Just as every home should have a smoke alarm, every person should have an emergency supply kit packed and ready. Preparing for an emergency isn’t just the job of emergency management officials, it’s also an individual responsibility.
“You should be prepared to take care of yourself and members of your family for the first 72 hours – that’s three days – following a disaster,” said May, who oversees operations for the eight Southeastern states that comprise FEMA Region IV.
“Packing an emergency preparedness kit helps ensure the safety and comfort of you and your family members at a time when basic public services may be disrupted,” said May.
An emergency preparedness kit needs to include food and water for each member of your family for three days, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight, spare batteries, first aid kit, can opener, local maps, moist towelettes, toilet paper, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
Other items to consider include sleeping bags or blankets, paper towels, books, puzzles, and games for children, and pet food for family pets.
The emergency supplies can be stored in an easy-to-carry plastic storage container or bag (GoBag), making it easy to grab and go when an emergency arises.
Putting together an emergency kit isn’t a costly enterprise. Many of the items that need to go into the kit are likely already scattered throughout your home.
An emergency preparedness kit will make your time during an emergency more comfortable, ensuring you have foods you like, over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, entertainment, and even treats during a stressful time.
Understanding the GoBags can vary, below are my minimal suggestions with regard to the creation of a GoBag (Bug-Out-Bag / 72-Hour Bag).
- Cleansing Wipes
- Toilet Tissue
- Folding Hair Brush and Comb
- Toothbrush Kit (w/Toothpaste)
- Disposable Razors
- Shampoo and Conditioner
- Lip Balm
- Bug Spray
- Waterproof Notepad
- Gauze Pads
- Surgical Tape
- Ace Wrap
- Antiseptic Wipes (Alcohol Prep Pads)
- Antibiotic Cream
- Anti-Bacterial Wipes
- Burn Gel
- Eye Drops
- Ice Pack
- Safety Pins
- Sanitary Pads
- Nitrile Gloves
- Moleskin (for blisters)
- Mylar Blanket
- Sleeping Bag
- Rain Poncho
- Sharpening Stone
- Nylon Rope
- Duck Tape
- Eating Utensils
- Can Opener
- Sewing Kit
- Work Gloves
- Flashlight (Batteries Included)
- AM / FM Crank and Solar Radio
- Wire Saw
- Waterproof Matches
- Magnesium Fire Starter Lighter
- REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Backpack
- Important documents/copies (suggested: keep inside a waterproof pouch)
- Cash in smaller bills and coins
- Maps of the Local Area
- Family Photos
- Prescription Medication
- Extra hat, gloves. thermal underwear, etc.
- Three (3) Freeze Dried Breakfast Meals
- Six (6) Freeze Dried Various Meals
- 2-3 Waterproof Pouches / Bags
- Survival Knife
More information on emergency preparedness, including how to put together a family communication plan, can be found at www.Ready.gov. Ready.gov recommends the following:
Basic Disaster Supplies Kit
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.
A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
- Water (one gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and sanitation)
- Food (at least a several-day supply of non-perishable food)
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and an NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- 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
Additional Emergency Supplies
Since the Spring of 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended people include additional items in their kits to help prevent the spread of coronavirus or other viruses and the flu.
Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:
- Masks (for everyone ages 2 and above), soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces
- Prescription medications. About half of all Americans take prescription medicine every day. An emergency can make it difficult for them to refill their prescription or to find an open pharmacy. Organize and protect your prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and vitamins to prepare for an emergency.
- Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids, or laxatives
- Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution
- Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Cash or traveler’s checks
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account records are saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels, and plastic utensils
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles, or other activities for children
Maintaining Your Kit
After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:
- Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
- Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers.
- Replace expired items as needed.
- Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.
Kit Storage Locations
Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and cars.
- Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
- Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water, and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
- Car: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.
Download the printable Emergency Checklist
Download the printable Emergency Checklist for Kids
Updated 18 April 2022