In a grid-down situation, food and water will become scarce rather quickly. We can easily take steps to prepare our homes ahead of time to ensure that we can survive for 2 weeks. You must also consider other aspects, such as power creation, sanitation, and how to relieve boredom. You can quickly and easily create a two-week sustainability plan by expanding on normal hurricane preparation methods.

This document covers a few overarching areas, many of which should already be readily available in our homes. Other key areas will be expanded upon. While this is not an exhaustive list, it is a good starting point for preparation discussions. It is also basic enough that it can be built out over a few months’ time with minimal extra costs and give you extra preparation for hurricane season.

When starting on this journey, you should consider your family’s needs, starting with your family size. Then investigate the must-haves, the nice-to-haves, and what you can live without. Prioritize the must-haves, and once you acquire them, start on the nice-to-haves and finish up with the items you can live without.

Some elements of your preparation can work well in sealed stackable bins, such as Rubbermaid storage totes. You might even consider storing food in a sealed storage tote to ensure no light, moisture, or pests can enter.

A few things to note:

  • This is not a set-and-forget plan. Like everything else, practice is key. Check your batteries, make sure you have enough propane or charcoal, etc.
  • With food prep, rotation is very important – set up your pantry so that what will expire first is closest to you and eat it. Then replenish as needed.
  • Many people follow the Rule of Three
    • You can’t go three minutes without air
    • You can’t go three days without water
    • You can’t go three weeks without food


The general rule of thumb, per the Red Cross & FEMA, is to have 1 gallon of water per person daily to cover drinking and cooking. Using this as a guide, a family of four would need 56 gallons of water for two weeks. If you have pets, increase this number by at least one gallon per day per pet. The easiest way to prepare for this is to buy one-gallon water jugs and store them in a dark place. Since the plastic for these jugs breaks down over a couple of years, it’s important to use and rotate them regularly. If you prefer water bottles, a 24-pack equals 3 gallons of water.

You should not count on city-supplied water. After the power goes out, the pumps in use to fill the water towers might not have a generator connected to it. As the water towers are used to create pressure, when there’s less water in the tower, there’s less pressure in the system, which will lead to a loss of pressure in your house, to no water in your house.

Non-Potable Water Needs

To prepare for a hurricane, it’s a good idea to consider storing water in your bathtub. If you plan to use the water to flush toilets, you can store it in an open container like a bathtub. However, it’s better to have a sealed container to ensure your drinking water supply remains uncontaminated. The WaterBOB is a plastic container designed to fit into your bathtub and is a great solution for this purpose.

For unplanned emergencies, having stored water separate from drinking water is wise. If you have a pool, you can easily use this as a non-portable water source. You could also consider rain barrels and connect to your gutter system to capture rain water.

One effective method for conserving water when flushing toilets is to collect gray water from washing dishes and use it instead.

Water Purification

If you want to plan for more than two weeks, you will need to consider water purification methods. While water purification tablets are a great option, they are only effective until they run out. It is better to have a device like the Sawyer Mini to purify water on demand. The main advantage of this device is that it can self-clean when used in reverse. Another option is to use a clear plastic tarp to harness evaporation and purify water, however this method is time-consuming and limited in the amount of water it can produce.

A good example is when Hurricane Irma hit, we lost our city supplied water as a water main broke. When it was fixed, we were under a boil notice for 5 days to ensure there was no contaminates in the water.


Pantry Items

Shelf-stable foods, such as canned vegetables and meats, pasta, rice, and other non-perishable foods, have a longer shelf life. To ensure that you consume them before they expire, it’s important to implement a proper food rotation system. Place the food that will expire first in the front of the pantry, with the items with a longer available date towards the back. As you consume these items in your day-to-day life, replace them with new ones on your next shopping trip, and place the new items at the back of the line. Ensure they are in a dry environment and that rice and pasta are in proper containers to prevent bugs.

