Build a Kit
In the event of a disaster, local emergency services may be overwhelmed and it could take anywhere from a few hours to several days for emergency responders to reach you. As a result, you may need to be self-sufficient for this period of time. In order to survive on your own, you will need to construct a disaster supplies kit consisting of enough food, water, and other essential supplies to last at least 72 hours after a disaster. Once you have collected and assembled your basic disaster supplies kit, you can then begin to collect supplies to meet the unique needs of your family. Having a well-stocked disaster supplies kit will drastically increase the chances that you and your family will survive a major disaster or emergency.
Basic Disaster Supplies Kit
A majority of the items included in a basic disaster supplies kit are inexpensive and readily available at your local store. Items in this kit should be stored in airtight bags and the entire kit placed in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins, buckets, or duffel bags. Recommended items to be included in your kit include the following:
- Food - at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Water - one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
Once you have assembled your basic disaster supplies kit you can then consider including items to meet the individual needs of you and the members of your household. Keep in mind children, seniors, pets, local climate, and hazards that are most likely to occur in your area when considering what items to add to your kit.
Kit Maintenance and Storage
Equally as important as assembling your emergency supply kit is maintaining and properly storing your kit. Maintaining your kit is simple and involves performing only a few tasks biannually to ensure that your disaster supply kit is safe to use when it is needed. These tasks include replacing expired items, rotating older supplies to the front of the storage area, and reevaluating your needs and updating your kit as needed.
It is also important that your kit is stored in a suitable location. Ideally, you should store your kit in a cool, dry location that is known by all members of the household. Additionally, it is recommended that you consider preparing both vehicle and work disaster supply kits. Visit Ready.gov to learn more about assembling vehicle and work disaster supply kits.