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Build a Disaster Supply Kit

07/12/2024

Plan | Stay Safe • Earthquakes | Extreme Heat | Floods | Hurricanes | Tornadoes | Tsunamis | Wildfires | Winter Storms

You can enhance your safety and comfort during and after an emergency or disaster by planning to be self-sufficient. By creating an emergency supply kit, you’ll be able to meet your basic needs for food, water, cash, medicines, and other supplies that will last for at least 72 hours.

Once you build and maintain your disaster supply kit, you have a way to meet your family’s basic needs during a difficult time. This also helps your community by allowing emergency officials and first responders to focus on those who cannot help themselves.

Plan for two scenarios when building your disaster supply kit: remaining in your home or evacuating to a safer location.

Store items in airtight plastic bags, and use 1-2 portable containers for your whole kit.

Inventory on-hand supplies, and purchase any additional items. Building and maintaining your kit over time can help offset the cost.

Basic Disaster Supply Checklist

  • Cash: Banks and ATMs may not be open or available for extended periods
  • Water: At least one gallon per person per day for 3-7 days for drinking and sanitation
  • Food: Enough for 3-7 days, including non-perishable packaged or canned food and juices, food for infants and the elderly, snack food, manual can opener, vitamins, etc.
  • Meal supplies: Paper plates, paper cups, paper towels, and plastic utensils
  • Radio: Battery-powered radio and NOAA Weather Radio with extra batteries
  • Sleep: Sleeping bag, blankets, and pillows
  • Clothing: Seasonal clothes, rain/snow gear, and sturdy shoes
  • First-aid kit with medicines and prescription drugs
  • Toiletries: Hygiene items, moisture wipes, and sanitizer
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Car and house keys
  • Toys, books, and games
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to filter contaminated air
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off gas or utilities
  • Maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
  • Paper and pencils
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
  • Glasses, contacts, and contact lens solution
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, and diaper cream
  • One week or longer supply of prescription medicines with a list of all medications, dosage, and any allergies
  • Copies of medical insurance and Medicare identification cards
  • In case of emergency (ICE) contact information for doctors, relatives, or friends to be notified if you are injured

See more about preparing emergency supply kits specifically for people with disabilities.

Pet Supplies Checklist

  • Pet food: At least a two-week supply of dry food in a water-tight container or canned food (include a manual can opener)
  • Water: At least a two-week supply of clean water; large dogs need one gallon per day
  • Portable carrier large enough for the pet to stand up, turn around, and lie down
  • Extra leash and collar or harness with an identification and rabies tag
  • Up-to-date health and immunization records
  • Two-month supply of medications like flea, tick and heartworm prevention
  • Toys, treats, and bedding (familiar items can help reduce stress for your pet)
  • Registration information, adoption papers, and vaccination documents: Discuss microchipping and enrolling your pet in a recovery database with your veterinarian.
  • First-aid kit, including cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors, antibiotic ointment, flea and tick prevention, gloves, isopropyl alcohol, saline solution, and a pet first aid reference book
  • Pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags, and household chlorine bleach
  • Picture of you with your pet to document ownership if you become separated: Add a note specifying your pet’s species, breed, age, sex, color, and distinguishing characteristics

Keep your disaster kit fresh

Remember to replace your stored food and water every six months. Dedicate one area of your cabinet or pantry to non-perishable food like peanut butter and jelly that you continuously replace.

  • Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
  • Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers.
  • Keep a supply of fresh batteries.
  • Use items and continually replace them to avoid expiration and waste.
  • Review your needs and update your kit annually.

Water supply is a top priority

Make your emergency water supply a top priority. Your requirements will vary depending on age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate.

An active person needs at least two quarts of drinking water daily, so store at least one gallon of water per person per day for a minimum of three days. This amount will provide for drinking, cooking, and sanitary needs.

Children, nursing mothers, and people with health issues will need more. Keep in mind that high temperatures can double the required water amount.

Store your water in thoroughly washed plastic, fiberglass, or enamel-lined containers. Don't use containers that can break (like glass bottles) and never use a container that has held toxic substances. Plastic containers like soda bottles work, and camping stores offer various containers.

Seal your water containers tightly and label and store them in a cool, dark place. Put a date on each container, and change stored water every six months.

Identify and gather important documents

Collect your household documents and create a photographic inventory of your household contents and valuables for an efficient insurance claims process.

  • Insurance papers
  • Medical records
  • Bank account numbers
  • Social Security cards
  • Deeds or mortgages
  • Birth and marriage certificates
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Recent tax returns
  • Wills and estate papers
  • Emergency or hotline contact information
  • Valuables and priceless personal items

Secure your documents in a safe place. Store paper copies in a fireproof and waterproof box or safe at home, in a bank safe deposit box, or with a trusted friend or relative. Keep electronic copies of important documents in a password-protected encrypted format on a removable flash or external hard drive in your fireproof and waterproof box or safe, or use a secure cloud-based service.

Store your disaster supply kit, documentation, and valuables in waterproof containers away from basements or other home locations that may flood.

Store multiple kits in multiple locations

A disaster can occur when you are at home, work, or traveling. Prepare a kit for your home, work, and all vehicles.

  • Home: Have this kit in one location that all family members know and can access.
  • Work: Prepare to shelter at work for at least 24 hours with food, water, and other needed items like medicines and comfortable walking shoes stored in a portable container.
  • Vehicle: Keep an emergency supply kit in your car.

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