Build a Kit
A basic disaster supply kit is a collection of essential items that you may need in the event of a disaster. This kit should have enough supplies to last for at least three days, or 72 hours. Each family member should have an individual kit that should be kept in a designated place with easy access in case you have to leave your home quickly.
Start at the beginning
Building a kit begins with three steps:
- Plan for any situation where you'd be disconnected from basic essentials for 72 hours or more.
- Identify essential items; they are the foundation of your disaster kit.
- Decide how to pack. To assemble your kit, store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.
Start with the essential foundation of your kit:
- The rule of thumb here is “one gallon per person per day” according to the American Red Cross.
- Pack a three-day supply. The easier to prepare, the better! Purchase non-perishable items with easy-open tops.
- You don't want to rely on your phone's flashlight if you've lost power. Save your phone battery for communication needs and get a real flashlight.
4. Battery powered or hand-crank radio
- A NOAA weather radio would be your most reliable source. They don't just broadcast weather, NOAA weather radios will also broadcast news and some can charge your phone!
5. Extra Batteries
- This is important as different items require different size batteries. Please be aware of your needs so you purchase and store the correct sizes. This includes your typical AA and AAA sizes, as well as larger sizes for flashlights. Throw in portable battery packs and charging cables for phones, too.
6. First Aid Kit
- It's recommended to get a deluxe family-sized kit.
This is the comprehensive list of the “basics” that should be included in your kit and are in addition to the essentials previously mentioned:
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items (toilet paper, garbage bags and plastic ties, toothpaste and toothbrush, deodorant)
- Cell phone charger
- Extra cash (in small bills)
- Supply of prescription and non-prescription medications
- Change of clothing and extra layers (based on current weather season)
- Physical maps of the area
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Whistle to signal for help
- Eating utensils
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Multi-purpose tool
- Waterproof container with personal documentation
- Medical information
- Proof of address
- Insurance documents and home deed/lease documentation
- Birth certificates and passports
- Copies of credit cards and ID cards
- Family and emergency contact information
After purchasing the basics, look at the individual needs of your family:
- Special prescription medications, eye glasses and contact lens, hearing aid batteries, syringes, etc.
- Two-way radios
- Extra set of car keys and house keys
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
Make sure you have any specific medications packed in your disaster kit. Check to verify they are stored properly according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and that you pack enough to support 7 days without access to a pharmacy or doctor’s office.
If there is a baby in the family, don't forget diapers, wipes, and formula! Extra blankets and sleeping bags can be helpful if you are evacuating children. Here are some things to keep in mind when packing for kids:
- For infants: ready-to-feed infant formula (if formula fed), bottles, a well-stocked diaper bag (including one pack of diapers), and extra clothing
- Identification cards for kids in the event your family becomes separated
- Items to keep kids comfortable and occupied, such as a favorite stuffed animal, pacifiers, or a few puzzles, books, games and coloring utensils.
- These items should be able to sustain your family’s needs for up to 72 hours. Do not forget to update this kit as your children get older!
Pets are a part of the family, don't forget them in your planning! Remember: pets aren’t allowed in some public shelters unless they are service animals. Make a list of friends, boarding facilities and vets that could watch your pets if needed. Pack a kit for your pet that includes:
- Food and treats
- Drinkable water in plastic bottles
- Can opener for canned food
- Medications & medical records in a waterproof container
- Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers
- Collars and ID tags
- Name and contact information of your veterinarian
- Pet beds & toys
- Service animal identification, if applicable
Hazard-specific add-ons based on common disasters for our area:
- N95 or surgical masks
- Rain gear
- Work gloves
- Tools/supplies for securing your home
- Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
- Household liquid bleach
Since your disaster kit is at home, there are a few things to also keep in your vehicle at all times:
- Reflective triangles
- Blankets and cold weather clothing
- First aid kit
- Water and non-perishable foods
- Jumper cables and a properly inflated spare tire, along with a tool kit
- A reflective vest and rain poncho
There are ways you can plan ahead for your kit. Each time you go to the grocery store, grab an item or two to add to your kit. Most importantly, check your stock monthly to make sure the items within your kits are still in good condition and do not need to be replaced.
Store disaster kits in an easy to reach place, off the ground, and in a temperature-controlled environment. Vehicle kits should stay in your vehicle, in your trunk or under your seats.
Check kits regularly:
- expiration dates
- restock items, such as Band-Aids
- items for kids or pets
- mediations and medical needs
Keep a first aid kit at home, in your car, and at work.