How We Stay Prepared for Emergencies at the Cabin (Our Entire Kit!)

After living in rural mountains all winter, we've established a great emergency and disaster preparedness kit — here are our essentials!
How We Stay Prepared for Emergencies at the Cabin (Our Entire Kit!): first aid kit, pet first aid kit, winter emergency supplies, and more!

As an accident-prone person who now lives in the middle of nowhere, we’ve had a steep learning curve when it comes to being prepared for emergencies and disasters. Throughout all of our various misadventures this past winter, I learned a LOT very quickly about what we needed to have on hand at all times. I’m often asked for recommendations, so today I wanted to share a comprehensive list of our emergency and disaster preparedness kit. I’d love additional recommendations, too, so please don’t be shy about leaving a comment! Also, sorry if this seems like a really random blog post… it’s basically the culmination of a LOT of questions I get asked on Instagram. I wanted to get the information all in one place where I can easily update it and share!

Our Tried and True Emergency & Disaster Preparedness Kit

I want this post to be super-informative, so I’m not going to just share what we have on hand, but also how we keep it organized and where it lives in our home! Also, to make it easier for you to build your emergency kit, I made this handy Amazon store.

Power outage essentials:

I keep all of these items in a clear plastic storage bin in the vintage cabinet in our living room along with a LOT of extra candles and candle holders. That way, we always know it’s in exactly the same spot whenever we need it.

  • wireless charging batteries + at least one of each phone’s charging cord
  • rechargeable batteries + charger — keep the batteries charged as much as possible when not in use. For me, that means I have a calendar reminder that reminds me to plug in the charger once a month just in case. Also, make sure you have AAA and AA.
  • headlamps, one per household member
  • surge protector and extension cords — our generator isn’t hardwired into the house yet, so we run an extension cord in through a window and plug the surge protector into that, then plug in stuff as needed
  • Extremely bright flash light — we keep ours by the front door
  • lighters and safety matches
  • candles and candle holders — I save glass vessels when a candle is finished burning and remove the excess wax so I can reuse them as emergency candle holders
How We Stay Prepared for Emergencies at the Cabin (Our Entire Kit!): first aid kit, pet first aid kit, winter emergency supplies, and more!

Emergency must-haves in our bedroom and nightstands:

  • headlamps, one per household member
  • rechargeable lantern — this thing is a beast! You can charge stuff off of it and it’s ridiculously bright
  • 10 jugs of potable water
  • beanies — I keep one in my nightstand in case it’s really cold since so much heat is lost through your head

Winter emergency must-haves:

I also recommend checking out my post about winter camping because I shared how we layer clothing to stay warm + more cold weather survival tips to keep in mind.

  • generator — ours is from a local hardware store, but I cannot recommend having one enough if you live in a remote area like us or lose power a lot. During the winter, we ran the generator during the day for about 6-8 hours to power our fridge and chest freezer in order not to lose food. Then at night, it gets turned off. Our cabin was wired at one point for the generator to power the entire thing and have a separate panel set up for it, including a little room off the back of the house where the generator would be housed. It was mostly removed at one point, so we’re hoping to reinstate this method which would make our winter power outages a bit easier to manage. Our pump house is a ways away from the cabin, so we were lucky enough to score a second generator to power that this upcoming winter — which means plumbing during a power outage!!!! MAGIC. Hopefully we can get that set up this winter, as well.
  • Many, many gallons of water — speaking of plumbing, we manually fill the toilet with water and pull a lever in the toilet tank in order to use it during outages. Because of this, we always have a LOT of water on hand. The previous owners left about 30 milk jugs that we refill and use for toilet water.
  • wood stove and propane stove — we don’t have central heating and cooling, so when we lost power it wasn’t a big deal to us. The propane heater in our living room is our ‘maintenance heat,’ meaning that it’s set to about 65 to keep the cabin warm enough whenever we don’t have a fire. Then for REAL heat, we build a fire in the wood stove. This system has worked pretty well for us.
  • kindling, paper to get the fire started, and a lot of firewood
  • at least 3 lighters
  • 30+ jugs of water to drink — we are planning to invest in reusable containers so we can store water from our well instead of buying water
  • Canned goods, dry goods, basically meals that are easy to put together without electricity and don’t forget the can opener — keep in mind that we have a propane stove, so we’re still able to cook when the power is out. I’ve also used our camping stove for this purpose!
  • ground coffee
  • extra blankets
How We Stay Prepared for Emergencies at the Cabin (Our Entire Kit!): first aid kit, pet first aid kit, winter emergency supplies, and more!

