Is Your House Ready For An Emergency? Take The Test…

It goes without saying that today is a somber day. No matter your connection to the events of eight years ago – whether you’re like Sherry and tearfully witnessed the towers falling firsthand or like me watching on TV, praying for family that worked in both NYC and DC – this date probably still shakes you. And while we were both fortunate that all of our loved ones escaped harm, our thoughts and prayers go out to those whose didn’t.

We’ve decided to use this date not only to reflect, but also to plan for the future. I’ve had emergency preparedness on the brain recently due to a project at work, through which I’ve learned that I’m actually in the minority. Most of us don’t stop to think about what we can do around our house to prepare for an emergency – whatever that disaster may be. And as much as I’ve been thinking about it at work, I figured it was time to see exactly how much I had put into practice at home. So here’s our own Emergency Supply Kit audit.

You can find the suggested Emergency Supply Kit list that we used to evaluate our preparedness on The first thing on the list is water – three gallons per person to be exact. We’re good here, I thought. We snagged a big case of bottled waters at least two years ago for this very purpose and stored it out-of-reach in the kitchen specifically for instances when we’re without clean water for a day or two. We’ve broken into a couple of times, but our supply is still pretty good. We’ll give ourselves a B+.

After water naturally comes food. Again, a three day supply of non-perishables is suggested. We’re lucky if we have a three day supply of non-perishable food within a day or two of our latest grocery trip, so we could stand to stock up on our canned food supply. But at least we’ve got a manual can-opener! I’d say that earns us a C.

We do get an A+ when it comes to five days of pet food. We’re always sure to have a full canister of Burger’s kibble – mainly because the pet store that sells his food isn’t in our neighborhood so we always stock up when we go. And since Burger is a light eater (he’s 8lbs after all), five days worth of food doesn’t take up very much space.

I was ready to give us an A+ in the battery-powered radio category, until I realized that the batteries in our guest room’s plug-in-with-battery-back-up radio are totally dead (and we’ve been relying on the cord). Did our grade just plummet to an F?

Nope! Because I realized that our shower radio is battery operated. Woo hoo!

We even have a few back-up batteries tucked away in a kitchen drawer. I’d say that gets us right back up into grade A territory on the radio front.

Though I’ll have to give us a B- on the flashlight front. While we’ve got a flashlight handy, we have absolutely zero back-up batteries for it.

And while we’re also tempted to give ourselves a big round of applause for having a fire extinguisher and a real life first aid kit around the house, we must confess that it’s technically a Pet First Aid Kit. But it actually has pretty much all of the stuff we humans might need (just on the small side) so let’s call that one a B-.

Overall I’d say we get somewhere around a B for our home’s basic Emergency Supply Kit. Where do you guy stack up? Have you done any emergency planning or supply kit gathering? Got any other be-prepared tips to pass along? You can find out more from the official government folk at or– and feel free to pass along anything else you learn on the subject. Oh and while we wish that all of you are ready for any emergency, here’s hoping that none of us find ourselves actually experiencing one anytime soon.

PS: If you’re in the Washington DC area, check out It’s the project I’ve been working on at the office and it’s a way to get free emergency alerts sent to you via text message or email by your local government.


  1. Lauryn says

    We do not have an emergency home kit-so we get an F for that. BUT we do have emergency CAR kits in case we get stuck somewhere and our cell phone is out. Blankets, food, water, flashlight, crossword, umbrella, batteries, and jumper cables. Also the normal change your tire tools. We definitely need a house kit though! thanks for the post!

  2. says

    Let’s see, we usually have a case of water in our car, flashlights throughout the home (including a crank one, no worries about batteries!) and a crank powered radio. We have quite a bit of stocked canned food, and most of the elements of a first aid kit. I would say we are pretty set!

  3. says

    It is so eye-opening to imagine Sherry actually saw the towers fall. I live in Florida and I was in a high school drama class when the news came.. we thought the teacher was “setting a scene.” The whole thing was mind boggling, really.

