Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards, floods, wildfires, droughts. The earth can be cruel. If you underestimate the strength of natural disasters, you may find your life forever upended in the blink of an eye.
But disaster preparedness can be an inconvenience. No, not as much a pain as surviving a hurricane but enough of one that we may put it off until it’s too late. Don’t fall into that trap! Survival is the one thing you shouldn’t procrastinate on.
Not sure where to begin? Here are ten crucial gadgets, tools, and devices that you should always have on hand in case disaster strikes. They’ll prove more useful than you can imagine.
Okay, a first-aid kit may not technically be a gadget, but it’s so crucial for disaster preparedness that we’d be remiss to overlook it. Safety is always paramount in a catastrophe. The Red Cross recommends the following.
While there is some debate (such as the Red Cross and Mayo Clinic) over the exact contents you should place in a first-aid kit, there are a few commonalities. For example, a top-notch first-aid kit should include:
- Adhesive tape
- Antiseptic wipes and ointment
- Bandages (all shapes and sizes)
- Cotton balls
- Disposable face masks
- Disposable non-latex gloves
- Medication (acetaminophen, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, antihistamines)
- Pencil and pad
- Rubbing alcohol
- Sterile gauze pads (both small and large)
- Water purification tablets
- Waterproof bag(s)
- Waterproof matches
You should custom build your first-aid kit so that it best serves your (and your family’s) specific needs. But if you don’t have the time or wherewithal for that, there’s no shame in buying a well-stocked-and-ready first-aid kit.
The 100-People First-Aid Kit is what we’d recommend. It meets and exceeds both OSHA and ANSI guidelines for first-aid kits, and comes in a rugged, impact-resistant plastic case that can survive any natural disaster with you.
After safety, water is most important. You should stock up on drinking water in the days leading up to a natural disaster, but sometimes you can’t. Maybe your local stores ran out, or maybe disaster struck too spontaneously.
Or maybe you end up stranded somewhere.
In cases where you don’t have drinkable water, the CamelBak UV Purifier Water Bottle could save your life. It’s a rugged, refillable bottle that eliminates bacteria (99.9999%), viruses (99.99%), and protozoa (99.9%) and lasts 10,000 cycles.
3. Power Bank
Your smartphone is arguably the most important device of the modern age. It keeps you tied to civilization, allows you to contact emergency services, and can serve all kinds of auxiliary purposes in a pinch (e.g., GPS navigation).
But a smartphone with a dead battery ain’t nothing.
That’s why you should have at least one power bank, which is a big portable battery that can charge any device through USB, including your smartphone. You can then recharge the power bank whenever you have access to electricity.
For disaster preparedness, bigger is better — not physically, but in charging capacity — so you can go for longer periods without electricity. The RAVPower 22,000mAh Portable Charger is a solid pick.
Some natural disasters may leave your home intact but without electricity for up to several weeks. While you shouldn’t use a backup generator as a complete 24/7 substitute, it could prove useful — even life-saving — during those weeks.
And you have options. Small 100-watt generators start around $150 and go all the way up to $1,500 for generators that can produce 5,000 watts or more. You can also choose between solar-powered and gas-powered generators, which each have their pros and cons.
For most, a middle-of-the-road solution like the EasyFocus 500W Portable Solar Generator should suffice. It provides enough to run laptops and chargers every once in a while, charges out in the sun, and is relatively affordable. It can even work in conjunction with the power bank mentioned above!
God forbid you’re ever caught in a winter disaster. Few things are more dangerous than being stuck without heat for weeks, especially if you live in a way-up-north region.
An indoor-safe gas-powered space heater is a small price to pay for peace of mind. You may never need it — let’s hope you never do — but it’s one of those “I’m so glad I have this right now” items that people rarely think about buying.
We recommend the Mr. Heater F232000. It cleanly burns propane fuel, provides enough heat to huddle around, and automatically shuts off if it tips over or detects low oxygen levels.
Imagine having to evacuate the city yet being unable to leave because your vehicle won’t start. You might be able to call AAA if it’s early enough, but when in the thick of things, you’ll be on your own.
Are you willing to risk it? If not, get a car jump starter and stash it in your trunk (except when the weather is below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, which can reduce efficacy).
Pay attention to the cold-cranking amps, which is how many amps the jump starter can deliver at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Most compact and small-sized cars only need 400 amps. Bigger SUVs and trucks may require 700 to 1,000 amps. When a jump starter is rated for a certain amount of amps, that’s the MAX possible delivery — it can still work for smaller vehicles.
The 1,000-amp model of the NOCO Genius Boost Plus is more than enough for the average family. It can jump start 20 times on a single charge, and can even be used to recharge USB-powered devices.
Every home, whether prone to disasters or not, should have at least one flashlight. It’s just common sense! If the power ever goes out for any reason, a flashlight is the safest way to get around in the dark.
In severe disasters, a headlamp may prove more useful than a flashlight. It allows you to work things with your hands without forcing awkward positions (e.g., grasping a torch between chin and chest). Ideally, it should be waterproof with LED-based lights for battery efficiency.
We recommend the Best 120-Lumen Waterproof LED Headlamp, which is insanely cheap and insanely bright. It’s also made with robust materials, so it’ll last. Prefer a flashlight? Go for the iCoostor Tactical LED Flashlight.
A radio is crucial for staying on top of national alerts and emergency broadcasts. Aim for a solar-powered one with a backup hand crank, but if money’s tight, a crank-only radio should be okay. It should receive PEAS and NOAA broadcasts at the very least and have a telescopic antenna.
It’s a bit pricey, but we trust the Kaito KA500. It runs on solar power and 3 AA batteries with a backup hand crank. In addition to PEAS and NOAA broadcasts, it also receives AM and FM. The case isn’t rugged, but it is durable. Doubles as a charging station for USB-powered devices.
A decent multi-tool will get you through any disaster ordeal. Think of it as a Swiss Army Knife with twice as many utilities functions. Don’t be afraid to spend money here — you don’t want your multi-tool breaking when you need it most.
The Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool is reliable. It’s equipped with 14 separate tools, including pliers, wire cutters, scissors, a can opener, a bottle opener, screwdrivers, a locking blade, and more. It’s so trustworthy that it even comes with a 25-year guarantee.
One of the worst parts of a disaster is the aftermath when you return home and discover that everything you owned is lost — including all your important life documents: social security cards, birth and/or death certificates, house and vehicle titles, passports, etcetera.
This can be a huge headache on top of disaster recovery. So why risk it? Keep all your important documents and credentials in a fireproof/waterproof case instead.
You can find everything from portable cases to full-blown safes. If you don’t have much, you might be okay with something like a SentrySafe Chest. If you only have a handful of documents, you could go even smaller like an EaveGG Fireproof Bag.
Are You Prepared for Natural Disasters?
Yes, a natural disaster could happen to you. The worst thing you can do is assume that it never will and then be caught in one. Would you rather prepare and never need it, or be devastated and wish you had prepared? Better safe than sorry.
Which of these items are you missing in your home? Is there anything else you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments!