Disasters can happen anytime, anywhere. And when disaster strikes, you may not have much time to respond. A highway spill or hazardous material release could mean evacuation. A winter storm could confine your family at home. An earthquake, flood, tornado, or any other disaster could cut water, electricity, and telephone service for days.

After a disaster, local officials and relief workers will be on the scene, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it may take days. Would your family and neighbors be prepared to deal with an emergency until help arrives? Most emergency responders recommend that you have enough food and supplies to take care of your family for at least 3-days or 72-hours.

72-hr Disaster Kit

Review the checklists below. Gather the supplies that are listed – you may need them if your family is confined at home or evacuating. There are seven basic categories of supplies you should stock: 1) water, 2) food, 3) clothing and bedding, 4) tools, 5) emergency supplies, 6) special needs and 7) first aid supplies (separate last section.) Keep the items that you will most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to-carry container such as a back pack, a trash can with wheels or a rolling suitcase. Keep a smaller disaster kit in the trunk of each vehicle. For sheltering in place, keep emergency supplies together in your identified “safe room.” Store items in airtight, waterproof plastic bags or containers. Priority items are marked with an asterisk.


Water should be stored in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles. A normal, active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers, and people who are ill will need more. The standard rule of thumb is to store one gallon of water per person per day. Keep at least a three-day supply of water on hand for each person in your household (2qts per person for drinking & 2qts per person for food preparation/sanitation).

  • Rotate every 6 months to keep it fresh (watch the expiration dates – even on bottled water)


Store at least a three-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 and are something that your family enjoys. (This is not the time to argue with family members about eating all their veggies!) Include a selection of the following foods in your disaster supplies kit: ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables; high energy foods like trail mix, granola bars and peanut butter; MRE’s are another excellent resource; and comfort foods such as mints, hard candy or chewing gum.

  • Don’t forget a manual can opener and a mess kit (or paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils)
  • Rotate supplies every 6 months (watch your expiration dates)

Clothing and Bedding*

  • Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear for each person (Long pants and long-sleeved shirts – keep in mind you and your family’s safety at all times)
  • Sturdy shoes or work boots (steel-toed if you will be working outside)(Extra socks to keep your feet warm and dry)
  • Undergarments (thermal underwear depending on the season)
  • Hat and gloves depending on weather conditions
  • Rain gear
  • Sunglasses
  • Blankets or sleeping bags with appropriate ground cover
  • Rotate clothing every 6 months (April and October or when you change your clocks) to accommodate changes in the seasons and growing children


  • Non-electric can opener, scissors, and a utility knife*
  • Fire extinguisher: small canister ABC type
  • Signal flare or other device, a spare tire and jumper cables for your car
  • Home generator
  • Pliers, small shovel, or a multi-task tool
  • Shut-off wrench (household gas and water)

Emergency Supplies

  • Emergency preparedness manual*
  • Emergency Document  Holder* (Copies of passports, driver’s license, insurance policies, bank account numbers, key contact list, copies of credit cards, wills, marriage and birth certificates, and social security cards)
  • Battery-operated or hand-crank radio and cell phone charger (plus a NOAA weather radio) and extra batteries*
  • Flashlight and extra batteries*
  • Extra cash, change and a credit card* (Cash in small denominations in case ATMs and gas pumps aren’t working or credit cards are not accepted)
  • Toilet paper and paper towels*
  • Soap, liquid detergent and disinfectant*
  • Drive on the top half of your gas tank*
  • Paper, pencil*
  • Whistle or other signaling device*
  • Tube tent
  • Compass
  • Map of the area (for locating shelters)
  • Matches in a waterproof container, fire starter and aluminum foil
  • Plastic storage containers
  • Small sewing kit (needles and thread)
  • Plastic sheeting, duct tape and scissors
  • Nylon rope
  • Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation) as well as for trash
  • Plastic bucket with tight lid (personal sanitation)
  • Household chlorine bleach (unscented)
  • Pet/animal supplies
  • Items necessary for unique family needs (toiletries and feminine hygiene products)

