When we had our first tropic storm, all I kept thinking was "What if this was a hurricane? Would I be able to feed and take care of my family?"  So I went out and spent hundreds of dollars gathering everything I might need in case of an emergency.

Less than two months after I overpaid for my emergency kit, Hurricane Ike hit. It got us directly; the eye of the hurricane traveled up the 45 freeway, which is less than 5 minutes from my home. My husband was out of town, and the airport and roads were shut down. It was just me and my kids, ages 2 and 4.

Our house was relatively fine, but we had no power for 10 days. For the first few days after the hurricane, all gas stations and grocery stores near my house were closed. About 4 days later, one grocery store opened up using generators.  A friend of mine went to pick up groceries for her family and waited in line for over 3 hours just to get into the store, only to find it almost empty. Thanks to our emergency kit, my kids and I had enough food and water to last us about 10 days. We were even able to supply food and water to others who were not prepared!

No need to spend hundreds of dollars building your emergency kit. Simply start now and build it the smart way! You’ll have such peace of mind knowing your family is prepared and you did it for less!

What You Need:

Water, water, water! You can live for a while without food, but you can only survive about 3 days without water. For drinking water, you will want to stock enough to last your family at least 3-10 days. Water is important not only for drinking, but for baby formula, pets, cooking, and cleanliness. With coupons, you can get water cheap or even free. Kroger frequently has $5 off 10 items sales, and the 3 liter jugs of water, normally $1, are frequently a part of these sales.

Cereal. Cereal stays fresh in its original packaging and has a relatively long shelf life, making it perfect for emergencies.

Milk. Odd emergency item, I know. BUT Horizon has single serving boxes of milk that do not need to be refrigerated before opening. Even if you are without access to your refrigerator for a few days, there is no reason you should be without the comfort of a bowl of cereal. This was my kids' favorite emergency kit item.

Canned chicken or tuna. There have been some coupons for packaged chicken and tuna lately, but if you want to save the most money, can it yourself!

Canned fruits, veggies, and soups. These are great for emergencies and are easy to stockpile! Make sure you pack a can opener! Your electric can opener won’t do much good without power.

Powdered pancake batter. When Ike hit we may have had no power, but our gas still worked. We used our gas stove to make pancakes for breakfast–even lunch and dinner! Look for the "just add water" pancake powder for your emergency kit.

Crackers and Nutragrain bars. Great healthy, easy energy booster snacks.

Condiments. Peanut butter and honey are great to have. They do not need to be refrigerated after opening, and are good for you. Also, single serving packages of mayo, mustard, and jam will add flavor and fun to your canned meats and crackers.

Hard candy (or any candy that doesn’t melt). This is another great way to boost blood sugar levels!

Pasta. If you have a gas stove top or an outside grill with a stove top where you can boil water, you can stock up on pasta and sauces. Add some of your home canned chicken, and this is a great emergency kit meal, filled with protein and flavor!

First aid kit. Stock your first aid kit with the bandages, Neosporin, aspirin, and antibacterial gel! Also, keep a spare bottle of any prescription medicines you may need.

Battery powered or crank lantern, flashlights, and radio. The use for the lantern and flashlights is obvious, but in an emergency a radio is the best way to hear of any updates from your local police, fire stations, and government officials. There are usually great sales on these items at the beginning and end of summer.

Batteries. While rechargeable batteries can save you money and are a green option, you cannot recharge batteries during a power outage. Make sure to have at least one extra set of batteries for any flashlight or lantern you have.

Matches. Keep them in a ziplock bag so they don't get wet.

Flash drive or external hard drive. Back up your precious photos and scan any important documents. If something ever happens to your house, you will still have these items if you load them onto a flash drive or external hard drive!

Cash. In the event of a power outage, bank ATMs will not work, and you will not be able to use your debit or credit cards at the grocery store or gas station. Cash is important to have on hand!

Games. Keep occupied with fun card and board games. I cannot tell you how many times my kids asked to watch a movie in the 10 days we didn't have power! They didn't understand why both the TV AND computer were out.

Car cell phone charger. You won’t be able to charge your cell phone at home without electricity, but if you have a car cell phone charger, you can charge it while you drive! I overlooked this for my first emergency kit. During our power outage, the land lines were not working, and my cell phone was dead.

Keep your gas tank full. I am very guilty of not filling up on gas until I am almost empty, but in an emergency, you may need to evacuate. Having a full, or even half full, tank of gas can save you from waiting in extra long gas station lines. Always fill up when you hit the half full mark!

This has been a guest post by Danea from Houston, TX
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