My valuable $.02 on the article available >here<. There's a link there; trust me.
I love it when someone says 'pick up a few sheets of plywood' [page 10] for when your windows break because oh, yeah, you’re gonna cut it with the new handsaw you just bought. And there’s the ubiquitous ‘pick up some nails’. How about you get some sheetrock screws which have coarse threads, drive easy and are great for quick-and-dirty repairs, like putting up some freakin’ pre-cut plywood on your busted windows??? And keep your cordless drill batteries charged up? And have a ratcheting screwdriver to facilitate screwing stuff on your dwelling if needed? Oh, wait...am I using my have-a-backup-practical-girl brain again? My bad.
Also on page 10: everyone in your household should know this about your electricity needs: 1) using the oven for baking and anything else that pulls a serious load is out when you’re using a generator. You'll need alternative means of washing clothes and drying them, and if you have an electric range, you’ll need an alternative for that as well. 2) You should go through your house and identify the things you need, not want, to power. If you have a freezer full of food, that's a priority; your game console is not. 3) Everyone needs to know where the main power switch is, not just the 'circuit breakers'. 4) Make sure that your alternative systems for heating are safe, i.e., won't produce carbon monoxide and kill you. 5) know that your gas furnace won’t run without power to the electric blower. PITA, but that's the way it is.
They are expensive but they are much lower power than incandescent and will last much longer: LED bulbs. Periodically my energy company has an offer for lights on sale, and I’ve been swapping out my incandescents for them for a while now. Reduce your energy load before you need to and your generator will power more of what you need when it counts.
If you have gas, know that if you turn the gas off, the gas company would really, really, really like it if you let THEM turn it back on. Kinda makes it safer in case there's a leak, don'tcha know. Everyone should know where the gas turnoff wrench is, and how to use it.
If you have a DIY alarm system that is battery powered, start swapping out the batteries for rechargeables and get yourself a hand-cranked charger and a battery charger that takes AAs and AAAs. You can recharge four of either size in the one I have, and while you might get bored cranking the thing, you can power one of those little LED flashlights about 4" long with 3 AAAs. The alarm systems will use similar sizes.
One alarm you should consider getting is a freezer alarm; I found one online that had mixed reviews, but it’s monitoring fine for me. I have one remote unit in a full-size upright freezer and the other in my fridge’s freezer, and the alert panel is mounted on the wall where I put down my purse and keys so I see it frequently. And it has rechargeable batteries, too.
Keep extra rechargeable batteries in all the sizes you use on hand so you can swap them out quickly. The ones I’d focus on are those in LED flashlights, and everyone should have their own close to hand so they can grab it easily at night.
If you want a weapon you don’t need to aim as carefully as a rifle or hand gun, consider a shot gun; from what I’ve been told (it’s on my list to get and money’s the only reason I don’t have one and the training to use it) racking a shotgun is one sound that stops people in their tracks.
If you want to stock up on canned goods, remember the can opener!!!! There are alternative methods to open cans without one, but trust me, you want as little stress added to an already stressful situation, and a nice, easy can opener helps in that regard.
When you are getting food to have on hand in an emergency, make sure you get things you’ll eat – many other people’s recommendations include things to their taste and not necessarily yours. Get what you like, which is probably more of what you already eat. When you shop for groceries (you already know this, but I’m going to remind you) don’t just shop the ads. Go down the aisles for the things you use a lot of and look to see if there are sales on anything you need, like manager’s specials or closeouts. These typically don’t make it into the ads. Check alternative sources such as restaurant supply stores and drug stores; know your prices so you can shop their loss leaders.
If you keep your eye out you can find things on Craigslist and Freecycle for preparing for emergencies, so don’t rule out getting things used.
For entertainment, think board and card games, and get a variety, and extras of the consumables like Yahtzee pads. Make sure you have enough light at night for anyone who knits or embroiders or the like, and have a good number of your favorite genre of books on hand. Try to keep things as normal as you can in the circumstances; for instance, ‘back up’ the Internet with an encyclopedia, try to keep the children occupied with school-related work, etc. Keep your camera charged and empty the disk periodically so you can take pictures for insurance or other purposes.
Things to consider when you are preparing to be prepared: one burner stove meals - think soup, taco meat, stir-fries, quesadillas, anything that takes only one pan and a burner (like a one burner butane stove). If you have a good knife, a grater and a cutting board, you can make do without a food processor.
Remember comfort foods like chicken noodle soup or peanut butter on saltines or whatever. Figure out how to make coffee or tea if you drink it; you can heat extra water and use it for washing dishes (and learn how backpackers wash dishes to save water).
If you feel overwhelmed, try starting with the systems or processes you use instead of a huge list. Think in terms of ‘what do I need to wash dishes by hand?’ and see what you have on hand and what you need. Have dishpans for rinsing dishes? Scrubbers? Towels? Do the same thing with washing and drying clothes, etc., to compartmentalize and focus on each thing.