I recommend checking out some sites on the web that sell supplies and get familiar with what's out on the market. Then make a list of what you think you'll need - make sure you write down what the company will charge versus what you can find at brick and mortar stores. A lot of the stuff you can get cheaper if you shop around. The problem with disasters is that its hard to know HOW MUCH to buy. You could be without water and power for a few hours to a few weeks. If your area is prone to disasters, buy items that can be used more than once even after they've been opened. For example ... you can get little packets of antibacterial wipes that come in kits, OR for about $1.70 you can get Wal-mart brand anti-bacterial wipes in a plastic container. If they dry out, just add water. What you don't use up the first time, can be used up next time. Same goes for a box of medical latex (or non-latex) gloves and other items. The items that are most useful & easy to come by are medical and non perishable items. Just make sure you store them to keep them water-proof in case the disaster turns out to be a flood.
We're told to store items needed in a disaster. But it is so expensive!!! Any suggestions on how to get all this stuff without busting the budget?
We invested in a lot of store bought items in the past year but the one back-up we decided to invest in was freeze dried food from Emergency Essentials, specifically vegetables. Once its opened, it does have a limited shelf life but unopened in the right conditions, it can last for 20+ years. We focused on vegetables because that would be the hardest food for us to come by in a disaster. They can be used in many one-pot recipes and stretched out to last as long as necessary. They also sell meats and cheeses. We know we'd do most of our emergency cooking on propane grill or crock pots (using a small generator or solar power).
How do you save money on emergency items?
Don't feel compelled to buy everything all at once. Prioritize and decided what would come in handy in all types of disasters. A Weather Band radio (battery / wind-up) is a good investment because chances are if you lose electric, you will lose TV-Internet- and eventually cell phones. Again wet supplies are useless so make sure you buy waterproof containers.