Family Disaster Supplies

You could be anywhere; work, home, car.

It could be anything; fire, tornado, earthquake, power outage, chemical spill. It could be accidental or deliberate. Regardless of the type, emergencies happen quickly, without warning. They can confine you to your home, or force you to leave it. They can cut off basic services - gas, water, electricity and telephones - for days.

Emergency Services Response Time

After a disaster, emergency services will respond, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. By definition, a "disaster" means that emergency responders and resources will be overwhelmed. Help may be hours if not days away. Would your family be prepared to cope with the emergency until help arrives?

Your family will cope best by preparing for a disaster before it strikes. One way to prepare is by assembling a disaster supplies kit. Once disaster hits, you won't have time to shop or search for supplies. But with supplies already on hand, your family can endure an evacuation or home confinement.

Prepare Your Kit

Review the checklist (PDF) below and gather your supplies.

  • Place flashlights, radios, and batteries on top where you can grab them first.
  • Place the supplies you'd most likely need for an evacuation in easy-to-carry containers, i.e. trash container, backpack, or duffel bag. Some important items to take along are marked with an asterisk (*).
  • Have extra cash on hand as banking and ATM systems will be offline. Many stores can only do cash transactions when their systems are offline.
Family Disaster Supplies Kit


Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles. A normally active person needs to drink at least 2 quarts of water each day. Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers and ill people will need more.

  • Store 1 gallon of water per person per day (2 quarts for drinking, 2 quarts for food preparation / sanitation).*
  • Keep at least a 3-day supply of water for each person in your household.
  • Rotate all water - even commercially prepared bottled "spring" or "drinking" water - at least every 6 months.
  • If you use tap water that is chemically treated (by a commercial water company, for instance) do not add bleach or other agents to the water.
  • If you use water that is not chemically treated (water from a well or spring, for example), add 2 drops of liquid household bleach per gallon of water. The only active ingredient in the bleach should be 5.25% sodium hypochlorite. There should not be any added fragrances.
  • If you use commercially prepared "spring" or "drinking" water, keep it in the original sealed container. Once opened, use it. Do not store it again.


Store at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water. If you must heat food, pack a can of sterno. Select food items that are compact and lightweight. * Include a selection of the following foods in your Disaster Supplies Kit:

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables.
  • Canned juices, milk, soup (if powdered, store extra water)
  • Staples - sugar, salt, pepper
  • High energy foods - peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix
  • Vitamins
  • Foods for infants, elderly persons or persons on special diets
  • Comfort/stress foods - cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, lollipops, instant coffee, tea bags

Emergency Food & Preparation

These normal day-to-day staples are commonly stocked in most homes and lend themselves to emergency menus. Items which you store as an emergency stock should be rotated on a yearly basis.

  • Liquid evaporated milk (cans) or powdered milk
  • Canned meat, poultry and fish
  • Canned mixtures of the above with vegetables, rice, macaroni or noodles
  • Dry beans (variety)
  • Canned fruit and vegetable juices
  • Ready-to-eat cereals
  • Macaroni, spaghetti and noodles
  • Cheese spreads, peanut butter, honey, ketchup and mustard
  • Fats and oils which need no refrigeration
  • Hard candy, salted nuts and seeds
  • Coffee, tea, and bouillon
  • Seasoning and baking powders

First Aid Kit*

Assemble a first aid kit for your home and 1 for each car, to include:

  • Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
  • Scissors
  • 2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
  • 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
  • Tweezers
  • Needles
  • Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
  • Moistened towelettes
  • Triangular bandages (3)
  • Antiseptic
  • 4-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • Thermometer
  • Tongue blades (2)
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
  • Assorted sizes of safety pins
  • Cleansing agent / soap
  • Latex gloves
  • Sunscreen

Non-Prescription Drugs

  • Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Antacid (for stomach upset)
  • Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center)
  • Laxative
  • Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center)

Tools & Supplies

  • Pry bar
  • Hand tool assortment (hammer, screwdriver, adjustable wrench, pliers)
  • Non-electric can opener, utility knife*
  • Mess kits or paper cups, plates and plastic utensils*
  • Emergency preparedness manual*
  • Battery operated radio and extra batteries*
  • Flashlight and extra batteries*
  • Cash or traveler's checks and change*
  • Fire extinguisher: small canister, ABC type
  • Tube or pop-up tent
  • Duct tape
  • Compass
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic storage containers
  • Signal flare
  • Paper and pencil
  • Needles and thread
  • Medicine dropper
  • Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
  • Whistle
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Map of area (for locating shelters or travel routes, etc.)


  • Toilet paper and towelettes*
  • Soap and liquid detergent*
  • Feminine supplies*
  • Personal hygiene items*
  • Plastic garbage bags and ties (for personal sanitation uses)
  • Plastic bucket with tight lid
  • Disinfectant
  • Household chlorine bleach

Clothing & Bedding

  • Include at least 1 complete change of clothing and footwear per person*
  • Sturdy shoes or work boots*
  • Hat and gloves*
  • Rain gear*
  • Thermal underwear
  • Blankets or sleeping bags*
  • Sunglasses

Special Needs Items

Remember family members with special needs, such as infants and elderly or disabled persons.

  • For Baby:
    • Formula / Powdered Milk
    • Diapers / Medications
    • Bottles
  • For Adults:
    • Heart and high blood pressure medication
    • Insulin
    • Prescription drugs
    • Denture needs
    • Contact lenses and supplies
    • Extra eye glasses
    • Entertainment - games and books

Important Family Documents*

Keep these records or copies in a waterproof, portable container.

  • Wills, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds
  • Passports, social security cards, and immunization records
  • Bank account numbers
  • Credit card account numbers and companies
  • Inventory of valuable household goods and important telephone numbers
  • Family records (birth, marriage, and death certificates)

Suggestions & Reminders

  • Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version of the disaster supply kit in the trunk of your car.
  • Your personal kit should contain your personal need items.
  • For children their survival kit should contain a personal item, such as, a favorite book, blanket or stuffed animal. This can provide them with some security in an unfamiliar place.
  • Keep items in air tight plastic bags.
  • Change your stored water supply every 6 months so it stays fresh.
  • Rotate your stored food every 6 months.
  • Re-think your kit and family needs at least once a year. Replace batteries, update clothes, etc.
  • Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications.
  • Consider keeping an old-style cord phone. During power failures, they may still work when plugged into a phone wall jack.