One handy invention I have found to be extremely helpful for emergency situations is the crank powered flashlight/radio combination. These can be found for under $20.00 at your local hardware store and eliminate the worry about dead or leaking batteries. They usually come with LED bulbs that last a lifetime and use little power. The radio is a great source of information on the AM band and the entertainment of the FM band can help break the monotony of a powerless society.
Today's emergency preparedness situation is power outages. We can all handle the 2 or 3 hour power failure, but disasters almost always cause extended outages lasting days or weeks. Here are a few helpful links...
Know the risks - Have a plan - Make a kit