Functional/Special Needs

  • Medicines (including doctors’ names and a list of prescriptions, dosage, directions)
  • Extra set of glasses and/or contact lenses, hearing aids and batteries
  • Items needed for mobility (crutches, cane, wheelchair (and patch kit for tires), walker, etc.)
  • Basic life support (Oxygen, CPap machines, ventilators, other equipment and assistive devices)
  • Writing materials if you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have trouble speaking
  • Pre-printed cards with information and instructions if you don’t speak English
  • Key contact list with names, phone numbers and addresses of your support network (home health nurses, meals on wheels, friends and neighbors, etc.)
  • Wear your medical alert tag or bracelet
  • Be vocal in advising responders what your needs are and how they can best help you

Children’s Activity/Survival Kit

You may have to leave your home during a disaster and may need to sleep somewhere else for a while. It’s smart to put together your own Children’s Activity/Survival Kit so they will have things to do and share with other family members, friends and neighbors. These can all be stored in a backpack or duffel bag. Just make sure you, or better yet, your child, can carry it easily. Here are some suggested items for the Children’s Activity/Survival Kit:

  • A factual book about earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes, rain, storms, floods and fires – any type of emergency that might hit your community
  • A few of your child’s favorite books (and yours as well)
  • Non-toxic marking pens, crayons, pencils, and plenty of paper
  • Coloring books
  • Scissors and glue
  • Manipulative toys such as LEGOS
  • Two favorite small toys, at least one doll and one action figure
  • One or two board games, table puzzles
  • A favorite stuffed animal or puppet
  • Small play vehicles such as an ambulance, fire truck, helicopter, dump truck, police car, or a tractor with blade
  • Small people figures to use with the trucks and emergency vehicles
  • A hacky sack or footbag
  • A small ball
  • A deck of cards
  • A favorite blanket and/or pillow
  • Pictures of the family, including pets – be sure to write names and dates on the back
  • Keep a “safe box” with a few treasures of little things your child feels are important
  • A special treat or snack – comfort food helps during emotional/stressful times

A Note to Parents

Make sure to have at least three phone numbers of nearest kin in the United States. This information should be given to and kept on file with your child’s school. Teach children to know the full name of their parents and/or guardians (and where they work) and the rest of the family members residing within the States (within reason.)

A child’s ability to cope with disasters or emergencies is often tied to the way parents respond and cope. Children can detect an adult’s fears or sadness and will often mimic the responses they see and hear. Parents and other adults can make disasters less traumatic for children by taking steps to manage their own feelings, involve children in the planning process, practice the family’s plan with them at least twice a year, let them help with and contribute to the recovery plan and limit their exposure to repeated “images” (i.e. television replays) of the event. (FEMA guide to Citizen Preparedness, 2004)

First Aid Kit

Assemble a first aid kit for your home, office, and a smaller one for each car. A first aid kit should include the following:

  • Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
  • Assorted sizes of safety pins (including large size 3)
  • Cleansing soap/Moistened towelettes
  • Germicide hand wipes or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Non-Latex gloves (2 pairs)
  • Sunscreen/Chapstick
  • 2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
  • 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
  • Triangular bandages (3)
  • 2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • Scissors, Tweezers, Needle
  • Syringe
  • Medicine dropper and cotton balls
  • Antiseptic
  • Thermometer
  • Cold pack
  • Tongue depressor blades or other wooden applicator sticks (2)
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
  • Duct tape
  • Non-Prescription Drugs – Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever; Anti-diarrhea medication; Antacid (for stomach upset); Benadryl (for allergic reactions), Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting only if advised to do so by the Poison Control Center); Laxative; and Activated charcoal (use only if advised to do so by the Poison Control Center)
  • First Aid Booklet
  • PPE – CPR breathing barriers, NIOSH mask
  • Poison Control #1-800-222-1222
  • Other important medical information including the names and phones numbers of dentists, vets, medical insurance, agent, etc.