    My fiance joined the national gaurd soon after the attack and joined the first unit headed out. He is returning in January. Today they are having a pre-deployment event for families of those leaving.

    I really appreciate your post. It is easy to take our safety for granted. This is a great reminder.

    -Cheryl Joy

  4. says

    Living in S.Fla, a.k.a Hurricane Central, you would think that we would get an A in all of these categories. We always have a gallon or two of water stashed in the closet and an enormous amount of matches too, but due to the lack of hurricane action this season, our supplies are running very low. I agree though that we should be ready any time of the year. Looks like I’ll be stopping by the grocery store soon.

  5. says

    Hey Guys,
    As a Red Cross employee, I am sooooooo excited to see you talk about preparedness on your blog. It is so important and is embraced by so few people. Another place you can find preparedness tips is here: (Red Cross branded of course). Also, I love the Capitalert site, I will definitely share it with our volunteers, donors, and friends at the Alexandria Red Cross.


  6. Elaine says

    I’m in Houston and learned a few things about emergency supplies after Hurricane Ike last year and Tropical Storm Allison eight years ago. 1. C and D batteries, required by many flashlights and boom boxes are practically impossible to find at crunch time. Stores just don’t stock as many of those sizes as they do AAs. Now I only buy flashlights that take AA batteries. 2. If you can, dump the bottled water you have had for two years and get a fresh supply if you’re concerned about chemicals in the plastic leaching into the water. 3. It takes 24 hours for an icemaker to fill up, so start making ice a few days ahead of a storm. 4. Make big chunks of ice using half- and one-gallon tubs. 5. Cook any meat and seafood you have in the freezer and refreeze. Then you can eat it without needing to cook it when there’s no electricity and you’re totally stressed out. 6. Do all the laundry before the storm hits. You’ll need the clean clothes. We got our electricity back two days after Ike hit but most of our neighbors didn’t get theirs back for two weeks. Our house became the local laundromat!

    Love your site and all the great ideas! Keep ’em coming!

  7. lrw2a says

    Another thing that’s often recommended (we live near DC, so we are perennially on high alert) is a sufficient amount of cash for anything you might need to buy in a hurry (food, gas, etc) – most of us use credit cards day-to-day and get cash from ATMs. Without power, neither system is available.

    Also, have it in small bills – $1’s and $5’s, so you don’t have to get change from anyone.

  8. Jen Z. says

    what a great post. thanks guys. we are def. not prepared for an emergency, well at least not in the food department or battery department. We will have to work on that. Thank you!

  9. Joann says

    Living on the coast in VA I’ve got all but a formal first Aid kit. The ice recommendation is great, but don’t forget to gas up before the storm and get some cash. Found out with Isabel a few years ago that those things don’t work when power is out.

    I was amazed at how many restaurants managed to open and sell out the food they had on the premises, though.

  10. Alison Moreno says

    I have always been trying to build our emergency kit and my son has been drinking a gallon of apple juice at least once a week and now that I have a one year old daughter we are going through gallon jugs of juice twice a week. I started cleaning them out a few years ago and now we have over 50 gallons of water. We store most of it under my daughters crib but you can find them in the backs of our closets and under sinks. I was told that a person in an emergency would need a gallon of water a day for more than just drinking water. So now we have 4 people in our home, we need a lot of water. A friend of mine made a book of emergency supply information and recipes to use with canned foods and dried foods. Its an amazing book.

  11. Christin says

    Thanks for the grest post on emergency preparedness. It’s so important, yet I think my husband and I get a failing grade. It’s really something we need to discuss and plan for. Thanks for the reminder and helpful information.

  12. christina in nh says

    You should grab one of those hand crank radio/flashlight thingie jigs! Then you’d never have to worry about batteries again. L.L. bean makes an excellent one, and I believe they only cost around fifty dollars. Would make a great gift! I personally always forget about the water thing, but I do try to have some camping gadgets on hand. They are portable and lightweight and essential if you have to leave your house.

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