Emergencies can happen wherever you live, so it’s important to be prepared for unexpected events. An emergency might involve losing electricity and water service in a building. You might not be able to go out and about after an emergency event. The place you live plays a role in the type of disasters you might experience. For example, people who live in many southeastern states can get hurricanes during some months of the year, so these people have to be ready for storms and flooding. People who live where earthquakes happen need to know what to do in an earthquake. Other people live where tornadoes and strong storms happen during the summer months. But building an emergency kit is something every family can do, no matter where you live, to make sure you have disaster supplies on hand if you need them.
You don’t always have a lot of warning before an emergency happens. In fact, sometimes, disasters happen with no warning at all, so people have no time to prepare. A disaster kit is a collection of supplies that you and your family can use if an emergency happens. Disaster kits have basic things such as first aid supplies, water, food, clothes, bedding, medication, tools, and other things that you know you might need or want. After gathering items for an emergency disaster kit, keep the kit in a special place where you can get to it when you need it. It’s also smart to have a basic disaster kit in the car and in other places where you spend time, such as work or school, in case an emergency happens when you’re away from home.
A disaster kit should include enough supplies for every member of your family for three days. You will need 1 gallon of water per day for every person. You also need enough canned or dried food to feed everyone in your family for three days and a can opener to open the cans. Good foods to pack include whole-grain cereal, canned foods with lots of liquid, such as beans and soup, and salt-free crackers and snacks. It’s good to avoid salty foods because these foods often make you thirsty. A flashlight and radio with extra batteries, a first aid kit, medications, extra clothes, jackets, blankets, toothpaste and toothbrushes, soap, toilet paper, diapers and baby wipes, pet food, and cash should also be a part of a disaster kit. If it’s cold where you live, pack winter gear such as jackets, mittens, boots, hats, and sleeping bags. If you live where it’s warm, include sunscreen and bug spray in your disaster kit. You can pack your disaster kit in a big plastic bin, in a covered trash can, or in a large duffel bag.
If you have to leave your home, have a backpack or bag ready with items from your disaster kit. This bag is often called a “go bag” because you grab it if you have to leave in a hurry. Your go bag should have a small first aid kit with medications; important documents such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, and bank account information; water and food for three days; a flashlight with extra batteries; cash; and a change of clothes. Everyone in your family who is big enough to carry a backpack should have a go bag that they can carry.
Being prepared for an emergency can help you feel safer because you will have the items you need set aside to use. Your family can work on building a disaster kit together to prepare for unexpected events. Don’t forget to check your disaster kit at least once a year to make sure your supplies are ready to use. If food expires, replace it with new items so you’re always ready for an emergency.
Items to Include in a Disaster Kit
- Basic Disaster Supply Kit
- Gather Emergency Supplies
- Emergency Kit
- Disaster Checklist and Readiness Kit
- Personal Kit Contents
- Disaster Supply Kit (PDF)
- Disaster Kit
- Your Family Disaster Supply Kit (PDF)
- How to Prepare Your Disaster Kit
- Personal and Family Preparedness: Make a Kit
- Basic Disaster Kit
- Disaster Supply Kit
- Make Disaster Kits (PDF)
- A Disaster Kit for Staying at Home
What to Do in an Emergency
- Prepare My Family for Disaster
- Hurricane Preparedness: Be Ready
- Make a Disaster Plan for Pets
- Ready, Set, Prepare! (PDF)
- Winter Storm Preparedness
- Preparedness on a Shoestring (PDF)
- Emergency Preparedness
- Family Emergency Planning Guide (PDF)
- Family Preparedness Guide (PDF)
- If There Is an Emergency, Will You Be Prepared? (PDF)
- Preparation: Family
- Get Prepared
- Preparing Your Child for Disasters
- How to Make a Family Emergency Plan
- Emergency Preparedness Handbook (PDF)
- Family Preparedness Guide (PDF)
- Florida Emergency Preparedness Guide (PDF)
- Personal and Family Preparedness