Best Prepper Checklist For Emergency Supplies | Build a Stash

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In the event of an emergency, all of us will want to have certain things available, and a prepper checklist is a great way to make sure this is possible.

At any time, anyone could find themselves in a crisis situation, but without the right supplies on hand, what will you do? Whether it's a natural disaster, a pandemic, or something worse, having all the essentials already on hand is going to be vital for your family’s safety, health, and convenience.

Here is the best prepper checklist of the items you need on hand and that you should read right now:

  • adequate water
  • various food items
  • cooking stove/utensils
  • medicines and medical supplies
  • reliable shelter
  • heat and cooling sources
  • tools/weaponry
  • communication

Being prepared for a bad situation will bring an incredible amount of peace of mind to anyone, regardless of the size of your family, where you live, or how big your budget is. Having all the essentials stored in a safe, but convenient place will guarantee that the people you care about can weather any crisis and you will sleep better at night, knowing you’ve got the above items ready in case you need them.

I live out in the country with my spouse and kids. At least once a year we lose power, and it’s a bit of a drive to get to the grocery store. Because of these reasons, I’ve always kept a decent prepper kit prepared, but after Covid, I really stepped up my game and did a ton more research on what items I should have in my emergency preparedness kit that I didn’t already have in there. I will happily share with you what items I have stored for an emergency, how much you need of each, and what is the best way to store them for optimal safety, security, and long-term use.

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What Is the Best Prepper Checklist to Read Right Now?

Every year, the United States will experience hundreds of natural disasters or emergency events that may call for families everywhere to be prepared to survive for a period of time without water, electricity, heat, or some other element of our lives that we’ve grown increasingly accustomed to taking for granted.

Just last year, there were over 20 natural disasters that resulted in billions of dollars being lost, and homes and businesses being shut down, damaged, or completely destroyed.

This isn’t to sound all doom and gloom…it is just a fact that Mother Nature sometimes has other plans for us than we thought, and we need to be able to pivot when she does.

There are also situations that are made by humans and not nature. Whether it’s an active shooter in your community, a pandemic that is causing people to shut down operations everywhere, or some other community emergency, sometimes a situation will arise that means you want to be able to shelter in place for a period of time, without worrying about food, water, warmth or even your own safety.

There are various prepper guides out there, and many of them list some of the same things, for obvious reasons. This list is the most extensive I’ve found, and it can be adaptable to your family’s needs, resources and budget.

This list is also an excellent place for beginners to start, as it doesn’t leave anything out, and allows you to relax, knowing that your stored emergency prepper kit will have everything necessary for survival if and when the time comes.

Know that the items are prioritized from the most important and essential for everyone, to optional items toward the bottom that may or may not be things you want to include, based on where you live and the size of your storage unit and budget.

1. Adequate Water

First, before anything else, having an adequate supply of water is going to be critical in any emergency situation.

Most of us have heard this before – we can survive for around three weeks without any food, but we can’t survive for more than three days without water.

Sounds harsh, but it’s true. Even the person who doesn’t drink much water during the day will get the necessary supply through the foods they eat. So, if both were scarce, you’d need water even before food for your survival needs.

Any seasoned prepper will tell you that one of your first and best investments should be in an adequate water storage container. How many water storage containers you buy will depend greatly on how long you want your water to last, and how many people you need to keep hydrated.

A 55-gallon drum of water can last a family of four for up to a month with clean drinking water. You’ll also want to consider having water on hand for cleaning supplies, dishes, and utensils, as well as personal hygiene needs. You’ll also want to consider having water for any pets or animals that you have on hand.

At the very least, making sure you have adequate drinking water for the people in your home is your first priority above everything else.

2. Various Food Items

Just after adequate amounts of water, food is the next important item to have stocked in your emergency preparedness storage unit or kit.

As I mentioned before, certain foods also serve as a decent source of water, though many of these are foods like fresh fruits and vegetables – foods that are hard to have on hand during an emergency.

Remember, too, that many foods that can be stored for emergency use also need water in order to be edible. Items like rice, grains, and pastas will often need boiled water to be eaten.

You can purchase foods that are specific for emergency checklists, or you can package and store your own. Some of the most popular and important items to have on hand are things like pasta, whole grains, rice, cereals, beans, canned meat or tuna, canned vegetables and fruits, and powdered milk.

These items would be a good place to start your food stockpile. You can add to it as you wish, depending on your family's likes and needs.

