Build a Disaster Kit

No one wants them to happen, but disasters can occur anywhere at any time. To endure an already stressful situation a little more easily, you should prepare an emergency kit — no matter whether you need to evacuate or shelter in place. Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with the items on the checklist below, most of which are inexpensive and easy to obtain. Look at the basic items, then consider what unique needs your family might have, such as supplies for children, seniors, or pets.

After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water, and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. A disaster kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

Basic Disaster Supplies Kit

To assemble your kit, store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic storage bins, a backpack, or a duffel bag.

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

  • Water: one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food: at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food for each person
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

Additional Emergency Supplies

Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:

  • Prescription medications
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, allergy relief, or antacids
  • Glasses and contact lens solution/case
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet and possibly a comfort item as stress is a serious health factor in animals
  • Cash or travelers checks
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket and pillow for each person
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and practical, sturdy shoes
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits: disposable cups, plates, utensils, and paper towels
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles, portable comfort items and other activities for children

Maintaining Your Kit

After assembling your kit, remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:

  • Keep non-perishable, shelf-stable food in a cool, dry place
  • Store boxed food in air-tight containers
  • Replace expired items as needed
  • Re-evaluate your needs annually and update your kit as your family’s needs change

Kit Storage Locations

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and vehicles.

  • Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
  • Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water, and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
  • Vehicle: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.
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