The 5 Mistakes People Make With Emergency Supplies

Written by The Ready Store

For most people, emergency preparedness is a brand new concept. As you get prepared, you will hear a lot of different opinions (including my own) regarding the best way to do that. I have helped thousands of people across the country get prepared for life’s unexpected emergencies. As I have done so, I have noticed some common mistakes that people seem to make in getting prepared. Let me share with you what I have seen.

Mistake #1 – Not enough water or no plan for water at all.

As has been discussed in this blog before, water is the most often overlooked item in your emergency supplies. People either under prepare for their emergency water supply or simply don’t plan at all. A healthy adult can live for weeks without food but you will die in less than a week without access to clean drinking water. You will need about a gallon of water per person per day. That covers both sanitation and hygiene as well as hydration needs. There are articles in this blog that discuss water storage and water purification. Please take the time to read and make sure you have water stored for your emergency supplies.

Mistake #2 – No hygiene supplies

After a disaster, disease and illness related to conditions of poor hygiene are very common. In most disasters, more people die after the disaster than during the disaster because they cannot maintain proper hygiene. The simple answer is to have personal and family hygiene kits available. These items can be purchased as a kit or put together at home. Here are some items to consider in your hygiene kits:

• Waterless soap or hand sanitizer – You may not always have water available, but you this type of soap will kill the bugs.

• Port-a-Potty – This simple device fits on a 5 gallon bucket and will help keep the waste in a safe place. Make sure you buy bags and deodorizer.

• Toilet Paper/Tissue

• Toothbrush

• Toothpaste

• Razor

• Small hand towel

• Bar Soap

• If you have babies: diapers and wipes (handy for other uses as well)

Mistake #3 – Out of sight, out of mind

It is critical to do three things with your emergency supplies: Review, Rotate and Replace. In order to do that you will need to have your emergency supplies in a place where you can get to them at least once a year. Many times, people make the mistake of buying their emergency supplies, typically a significant and important investment, and then never looking at them again until they need them.

  • Review: Make sure that at least yearly you review the items in your emergency supplies. Get familiar with what you have in your emergency kits and food storage. Try them out, use the products that you can.
  • Rotate: Then rotate out items that need to be used. Pull out the batteries and use them. Rotate at least some of your food supplies. That is why I recommend freeze-dried food. This is food that you will want to eat. Your kids will like it. Rotate out first-aid supplies or maybe medications.
  • Replace: After you have rotated out your old supplies to be used (don’t waste them, use them!), then you will need to replace your supplies. Make your list of supplies that need to be replaced and do so right away.

Mistake #4 – Store shelf stable food and water

I see this mistake a lot. What I mean is, many people buy off the shelf items from their local retailer for their food storage. Now, that can work. The food from you grocer will work for food storage. The problem comes from the reality that people typically make mistake #3 with their emergency supplies, so the food never gets rotated. Items purchased from your local grocery store have about a 1 to 2 year shelf life. So you go out and spend a lot of money on food that will expire long before they will ever be able to use it or worse yet before they even look at it again.

The reality is, most people don’t review, rotate and replace. So to compensate for that, buy long term, shelf stable food storage. Typically, that means food that will last for at least 10 years and water that will last for 5 years. It will mean your food and water will be usable when you need it.

Mistake #5 – Forgetting personal and comfort items

Many times when people are putting together their emergency supplies they look only at the basics like food, water, light, warmth, shelter, etc. That is all very important and needs to be done. But, it is important to not forget to put some of your daily personal and comfort items into your 72 hour emergency survival kits and shelter in place supplies.

For example if you have kids, what are you going to do to keep their mind off the current situation? I recommend including in your emergency supplies simple games, coloring books or books to read. Throw in a pack of playing cards into your 72 hour emergency survival kit or some travel checkers or chess. Make sure in your shelter in place supplies you include comfort items like snacks that they like (rotate annually), maybe a stuffed animal, games, books, comfortable clothes, blankets, etc. Keeping you and your families stress level down and spirits up during a disaster is critical for survival.

Also, don’t forget personal medications that you may need. For example, I wear contact lenses. My supplies should include contact solution and a replacement pair of contacts. I should also throw in an old pair of glasses, just in case. You may need a particular medication or personal hygiene item. If it is critical to your survival, then include it. If I didn’t have my glasses or contacts, I would not survive for very long. It is as simple as that.

Updated March 3, 2009


  1. Maggie wrote:

    Thank you once again for sharing this information with us. There is peace of mind knowing that you’ve done everything to prepare for a stressful time.
    In the place that I keep my supplies, I have also tucked away a new journal with a couple of pencils and sharpeners.
    I have always carried a journal in my backpacks so it was easy for me to tuck away a new journal in each 72 hour backpack. Small journals take very little space and can come in handy for recording thoughts during a natural disaster or time of survival.

    April 14th, 2009 at 5:20 pm
  2. TheReadyExpert wrote:

    You are welcome. Thank you for taking the time to get prepared.

    April 14th, 2009 at 5:21 pm
  3. Brandon wrote:

    Thanks for the great info…I am new to all of this, so far I have only been able to put together about a weeks worth of food and water but would like to build up to about 6 months. I love these articles and they are very informative.

    April 23rd, 2009 at 9:58 am
  4. Noel Napolitan wrote:

    I wish I was more prepared. I’m ok but a little more would be good. Especially water.

    October 27th, 2009 at 6:29 pm
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