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When it comes to preparedness plans, for many people the plan is to react in the moment. This reaction is fueled by news, lack of news, misinformation, and panic and results in impulse buying and hoarding. The net effect is that you’ve over-purchased certain items in the frenzy and neglected to buy other items that will truly help your family. Water and toilet paper are important items to stockpile for any emergency, but if that’s all you have on your giant cart at the big discount warehouse then you’re really no better prepared than without it. If you have enough storage space for 379 rolls of toilet paper, then you have enough storage space to stockpile a thoughtful and appropriate selection of emergency supplies. At a minimum your emergency supplies should cover your family’s needs for 1 week, 2 weeks is better:

Toilet paper: The rule of thumb is 1 roll per person, per week. Ideally you should store toilet paper in a plastic tub to prevent humidity and moisture from breaking it down. A plastic tub will also keep rodents and bugs out of it. You can flatten the rolls to store in a small container.

Water: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)l recommends a minimum of 1 gallon of water per person per day. You should drink ½ gallon of water per day, the other ½ gallon is to be used for hygiene. An additional ½ gallon of water per dog or cat per day should be sufficient.

Food: FEMA recommends storing 2 weeks-worth of non-perishable foods for each family member. Your ability to cook and refrigerate foods may be limited, so rather than buy a super large can of tuna for two people, who may not finish it in one meal, opt for smaller cans so none goes to waste. Make sure you also have a manual can opener, and perhaps some paper plates and plastic forks with your supplies.

Don’t forget the pet food! Store dry food in a plastic tub to prevent pets from breaking into bags.

As you store your emergency rations, write the expiration date on each item with a Sharpie so you know when to rotate out your old stock.

Medication: Store over-the-counter and prescription medications in their original containers with their original labels, if possible. If you store your medications in another container, make sure the container is well marked and includes the expiration date of the medication. Also, if you are storing prescription medications in anything other than their original container take a photograph of the original container in the event you need to refill your prescriptions. In addition to your daily medications consider these as well:

  • Antihistamines for allergic reactions

  • Pain relievers (acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen)

  • Anti-diarrheal remedies

  • Antacids

  • Antibiotic ointment

All medications have expiration dates, so you’ll need to rotate your stock frequently. While it may seem cost effective to buy the giant bottles and packages of medications from the discount warehouse stores, you may end up wasting a lot as they expire before you can use them.

Make a plan today and get in the habit of picking up 1 or 2 of these items every time you go to the grocery store, so when an emergency arises, you can focus on the tasks at hand and not battling it out in the toilet paper aisle.

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