading nook in the winter as it is right near the dryer so it will be warm in there.

I am also thinking I have no place really to go in case of a storm. We can get pretty bad thunderstorms and hurricanes here. There is no door on this closet and no window. What do you think I should have in the closet with me? I don't want to go crazy, just be prepared. Thanks.

Sandy from Baltimore


July 21, 20080 found this helpful

Bottled water, toilet paper, handi wipes (in case they turn the water off), first aid kit, radio and lots of batteries), canned food and long lasting snacks, plenty to read, can opene, plastic eating utensils.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
July 21, 20080 found this helpful

Don't forget that most storms don't last long; and you can always share with neighbors; and hurricanes usually come with adequate warning to move food from you pantry to the closet. You're in a condo in Baltimore, not a soddie on the prairie, or a cottage on a coastal island.

Bottled water is a good idea, as is a first aid kit, a flashlight with extra batteries, and a radio. If you have a cell phone, you might want to go in there and see if you still have reception--otherwise you may want to invest in a long cord so you can take a phone in there if you had to. (You could just keep the spare cord in there--again, you would have warning and time enough to get ready.) Land lines may or may not go down in a storm; but usually are restored fairly quickly. Don't forget a list of phone numbers.

Be aware that if tornados are forcasted, you should find out where the safest place in your building is to go. Your fire dept. could tell you this.

I think it is much more valuable that you are cleaning out--one of the hardest things EVER to do; and the idea of a reading nook for yourself is a wonderful idea!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
July 22, 20080 found this helpful

In many parts of the country, people use the mattress from their bed. They crawl UNDER the mattress, and hold on to it, preventing it from blowing away.

A Futon mattress would be really good to hide under. You could lie on part of it, and wrap the other part above/around you.

Some people get in the bathtub, and place the mattress on top sort of like a "lid.", and hold it down. Guess this must work, 'cuz you never see a bathtub flying in the wind.

If you could fix yourself a "duffle-bag" full of things JUST for a storm, leaving it in that walk-in-closet. Put one of those lanterns that uses batteries, with extra batteries. And one of those flashlights that you shake to activate the battery, and a battery powered radio, again with extra batteries.

Some bottled water, a blanket, reading material, some snack items such as peanut butter crackers, canned tuna, canned pastas, or breakfast bars. Be sure to take a can opener if your canned items don't have that handy pull-tab opener. And a spoon or fork.

Baby wipes, Trash bags, small plastic trashcan, (to use as a potty if necessary) kleenex, t.tissue, a handful of bandaids, neosporin (just in case.) If it is cold weather, pack extra socks, mittens, sweater, Flannel shirts, and those pocket hand warmers. They will keep warm for several hours.

Then when the storm warnings DO happen, you can grab a few pillows, drag the house phone close to you, keep the cellphone, and its charger with you, your purse, your medications, eyeglasses, the cat and you are good to go.

Then if they update the storm, then you can drag the mattress to your closet, and crawl underneath.

You could have someone install those wooden Bi-fold doors on your closet. They would look good, and hide the things you are leaving in there for the storms.

In most condos, apartments, and so on there is usually a designated place for people to go in a storm.

In Florida, even the Campgrounds have designated places to go when the weather gets bad. Usually it is in the bath houses, or the Laundry Rooms, or a large enclosed area at the main building. Most places are prepared. So just ask.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By JODI (Guest Post)
July 22, 20080 found this helpful

You might want to pack some of your food items in a picnic basket so they will all be in one place.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
July 23, 20080 found this helpful

Good for you for being brave enough to get the necessary help and tackling the clutter. I have learned that clutter gets out of control when a major life event happened, not from being slack. Yes, make yourself a lovely storm hideout, and it could be a place to do your nails, eat ice cream, or hug your dog!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Read More Answers

October 19, 2011

This is a page about preparing for a power outage. Power outages are a periodic problem that we all need to deal with. Being prepared when it happens is the best way to make it easier to get through until the power comes back on.

Power Outage Supplies

Read More... Pin it! Was this helpful? 1

August 10, 2017

When evacuating because of an impending hurricane or flooding you can protect your important items by stashing them in the dishwasher. This page contains ideas about storing important items inside a dishwasher in an emergency.

An empty dishwasher with the door open.

Read More... Pin it! Was this helpful? Yes


ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

November 30, 2009

It's been recommended that American's have a few weeks worth of food on hand in case of disruption of services. Let's work on a stocking up list?

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
Load More
Home and Garden Emergency AdviceMarch 7, 2012
Christmas Ideas!
New Years Ideas!
Ask a Question
Share a Post
Better LivingBudget & FinanceBusiness and LegalComputersConsumer AdviceCraftsEducationEntertainmentFood and RecipesHealth & BeautyHolidays and PartiesHome and GardenMake Your OwnOrganizingParentingPetsPhotosTravel and RecreationWeddings
Published by ThriftyFun.

Desktop Page | View Mobile

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us

© 1997-2019 by Cumuli, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Generated 2019-12-18 14:21:22 in 2 secs. ⛅️️ ⚡️

Add to PageAsk a Question
Loading Something Awesome!