Almost every site that covers survival and prepping talk about all kinds of disaster and that you should start with the most common disaster in your area. If you are starting out look at things that happen yearly such as flooding, wind (Tornadoes, Hurricanes), Winter(snow and ice storms) and summer(drought and heat). All to often I see people that act surprised that summer is hot or winter is cold and snowstorms can happen. So far it has been a quiet hurricane season but every time the news gets a chance to hype a storm people wait till the last minute to get what they need and it’s a near riot. I mean it’s called hurricane season for a reason as it tends to happen every year. Same with all those other things called seasons.
A couple of things that happen during all of those events is a loss of power and a lack of clean drinking water. You need to have a plan in place that takes care of those two items first.
Energy/power: You will lose electric power and possibly your natural gas will stop because of a break in the line or is turned off for safety reasons. A gas generator is a good short term answer for getting through the first week of a disaster if you have fuel, oil, heavy duty extension cords and can run it safely. I recommend at least a 3000 watt generator for the average home owner, that will allow you to run either a fridge or freezer for about 6 hours every 24 hours and keep stuff cool or cold while you eat that food first. Save your canned goods till after those appliances are empty. Don’t use the generator to run everything in your house! Use it sparingly to extend your fuel. Power packs, inverters hooked to batteries or solar can give you more options and are a bit cheaper than a gas generator for up front costs.
Lights: Many options here but start with LED flashlights are great for long battery life and a safe for kids to use. I’ve picked several l LED lights that clip on a hat brim or head lamps, if you need to keep your hands free to work. You can use candles but I’m not a big fan on having a lot of open flame in a disaster. Enclosed or protected flame lamps that run on Kerosene, Propane or white gas offer better light to work by and are a bit safer than candles. Get a few mirrors to place behind you lanterns to reflect the light out. Add wicks along to your fuel and do your tests to see how long your lanterns will burn on one “tank” of fuel. Have lighter and matches to light them up!
Cooking and Heat: Lots of options with this item and you probably have something you can cook on like a propane or charcoal grill outside. There are a lot of low cost options from single burner butane stoves to camp stoves to a propane oven with burners. If you have a wood stove you have both heat and cooking as long as you have fuel. You will also need a way to boil water to make it safe to drink. If you need another source of heat I recommend the propane Mr. Buddy heater for it’s safety features. You should have both a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector that are battery powered or have a battery backup. Kind of stupid to get dead from carbon monoxide poisoning or a fire after you survived a disaster.
Water as you know is my “big thing”. Store as much as you can and not as little as possible. If you have warning before a disaster fill everything that will hold water before the storm hits. Pots, bathtub,clean garbage can, ice chests whatever! it might not be safe for drinking but you can treat it ,use it for flushing a toilet or water your plants. Better to have extra an not need it than the other way around. Add in a good water filter, chemical sanitizer like bleach or Iodine tablets.
Now for some basic disaster tools: Work gloves, face masks and protective goggles. Pry bar and crow bar, Sledge hammer, shovel and axe . With these items you can get to someone or dig yourself out. Bow saw and extra blades, great for removing downed limbs or small trees. Tarps, Heavy duty plastic sheeting, duct tape, heavy duty stapler and construction grade garbage bags. With these items you can cover a hole, broken window or start on cleaning up. Snow shovel, Garden rake, push broom, sand and ice melt.
Do a test of your stuff even if it just for a day. Put a little sticky note over all of your light switches and go lights out! No one washes or flushes the toilet until they heat or haul the water for it. Test your generator and extension cords by running a couple of appliances such as a fridge, A/C unit or small heater for a few hours and know how much fuel you need. I’ve done quite a few tests of all my preps but there is a big difference between a disabled person living alone and a family of four that are healthy. You must prep for you and no one else can tell you exactly what you will need.
You probably have quite a few of these items already on hand because you have needed them in the past. I think you should have these items at a minimum for the seasons and you will use them at some time in the near future. Just some basic common sense items to have on hand for everyday life. Plus once you get all of the items that you need for your yearly needs you will be well on your way for being prepared for any big disasters.