I read CashOnlyCow's recommendation on having separate threads for each topic, like food, water, etc. I posted the following post in the water thread and it grew wildly outside that topic. I think it is difficult to separate everything when speaking in generalities because food is tied to water, which has implications in evacuation, etc. I created this topic in hopes it will be general in nature, but allow specific discussions about how exactly to purify water, prepare food or store fuel in their own threads.
If you store water, make sure it is in a food safe container. I picked up a 55 gallon drum from Sportsman's Warehouse for about $50. Don't forget a pump, because you don't want to try and tip a 55 gallon drum over to pour cups of water. I have the barrel ratchet straps to a wheeled dolly to move it around the garage. As has been mentioned above, it is recommended to treat with bleach, and to rotate. I do so annually, give or take. When using bleach, do not use scented bleach, just use plain chlorine bleach. A large container isn't very practical for evacuation, so we also keep several cases of bottled water in the pantry, rotating them periodically. Some kind of beverage powder is advisable. I have Gatorade because I got two huge cans of powder from the Army. I'm not going to debate sugar, electrolyte, carbohydrates, anything like that. Choose for yourself, but beverage powder can help mask the taste of bleach or water purification tablets, and the kids will get bored of drinking plain water after some time.
The Red Cross and FEMA recommend having 72 hours of water and food on hand. I recommend at least 5 days, if not more. I am not planning for the end of the world. I gauged my needs based on historic examples of how long it took to get relief supplies in an area, for example during Katrina and Sandy. If you store dehydrated food, remember it requires more water and contains more sodium. You will have to plan to have more water on hand. I have some dehydrated food, but not my whole stock. If you have canned foods, rotate them normally. That should be easy if you get what you normally eat. Do not assume that you were your kids will suddenly like foods that you have never eaten or never liked before just because it's an emergency. Vegetables, fruits, tuna, etc., can all be stored for a long period of time, and are relatively inexpensive. I don't know anything about canning or preparing my own so I won't get into that. When you rotate your food, make sure you are inspecting it for bulges, damage, etc.
Storing fuel may or may not be difficult for some people. It might not be practical to store large amounts in a suburban garage. Make sure you rotate the fuel as you can, or use appropriate stabilizers.
If you have a generator, and sure you have POL on hand, and test the generator periodically. This ensures that it works, and that the system doesn't get fouled. Consider a transfer switch so you can plug the generator in and run just what you need to run. An electrician can explain that much better than I can.
Have pre-planned evacuation routes. Consider multiple alternate routes depending on the location of the disaster, not just in your city, but in potential destination cities. Have hard maps for those areas. I keep a binder with my family emergency plan, checklists, hard maps, phone numbers and addresses of hotels, and phone numbers and addresses of real estate agents in an area. If there is a prolonged disaster, hotels may fill up or get very expensive. It may be worth renting a house for a month or whatever it takes.
Scan copies of important documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, insurance documents, passports, licenses, wills, corporation documents if you have a small business, family photos, medical records and put them all on a flash drive.
Keep medical supplies, extra prescription and OTC medications on hand and rotate as necessary. Know how to perform basic first aid.
Keep a supply of cash on hand. It doesn't have to be much, but if ATMs are out of service or banks are closed, you want to have a way to pay for goods. Some people recommend two months worth of bills in cash on hand.
Keep extra flashlights, chargers, radios, batteries, duct tape, chemlights, useful things like that handy, or better yet, in your emergency kit.
I also maintain a shelter-in-place kit containing tarps, tape, staple gun, Staples , dust masks, things like that, in case of hen industrial or chemical accident, for example.I also have instructions for my family in the kit in case I'm not there. It may seem like common sense to you to remove the mirror from the bathroom and tape up the exhaust fan, but will they remember that in a crisis?
I keep as much of my emergency readiness supplies in one place as I can. Obviously food, water, bulky items, cash will be in different locations, but most of it is in one place. I also keep a checklist of everything that would go with us during an evacuation, such as sleeping bags, extra clothes, extra shoes, toys for the kids, favorite blanket or teddy bear, etc. Review your checklist at least annually, or anytime there is a significant change, either hazards or your situation. Most importantly, review this with your spouse we're children if they are old enough. When I started going to school for Emergency Management, my wife thought I was getting paranoid. Then I started talking to her about the effects of natural disasters, and showed examples from tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes. She began to understand. If I can't make it home, she has to mobilize. Have contingency plans. Will you meet up later? Will you meet up at home or on the road? Will you not meet up, and send them ahead while you stay at work? All these things need to be discussed, planned, rehearsed prior to an emergency.
I apologize for being long-winded, I am dictating into my phone. It is hard to see what I've written. These are just some things off the top of my head as I get ready for work. I appreciate this form, whether we are responders or responsible neighbors, it is important that we try to become part of the solution, not the problem.