Emergency Supplies: Natural Disaster and Roadside

By Kate Riley November 13, 2012

It’s not the most exciting of topics in the middle of the holiday season but I think a necessary one.  Last week we had some visitors over and we were getting ready to sit down for dinner.  We were discussing the tragedy of Sandy and I’m not kidding, at that very moment our power went out in our neighborhood.  And it was out for 90 minutes.  Not a big deal, but the timing was eerie!  We lit some candles and waited it out, but the topic of natural disaster preparedness was at the front of my mind and I deemed it a sign to beef up our emergency and disaster readiness kit. 

We’re also off on a few short road trips during the holiday season, one will take us up to the snowy mountains, so I thought it a good idea to get a roadside emergency kit for the car too.  I shopped at my local True Value Hardware, since they carry a lot of these supplies and also camping equipment, which come in handy when you’ve got to rough it at home without power whether it’s for an hour or for a week.

I picked up a Roadside Emergency Kit, filled with jumper cables, tire sealer and inflator, tie down cord, first aid kit, flashlight and batteries, signal torch, work gloves and a SOS sign.  Bonus, it comes with a roadside assistance program – we have AAA but extra help doesn’t hurt!

roadside emergency kit

I beefed it up by adding a few other things that would help if stranded in inclement weather: thermal blankets, a poncho, a whistle, flares and emergency water*  I also purchased this hand crank flashlight/radio/cell phone charger for the car – when it arrives it will get stored with the kit in the hidden hatch.

additional roadside supplies

*I bought a family size natural disaster emergency kit a few years ago and a package of emergency water was included so I borrowed some pouches and placed them inside the roadside kit.

At True Value, I purchased a bunch more supplies for our “grab and go” kit at home that I keep in a big duffle bag in the garage, including an extra tarp, a LED lantern with batteries, a water carrier, extra first aid kit, and camper’s tool.

tarp lantern water carrier camper's tool first aid kit


We live in earthquake country, so I bought a utilities shut off tool, and some other things to put in the kit: a hand crank radio/flashlight, dust masks, waterproof matches, some LED head lights, and extra batteries for our kit flashlights too.

earthquake survival tool etc


Our existing kit also has water bottles, work gloves, protein bars and other dried food items, toiletries, feminine hygiene supplies, canned goods, pet food, bottled water, and chlorine bleach. 

For a full list of what you might need in your region, check out the Ready.gov with a full list of items to have on hand for each type of natural disaster. True Value also has a great checklist of Emergency or Disaster Preparedness items to have in case the worst happens.

Are you ready?  Today’s the day to get on it!


*I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as my writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials . My opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.




  1. Here in Florida, most are always ready because we get so many close- call hurricanes. Usually , if we don’t get hit, we have supplies on hand for the next time. It’s good to remind others that anything can happen anytime. You only have yourself to rely on. We have been without power for a couple of weeks at a time some years. They sell the old fashioned corded phones that you plug into the wall for $10. Most don’t realize that when the power goes out, so does your cordless landline. If you previously cancelled your landline, you can still reach 911 on the corded phone. Most of us have cell phones, but in a disaster, the towers are jammed with everyone checking on each other.

  2. Thanks, Kate! Speaking as an emergency manager for a county on the east coast, this is a PERFECT example of preparedness. Preparedness isn’t cheap, but neither is insurance and most of us don’t live with out it. Thanks for putting the info out there… and for the link to ready.gov. it really is a very good resource.

    As for use of a corded phone in the comment above – it will work if you have a traditional phone line in your home. If it’s a Voice Over IP line (VoIP) a corded phone will not work, as your phone service comes through your internet service.

  3. You are so smart to do this, Kate. And smart to write about it. Everyone should have a list of the essentials they would need for a variety of emergencies and begin checking things off that list.

    I have four stacked “milk crates” and a to-go bag in one closet that hold most of what we need, plus water in the garage.

    By writing about this, you may have saved lives. At the very least, you will have helped people be more safe and comfortable in an emergency situation.

  4. Great tips! The water packs are a good idea–I’ll have to show those to my husband. He is surprisingly well-prepared with disaster kits, water, etc. We keep two large water cooler jugs in our laundry room and he takes them into work and gets new ones when the expiration date gets close. You can never be too prepared!

  5. Being one that was affected by Sandy, here are a few things I have learned…

    Be sure you have a working chainsaw. A tree fell in our street, blocking our cul-de-sac. It was a day before someone from the town got to us and removed it.

    Also critical- a car charger for your cellphone. We dont have a generator, so before we found someone to stay with we sat in the car to charge our phone. And yes, cell service was awful for about a week because many were not functional, so a landline is helpful!

    Even though service was spotty, smartphones were our ONLY source of critical info for days, Facebook and twitter being the best sources of info. “Like” your town’s (and surrounding town’s) police department page along with your county’s emergency managment pages. Very helpful with road closures and gas stations that were selling gas.

    Speaking of gas, if you have prior warning of the storm, do yourself a favor and gas up all your cars and get several gallons to spare… The gas situation was a nightmare. Plus you don’t know if your car will be rendered unusable, like mine was. A had to pick up a rental, but the tank was empty when I picked it up and there were no gas stations with gas… I had to go home and fill the tank with our emergency gas before searching for a station.

    Check your coverage on your homeowners insurance and be sure you are comfortable with the coverage! We have a great policy and were lucky to be covered for all our damage. I have heard stories of many people who are not so fortunate.

