Your family will cope best by preparing for disaster before it strikes. One way to prepare is by assembling a disaster supply kit.
After a disaster, local officials and relief workers will be on the scene, but they cannot reach everyone immediately.
You could get help in hours, or it may take days. Would your family be prepared to cope with the emergency until help arrives?
Disasters happen anytime and anywhere. And when disaster strikes, you may not have much time to respond.
- A highway spill of hazardous material could mean instant evacuation.
- A winter storm could confine your family at home.
- An earthquake, flood, tornado or any other disaster could cut off basic services - gas, water, electricity and telephones - for days.
Once disaster hits, you won't have time to shop or search for supplies. But if you've gathered supplies in advance, your family can endure an evacuation or home confinement.
To prepare your kit, review the checklists on this page.
There are six basics you should stock in your home:
Keep the items that you would most likely need during an evacuation in a "Go Bag". A Go Bag is a smaller version of your Disaster Supply Kit that you can easily bring with you if you need to evacuate your home.
Your Go Bag should be an easy-to-carry container such as a large, covered trash container, a camping backpack, or a duffel bag. Suggested items for your Go Bag are marked with an asterisk (*).
Visit the Evacuation webpage to learn more.
Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles.
A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people will need more.
- Store one gallon of water per person per day (two quarts for drinking, two quarts for food preparation/sanitation) *
- Keep at least a three-day supply of water for each person in your household.
For more information about storing water for an emergency, visit the Food and Water Q&A webpage.
Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation, or cooking, little or no water and are low in sodium.
If you must heat food, pack a can of sterno. Select food items that are compact and lightweight.
Include a selection of the following foods in your Disaster Supply Kit and Go Bag *:
- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables
- Canned juices, milk, soup (if powdered, store extra water)
- Staples - sugar, salt, pepper
- High energy foods - peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix
- Foods for infants, elderly persons or persons on special diets
- Comfort/stress foods - cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, lollipops, instant coffee, tea bags
For more information on what type of food to store for an emergency, visit the Food and Water Supplies webpage.
First Aid Supplies
Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car. A first aid kit should include:
- Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
- 2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
- 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
- Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
- Triangular bandages (3)
- 2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
- 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
- Moistened towelettes
- Tongue blades (2)
- Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
- Assorted sizes of safety pins
- Cleansing agent/soap
- Latex gloves (2 pair)
- Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Antacid (for stomach upset)
- Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center)
Contact your local American Red Cross chapter to obtain a basic first aid manual.
Clothing and Bedding
Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person. *
- Sturdy shoes or work boots *
- Hat and gloves
- Rain gear *
- Thermal underwear
- Blankets or sleeping bags *
Tools and Emergency Supplies
- Mess kits, or paper cups, plates and plastic utensils *
- Emergency preparedness manual *
- Battery-operated radio and extra batteries *
- Flashlight and extra batteries *
- Cash or traveler's checks, change *
- Non-electric can opener, utility knife *
- Fire extinguisher: small canister, ABC type
- Tube tent
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Aluminum foil
- Plastic storage containers
- Signal flare
- Paper, pencil
- Needles, thread
- Medicine dropper
- Plastic sheeting
- Map of the area (for locating shelters)
- Toilet paper, towelettes *
- Soap, liquid detergent *
- Feminine supplies *
- Personal hygiene items *
- Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses)
- Plastic bucket with tight lid
- Household chlorine bleach
Remember family members with special needs, such as infants and elderly or disabled persons.
For Baby *
- Infant Nutrition During a Disaster »
Breastfeeding and other options
For Adults *
- Heart and high blood pressure medication
- Prescription drugs
- Denture needs
- Contact lenses and supplies
- Extra eye glasses
- Entertainment - games and books.
Important Family Documents
Keep these records in a waterproof, portable container.
- Will, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds
- Passports, social security cards, immunization records
- Bank account numbers
- Credit card account numbers and companies
- Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers
- Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
Suggestions and Reminders
- Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version of the Disaster Supply Kit in the trunk of your car.
- Keep items in airtight plastic bags.
- Change your stored water supply every six months so it stays fresh.
- Rotate your stored food every six months.
- Re-think your kit and family needs at least once a year. Replace batteries, update clothes, etc.
- Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications.
The Disaster Supplies & Preparedness Calendar will assist you in assembling your emergency kit over a six month period. Print the calendar and purchase the suggested items in small increments within your normal weekly shopping.