Make sure you purchase the right types of storage containers when thinking about storing your items for months or maybe even years. You’ll need storage containers that are air-tight, chemical-free, and won’t be compromised by heat or bad weather.

3. Cooking Stove/Utensils

Having the necessary means to heat and eat your food is also a high priority in an emergency, especially if you want to be prepared for a long-term situation.

Sure, if you are without power for a couple of days, you can live off canned foods and dry cereal. And if you have enough water for those days, you won’t need a source to boil more.

But – for those preppers who want to be prepared for a longer period of living in extreme conditions, having a heat source in which to prepare food and water will be highly important.

There are many options available for emergency cook stoves that are inexpensive, compact, and easy to transport. Some models can also serve as a heat source, when necessary.

Make sure you also have a few pots and pans, utensils, and enough fuel to be able to prepare foods and boil water for as long as you plan to have your emergency supply last.

4. Medicines and Medical Supplies

For the average, otherwise healthy family, having a good first aid kit will suffice for most medical issues. But in some cases you’ll need something more substantial.

If you are worried that the emergency you are preparing for may result in injuries, having more supplies on hand, such as large bandages, wound control and care, and leg or arm splints may be necessary.

Also, if you have anyone in your home that relies on regular medications, you need to think about having a stored supply of those as well.

5. Reliable Shelter

Here’s another item on my prepper checklist that absolutely can not be overlooked.

Even if your concern is that you will need to shelter at home, you should still consider having an alternative form of shelter that does not involve your current residence.

Whether you have one person or ten in your home, you will want to think about how you can provide adequate shelter for everyone in a crisis that would force you to evacuate your home.

Some preppers feel that having a camping tent and some blankets is enough for a short-term need. Others invest in everything from sleeping bags, large pop-up canopies, and mylar warming blankets.

What type of shelter you have on your prepper checklist is dependent on your area, your family's needs, and how long you want to be able to use that shelter for survival.

6. Heat and Cooling Sources

As with water, food, and shelter, being able to heat or cool our bodies in an emergency situation could make a big difference in a person’s ability to survive the crisis.

Our bodies are designed with internal temperature gauges built in, and normally do a decent job of keeping us warm or cool enough to allow all of our systems to run properly.

But extreme temperatures can wreak havoc on our systems, and we will need outside sources to help control them.

Again, depending on your needs, you will have to determine if a cooling or heating device is needed for your prepper checklist to be complete.

For some of us, we may want to invest in and store both.

There are a ton of options for you to choose from, from propane heaters to battery-operated fans to some units that can be solar-powered as well.

Just remember that – if you are purchasing something to be used in an emergency – you’ll want to also think about how you are going to operate it. In a true crisis, there’s a good chance that electricity won’t be available, so ensuring you’ve got other ways to run your heating or cooling unit will be important for most preppers to consider.

7. Tools/Weaponry

Many of us don’t want to have to think about it, but having certain tools or weapons handy is part of a thoughtful prepper checklist and should be included in everyone’s emergency storage unit.

It is good to note that tools and weapons can be listed together, because not everyone will need both.

Having a good ax can perform functional needs as well as be used for protection against wildlife or intruders, if necessary.

Even a decent hammer or buck knife can serve dual purposes.

Some preppers will not consider a prepper’s checklist complete without a firearm included. Others don’t feel comfortable with that level of weaponry in their presence. Again, this is a highly personal decision and one that you must make for yourself.

Just know that some sort of tools and weaponry will be needed if you were to find yourself in truly dire straits and have to protect your home or family in an emergency.

8. Communication

Finally, on the best prepper checklists, you must include some sort of communication for use in an emergency situation.

Knowing the status of others in your area, as well as being able to receive any updates is going to be vital to your long-term survival.

For example, if your family has just lived through an earthquake and is trying to determine how long it will be before regular services are back up and running, having a radio, cell phone or other communication device is going to help you determine how to ration your stored supplies.

Though most of us can’t imagine not living with cell phones anymore, a cell phone may not be your best option for communication in a time of emergency. Cell towers could be down, or your phone may eventually run out of power, making it impossible to communicate with anyone or receive news updates.

Instead, plan to have an emergency hand-crank radio on hand for times when you can’t receive news updates via your television, computer, or phone. Hand crank radios are inexpensive, easy to store and a great way to know what is happening outside of your sheltered area.