7 Types of Fuel You Should Store for Emergency Preparedness

a man's hand pumping gas

We all know the basics of emergency preparedness:

But one thing we don’t talk about as much is fuel.

What kind of fuel am I talking about?

Fuel for your home, car, generator and and even your portable stove (think Coleman).

So today, I want to talk about different types of fuel you should be storing for emergencies.

Why is storing fuel important?

Like I said above, fuel is sometimes overlooked when we think of emergency preparedness. We often think about food, water and medical supplies before we think of fuel for emergencies.

But how are we going to stay warm, run our appliances and vehicles and cook without fuel (if the power goes out)?

Fuel is needed for all of these situations and more.

Types of Fuel to Store for Emergencies:

a man pumping gas


The most popular fuel used is gasoline. Gasoline can run your car and generator in emergency situations.

Types of Gasoline: 

Unleaded and Diesel

How to store: 

Store gasoline in small containers (5 gallons) in the proper colored cans (red for regular gas, yellow for diesel). Keep it in a cool, dark, ventilated area like the garage or an out building.

How often do you rotate?

If you add fuel stabilizer, the gasoline should last for 12 months. Rotate by adding the old gas to your car and buying new gas for storage.

a lit propane stove


Many people use propane in their homes to run their heater, hot water heater and stove. You can also use it to run a portable stove.

How to store:

Always keep your large propane tank topped off throughout the year (500 or 1000 gallon tank is best) if you use propane in your house regularly. Store smaller containers for cook stoves or grills in your garage or out building.

How often do you rotate?

Rotate the small containers as you use them. Propane has a long shelf life, but check for leaks in the containers and don’t store with flammable items.

a neatly stacked pile of firewood


Even if you don’t have a wood stove or fireplace, storing wood is a good idea. You can make a fire for cooking or staying warm. If you have a fireplace, but don’t use it often, it is a good idea to keep it in working order for an emergency situation. You don’t want to start a fire in an old fireplace that hasn’t been used in years and have all the smoke back up into your house (or worse).

Types of Wood:

In an emergency situation, any wood will do. But if you have good wood stored, it will be so much better. Popular wood to store are hardwoods such as maple, oak, ash, birch and most fruit trees because they are the best burning woods in terms of a hot and longer burn time. Just remember that the wood needs to be dried to burn better. Also, don’t use wood that has been pressure treated or painted.

How to store:

You should store your wood neatly stacked and covered so it doesn’t get wet in the elements.

How often do you rotate?

You don’t need to rotate as long as you are storing it properly. If the wood does get wet, let it dry out in the sun for several days (if possible) before using it.

kabobs cooking over a charcoal fire


Coal is not something most people use in their homes anymore. Some people will use coal to augment wood in their stoves to keep the stove warm overnight. We have started doing that this winter and it works really well. It also saves us on chopping as much wood. We use charcoal for cooking while camping, so you could use this also for cooking in an emergency situation.

Where to find coal/charcoal?

At your local hardware or big box store.

How to store:

Store in a bag in a dry place either in the home or garage.

a man camping and cooking with a portable stove


If you have a stove that uses butane, you need to store however much you think you might need in an emergency situation.

How to store:

Store in small cans if you use it for camp stoves. Calculate how often you would use the stove and save that amount of fuel.

How often do you rotate?

Butane lasts a long time. It may need to be rotated every 5 to 7 years.

a man cutting up a down tree with a chainsaw

Mixing Oil

Mixing oil is used for many tools and small engines such as chainsaws, snow blowers, lawn mowers, etc.

Types of Mixing Oil:

Look at the manual of the appliances you need the mixing oil for and get what is recommended. Different motors use different mixes.

How to store:

Do not store in the engine. Store in a garage or outbuilding and only mix what you need.

How often do you rotate?

As necessary.

a kerosene lamp with fall setting

Kerosene/Lamp Oil

if you have lighting sources that use kerosene or lamp oil, you should store as much of this fuel as you deem necessary to help you in an emergency situation.

Types of Kerosene/Lamp Oil:

Get whatever type of fuel you need for the lamps you already have.

How to store:

Kerosene can be stored safely in 5-gallon containers. Store in blue containers, so it won’t get confused with gasoline or diesel. Only store what you need. Do not store in the house.

How often do you rotate?

Kerosene only lasts 3 to 6 months, so get some before winter hits and dispose of if you don’t use it by the summer time.

Evaluate Your Fuel Needs For Your Family:

Now, obviously, you may not need all of these types of fuel. If you don’t have a use for butane or mixed oil, then you don’t need to store them.

But you should evaluate your own situation and what types of fuel you use on a daily basis.

How would you cook if your electricity went out? Would you need butane for a portable stove or do you have a solar oven (and know how to use it)?

How would you keep your appliances running (like a freezer, refrigerator or cpap machine)?

How would you keep your home warm in the winter so your family (and the pipes) don’t freeze?

These are all things you need to evaluate for your own family and then store what you need.

Tips to Start Storing Fuel:

  1. Don’t let your car’s gas tank get under half a tank. By keeping gas in your car at all times, it gives you a better chance to leave town if their is an evacuation or emergency. You don’t want to be stuck in long lines for gas like everyone else!
  2. Rotate your fuel often. Every few months, fill your gas tank with fuel you have at home and then refill your cans. This keeps the gas fresh for emergencies.
  3. Practice using emergency fuel options. What good is a solar oven, kerosene lamp or camp stove if you don’t know how to use it properly? You need to practice using these things when you are not stressed so you will be better prepared when the SHTF.
  4. Use fuel additives to make fuel last longer. You can use additives such as STA-BIL to make your gas last longer in it’s container. The last thing you want in an emergency situation is to find out that the fuel you saved is no longer useable.
  5. Do not store fuel in the house (especially gasoline). You don’t want to risk starting a fire or blowing up your house with excess fuel.
  6. Use the proper colored container (and mark it clearly) to store your fuel. This way you don’t have confusion and use the wrong kind of fuel for the wrong engine.

Fuel is an important part of your overall emergency preparedness strategy. It could be something as simple as loss of power in your town (most gas pumps run on electricity), a national gas shortage due to a natural disaster, or a 100 other emergency scenarios. Whatever the crisis, having the proper fuel stored for your needs can save you comfort, headache and even your life. So evaluate what your family needs and start getting prepared. You won’t regret it when the emergency comes.

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What fuel do you store for emergencies? Please let us know in the comments below. Thanks!
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