Emergencies strike when you least expect them. Whether it’s a hurricane, flood, tornado or earthquake, you can be caught off guard and unprepared. No matter what type of emergency or natural disaster might occur, having an emergency preparedness stockpile on hand can help support you and your family for several days or weeks. It is a good idea to keep your stockpile in large plastic bins that are easily accessible. With hurricane season beginning on June 1st, now is a great time get your supplies together!

As you begin to build your stockpile, keep a few things in mind. First, you do not have to build your entire kit in one day. In fact, it will be easier on your budget if you spread purchases out over a few weeks and keep an eye on sales. Second, you may already have some of these items in your home.
Here are some essential items and tips to building an emergency stockpile:

Consider a buddy

When building your stockpile, consider enlisting a friend or family member and build your kits together. You can purchase bulk items at cheaper prices and split the purchase in half. It also gives you the perfect opportunity to communicate to one another and exchange information about your emergency plan.

Be fire ready

Everyone should have a fire extinguisher in their home — and extinguishers should be replaced every year. Many people will allow them to sit in their home for years, only to find they do not work when an emergency happens. This happens for two reasons: the seal will eventually degrade, dropping the pressure; also, the powder will compact at the bottom of the canister, turning it semi-solid. When this happens, nothing will come out of the extinguisher except for air. 
Fire extinguishers should be turned over several times a year and lightly shaken to keep the chemical base from compacting. When choosing an extinguisher, look for an "ABC," which fights all types of fires, and consider having one on each floor. Websites such as SmokeSign have a variety of ABC extinguishers starting at $19.99.

Keep warm

If you find yourself in a setting where body temperature can quickly be impacted by rain and cool weather conditions, consider stocking up on several emergency blankets. REI sells a popular Space Emergency Blanket that is small enough to fit in your glove compartment or first-aid kit. In addition to retaining 80 percent of your body heat, it only costs $3.95!

Take advantage of the dollar

Did you know that many of your necessary emergency items can be found at your local dollar store? In addition to stocking up on items like a manual can opener (one of the hardest items to find on shelves during an emergency), a dollar store is also a great place to find plastic utensils, bowls, plates and cups, bandages, matches, chlorine bleach and more. Also, Dollar Tree has an emergency supply section and checklist on their website offering great items in bulk quantities, perfect for you and your stockpile buddy to split in half. Consider buying their bulk bottled water, trash bags, antibacterial wipes and canned food.

Long-lasting flashlights

The EpiCenter's Three LED Squeeze Light (second from the top) is a great item for your stockpile because it can sit for long periods of time, produces electricity by the squeeze of your hand, and delivers powerful light up to a mile away for only $4.95.

Consider a car inverter

A car inverter practically saved my life one day during a hurricane. We had no power and I desperately needed to use my asthma nebulizer. If you have any electrical items that need to be plugged in for medical reasons, or in case you need to charge your cell phone, it is always a good idea to invest in a car inverter. BESTEK makes a 12v to 110v inverter with a USB port for only $21.95. With over 100 reviews and a nearly five-star rating, add this to your "must buy" list.

Let there be light

Emergency candles can offer you a great source of heat and light, and if you are desperate, a way to cook. Clear Mist's 100 Hour Emergency Candle isn't actually a candle, but rather a sealed liquid paraffin lamp. It’s odorless, smokeless and will burn for four days. At just $8, it’s a great buy!

Accumulate canned goods

During an emergency, you should plan for a minimum of three cans per day per person for a week. Load up on canned vegetables and fruits, which are cheaper than meats. Beans are also cheap, a great source of protein and very filling. Ready-to-eat soups are another great option, but be aware of salt content — you don’t want to become extremely thirsty at a time where fresh water sources may not be readily available.

Ensure communication

Landlines and cellphones are everywhere, but in the face of a natural disaster, communication routes are often destroyed or out of service for long periods of time. Luckily, 2-way radios make communication easy. The Motorola FV300 2-way Radio Pair is an economical and rugged choice. With a 10-mile range, 22 channels and a 32-hour battery life, this item can relieve anxiety by letting you get in contact with your loved one. Only $22.65 at Amazon.

How to Prepare for an Emergency on the Cheap