When planning for a 2-week stretch on food, it’s important to plan three meals daily that are as well-rounded and nutritious as possible. Here’s a short list of items you should have in your pantry:

  • Pasta
  • Jarred tomato sauce
  • Rice
  • Peanut Butter/Nut Butter
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Oatmeal
  • Flour
  • Honey
  • Cooking Oil
  • Canned veggies
  • Canned meats like Tuna & Chicken
  • Ramen noodles (try using half the flavor pack to reduce sodium)
  • Nuts/Rasins/Trail Mix
  • Crackers
  • Cookies/Snacks
  • Pretzels
  • Freeze-dried fruit
  • Jerky
  • Powdered/Condensed/Evaporated milk
  • Powdered eggs
  • Protein and/or meal replacement bars/shake mix

Dehydrated and powdered foods are good to keep on hand. While it isn’t the most delicious, it is food you can eat if needed.

For longer deployments or a consistent backup that you don’t have to think or worry about, you can pick up an MRE bucket with meals ready for a 2-week window. While these might not taste the best or have a wide variety of options come mealtime, it is a solid backup plan to your fresh, frozen, and canned goods.

It’s also important to remember your pets when planning food. Ensure they have enough food and/or any medication they need to last 2 weeks.

Refrigerator & Freezer

You should apply the same method to the foods and drinks in your refrigerator and freezer. However, some extra considerations need to be considered for cold foods. Later, we will cover power generation, but it is important to remember your refrigerator and freezer when planning for emergencies. Keeping them closed during short power outages will prevent warm air from entering and preserve the cold temperature for a while. If you start to worry, you can move frozen items to the refrigerator to prolong their freshness.

One trick is to freeze a container of water, a Chinese takeaway Quart is perfect. Once it’s frozen, open the lid and place a coin on top, then close the lid. As the freezer defrosts, the coin drops. This lets you see how much defrosting has taken place.

Foods to Avoid

There are some foods you want to avoid. If you are going to have foods with high sodium (salt), limit it as much as possible. Keep away from junk food and other empty-calorie foods.

How Will You Cook?

While having food is great, it’s important to plan how to cook it. You’re all set if you have a whole-home generator and an electric stove for as long as you have power. Similarly, you’re all set if you have LNG or a propane tank. However, it’s important to consider alternative cooking methods for those without these options.

A BBQ works well; if propane is powered, pick up an extra propane tank. If you use charcoal, get a few extra bags along with lighter fluid, matches, or a lighter. You might also want to consider a camp stove, which uses propane. It’s also a good idea to have a percolator on hand to make coffee via the stove.


With the recent experience of Covid, we can see how important sanitization is. You may already have these items in your house, but possibly not in the quantity that would last for two weeks. Thankfully, this is a quick fix by purchasing duplicates of everything on the list.

To conserve water, it’s best to use hand sanitizer as often as possible. Baby wipes are a great addition to this, as they can be used to clean our hands when needed and ensure they are disinfected. A dedicated disinfectant works well for surfaces like tables and saves on soap and water.

It’s recommended to stock up on paper towels and toilet paper, which can be bought in bulk for further savings. It’s also a good idea to pick up feminine supplies, which can be used to absorb liquids or as extra pads for your first aid kit. If babies are nearby, you would also want to consider some cloth diapers.

When it comes to food and drink, using paper plates and cups can be a practical choice. They are one-time use and do not need to be cleaned, and they can also be used as a fuel source for fire. Additionally, ample trash bags are always useful, as they can serve many purposes beyond simply holding garbage. For instance, they can be used as quick makeshift ponchos or to contain clothes that need mending.


Everyone’s needs are going to be different for power. It’s best to think through what you need to power first, then what you want to power. Secondly, how are you powering your devices – through extension cords or by connecting to your house through a proper dedicated generator connection? These are all questions you must consider before coming to a solution.


If you only need to take care of your refrigerator and a couple of lights, then a smaller generator will suffice. However, if you want to power anything that uses a 220v circuit, you should step up to a larger generator that can power most of your house. If you live in an area with natural gas, you can install a whole-home generator that uses natural gas as fuel. Otherwise, a gas-powered or dual-fuel (gas and propane) generator would work.

