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Get a kit together

a first aid kit as a latched red box with a white cross on the cover
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Pack a disaster supplies kit that your family can use at home or on the go. A basic kit includes a three-day supply of items needed for survival, such as water, food, and first aid supplies. Emergency workers will most likely be in the area after a disaster. However, they can't get to everyone right away. Keep in mind that you may need to "shelter in place" for several days. This means you stay in your house and don't go out. Services such as power, water, and heat or air conditioning may not be working. Or, you may need to evacuate. So it's wise to store all must-have supplies in an easy to carry container that you can "grab and go" should you need to leave your home quickly.

A well stocked disaster kit includes the items listed here. Your health, safety, and even survival, may depend on them.


  • Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person and pet. Each person and pet needs one gallon of water each day. For example, a family of four needs 12 gallons of stored water for three days. Store water in sealed, unbreakable containers. Label the storage date and replace every six months.

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  • Store at least a three day supply of food that will not spoil, such as: canned meat, beans and vegetables, peanut butter or other high-energy food, canned fruit and juices, unsalted crackers, etc. Think about family members with special food needs. Be sure to include a nonelectric can opener.
  • Canned pet food
  • Utensils and other supplies for eating

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First aid kit

  • Sterile dressing to stop bleeding
  • Sports wrap for sprains or other injuries
  • Safety pins to close sports wrap
  • Adhesive bandages in different sizes
  • Scissors and tweezers
  • Over-the-counter pain medication
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Burn ointment
  • Eyewash solution
  • Thermometer
  • Cough suppressant
  • Antihistamine
  • Antidiarrhea medication
  • First aid manual

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Medications and supplies

  • All medicines you and your children are using, as well as a copy of the prescriptions (if possible)
  • Extra eye glasses or contact lenses and supplies
  • Tampons or sanitary pads

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Special items for infants, elderly, pets, or disabled family members

  • Baby formula if you are not breastfeeding
  • Handsfree baby carrier
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Oxygen
  • Batteries for assistive devices
  • Pet supplies

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Household and sanitary supplies

  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Battery powered flashlight and radio with extra batteries
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each member of your family
  • A complete change of clothing, rain gear, and sturdy shoes
  • Dust masks, plastic sheeting, duct tape
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers
  • Credit cards and cash
  • Cellphone with charger

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  • House
  • Car
  • Safety deposit box or post office box

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Important papers and family information

  • Keep all important family papers in a safety deposit box or other safe location. Make copies of papers you may need on hand in an emergency. Keep copies of all your important papers together. You may want to put them in a waterproof bag. Keep this information in your kit:

    • Identification for all family members and pets (for example, birth certificate, photo ID, driver's license, passport, green card, pet license and vaccination records)
    • List of family doctors
    • List of important family information; the style and serial number of medical devices, such as pacemakers
    • Copy of emergency plan and contacts
    • Local map

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Things to help you cope, if you have space

  • Pictures and small keepsakes
  • Children's small toys or books

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More information on Get a kit together

Explore other publications and websites

  • Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Prepardness - This guide provides a step-by-step approach to disaster preparedness by walking you through how to get informed about local emergency plans, identify hazards, develop an emergency communications plan, and disaster supplies kit.
  • Emergency Preparedness and Response - This website keeps you informed about public health emergencies and provides information about specific emergency situations.
  • Emergency Preparedness Checklist - This checklist will help you learn how to protect yourself and cope with disaster by planning ahead. It gives advice on how to make a plan and prepare a disaster kit.
  • Emergency Supply List - This checklist recommends items to include in a basic emergency supply kit, as well as extra items to consider.
  • People With Disabilities and Other Access and Functional Needs - This website helps people with disabilities or other access needs develop a kit tailored to their needs. Other considerations such as finances, housing, and independence plans are discussed.
  • What You Need to Know in an Emergency (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) - This publication gives parents a list of health facts that they should have written down to help doctors and other health professionals treat their children during a medical emergency. Topics include allergies, medications, pre-existing illnesses, immunizations, height and weight, and blood type.

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Content last updated: January 24, 2011.

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