Prepping for an emergency is not high on anyone’s list of favorite things to do, but when an emergency come to your door, it’s always good to be ready. Being prepared ahead of time also allows you stick to sustainable choices since you'll have more time to make your emergency kit a little more eco-friendly. Most tips and items can be adapted to similar situations, such as severe flooding or hurricanes. While this is not a complete list, it’s certainly a good foundation to get you and your loved ones started.
1. Make sure clean water is well-stocked.
While there are many important things to include in your list, water should be on the top of the list. Most people can’t go without water for three days, so it’s good to have plenty on hand. Try to set aside at least one gallon of water per person a day for at least three days. The best way to store is in stainless steel or BPA-free containers.
Apart from keeping everyone hydrated, water is often needed for cleaning and cooking purposes so it never hurts to have extra on hand. A good way to store more water, is to fill up that big dispenser you haven't used since that holiday party a few years ago. GoPure Pods are a nifty tool for filtering a lot of water at once. These portable filters remove 99 percent of lead and arsenic among other things. Each pod can treat up to three liters of water at a time and are a great option to bring with you in a portable water bottle if you need to evacuate.
Other BPA free tools you can use to stay hydrated are reusable water canteens from Klean Kanteen, water bottles with built in filters from Clear20, and Lifestraw. If you can’t filter enough of tap water ahead of time, Walmart offers seven gallon tanks in a BPA-free container.
2. Have plenty of non-perishable food on hand.
Next up is snacks and meals. A sustainable alternative to buying canned meals is making your own dehydrated foods or canning fruits and veggies. Understandably, people often don’t have much time to prepare a lot of food before a major emergency, so buying BPA free canned food from sources like Eden Foods is the next best thing.
Backpacker’s Pantry also offers useful emergency food in BPA free packages with options ranging from sans peanuts for little Johnny's nut allergies to vegan choices for Aunt Sue. Yet another good option is Health Ranger Storable Organics, which offers 100 percent non-GMO long-term storable superfoods, organic, and chemical-free foods.
When sorting out your food, keep in mind that electric stoves may not work during an emergency. Also, be sure to have a manual can opener on hand. Paper materials aren't the most sustainable options, but emergency situations don't always allow for washing dishes or rags so if the situation calls for it, look for paper plates and towels made with recycled or eco-friendly content.
To maintain refrigerated food in good shape as long as possible, make sure to open your fridge or freezer only when you really have to. Whatever route you do decide to take with food or water, try to recycle the cans and bottles if possible once the emergency situation is over.
3. Don’t get stuck in the dark.
Many people like to resort to candles as a traditional backup if the lights go out. If you decide to do so, opt for unscented beeswax candles. These can be purchased package free and they won't add toxins to your home which is useful because you may not know how long you’ll have to be indoors. To light a fire, buy waterproof matches or an emergency fire starter. Always keep an eye on your candles at all times in case they are knocked over by a pet or the kids.
While iPhones and apps often offer flashlight options, you might want to save that battery life for calls and have a separate source of light for emergencies. Grab an eco friendly LED lantern that can be wound up so you don't have to worry about buying and tossing batteries. If you want a more focused light source, the Freeplay Companion Radio has a flashlight, multi band radio, and mobile phone charger all in one and can be solar charged or hand cranked.
Plan to be on the go? Opt of a solar backpack to keep your cellphone on and GPS route accessible. The Luisvanita Eco Solar Charger Backpack is made with UV resistant fabric manufactured from recycled soda bottles and is built to keep you powered at all times. If all else fails and your cell phone shuts down, have a metal whistle on you as a last resort method for seeking aid.
4. Remember to pack personal essentials.
If you have time, remember to get any prescriptions you may need and always stock up on sanitary items. If the water runs out, water wipes are an eco-friendly and useful tool to have on hand. You’re also going to want to have back up toilet paper in your home since that can be sold out at stores quickly during city wide emergencies.
Bamboo toilet paper is one of the most sustainable choices but the best way to avoid running out all together, is to have a bidet in your home. If your water is still working, bidets help reduce the need for toilet paper and are often considered to be a healthier alternative. Also be sure to have blankets to stay dry and warm. Bencore offers recyclable ones.
Although there are dozens of other things to keep in mind, like backup communication plans with loved ones and neighbors, or restocking your first aid kit, these sustainable tips should get you started on your preparations. As a good rule of thumb, remember to keep copies of important documents in something waterproofs like Pridegreen Biodegradable zip lock bags. Lastly, if you do have to skip town, make sure to choose the most fuel efficient car available, since gas shortages often accompany city wide emergencies. Once you have your game plan, you should be prepared for anything.