If you are going to operate a generator, and you have it sized for your needs, make sure it only runs when it’s placed at least 10 feet away from your house. You don’t want carbon monoxide anywhere in an enclosed space. Lastly, if it’s a gas-powered generator, do you have enough fuel to last two weeks? On average, a 5000-watt generator running at a 50% load will last about 8-9 hours. If you’re running it closer to its max, then you’re closer to 4-5 hours.

Consider having a few extra 5-gallon gas cans with fuel ready to go. Gas does go bad over a longer period, so add some Stabil to each gas can to get 1 year of storage life. It’s also recommended to rotate though some gas by pouring it into your car to use, and then at your next fill-up, refill the gas cans.

If running on generator power, go around your house and unplug any device that is not needed, or if they are all in the same room, throw the breaker to that room/circuit. This will stop phantom drain from happening, which allows your generator to run under a smaller load, and your fuel will last longer.

Make sure to turn off the generator at night so you don’t waste fuel. If your eyes are closed, there’s no need to power a light. Not only does this conserve fuel, but it’s safer.

Solar Power

A 100w panel from Renogy is a great starting point for a quality panel with little issue and gives out about 70% of its rated power. Harbor Freight has a 100w panel that gives out about 50% of its rating but is a bit cheaper. You will also need a solar charge controller to manage the voltage and level it out to what your battery needs, Renogy, Genasun, and BuddiPower are all great options – make sure it matches your battery chemistry.

For example, a 100w panel in direct sunlight at 70% efficiency can charge a 12AH battery from nearly dead to full in just about 3 hours.

Mobile Devices

There are other items, such as radios or cell phones, that we would want to power. A generator can power these, but it would make more sense first to charge a battery from the generator while it is under a lower load or use solar panels, as you then have power to last when the generator either can’t run or isn’t running.

You might consider smaller portable batteries for cellphones, which can be picked up rather cheaply on Amazon. A 10,000mAh battery can charge the average smartphone 1.5 times. Don’t forget to have a supply of AAA, AA, C, & D batteries for flashlights and other smaller electronics.


Your security needs might be different than someone else in need, skillset, and comfort level. Start by walking around the outside of your house to see how someone could attempt to break in. Tree branches that are close to your house can be used as an entryway, so you might want to trim them back. Make sure all your windows are in good repair and locked when closed. If you have blinds, make sure they can close. If you have an attached garage, ensure the interior door is locked. If you have a sliding glass door, consider putting something in the track at night to block it from being opened. Check that your fence is in good repair. You may also want to think about installing solar powered sensor floodlights.

You may also want to consider armed protection, but this brings a host of additional issues and concerns that exceed the scope of this guide. Consider the following key points:

  • Am I comfortable with the firearm?
  • Do I keep my skills sharp by visiting the range for practice?
  • Do I drill enough to protect my home?
  • Do I have enough ammo?

There are of course, non-lethal methods of protection, such as pepper spray or bear spray. Again, these are all decisions you must make based on your comfort and skill level.

First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is powerful; you’ll want to check it at least once a year. You can buy a fully stocked kit or build one yourself. There are a few great options on Amazon to use as a base to build upon. As with your food, you should check your first aid kit a few times a year to rotate out expired medicines. A first aid kit should be customized to you and your family’s needs; however, here is a recommended list of what a minimum kit should have:

  • First Aid Handbook
  • Gloves
  • Assorted Band-Aids
  • Butterfly bandages
  • Eye pads
  • Gauze (pads and rolls)
  • Ace bandages
  • Medical tape
  • Wound stop/Quick Clot
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Cough Drops
  • Q-Tips
  • Cotton Balls
  • Saline eye drops
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Moleskin
  • Burn gel
  • Instant Ice Packs/Heat Packs
  • Emergency Blankets
  • Analog thermometer
  • Safety Pins
  • Vaseline
  • Neosporin
  • Cold medicine
  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Aspirin
  • Motrin
  • Benadryl
  • Imodium
  • Laxatives
  • Tylenol
  • Allergy Medication
  • Tums
  • Alka Seltzer

If you have children near, either in your home or nearby, it is recommended to also have some children over the counter medication on hand as well.

