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Many people prepare for emergencies long before they come. The security of knowing that you are safe in case of a disaster is a great feeling to have. However, preparing for an emergency can be overwhelming. It can be hard to prioritize what you need and what you don't. Just like you make a grocery list before running to the supermarket or a to-do list before a trip, making an emergency shopping list will help you grab everything you need and avoid picking up things you don't.

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Preserved Fruits and Vegetables

Many fruits and vegetables will spoil quickly, usually within a week or two. If you’re planning to take a long trip or stay at home for an extended period, preserved fruits and veggies can help you stick to a healthy diet without worrying about expiration dates. Many canned vegetables can be eaten as is or reheated, such as canned green beans and carrots. Dried or canned fruit, like peaches or apricots, can provide a needed energy boost.

Emergency Shopping Canned Vegetables Fruit aykut karahan / Getty Images
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Protein Sources

Proteins like beans and fish can give you energy if you’re trying to keep up an exercise routine. Canned fish is a common lunch item, but in an emergency, it could sustain you for weeks if necessary. Canned tuna, mackerel, and sardines and other canned fish pair well with bread, crackers, or salads. Canned or dry beans and canned soups are also smart items to stock up on.

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Frozen Foods

Having a variety of foods to choose from is essential while isolated at home. As long as you have electricity, frozen foods can add to the variety with everything from full meals to fruits and snacks. Frozen fruit can be used for smoothies and shakes while frozen veggies can be eaten in a stir fry and even cooked in a microwave. Frozen kid’s foods are a bonus if you have small children or picky eaters at home.

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Daily Essentials

While you might want to spend your days surrounded by ice cream and potato chips while you’re at home, you’ll still need some other essentials. Bread, milk, eggs, toilet paper, dish soap, trash bags, and coffee are just some of the foods and supplies you might run out of quickly. Avoid stockpiling or hoarding; it's inconsiderate, and you probably don't need every tube of toothpaste in the grocery store.

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Disaster Supplies

Emergency shopping includes buying for possible disasters. Items like batteries, lightbulbs, portable chargers, and radios are crucial if you’re caught in a natural disaster or another sort of bind. Keep smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in working order, and their batteries changed regularly. Even if you’re not in the path of a monster hurricane or tornado, these items are good to have on hand if you’re ever unable to leave home.

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First Aid Equipment

Besides bandaids and rubbing alcohol, first-aid equipment like gauze and medical tape is also important to have on hand in case of physical injury. The ability to treat minor wounds and injuries at home is always useful, but it becomes especially important if you're required to limit how often you leave your house.

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Medications

If you’re ever under a lockdown or your local pharmacy is closed, refilling your medications may be more of a challenge than normal. Having your essential prescriptions on hand can avoid a possible life-threatening emergency. Always consult with your doctor before heading to the pharmacy since they usually need to authorize a refill, and you might not need all of the medications you’re planning on stocking up on.

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Entertainment

A family tucked away at home might get a little stir-crazy after a while, so numerous types of entertainment might mean the difference between peace and insanity. Books, toys, movies, and subscriptions to streaming services such as Netflix can make your long days seem just a little bit shorter. Old-fashioned games like checkers, cards, and mancala can be a way for parents and grandparents to bond with their children over the ways they used to entertain themselves.

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Emergency Documents

If you have preexisting health conditions, a short trip to your doctor's office to get your papers in order is an important step in case of an emergency. Copies of these important documents, like birth certificates and notes from your primary health care provider, are important if you ever need to leave your home or show them to medical professionals unfamiliar with your history.

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Special Foods and Supplies

Every individual’s and family’s situation is different. What one couple might need is different from the needs of a family with multiple children. Diapers, alcoholic beverages, reading glasses, children’s foods, baby formula, and medical equipment like oxygen and ventilators might need to be included in your emergency shopping list. And if there’s a serious illness going around, don’t forget to get disinfectant and cleaning supplies to protect your health.

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