When disasters strike, it can take days to restore utilities and get relief efforts in place. Make sure all of your family's immediate needs are met by creating an emergency supply kit with food, water, a first aid kit, and other essentials. Here's a complete list of supplies to include in your emergency kit:
- Water (one gallon per person per day. Plan on enough for at least three days)
- Non-perishable food (at least a three-day supply)
- A can opener
- Mess kits (or disposable plates, cups, and utensils)
- Dish soap
- Trash bags
- A first aid kit
- A first aid book
- Prescription medication and basic over-the-counter medicines (antihistamine, acetaminophen, etc.)
- A flashlight
- A radio (battery-powered or hand-crank)
- Matches (waterproof or in a waterproof container)
- A fire extinguisher
- A whistle
- Bedding (sleeping bags or warm blankets)
- An extra change of clothes and shoes
- Rain gear
- Toiletries (toilet paper, soap, hand sanitizer, toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine products, etc.)
- Basic tools (hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, wrench, crowbar)
- A shut-off wrench (to shut off the gas or water supply)
- Plastic tarps/sheeting, a staple gun, nails, screws, bungee cords, rope, duct tape (for securing your home)
- A pocket knife
- Chlorine bleach and an eyedropper (to disinfect* or treat water).
- Water filter straws
- Water treatment tablets
- Dust or surgical masks (to protect against storm debris)
- Plastic freezer bags (to keep things dry)
- Cash (small bills and change)
- Copies of important documents (insurance cards, insurance policies, birth certificates, bank account info)
- Emergency contact numbers
- Paper, a pen, and a permanent marker
- A cell phone and a charger
- A backpack or duffel bag to carry everything (one per family member). Water-proof is best.
- A tent
- A cook stove and fuel
- Cooking tools (a pan, spoon or spatula)
- Filtered water bottles
- A solar charger (for charging your phone)
- A hat
Other Kit Tips
- Include food and extra water for your pets.
- If you have a baby, include diapers, wipes, formula, etc.
- Be sure to factor in the needs of any seniors, pregnant or nursing moms or special needs individuals in your household.
- Consider adding a few small toys or books to entertain and comfort children.
- Place everything in a plastic bin (or waterproof container) to ensure your supplies stay dry.
- Store your kit in a cool, dry location that is easily accessible. Make sure everyone in your home knows where it is.
Update Your Kit Regularly
FEMA recommends rotating the food and water in your emergency supply kit every six months. It's also important to keep up with the expiration dates on medication and batteries, and to swap out clothes both seasonally and as children grow. Fire extinguishers need to be checked regularly, too. Set a reminder in your calendar, so you don't forget to make the necessary updates.
Ready.gov says you should use 16 drops of bleach to treat one gallon of water. They advise against using bleach that is scented, color-safe or has additional cleaners added.