Frugal Disaster Preparation Tips


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Disasters.  It seems that every year, we are met with even  more widespread devastation.  Whether it’s hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, or severe cold, ice, and snow, it always pays to be prepared.  Here in Missouri, we have to prepare for all of the above!  Not only can preparing be tedious, but also expensive.  Preparing for a disaster is also very difficult if you’ve not been through one before.

In 2007, we were without power for 17 days due to an ice storm. While we thought out everything and assumed we had prepared accordingly, many preparations could not be made without having experienced such a disaster.  Disaster preparation can be very costly, especially if you are stuck purchasing items at inflated prices in the aftermath.

I wanted to share some things that I personally learned in hopes that you can utilize them, regardless of what type of disaster you may face.

Automotive Inverter1.  Buy an inverter for your car, which will allow you to run smaller wattage electronics from your car battery.  These are also handy for road trips, camping, or charging your laptop on the go.  You can order one here, or if time is limited, these can be found in many automotive or department stores.

Car Battery Adapter

2.  These battery clips with AC adapter will allow you to power your electronics with a car, boat, lawnmower, or ATV battery. You can bring the battery inside and run fans, coffee pots, laptops, portable DVD, etc. if you use it with an inverter (mentioned in above)  Don’t forget to charge the battery occasionally.

Board Game Deals3.  Stock up on some card games and board games. Our current favorites are 5 Second Rule, Speak Out, and Bounce Off.


4.  Take a trip to the library to check out some books.  Try some audio books- they can entertain the entire family.

5.  Purchase extra charcoal/firewood if you have a charcoal grill. You can keep a running fire in a charcoal grill with firewood to sterilize water and warm things up.

6.  If you use a charcoal grill and commonly use starter fluid, look into a ‘fire starter’.  This is an aluminum cylinder that you fill with your charcoal.  Just wad up a piece of newspaper and stick it in the bottom and light it.  Your charcoal will be ready in minutes- perfect every time.  These are less than $10 at Walmart and Lowes.

7.  Clean and fill your bathtubs with water just in case you run low on drinking water

8.  Don’t forget a manual can opener.

9.  Make sure every last piece of clothing is washed and put away.  If you’re without power for long, you’ll be wishing for clean underwear!

10. Kerosene lamps or lanterns (in addition to flashlights).  I recommend a rechargable LED lantern, as you can recharge them in your vehicle and won’t have to worry about costly fuel and fumes.  These make great outdoor lighting for other events, so you will be able to reuse it.

11. Make sure you have a couple of small flashlights for each child. They break and get lost easily. Walmart has some for $1 that come with extra batteries.  Also, look for headlamps for your children.  These will free up their hands to read and will provide entertainment for YEARS to come.

12. Avoid generic batteries.  Although they initially seem cheaper, you will find that they last about 1/10th the time as the more expensive ones (that only cost about 3x as much).  You’ll get more bang for your buck if you purchase name brand.

13. Buy large packages of glow sticks in the dollar section at Michael’s or your dollar store.  There are normally 20 to a package. Around Halloween, these pop up everywhere.  They will provide great entertainment for the kids and also allow you to keep your eyes on them in the dark.

14. Refill your prescriptions.  Ask your pharmacist for coupons, or keep your eye out for other promotions.  Many pharmacies accept competitor’s coupons (including CVS and Kroger).  Also, check out the medicine’s website and call your doctor to see if there are coupons available.  Many offer coupons that work in addition to your co-pay.

15. Take inventory of your kitchen gadgets.  Did you know that you can use a Pampered Chef stoneware bowl and a 9″ round pan to make a dutch oven that will bake bread on your grill?

16. Grab some paper plates and utensils.  This will help keep clutter under control and is much less expensive than running the dishwasher.

What types of preparations do you make when presented with a disaster?  Do you have any cost saving tips?


  1. Shannon says

    Love this! I remember the ice storm of 2007. I think it is hilarious you were talking about clean underwear because I remember I really wanted to run my vacuum (couldn’t because of no electricity) and with two dogs, their hair was driving me crazy. Good ideas about the glow bracelets and headlamps. I didn’t have kiddos at the time (2007), but definitely something to revisit as I am sure it would have been different with kiddos at home, and one can never be too prepared.


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