    Stock up on paper towels, paper plates and cups. A sweeper vac that is rechargable or a manual sweeper for your couch and rug will keep you sane. Messes are made in the dark! The very first thing I did was vaccum when our power was restored. Also add baby wipes, purell etc if you have a well and will run out of water.

    And lastly….coffee will become a critical issue if you are stuck for days. You and your significant other will be getting on each others last nerve due to crankiness … Please do not go through one morning without a good coffee. Get a french press and either figure out a way to boil water on your fireplace, grill or camping stove. You WILL thank me for this! ;)

    • Thank you Terry, excellent tips from someone who recently experienced it, I so appreciate you sharing your advice!

  6. Kate I really think more people should be better prepaid and I think it’s really great that you wrote about it. I’m from Long Island, New York and Sandy hit hard and most people were not prepared because we never get hurricanes or Super Storms like this. It was the scariest storm I have been in. We were lucky and only out of power for 20 hours, but the coastal areas were hit so hard. It still makes me cry with how much devastation has happened here. Our very good friends {with 4 children} lost everything in their home. It is so sad. They were home when 3-4 feet of water came into their home when it was dark out. They had to get into the attic, because they don’t have a second floor. They are all fine, but it makes you realize that things could have been different. In the days after we cleaned out our closest and gave back to our community. It was so awesome to see our town come together for each other and really truly support each other. I know I will be more prepared next time. Then we also had a gas shortage. So adding to your emergency supplies list to be “fill up all your cars before the storm hits” {thankfully we had done that}. Another one would be “make sure you have cash before the storm”. If you have a generator, make sure you have extra gas for that as well. Get propane for your BBQ as well. Extra ice for a cooler or for your frig. I’m sure there is more. Thank you for this post Kate. :)

  7. Thanks, Kate! This is excellent and timely advice. I live in Northern Jersey and was out of power for a week due to the storm. I was lucky that I did not suffer any damage to home or vehicle. The gas situation, though, was a nightmare until Gov. Christie ordered the odd/even days. My father had told me to gas up before the storm, but I forgot. One other item that I would suggest having on hand is CASH. I use my debit card for EVERYTHING. Many of the gas stations were not able to accept credit cards during the storm. One night, I waited on line for gas for an hour before I found out they wouldn’t accept debit/credit cards. I had been unable to get cash because many of the banks had no power and the ones that did were cleaned out! I am going to follow your lead and put my emergency kit together this week. And I already have some cash hidden away!

  8. Don’t forget a small kit for every pet, too!

    You can keep their things in a clear shoebox; dry food , water, meds, and a blanket/toy with a copy of shot records.

  9. Kate – what a great topic!

    We live in the Tropical North of Australia, an area prone to some of the nastiest Cyclone’s on the planet. Every year I put a big red circle around November 1st and on this day we check our cyclone emergency kit – ours is huge, includes a generator, first aid kit, gas cooker, copies of all important documents – especially insurance certificates and cash – as well as tinned food, water and water containers, lights etc etc etc – basically it is enough for our family of 4 to be self sufficient for 4 days should the worst happen.

    We have had to use it in the past and every year I hope and pray we wont use it this year, I guess it is the price we pay for living in our little part of paradise.

    I love your care emergency kit – will be updating mine with some of those very good ideas!


  10. Thanks for posting this after living through Sandy we have beefed up our supplies too. We have a lot of stuff but purchased more.


  11. I’m glad I’m not the only one that has this. Most of my friends looked at me like I was crazy carrying all this extra weight in my car, but I know they’ll be coming when the zombie apocalypse happens :)

  12. I never heard of the water packs before Kate..we also have a water cooler that we can use for backup drinking water in an emergency..that is one think we did to prepare for Sandy when she was headed our way..we made sure the water jugs were all filled..

  13. Wonderful tips Kate – thanks. I attended the disaster preparedness meeting at my childrens school a couple of weeks ago and they had a representative from the Red Cross speak. The Red Cross has a few smartphone apps that offer some great emergency info. some of them are tailored to the type of natural disaster for your area (earthquake, tornado, hurricane, etc) and a first aid app as well. It has some excellent advice and info to help you get prepared should something happen and what supplies you would need. One of the greatest features is that when you set up the app, you can identify out of state contacts so that it can notify people if you are safe after an event, limiting the need for multiple cell phone calls clogging up the limited cell grids. There are many other features that I am sure I have left off, but go and check it out. Once you get yourself prepared, you can literally set it and forget it.

  14. We live at the edge of the mountains in fire/earthquake country, and keep emergency supplies both in our house and car. Irreplaceable items are all in one spot to grab and go if we must. All our photos are scanned or digital, so that isn’t a problem. I keep the kids’ memory books, an antique christening gown passed down through my family, and copies of insurance policies there too. I also have an extra pair of contact lenses and a week’s worth of medication stashed with it. If we had more warning, we also have a list of other things to get – original art from the walls, sentimental objects, the contents of our safe, my jewelry box, stuffed animals, etc. We could just get in the car and drive away with enough food, water, clothing, toiletries/meds for 3 days as well as the priceless things money can’t replace. It would take as much time as picking up my purse.

    Luckily, we’ve never had to use them for true emergencies. But sweatshirts, slickers, the extra water bottles and the odd granola bar really help for minor emergencies like getting stuck in traffic with hungry kids, the unexpected rainstorm, or drop in temperature.

  15. Thanks for all the info everyone. Some things I haven’t thought of. You can also purchase ‘Bug Out’ bags also known as ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ emergency kits. They have MRE’s and water purification tablets in them. I pray I never have to use mine.

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