If you wanted to add to your kit to cover more advanced areas of first aid:

  • Wound irrigation kits
  • Pressure dressing/Israeli Bandage
  • Sharpie
  • Eye wash
  • Super glue
  • N95 or KN95 masks
  • Hand warmers
  • Knee and Ankle braces
  • Finger splint
  • Turkey baster for flushing wounds
  • CPR Mask

If you take medication, make sure you have enough on hand. While this can be tricky with prescriptions, see if you can switch to a 90-day supply so you can have more on hand. Another part of this is to keep at least a daily vitamin in your diet, which will help ensure you get the minimum needed vitamins when using stored food. Some recommend extra daily vitamins such as D3 and Magnesium. If someone is highly allergic, and EpiPen is a must have!


It would be wise to listen to as many frequencies as you can to know of any threats, those who need help, or to communicate with your local community. This is also known as situational awareness.

Many people use FRS and GMRS since you can easily grab a two-pack off the shelf at most retailers. You might even want to consider getting a license for GMRS, as it’s good for 10 years and covers everyone in your house.

Another great option many don’t consider is MURS, which is a 5-channel license-free VHF radio service. You can get these radios relatively cheaply and hand them out to family and neighbors. MURS has limited activity on the bands as not many people know about or use it.

Citizen’s Band (CB) radio should also be an option, as they can reach farther distances. You can get these radios relatively cheaply and hand them out to family and neighbors. MURS has limited activity on the bands as not many people know about or use it.

Communication Plan

How often do you communicate with your neighbors? Most people don’t communicate frequently, but starting might make sense. In a 2-week situation, having radios to distribute to trusted people around you can have many benefits. One main benefit is to check in and ensure that everyone is okay, has enough food and water, and that no one is sick. To save on battery power, you might want to consider setting up a schedule, such as checking in through a roll call once an hour from 6 am to 6 pm.

Communicating with your neighbors also lets you learn and share skills, such as knowing if anyone has any medical training. This will be invaluable in a grid down situation.

Weather & Broadcast Radio

A NOAA radio is necessary; most will also support SW/MW/AM/FM bands. Not only is this good for weather, but you can use it to listen to broadcast stations locally or on SW from a distance. Look for a radio with a hand crack and/or a solar panel to top off the internal battery.


Cash & Bartering

Cash is important, as cards won’t work without internet access. When deciding how much cash to keep, consider your needs. Having a few items you could barter with is also a good idea.

Sewing Kit

A sewing kit is something that almost everyone has in their home. Give it a once over and ensure you have enough thread and possibly a couple of patches.

Personal Sanity

This is often overlooked, but it is very important. Consider what forms of analog entertainment you can have, such as a deck of cards, books, and crossword puzzles. For kids, consider some coloring books and crayons, books they can read, and board games.

These are all great ways to pass the time and keep you grounded in times of elevated stress.


Flashlights and battery-powered lanterns are great to have as well. Make sure you have extra devices if you can’t have extra bulbs. When possible, look for LED devices, as they last quite a bit longer. You can also install solar-powered lights for your driveway, walkway, or patio and remove them from outside for use inside your house at night.


Having paper copies of IDs, birth certificates, passports, and any other type of legal document is good to keep on hand.

Common Household Items

Everyone should already have sunscreen, bug spray, duct tape (or gaffer tape), and at least 50 feet of some cordage in their homes. Consider adding an axe and hatchet to your garage as well.


  • How many gallons of potable water do you have stored at home?
  • How many meals of non-perishable food do you have at home?
  • If you had no electricity, how could you cook food?
  • If you have a gas generator, how much fuel do you have, and how long will that fuel last?
  • When was the last time you audited your First Aid Kit?
  • Do you have enough medication on hand, if required?
  • Besides soap, what other methods of disinfectant do you have at home?
  • Can you power your radios on backup/battery power? If so, for how long?