You should have your own emergency kit ready for the winter and possible bad weather that could strand you at home for a while. You can make your own.
There’s plenty of advice available, but here’s my list:
Topping the list here are two things to keep you warm and allow you to find other things. A spare blanket is a good idea at any time. These days you can get one that’s cheap, lightweight and folds up small. This is good for emergencies as well as guests crashing on the couch.
A flashlight and spare batteries also are very valuable. Add to that a battery-operated radio and some camping equipment and you’re in business for whatever comes your way.
Heat, both for your own warmth and for cooking, is another good thing to have. Camping equipment can be a good thing to have, like a camp stove and heater. However, not everyone can afford or store such items. If you do use them, make a note of the need for ventilation. Outdoor grills that don’t require power can also work for cooking, but don’t try to use them indoors.
Aluminum foil is very valuable. You can use it for cooking and for storing.
A first aid kit usually is a necessity that you should have in your home anyway. But it doesn’t hurt to make sure one is included in your emergency supplies. The kit should contain bandaids, antibacterial ointment, sterile gauze, adhesive tape, alcohol and/or peroxide or alcohol wipes, analgesic pain reliever (aspirin, acetaminophen) and sterile pads.
This is the one area where I like canned foods. Even if you have a gas stove, cooking may not be an option. Also, frozen and refrigerated foods may need to be cooked and eaten right away, depending on the type and length of the emergency. Canned goods can be your lifeline. Try to cover all the bases and set these items aside until the weather improves. But don’t plan on storing these long-term as even cans can go bad.
Fruits and vegetables: Actually, canned fruit packed in juice is a good choice all year long. This fruit is often in better shape than the fresh stuff in the produce aisle when not in season. There are also brands that use a syrup made from artificial sweetener. Frozen fruits can be good for certain things, like cooking and baking. But I find many of them get mushy when they thaw out.
There aren’t many canned vegetables I actually like. I’ll usually take frozen over canned any day — with a few exceptions. I like canned tomatoes, as they seem to often be better tasting than fresh when out of season or having to come a long way. Canned beans, when thoroughly rinsed, are also acceptable. But most green vegetables I find repulsive when canned. They take on that grayish color I find unappealing.
However, if you’re putting together emergency rations, include a wide variety of vegetables. These can be heated up in the can, just be sure to open them and remove the label first to use the can as a mini pot.
Soup: Have a few cans of ready-to-eat soup (not condensed) that can be easily heated. Chili is also a good choice.
Meat: Canned meats often get a bad rap. Are they high in fat and salt? Usually yes. But we’re talking about emergency rations here. The king of all canned meats is the chopped mixture of ham and pork shoulder, most popularly known as Spam. Other brands of similar products are available. While there are low-fat versions, I haven’t yet seen a low sodium version, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t out there. Believe it or not, Spam and similar products are considered delicacies in some places. The one thing you can say about them is that these products are versatile. They can be sliced for sandwiches, grilled like steaks, cut into a salad or scrambled eggs, even made into a casserole.
In addition to Spam, you should also have other canned meats like chicken, tuna, corned beef, shrimp and crab. Because these are all cooked, they can be heated up or eaten directly from the can.
Bread: While there aren’t any canned breads, it will take a while for a commercial store-bought bread to go bad. A great alternative that can keep for quite some time and do most of the same things bread can do are crackers. While saltines would work, butter crackers, like Ritz, seem to have the longest shelf life with the least staleness in my experience. But any type of cracker will do as long as the package is well sealed and remains that way.
Other food: In addition to the canned fruit mentioned above, you can also have canned pudding and other desserts standing by to make those tough times a little better. Chocolate bars will work, too, as long as you aren’t in a very hot climate.
Water: Water lines can freeze, not only in your home, but in the ground. Plastic water bottles are a good idea, about 3 gallons per person in your home.
If you have any additions or ideas for this list, please share them by clicking on the comments link just below this post.