Emergency Supply Kits

Recent history has shown that citizens are often without important services and support systems for lengthy periods of time following major disasters. For example, catastrophic events, such as tornadoes, may destroy businesses where people buy food and disrupt water systems, resulting in a shortage of drinkable water. Even winter storms could leave residents without electricity for days or weeks.

In these situations, citizens may have to fend for themselves while emergency responders work diligently to clean up the mess. However, you and your family can prepare for these situations by creating an emergency supply kit.

An emergency supply kit is a collection of items that you can use to survive while waiting for services to be restored. To create an emergency supply kit, begin by acquiring a large container in which to store the items you collect. A plastic storage bin would be ideal as it is capable of withstanding flood waters. Avoid using cardboard boxes for this reason. Next, gather following items to include in your kit:

  • Food. Pack at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Be sure to also pack a can opener if appropriate. 
  • Water. The rule of thumb is one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days. 
  • Change of clothes. A complete change of clothes includes long-sleeved shirt, pants, sturdy shoes, socks, and under garments. 
  • Flashlight. Because candles represent a fire hazard, it is best to pack a flashlight to provide light at night. Be sure to include extra batteries. 
  • Handheld radio. A radio will enable you to receive updates on the emergency situation in the absence of electricity. Be sure to include extra batteries. 
  • First aid kit. Many injuries are not life-threatening and can be easily tended to with some basic supplies like are found in a typical first aid kit. 
  • Dust mask. A dust mask will help filter contaminated air like could be found around collapsed buildings. 
  • Moist towelettes. Moist towelettes can be of great assistance in dealing with personal sanitation needs. 
  • Wrench. A wrench will enable you to turn off utilities, such as gas, if your house suffers extensive damage. 
  • Fire extinguisher. The fire department may not be immediately available to provide fire services. A small fire extinguisher will enable you to extinguish many types of small fires. 
  • Maps. In a heavily-damaged neighborhood or area, easily recognizable landmarks may be gone. Maps will help you to navigate in these situations. 
  • Cell phone. Even though you should not expect to have cell phone service following a major disaster, it is sometimes possible to send text messages during these situations. Be sure to include a cell phone charger and inverter. 
  • Prescription medication and glasses. It is a good practice to set aside a week or so of any prescription medication and a spare set of glasses since disasters occur unexpectedly and you may be unable to immediately access a physician for refills. 
  • Personal hygiene items. Hygiene items, such as a toothbrush and toothpaste will be source of comfort and help provide a sense of normalcy. Be sure to also pack any necessary feminine hygiene products. 
  • Important documents. Important family documents may be destroyed if your house is affected by disaster. Be sure to include copies of documents, such as insurance policies, identification cards, and bank account records in a waterproof container. 
  • Cash. Credit card machines require electricity to operate. Therefore, it is important to have cash on hand so you can purchase any necessary items. 

Once your emergency supply kit is complete, stow it away in an easily accessible location, and remember to check on it every few months or as necessary. Certain items, such as food, water, and medication, will need to be replaced periodically.

Please visit Ready.gov for additional information about creating emergency supply kits.