Disaster Supply Kits
You may need to survive on your own for three days or
more. This means having your own
food and emergency supplies.
using backpacks or duffel bags to keep the supplies
Assembling the supplies you might need following a
disaster is an important part of your disaster plan. You
should prepare emergency supplies for the following
• A disaster supply kit with essential food, water,
and supplies for at least three days—this kit should be
kept in a designated place and be ready to “grab and go”
in case you have to leave your home quickly because of a
disaster, such as a flash flood or major chemical
emergency. Make sure all household members know where the
kit is kept.
• Consider having additional supplies for sheltering
or home confinement for up to two weeks.
• You should also have a disaster supply kit at
work. This should be in one container, ready to “grab and
go” in case you have to evacuate the building.
• A car kit of emergency supplies, including food
and water, to keep stored in your car at all times. This
kit would also include flares, jumper cables, and seasonal
The following checklists will help you assemble disaster
supply kits that meet the needs of your household. The
basic items that should be in a disaster supply kit are
water, food, first-aid supplies, tools and emergency
supplies, clothing and bedding, and specialty items. You
will need to change the stored water and food supplies
every six months, so be sure to write the date you store
it on all containers. You should also re-think your needs
every year and update your kit as your household changes.
Keep items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire
disaster supply kit in one or two easy-to carry containers
such as an unused trash can, camping backpack or duffel
Water: the absolute necessity
1. Stocking water reserves should be a top priority.
Drinking water in emergency situations should not be
rationed. Therefore, it is critical to store adequate
amounts of water for your household.
• Individual needs vary, depending on age, physical
condition, activity, diet, and climate. A normally active
person needs at least two quarts of water daily just for
drinking. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people need
more. Very hot temperatures can double the amount of
• Because you will also need water for sanitary
purposes and, possibly, for cooking, you should store at
least one gallon of water per person per day.
2. Store water in thoroughly washed plastic, fiberglass
or enamel-lined metal containers. Don’t use containers
that can break, such as glass bottles. Never use a
container that has held toxic substances. Sound plastic
containers, such as soft drink bottles, are best. You can
also purchase food-grade plastic buckets or drums.
• Containers for water should be rinsed with a
diluted bleach solution (one part bleach to ten parts
water) before use. Previously used bottles or other
containers may be contaminated with microbes or chemicals.
Do not rely on untested devices for decontaminating water.
• If your water is treated commercially by a water
utility, you do not need to treat water before storing
it. Additional treatments of treated public water will
not increase storage life.
• If you have a well or public water that has not
been treated, follow the treatment instructions provided
by your public health service or water provider.
• If you suspect that your well may be contaminated,
contact your local or state health department or
agriculture extension agent for specific advice.
• Seal your water containers tightly, label them and
store them in a cool, dark place.
• It is important to change stored water every six
For water purification for immediate or near term use,
please read the “Shelter” chapter of this guide.
Food: preparing an emergency supply.
1. If activity is reduced, healthy people can survive on
half their usual food intake for an extended period or
without any food for many days. Food, unlike water, may
be rationed safely, except for children and pregnant
2. You don’t need to go out and buy unfamiliar foods to
prepare an emergency food supply. You can use the canned
foods, dry mixes and other staples on your cupboard
shelves. Canned foods do not require cooking, water or
special preparation. Be sure to include a manual can
3. Keep canned foods in a dry place where the
temperature is fairly cool. To protect boxed foods from
pests and to extend their shelf life, store the food in
tightly closed plastic or metal containers.
4. Replace items in your food supply every six months.
Throw out any canned good that becomes swollen, dented, or
corroded. Use foods before they go bad, and replace them
with fresh supplies. Date each food item with a marker.
Place new items at the back of the storage area and older
ones in front.
5. Food items that you might consider including in your
disaster supply kit include: ready-to-eat meats, fruits,
and vegetables; canned or boxed juices, milk, and soup;
high-energy foods like peanut butter, jelly, low-sodium
crackers, granola bars, and trail mix; vitamins; foods for
infants or persons on special diets; cookies, hard candy;
instant coffee, cereals, and powdered milk.
You may need to survive on your own after a disaster.
Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene
after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone
immediately. You could get help in hours, or it may take
days. Basic services, such as electricity, gas, water,
sewage treatment and telephones, may be cut off for days,
even a week or longer. Or you may have to evacuate at a
moment’s notice and take essentials with you. You probably
won’t have the opportunity to shop or search for the
supplies you’ll need. Your household will cope best by
preparing for disaster before it strikes.
First aid supplies
Assemble a first aid kit for your home and for each
The basics for your first aid kit should include:
First aid manual
Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
Assorted sizes of safety pins
Cleansing agents (isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen
Latex gloves (2 pairs)
2-inch and 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6 each size)
Triangular bandages (3)
2-inch and 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls each)
Tongue depressor blades (2)
Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
It may be difficult to obtain prescription medications
during a disaster because stores may be closed or supplies
may be limited. Ask your physician or pharmacist about
storing prescription medications. Be sure they are stored
to meet instructions on the label and be mindful of
expirations dates—be sure to keep your stored medication
up to date.
Extra pair of prescription glasses or contact lens.
Have the following nonprescription drugs in your disaster
Aspirin and nonaspirin pain reliever
Antacid (for stomach upset)
Syrup of ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by
the poison control center)
Tools and emergency supplies
It will be important to assemble these items in a disaster
supply kit in case you have to leave your home quickly.
Even if you don’t have to leave your home, if you lose
power it will be easier to have these item already
assembled and in one place.
Tools and other items:
portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra
batteries (also have a NOAA weather radio, if appropriate
for your area)
Flashlight and extra batteries
Matches in a waterproof container (or waterproof matches)
Shut-off wrench, pliers, shovel and other tools
Duct tape and scissors
Small canister, A-B-C-type fire extinguisher
Paper, pens, and pencils
Needles and thread
Battery-operated travel alarm clock
Manual can opener
Mess kits or paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils
Household liquid bleach to treat drinking water
Sugar, salt, pepper
Aluminum foil and plastic wrap
Re-sealing plastic bags
If food must be cooked, small cooking stove and a can of
Sanitation and hygiene items:
Washcloth and towel
Towelettes, soap, hand sanitizer, liquid detergent
Tooth paste, toothbrushes, shampoo, deodorants, comb and
brush, razor, shaving cream, lip balm, sunscreen, insect
repellent, contact lens solutions, mirror, feminine
Heavy-duty plastic garbage bags and ties—for personal
sanitation uses—and toilet paper
Medium-sized plastic bucket with tight lid
Disinfectant and household chlorine bleach
Consider including a small shovel for digging a latrine
Household documents and contact numbers:
Personal identification, cash (including change) or
traveler’s checks, and a credit card
Copies of important documents: birth certificate, marriage
certificate, driver’s license, social security cards,
passport, wills, deeds, inventory of household goods,
insurance papers, immunizations records, bank and credit
card account numbers, stocks and bonds. Be sure to store
these in a watertight container.
Emergency contact list and phone numbers
Map of the area and phone numbers of places you could go
An extra set of car keys and house keys.
Clothes and bedding
One complete change of clothing and footwear for each
household member. Shoes should be sturdy work shoes or
boots. Rain gear, hat and gloves, extra socks, extra
underwear, thermal underwear, sunglasses.
Blankets or a sleeping bag for each household member,
Remember to consider the needs of infants, elderly
persons, disabled persons, and pets and to include
entertainment and comfort items for children.
For the elderly
Entertainment: books, games, quiet toys and stuffed
It is important for you to be ready, wherever you may be
when disaster strikes. With the checklists above you can
now put together an appropriate disaster supply kits for
disaster supply kit kept in the home with supplies for at
least three days;
Although it is unlikely that food supplies would be cut
off for as long as two weeks, consider storing additional
water, food, clothing and bedding other supplies to expand
your supply kit to last up to two weeks.
work place disaster supply kit. It is important to store a
personal supply of water and food at work; you will not be
able to rely on water fountains or coolers. Women who wear
high-heels should be sure to have comfortable flat shoes
at their workplace in case an evacuation requires walking
car disaster supply kit. Keep a smaller disaster supply
kit in the trunk of you car. If you become stranded or are
not able to return home, having these items will help you
be more comfortable until help arrives. Add items for
severe winter weather during months when heavy snow or icy
roads are possible—salt, sand, shovels, and extra winter
clothing, including hats and gloves.