preparing for an emergency - emergency preparationWith the recent earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, there's a renewed interest in being prepared for disaster. Even a power outage of a day or two can wreak havoc, especially in colder climes, so it pays to be prepared for an emergency. Stocking up on the following essentials now will mean you and your family won't be caught off guard should the worst happen.Water -- FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, advises you to have a three-day supply of water on hand. One gallon per person per day is the general rule but if you live in a hot climate and/or have children or elderly parents with you, plan on stockpiling more.

I like the idea of storing water in plastic jugs in the big freezer. Wash out those large plastic orange juice jugs when empty, fill with water and place in the freezer.

Food -- You should have a three-day supply of non-perishable food on hand if you have to leave your home and a two-week supply if you are able to stay in your home. Make sure you have a manual can opener on hand. Look for canned tuna or other meats in the dollar store along with canned fruit and whatever else can be safely stored for long periods.

First aid supplies -- A first aid kit is a good thing to have on hand at any time. If you don't have one, now is the time to put together a few supplies. Dollar stores are a good place to start. You can get bandages, cotton pads, petroleum jelly, hydrogen peroxide, tweezers, rubbing alcohol and more. A backpack is a good place to keep it all, just in case you have to leave your home in a hurry.

For a full list of the first aid supplies you should always have on hand, check out the Fema website.

Personal care items -- Once again, the dollar store can supply you with many of the items you will need if you have to leave your home in an emergency. You can get bar soap, extra toothbrushes and toothpaste, toilet paper, hand towels and more. Pack these items in plastic zip lock bags and store in the backpack with the first aid supplies or in a separate backpack.

Miscellaneous -- A battery-powered radio and batteries, a flashlight with extra batteries, pliers, matches and candles, pencil and paper and a whistle are among the miscellaneous items you'll want to have on hand in the event of an emergency. With the exception of the radio, you can get most of these things at the dollar store.

For a full list of recommended supplies to include in a basic emergency kit, visit the Fema website.

Marlene Alexander is a writer and dollar store diva. She writes tips and ideas for home decor using only items from the dollar store.

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