Get Our Disaster Preparedness Checklist: The Survival Checklist That Can Save Your Life

September 22, 2022 8 min read

emergency preparedness lists

 

When emergencies strike, and you face a life-threatening situation, it’s already too late to make plans. That is why making preparations ahead of time using an emergency preparedness checklist is vital. 

Emergency preparedness checklists guide you in preparing for various emergency scenarios, like natural or human-induced disasters. Typically they include:

  • A list of essential tasks to complete so you and your family can be safe and self-reliant.

  • An emergency supply checklist.

  • Maintenance reminders for your supplies and bug-out bags.

  • Evacuation guidelines.

  • Other important tips and tricks for emergency preparedness.

Survival checklists are no joke. They can be practical tools that help you and your family survive when sh•t hits the fan (SHTF). Keep reading to learn more about what we put on our list for emergency preparedness.

download the preparedness checklist

Tasks to Complete to Enhance Your Disaster Preparedness Checklist

 

disaster preparedness checklist

 

There are many different ways to prepare for unexpected disasters. For example, if you live near the Atlantic Coastline, you’d probably utilize a hurricane preparedness checklist. However, regardless of where you live, there are a series of non-negotiable tasks you can complete to enhance your disaster preparedness. 


Sign Up for a First Aid and CPR Course

When disasters are severe enough, massive damage is done, and many people become injured. Unfortunately, in these scenarios, first responders, urgent care facilities, and hospitals become inundated, and many people become cut off from emergency medicine.


That is why basic first aid and CPR education can be so important, even life-saving. The best way to do that is to sign up for a local first aid and CPR course. The Red Cross is a fantastic resource for first aid and CPR education. They want you to prepare for the unexpected. 

Create an Emergency Communication Protocol

When SHTF, it is not uncommon to deal with communication issues. Power lines go down, internet connection is lost, and the power grid blacks out. Therefore, one of the most important tasks you can complete on your disaster preparedness checklist is to design an emergency communication protocol.


The protocol you create with your family will depend on your personal preferences, geographic location, and local resources. First, however, there are some emergency communication guidelines we’d like to share.

  • Emergency numbers for local police, fire, neighbors, and family members should be memorized (if not saved permanently).

  • Battery-operated or rechargeable emergency radios are vital for staying connected to necessary news when cell phone reception or internet fails.

  • In case of separation during a disaster, have a reliable emergency contact from outside your area that can be trusted to send messages or help communicate with your family. 

Investigate Local Emergency Plans

An emergency preparedness checklist and plan for you and your family is one thing. But what about your local schools, daycare facilities, community centers, and other public places? 


In an ideal scenario, everyone would all be together when disaster strikes. But what if the kids are away at school or you are in town running errands? 


Investigating local emergency plans is worth the effort. For example, understanding the evacuation protocols for various buildings, safe rooms, tornado shelter locations, and boundaries for tsunami zones are all examples of knowledge we recommend you possess, depending on where you live and what disasters you expect.    

Stay Current With Fire Safety Guidelines

Fire safety is vital, especially in a crowded urban environment where fires can spread quickly between buildings or the wildland-urban interface, where wildfire can threaten your home and livelihood.


There are many different ways to be fire safe:

  • Install smoke detectors around your home and regularly maintain and test them.

  • Define evacuation routes from each room of your home and practice fire drills at least once a year.
      
  • Learn how to use different fire extinguishers and keep them strategically located around your home. 

Communicate With Your Family About Your Emergency Preparedness List

Unfortunately, natural disasters and life-threatening emergency scenarios are part of modern life. To think that you might go on living without having to respond to some sort of emergency would be unrealistic. 


That is why starting the conversation and communicating with your family about emergency preparedness is critical.


We do not advocate for sensational fear-mongering about the scariness of natural disasters or other emergencies. But we believe it’s possible to enhance the preparedness of your family unit by talking about the possibility of SHTF and how to remain self-reliant and safe in the aftermath.   

Emergency Supplies and Bug-Out Bags

 

emergency supplies and bug out bag on the table

Water

Water cannot be forgotten on your emergency preparedness list. Besides shelter, it is the most crucial survival priority you need to consider. In general, we recommend about one gallon of water per person per day. 


In the aftermath of a disaster, it’s plausible to assume that the municipal water sources you are used to relying on have become unsafe or unreliable. So, besides having a bulk amount of water, it’s also important to consider how you can collect more water and how you plan to treat it. We recommend having at least two methods of collecting and treating water. 

Food

Ready-to-go emergency food is critical for emergency preparedness, especially freeze-dried or dehydrated food that has a shelf life of 25 years or longer. 


The food you prep should be nutritious, high-energy, and protein-rich. The food must be stored in airtight containers and in a protected location from water damage, insects, and rodents. 


And don’t forget about the little ones! If you have a baby in the family or plan to have one, it’s a great idea also to be prepared with food and formula for infants. 

Tools and Other Supplies

There are a variety of items that fit in this category. The list could go on forever. However, to help you organize, we recommend focusing on tools and other supplies that fit within the following categories: 


  1. Emergency supplies that help you communicate, like a battery-powered radio.
     
  2. Tools that help you fix things, like multi-tools, hammers, and nails.

  3. Gear that protects you, like gloves, gas masks, and eye protection.
     
  4. Supplies that help you disinfect and clean, like bleach and sponges.

  5. Equipment that allows you to cook and boil water, like a camp stove and various fuel types. 

Clothing and Warmth

Exposure to the elements can be hazardous in a disaster scenario. Unclean or smoky air, freezing temperatures, intense heat, and precipitation can all threaten your ability to survive. Therefore, having clothing that’s appropriate for the climate is critical for survival. 


Disasters can occur at unexpected times, so preparing a selection of clothing ahead of time is the best strategy. However, if you are mainly prepping for hurricane season, for example, you can prioritize clothing suitable for that climate, such as water-repellent jackets, pants, and boots.  

First Aid Supplies

During or after a disaster, it’s not uncommon to have to provide first aid, especially if local first responders and healthcare professionals are indisposed.


Besides first aid supplies, we also recommend preparing other essentials like necessary prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and vital medical information—for example, contact information for family doctors and serial numbers for essential medical devices such as pacemakers. 

Other Essentials

What you put in this category boils down to personal preference. Over time, you will better understand what other essential items fit into your emergency survival checklist.


In general, however, we recommend including some luxury items, or creature comforts, if you can afford the space for them. Unique items that keep you comfortable and raise morale can make all the difference in the aftermath of a disaster.  

Maintaining Your Emergency Supplies

Having an entire basement filled to the brim with emergency food, water, and other supplies is fantastic. But it does you absolutely no good if everything is expired or spoiled by insects, rodents, or water damage.


We believe that maintaining your emergency supplies is arguably as important as prepping them in the first place. 


To stay on top of your maintenance, we recommend a routine checkup every six months. You can check your food storage, make sure no insects or animals have spoiled it, review medications, etc. 


Another part of maintaining your emergency supplies is reevaluating your needs and priorities. For example, you may relocate, your family may grow, or require new medicine or other necessities. That is why checking in with your family’s needs as they evolve annually is important. 

Evacuation Guidelines

Evacuation, or bugging out, is a critical element of disaster preparedness. Your evacuation guidelines should include three vital decisions:
 

  1. Knowing when to bug out. 
  2. Understanding where to go. 
  3. And having a plan to get there.

To bug out safely, you need to be prepared.  You need to have all the bug-out bag essentials packed and ready to go ahead of time so that when SHTF, you can simply grab and go. 

Four Emergency Preparedness Tips

  1. Bug-Out Bag Locations

Part of a well-organized evacuation plan is having a safe and reliable bug-out location (BOL) identified ahead of time. There is a variety of creative bug-out locations you can consider:
 

  • The family lake house, cabin, or vacation home outside the city.

  • A family member’s or friend's home in a safe location.

  • A property, bunker, or other building specifically designed to provide shelter in an emergency. 

Having a safe BOL is one thing. But sometimes, we forget that the BOL also needs to be prepped ahead of time. Emergency supplies, like a 72-hour kit or family survival kit, along with water and other essentials, should already be there waiting for you. 

  1. Organization and Storage Solutions

Staying organized is key for emergency preparedness. Of course, you can stash all the supplies in the world, but if you cannot access them quickly and efficiently, they won’t do you much good. 


There are many ways to stay organized and take advantage of all the storage space available. Some of our favorite strategies include:

  • Labeling and color-coding your supplies.  
  • Keeping similar items stashed together, like medical supplies and water treatment equipment.  
  • Using sturdy and waterproof containers to keep things dry, stackable, and organized.
  • Utilizing floor-to-ceiling shelving units.
  • Taking advantage of all the space around your home, like underneath the bed and on top of the refrigerator. 

  1. Having a Plan for Boosting Morale

Surviving a disaster can be stressful, worrisome, and scary. Lives can be lost, property can be damaged, and livelihoods can be permanently altered. Therefore, having a plan for staying positive when SHTF can be a critical item to consider for your emergency preparedness checklist.


Typically, boosting morale doesn’t mean you necessarily need to include additional physical items into your emergency cache, although it might be helpful to bring a few small games. Instead, it’s more about taking actionable steps to improve your mental state. 


We recommend the following to stay positive in the aftermath of a stressful disaster:
 

  • Keep a schedule and routine. 
  • Meditate and visualize the end of the disaster and happier times to come. 
  • Hope for the best and find the silver lining in everything.
  • Keep your survival priorities in order.
  • Set small and attainable goals daily.
  • Remind yourself of all the things you are grateful for.

4. Develop a Community

When it comes to prepping, you are not alone. Like you, an entire community of preppers is focused on remaining self-reliant in the face of natural disasters or other emergencies.


There is a lot to learn from other preppers. Prepper communities are helpful because they give you access to knowledge as you prepare for the unexpected. And should you choose to, prepper communities also band together during disasters and pool resources to survive as a group.   

  

Final Thoughts on Using a Survival Checklist

Preparing for a natural disaster or another emergency scenario does not need to be a mystery. You can utilize an emergency preparedness checklist to strategically prepare you and your family for the unexpected. 


If getting prepped sounds intimidating, allow us to help. 

download the preparedness checklist here


Visit our website to download a PDF version of our tried and true emergency preparedness checklist. And while you are there, feel free to check out our food storage subscriptions and get answers to questions like, “how much food storage do I need”?