The first 72 hours after a disaster are critical. Electricity, gas, water and telephones may not be working. In addition, public safety services such as police and fire departments may not be able to reach you immediately during a serious crisis. Each person should be prepared to be self-sufficient – able to live without running water, electricity and/or gas, and telephones – for at least three days following a disaster.
Basic Supplies Kit
- One gallon of water, per person, per day for at least three days. Remember this is for drinking and sanitation. Don’t forget to have water on hand for pets!
- Have a 3 day supply of non-perishable food for every person in the household. Don’t forget plates, cups, utensils and paper towels.
- Be sure you have a manual can opener if you have canned food
- 3-day supply of all medicines, at a minimum
- Medical supplies like syringes, a walking cane, or hearing aids with extra batteries
- First aid kit which can be purchased ready-made or you can stock a kit yourself. For a recommended list of supplies to have in your kit, click here.
- Emergency Blanket
- Dust Mask to help filter contaminated air
- Whistle to signal for help
- Plastic Sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place
- Wrench, pliers or multi-tool that can be used to turn off utilities
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Complete change of clothing including long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes
- Fire Extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
Personal Care Items
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Baby wipes
- Contact lenses or glasses
- Garbage bags and/or can liners with plastic ties for sanitation
- Bucket which can be used to store your supplies in, but also as a makeshift toilet (with garbage bag liner)
- Feminine supplies and other personal hygiene items
- NOAA Weather Radio with a battery back-up, for more information click here
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio for listening to local radio stations for updates on emergency information
- Flashlight or preferably multiple flashlights
- EXTRA BATTERIES of every type to match all your electronics
- Copies of important documents such as insurance cards and immunization records
- Paperwork about any serious or on-going medical condition
- Your completed family emergency plan, complete with family and emergency contact information.
- Paper and pencil
- Extra cash or change
- Physical copies of area maps
- Extra set of car and house keys
- Baby supplies like bottles, formula, baby food, and diapers
- Games and activities for children
- Food and Water:
- A 3-day supply of food and water for each pet. A cat or a dog will generally need 1 gallon for three days.
- Bowls or bottles
- Manual can opener
- Cleaning Supplies:
- Depending on the pet, you may need a litter box, paper towels, plastic trash bags, grooming items, and household bleach
- Health and Safety:
- Medicines and medical records stored in a waterproof container
- First aid kit with a pet first aid book
- Transport supplies:
- A sturdy leash, harness, and carrier to transport pets safely. A carrier should be large enough for the animal to stand comfortably, turn around, and lie down. Your pet may have to stay in the carrier for several hours.
- Comfort Items:
- Pet toys and the pet’s bed, if you can easily bring it, to reduce stress
- Current photos and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them, and to prove that they are your pets, in case you become separated from them
- Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and telephone number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care
Maintaining Your Kit
Just as important as putting your supplies together is maintaining them so they are safe to use when needed.
Consider the following things when putting together your emergency food supplies:
- Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
- Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect from pests and to extend its shelf life.
- Throw out any canned goods that become swollen, dented or corroded.
- Use foods before they go bad and replace them with fresh supplies.
- Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in front.
- Change your stored food supplies (and water) every six months. Be sure to write the date you store it on all containers.
- Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
- Choose foods your family will eat.
- Remember any special dietary needs.
- Avoid foods that will make you thirsty.
- Choose salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid content.
Water is an essential element to survival and a necessary item in an emergency supplies kit. Following a disaster, clean drinking water may not be available. Your regular water source could be cut-off or compromised through contamination.
You should store at least one gallon of water per person for three days. A normally active person needs about three quarters of a gallon of fluid daily, from water and other beverages. However, individual needs vary, depending on age, health, physical condition, activity, diet and climate.
To determine your water needs, take the following into account:
How much water you should have:
- One gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation.
- Children, nursing mothers and sick people may need more water.
- A medical emergency might require additional water.
- If you live in a warm weather climate more water may be necessary. In very hot temperatures, water needs can double.
- Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person.
How you should store water:
It is recommended you purchase commercially bottled water, in order to prepare the safest and most reliable emergency water supply. Keep bottled water in its original container and do not open until you need to use it. Observe the expiration or “use by” date. Store in cool, dark place.
Using your own water containers:
It is recommended you purchase food grade water storage containers from surplus or camping supplies stores to use for water storage.
Before filling with water, thoroughly clean the containers with dishwashing soap and water and rinse completely so there is no residual soap.
If you chose to use your own storage containers, choose two-liter plastic soft drink bottles – not plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them. Milk protein and fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed from these containers and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them. Cardboard containers also leak easily and are not designed for long-term storage of liquids. Also, do not use glass containers, because they can break and are heavy.
Using plastic soda bottles:
Follow these steps for storing water in plastic soda bottles:
- Thoroughly clean the bottles with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap.
- Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Mix the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.
- Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water. If the tap water has been commercially treated from a water utility with chlorine, you do not need to add anything else to the water to keep it clean. If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water. Let the water stand for 30 minutes before using.
- A slight chlorine odor should be noticeable in the water, if not, add another dose of bleach and allow the water to stand another 15 minutes.
- Tightly close the container using the original cap. Be careful not to contaminate the cap by touching the inside of it with your finger. Place a date on the outside of the container so you can know when you filled it. Store in cool, dark place.
Water that has not been commercially bottled should be replaced every six months.