Human first aid kit:

This is stored in our first floor guest bathroom. I keep it organized in a plastic storage box from the kids section of IKEA. You can get a pre-made one to start with and build from there, which is what I’ve done. I also have a calendar alert set twice a year to remind me to inventory the first aid kit and buy replacements as needed.

  • various bandages — band-aids of all sizes and uses
  • medical tape
  • Coban tape
  • gauze
  • scissors, tweezers, nail clippers
  • Neosporin and topical antihistamine ointment
  • Wet wipes — also great if you need to clean your body during a long power outage
  • hand sanitizer
  • Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Benedryl, Pepto, Claritin
  • Saline
  • thermometer
  • Instant cold pack
  • Ace bandage wrap with metal clasps
  • Non-latex gloves
  • Aloe vera, usually kept in fridge

Pet first aid kit:

I keep this in the bathroom as well so it’s readily available as needed. The chickens have their own first aid kit in the hen house with them, too. As always, talk to your vet about everything on this list to ensure they are comfortable with it.

  • Hydrogen peroxide — if your dog ingests something they shouldn’t, you can make them vomit with hydrogen peroxide. But you MUST research how much to administer before you leave. I suggest doing the research based on your dog’s weight and then writing the amount in Sharpie on the bottle. That way you’re prepared in a pinch.
  • Tweezers: for removing ticks, thorns, etc
  • Comb: for removing foliage or anything else matted in the dog’s hair that could further embed itself into the skin
  • Children’s Benedryl in case they have an allergic reaction to something and need treatment asap. Check on dosage with your vet
  • Styptic powder: to slow/stop bleeding
  • Vetericyn Wound & Skin Care Hydrogel: I swear by this stuff for healing wounds on all of our animals!

Miscellaneous emergency necessities:

  • Pocket knife/multitool
  • Back up battery for my office — if the power goes out and I’m in the middle of working, this will keep me going for HOURS! Plus, if our wifi is still up, I can plug the router into the battery and get connectivity to keep working
  • Garmin InReach mini GPS — we use this beacon every time we go out to the mountains, especially if there isn’t phone service. A friend with a lot of outdoor knowledge recommended it and it’s been awesome so far. You can create pre-loaded messages and then also do custom ones, plus type them from your phone so it’s easier.
  • fire extinguishers — I keep them throughout the house, especially since we heat the cabin with a wood stove
  • Fireproof safe for important papers and photos
  • Chainsaw
  • Hatchet, ax, and maul for splitting firewood of various sizes

I definitely feel like I am missing stuff on this list, so let me know if you think of anything I should add! And as always, I am not a safety expert by any means. This is simply a list of what’s worked so far for us since moving to the mountains!

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Behind The Blog

Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest-based social media strategist, content creator, and former textile designer. Joanna is the founder and editor-in-chief of Jojotastic, a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress cabin, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style. Her work has been featured in Domino, CNBC, and Eating Well.

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  1. 9.13.22

    We don’t live remotely (just outside NYC) but infrastructure is old, trees fall, lots of ice and flash flooding. My goal is to not need first responders for more minor things in an emergency so they can respond to others. A few things I would add:
    -Dermabond (super glue for skin – though you can just use super glue in a pinch).
    -Bleed stop pads (not sure if I saw that in your kit)
    -A hand pump that attaches to 5gal water bottles
    -a Water Bob tub liner for filling tub with potable water
    -you probably have this, but some plywood, tarps, the big kind of stapler that can attach tarp to roof etc
    -we have also saved orthopedic boots/slings/crutches etc just in case
    -we keep some basic antibiotics, Pepsid and other meds
    -glow in dark collars/light up beacons for pets
    -we have some old walkie talkies that we could bust out if cell service down
    -we keep a sled around in case we need to haul groceries or someone
    -we have a neighborhood WhatsApp group

    • 9.14.22
      Joanna said:

      This is a phenomenal addition to my post!! Thank you SO much for sharing. I’m especially loving the recommendation of Dermabond. Such a good idea. Thank you!